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1 2 3 

4 5 6 

^ ■ VW^ 










Rev. FRANCIS R. BEATTIE, B. D., Ph. D., D. D., 


The Presbyterian Committee of Publication. 



' Copyrighted by 
JAMES K. HAZEN, Secretary of PubUanon, 


Printed by 


Richmond, Va. 


T JE aim of the following pages is to give a simple, con- 
neried exposition of the entire Westminster Standards. The 
g^liorter Catechism is made the basis of the exposition, but 
the contents of the Larger Catechism and the Confession of 
Faith are carefully incorporated at every point. In addition, 
certain topics not included in the Catechisms are embraced 
in the Confession. Brief explanations of these topics are 
also made, so that the whole ground of the Standards is 
thereby covered. 

It is not claimed that anything really new is presented in 
these chapters. From the nature of the case there could 
scarcely be. There are excellent treatises on the Confession 
by Kodge, Mitchell and others ; while Paterson, Fisher and 
others have given us excellent expositions of the Shorter 
Catechism. But we are not aware of any book which follows 
closely the order of topics found in the Standards, and which 
at the same time weaves into a single exposition the contents 
of the three documents of which the Westminster symbols are 

It will be readily observed that in making this compend 
the language of the Standards has often been closely fol- 
lowed, and that it has at times been quoted more or less 
literally. At other times their statements have been ex- 
panded or condensed, explained or simplified, in order to 
present a somewhat compact and readable outline. Quota- 
tion marks are not used anywhere, since it is to be under- 
stood that the whole exposition is so closely conformed to 
the Standards as to be at times a reproduction of their form 
as well as of their contents. 



It is the conviction of many earnest minds that there is 
need at the present day of careful instruction in the great 
doctrines of the Christian faith and life. No one who is even 
slightly acquainted with the movements of thought at the 
present time in the sphere of religious inquiry can fail to 
realize that there ia diligent investigation, much unrest, and 
some scepticism. Modern scientific methods have been car- 
ried into the field of theology and applied to the subject of 
Christian doctrine and duty. The result is, that in certain 
quarters we are solemnly assured that the old ways of look- 
ing at religious questions must be changed, and that former 
statements of the system of doctrine must be modified, if not 
abandoned. We are far from saying that this earnest ac- 
tivity of thought upon matters pertaining to the Christian 
faith is altogether evil, but we are convinced that it calls for 
careful caution and rigorous reflection upon the vafious 
problems with which the religious teacher must engage 
himself at the present time. Hard work by devoted and 
scholarly men is absolutely necessary in interpreting and de- 
fending the faith once delivered to the saints. 

In these circumstances it is important that Presbyterians 
should be well instructed in the contents of the Westminster 
Confession and Catechisms, wherein their creed is clearly and 
fully exhibited. It may be too often true that even Presby- 
terians are not fully informed in regard to what their own 
creed contains. In proportion as this is true, it must prove 
a source of weakness ; and a diligent study of the Standards 
should be undertaken at once in order to remedy this. It is 
hoped that this book may, in some measure, foster and 
further this study. 

That other branches of the church of Christ are often 
sadly ignorant of Presbyterian doctrine and practice, and be- 
cause of this ignorance often misconstrue and caricature 
Presbyterianism, must be confessed. Such ignorance and 
misconstruction are the main causes of the erroneous im- 





pressions of the Presbyterian system which so often prevail 
in other churches. It is hoped that an outUne like this may 
be found of some service in removing part of this ignorance 
and correcting a few of these misconstructions, for some may 
read this outline who would not peruse the Standards them- 
selves with any care. 

It may be proper to say that, whilst all through this expo- 
sition care is taken to explain the various teachings of the 
Standards, equal care is exercised not to explain away any- 
thing which they contain. It is assumed that the system of 
doctrine which they exhibit is generic and consistent Calvin- 
ism, and due diligence is exercised to present this system in 
its entirety and proper proportions. That there are difficul- 
ties inherent in the very nature of the case is not denied, 
nor is any attempt made to evade these difficulties. From 
time to time in the course of the exposition of this consistent 
and scriptural system, it will be suggested that the same and 
more serious difficulties press even more fatally against every 
other system. Hence, the Calvinistic system is seen to com- 
mend itself to thoughtful minds as the sound philosophy of 
nature and providence, and as the true interpretation of the 
Scriptures and of religious experience. This system has a 
philosophic completeness, a scriptural soundness, and an ex- 
perimental accuracy which aflford it strong logical confirma- 
tion, and give it secure rational stability. It may be safely 
said that no other system can justify so fully this high claim, 
for even those who profess no sympathy with the Calvinistic 
system have never yet been able to present a better one for 
our acceptance. 

It is humbly hoped that Bible class and Sabbath-school 
teachers may find this book of some value to them in their 
important work. It may give them in a simple, systematic 
form a useful summary of the doctrines and practices as well 
as of the ethics and polity of the Presbyterian Church. In con- 
nection with the International Series of Lessons, where doc- 



trinal teachiDg is not usually made prominent, the need of 
some such book as this may be felt. 

For the members of Young Peoples' Societies this outline 
of Presbyterian belief may be found of some service in sup- 
plying that doctrinal teaching which, with God's blessing, is 
so important for advance in the Christian life and for effective 
service in the Master's name. In addition, the various office- 
bearers of the church often desire to be instructed in the doc- 
trines and practices of the church they seek to serve. This 
book has also been prepared with this important end in view, 
and the hope is cherished that not a few of these earnest 
men may be helped by what its pages contain. 

Two introductory chapters are added for those who may 
care to read them. One of these gives a brief history of the 
chief creeds of the Christian church, and the other seeks to 
explain the nature and uses of such creeds. These chapters 
are intended to prepare the way for a more intelligent and 
sympathetic study of the Westminster Standards, whicii con- 
stitute the creed of the Presbyterian churches. An index 
has also been added for purposes of speedy reference to the 
contents of the volume. 

This book is sent forth with the earnest prayer that it may 
be of some service to those who are seeking to advance 
Christ's kingdom on the earth. May the Lord bless its con- 
tents to his own glory and the good of the church. 

Francis R. Beattie. 

Louitville, Ky. 



A Brief Description of the Great Christian Creeds, 


The Nature and Uses of Religious Creeds 


The Doctrine of Holy Scripture. 

SiroHTEK Cateoiiism, 1-3; Larger Catkohism, 1-5; Confes- 
sion OF Faith, I; 


The Being, Attributes and Persons of the Godhead, 

Shorter Catechism, 4-6; Larger Catechism, It; Con- 
fession OF Faith, IL 








The Decrees, or the Eternal Purpose of God, 

Shorter Catechism, 7, 8; Larger Catechism, 12-14; Con- 
fession OF Faith, IIL 


Creation and Providence. . 

Shorter Catechism, 9-11 ; Larger Catechism, 15-19 ; Con- 
fession OF Faith, IV., V. 


Thl Covenant of Works, or of Life, . 

Shorter Catechism, 12, 13; Larger Catechism, 20, 21; 
Confession of Faith, VI., VII. 







Original Sin ^^^ 

SnoKTBR CATBonisM, 16-19; Laroek Catechism, 22-29; 
Confession of Faith, VI. 


The Covenant of Grace, 

SiiOKTEU Catechism, 20; Larger Catechism, 30-35 ; Con- 
fession OF Faith, VII. 



The Person of Jesus Christ the Mediator, 

Shorter Catechism, 21, 22; Larger Catechism, 36-42; 
Confession of Faith, VIII. 




The Offices OF THE Mediator : The Prophetic, . . 136 

Shorter Catechism, 23, 24; Larger Catechism, 41-48; 



The Offices OF the Mediator: The Priestly and the Kingly, 147 

Shorter Catechism, 25, 26; Larger Catechism, 44, 45, 55; 
Confession of Faith, VIII. 


The Humiliation and Exaltation of Jesus Christ, . . 159 

Shorter Catechism, 27, 28; Larger Catechism, 46-56; 
Confession of Fai^h, VIII. 


Man's Free Agency and Ability : Gtttt,t and its Degrees, . 

Shorter Catechism, 82-84; Larger Catechism, 149-152; 
Confession of Faith, IX. 




Union with Christ ; Effectual Calling ; Kegeneration, 

SiioKTKu Catechism, 39-31; Lakgkk Catechism, 57-60, 
66-69; Confession OF Faith, X. 


The Benefits of Redemption ; Justification, 

Shokteh Catechism, 32, 83; Larger Catechism, 70-78; 
Confession of Faith, XI. 






The Benefits of Redemption ; Adoption and Sanotipioation, 

Shorter Catechism, 84-36; Larger Catechism, 74, 75, 
77-81; Confession of Faith, Xil., XIII. 



Faith and Repentance, 

Shorter Catechism, 85-87 ; Larger Catechism, 72-76, 153 ; 
Confession of Faith, XIV. , XV. 



Good Works; Perseverance; Assurance 234 

Shorter Catechism, 36 ; Larger Catechism, 78-81 ; Con- 
fession OF Faith, XVI.-XVIII. 


The Law of God ; Christian Liberty 245 

Shorter Catechism, 39-42, 82, 83; Larger Catechism, 
91-98; Confession of Faith, XIX., XX. 


The Communion of Saints, and Religious Worship, . . 257 

Shorter Catechism, — ; Larger Catechism, 68, 82, 83, 86; 
Confession of Faith, XXL, XXVI. 




The Me VN8 OF Grace; In General; The Word, 

Shorter CATEcnisM, 88-00; Larger Catechism, 98, 99, 
153-160; Confession of Faith, XIX. 

The Means of Grace; The Commandments; The First Table, 

Shorter Catechism, 43-62; Larger Catechism, 101-121; 
Confession of Faith, — . 





The Means of Grace; The Commandments; The Second 

Table 288 

Shorter Catechism, 63-81; Larger Catechism, 122-148 
Confession of Faith, — . 


The Means of Grace ; The Sacraments ; General, . . 298 

Shorter Catechism, 91-93: Larger Catechism, 161-164; 
Confession of Faith, XXVII. 


The Means of Grace ; The Sacraments ; Baptism, . . 309 

Shorter Catechism, 94, 95; Larger Catechism, 165-167; 
Confession of Faith, XXVIII. 


The Means of Grace ; The Sacraments ; The Lord's Supper, 323 

Shortkr Catechism, 96, 97; Larger Catechism, 168-175; 
Confession of Faith, XXIX. 



The Means of Grace ; Prayer, . . • . . . 335 

Shorter Catechism, 98-107; Larger Catechism, 178-198: 
Confession of Faith, XXI. 



The Church and her Censures 

SnoKTKK Catkohism, — ; Largek CATK(!ni8M, 02-65; Con- 
fession OF Faith, XXV., XXX, 




The Synods and Councils of the Church, .... 356 

Shorter Catkohism, —; Larger Catkohism, — ; Confkh- 
sioN OF Faith, XXXI. 


Lawful Oaths; The Civil Magistrate; Marriage and 

I>ivorce, 358 

Shorter Catkohism, 70-73; Largkr Catkohism, 137-139; 



Death and the Middle State, 

Shorter Catechism, 37; Larger Cateohism, 84-96; Con- 
fession OF Faith, XXXII. 



The Resurrection and the Judgment, 

Shorter Catkohism, «S; Largkr Catkohism, 87-90; Con- 
fession OF Faith, XXXII., XXXIIL 



Summary and Conclusions, 






BEFOBE the exposition of the doctrines contained in 
the Westminster Catechisms and Confession of Faith 
is entered on, some account of the origin and contents of 
the leading doctrinal symbols of the Christian church in its 
various branches may be of interest and value. In particular, 
the history of the Westminster Assembly, and of the work 
which it did, as exhibited jy the Catechisms and Confes- 
sion, is in a measure necessary to the intelligent exposition 
of the doctrinal system which they unfold. 

In this connection it is interesting to notice the modes 
by which the great creeds have usually been produced. 
Historically, there seem to have been three chief methods 
according to which they have come into existence. First, In 
some cases creeds, or statements of Christian doctrine, seem 
to have been formed as an attempt to express, at certain 
periods, the mind of the Christian community in regard to 
the doctrines contained in the sacred Scriptures. It is likely 
that the Apostles' Creed and some later doctrinal symbols 
came into existence in this way. Secondly^ In other cases 
certain summaries of Christian doctrine seem to have been 
prepared for purposes of religious instruction. These cate- 
chetical statements of religious truth evidently arose from 
a desire to have a simple, orderly outline of the elements 


■ Aft 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

o? the Christian system for purposes of instruction in holy 
things. Such catechisms were usually intended for the 
young. Thirdly, In most cases the great historical creeds 
were forged in the fires of controversy. The great credal 
statements of divine truth made in patristic times nearly all 
originated iu this way. The elaborate symbolic documents 
of the Reformation period very generally had the same 
violent origin. In proof of this we need but recall the cir- 
cumstances under which the Nicene Creed, the Augsburg 
Confession, and the Canons of Dort were formulated. It 
is proper to add that, although these three modes of creed 
formation are to be observed in the history of the church, 
yet as a matter of tact they ought not to be entirely sepa- 
rated, inasmuch as more than one of these purposes may, to 
a certain extent, be served by any single creed, confession, 
or catechism. 

In giving a brief description of the most important reli- 
gious creeds, those symbols other than the Westminster 
Standards will be first described in a very general way, 
and then a somewnat more detailed account of the origin of 
the Westminster Catechisms and Confession will be given. 

I. The Creeds other than the Westtninster Standards. 

In describing these creeds they may be arranged under 
three heads, following the order of their historical sequence. 
These three heads represent the ancient, mediaeval, and 
modern periods respectively. 

1. A Description of the Ancient Creeds. 

In the New Testament age the germs of a creed, or confes- 
sion of faith, may be seen in the personal confessions of Peter 
and Thomas. In the early apostolic age these germs .^ere 
doubtless expanded in various ways, and thus the earliest 
Christian creeds were formulated. The creeds to be con- 
sidered under this head are those which came into existence 
during the period when the church remained undivided. On 
this account these doctrinal symbols arc known as the 

The Great Christian Creeds. 



ecumenical creeds. At the present day they are generally 
regarded as the precious heritage of all branches of Christen- 
dom. Mention is now to be made of the more important 
of these summaries of religious truth. 

(a), The Apostles' Creed. 

This ancient statement of the leading facts or doctrines of 
the Christian system has usually been held in high esteem. 
Though not inspired, it has a place beside the ten command- 
ments and the Lord's Prayer in the literature of the early 
apostolic age. Though it bears the name of the apostles, 
there is little reason to believe that it was drawn up, as we 
now have it, by them. Still less is there ground for believ- 
ing the old tradition that each of its significant clauses was 
produced by one of the apostles, and that the whole was 
formed by putting these clauses together. This creed ap- 
pears in several different forms, and has always been 
held in greater reverence by the Western church than by 
the Eastern, since the division between them. In early 
time3 it was used in connection with the rite of baptism, and 
it is found incorporated in nearly every subsequent creed. 
At the present day many of those who advocate a compre- 
hensive reunion of divided Christendom propose this creed 
as a doctrinal basis for the unified church of Christ. 

(5), The JVice?ie Creed. 

This important symbol is the product of the first General 
Council of the Christian church, and like many other ancient 
creeds has passed through several forms. It has always 
been regarded with favor by the Eastern church. In its 
orignal form it dates from the year 325 A. D. In its Nicene- 
Constantinopolitan form it comes to us from the second 
General Council, held at Constantinople in the year 381 
A. D. It received its final form and general recognition at 
the Council of Chalcedon in the year 451 A. D. As it now 
exists, the great difference between its Eastern and Western 
form is the presence of the word filioque (and the Son) in the 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

latter, and its absence from the former. It seems pretty 
clear that this word was not in its original form, since the 
first distinct trace of it is found in the proceedings of the 
third Council of Toledo, in the year 589 A. D. In these 
great historical statements of religious truth the doctrine of 
the Trinity was stated in the Nicene Creed in such a way as 
to lay emphasis upon the deity of the second person, and 
then the person of Christ is further defined in the creeds of 
Constantinople and Chalcedon. 

(c), The Aihanasian Creed. 

The origin of this creed is almost as obscure as that of the 
Apostles' Creed. Since about* the ninth century it has been 
popularly ascribed to Athanasius, but there is no good reason 
to believe that it came from his hand, or that it existed till 
long after his time. Indeed, it seems to presuppose the 
great trinitarian and christological creeds already men- 
tioned. To a large extent it repeats their contents, and adds 
some of the views of Augustine concerning the incarnation 
of Christ. In addition, it contains some strong damnatory 
clauses quite unlike anything in the creeds which precede it. 
This creed was held in high esteem in the Latin or Western 
churches, and in some of the Reformed creeds it received 
marked approval. This is specially the case in the Lutheran 
Form of Concord and in the Thirty-nine Articles of the 
Church of England. 

The three great ecumenical ancient creeds have been de- 
scribed. The most important of these is the Nicene symbol 
in its various forms. The next period in the history of the 
church is one very prolific in the production of creeds, con- 
fessions, and catechisms. 

2. The Mediceval Creeds. 

Under this head we place some creeds which might very 
properly be classed as ancient. But as they arose after 
Christendom began to divide into its eastern and western 
branches, it may be best to put them with the mediaeval 




The Great Christian Creeds. 


creeds. These creeds may be naturally divided into two 
classes, as represented by the Eastern, or Greek church, and 
by the Western, or Roman church. In both cases the final 
statements were not reached till after the Reformation, still 
the explanations to be made may be very properly ranked 
under the two heads just mentioned. 

(a), The Eastern or Greek Creeds. 

Three of the great creeds of the early church have already 
been explained, and four others are to be considered in con- 
nection with the doctrinal products of the Eastern church. 
After the division between the east and the west, the eastern 
branch in the course of time came to be known as the Greek 
church, but its adherents are now to be found in all the old 
eastern lands, and throughout the Russian empire, where it 
is the established religion. A great many creeds and con- 
fessions might be mentioned here, but only brief summaries 
can be made. The four great creeds above referred to were 
produced at four celebrated councils, viz. : Ephesus, 431 A. D., 
Second Constantinople, 553 A. D., Third Constantinople, 682 
A. D., Second Nice, 787 A. D. 

In addition to the seven ecumenical creeds, excluding the 
filioque clause, the following may be mentioned as important, 
viz. : The Orthodox Confession, by Peter Mogilas, 1643 A. D., 
The Decrees of the Synod of Jerusalem, 1672 A. D. The 
latter is a very important document. Mention may also be 
made of the Russian Catechisms, published 1839 A. D. 

There are also some less important confessions of a some- 
what local or private nature which need scarcely be named. 
There are also some interesting statements of doctrine made 
in reply to some approaches for sympathy and union made 
by the Lutheran branch of the Reformation. So far these 
approaches have been in vain, for the Greek church remains 
immovable, or indifferent to the overtures made by the Lu- 

The creed of the Synod of Jerusalem contains eighteen 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

articles, and is a full statement of the doctrines of the Greek 
church in Russia at the present day. The two chief cate- 
chisms used in Bussia at present are that of Platon, issued 
in 1813 A. D., and that of Philaret, published in its final form 
1839, as above noted. 

Attempts to come to a doctrinal agreement with the Greek 
church, whether made by the Roman, the Lutheran, or the 
Reformed branches of Christendom, have all failed. What 
may be the result of the efforts of the present pope remains 
to be seen. 

(J), The Western or Roman Creeds. 

This great branch of Christendom accepts the historic 
ecumenical, or council creeds, including the filioque clause 
respecting the procession of the Holy Spirit. In addition, 
the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, published 
in 1564 A. D., hold a high place among the Roman creeds. 
They were projected specially against the doctrines of the 
Reformation, and are cast in the form of anathemas. This 
council sat for twenty years, and its decisions, both as to 
doctrine and discipline, were intended to check the progress 
of the Lutheran and Reformed doctrines. 

The Professio Fidei Tridentince is an outcome of the same 
council. It consists of the Nicene Creed and eleven other 
articles. The Roman Catechism also grew out of this great 
council, and was issued in 1566. It was intended for the reli- 
gious instruction of the people, and it is made up of four 
parts, treating of the Apostles' Creed, of the Sacraments, of 
the Decalogue, and of the Lord's Prayer. 

Other catechisms by Canisius and Belarmine are also 
in use among Romanists. Then the bulls of the popes, 
issued from time to time, and the decrees of recent councils 
in regard to the immaculate conception, passed in 1854, and 
of the papal infallibility, passed in 1870, are also of import- 
ance in this connection. There have also grown out of the 
controversies between Jansenist and Jesuit, and between 

The Great Christian Creeds. 


Ultramontane and Galilean, other statements of doctrine and 
practice which have also their value as parts of the Romish 
creed. The Vatican Council of 1870 has much importance 
in this regard, as it virtually clothed the pope with power to 
make religious creeds, and to settle the doctrines of the 
church. Against this extreme action the old Catholics have 
always made their stand. 

(c), Modern Refonnation Creeds. 

Here the field is very extensive, for the B.eformation, both 
in its Lutheran and Reformed branches, was very fruitful in 
the production of creeds and confessions. A brief sketch of 
the chief of these, with the exception of the Westminster 
Standards, will be given in this sec^^ion. 

(a). The Lutheran Creeds and Catechisms. 

As very important among these, the ancient ecumenical 
creeds are to be included. These have already been de- 
scribed, so that the discussion of the creed products of Lu- 
theranism may be at once begun. 

The Augsburg Confession, drawn up in 1530, rightly stands 
first. It was first called an Apology, and it was prepared 
chiefly by the hand of Melancthon, no doubt with the full 
approval, and perhaps by the assistance of Luther himself. 
As a statement of Reformation doctrine it is of very great 
importance. It consists of two parts. The first is positive, 
or dogmatic. The second part is largely negative, rejecting 
the main tenets of Romanism in seven articles. 

The Apology of the Augsburg Confession followed soon 
after, appearing in 1531. It was prepared by Melancthon in 
order to defend the Confession froij the assaults which the 
Romish theologians had made upon it. It is a splendid pro- 
duction, and in some respects it is judged by many to be 
superior to the Confession itself. As a complete refutation 
of the Romish theologians it was entirely successful. 

The Catechisms of " Luther, issued in 1529, are of much 
importance in their bearing upon religious instruction. They 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

are the heralds of many such outlines of Christian doctrine 
produced by the Reformation, and intended for catechetical 
purposes. These Catechisms are two in number. They are 
called the Larger and the Smaller, and in many respects they 
resemble the Catechisms of the Westminster Assembly, which 
were issued a hundred years later on. No description of 
these Catechisms can be given. The fact that they stand at 
the head of the catechetical creeds is emphasized. 

The Articles of Smalcald may be next mentioned, for they 
were drawn up in 1537. Melancthon's hand again appeared 
in these articles, although others were also prominent in 
drafting them. They consist of three parts, and are directed 
more definitely against Romish doctrines than was the Augs- 
hurg Confession of a f<^w years before. 

The Form of Concord is the great Lutheran creed to which 
the Lutheran churches the world over adhere with more or 
less strictness. It was matured in 1577, and its great pur- 
pose was to bring peace and concord to the Protestant cause 
after a long period of bitter controversy, ^tuch of this con- 
troversy was about the Lord's supper, and concerning the 
ability of man to cooperate with divine grace in the experi- 
ence of redemption in the soul. Augustus, Elector of Saxony, 
was active in the movement to frame the Formula Con- 
cordice. Andrea, Chemnitz, and Selnecher were the theolo- 
gians who drew it up. It is composed of two parts, both of 
which treat of the same points. There are in all twelVe 
articles in the Formula, and they contain comprehensive 
statements upon such topics as original sin, free-will, justi- 
fication, good works, the law and the gospel, the Lord's 
supper, and the person of Christ. After a good deal of 
diplomacy and discussion, this statement was generaL , ac- 
cepted by the Lutheran branch of the Reformation. While 
in many respects a good statement of doctrine, it exhibits at 
several points a decided toning down of the doctrine of the 
Augsburg Confession, especially in regard to what is known 

The Great Christian Creeds. 


as synergism. Two other catechisms, called the Saxon and 
the Wurtemberg, were drawn up about 1550, but they never 
obtained recognition as of authority in the church. 

(/9), The Reformed Caloinistio Creeds. 

The field here is even more extensive than among the Lu- 
therans. In addition to the ancient creeds there are many 
symbols which we can do little more than mention in this 
connection. Dr. Schaflf states that the number of Reformed 
creeds is about thirty. On the continent of Europe there 
are two classes of these creeds, one of Zwinglian and the 
other of Calvinistic type. Then the Thirty-nine Articles in 
a measure stand by themselves, though they are nominally 

The early Swiss creeds are connected with the name of 
Zwingle. His Sixty-seven Articles were issued in 1572 at 
Zurich. The Bernese Theses, ten in number, were issued 
by Zwingle, Ecolampadius, Bucer, and others, as a refuta- 
tion of the Romish assault upon the Sixty-seven Articles. 
The contents of these Theses are compact and convincing. 
Zwingle, in 1530, also sent a Confession of Faith to the 
Augsburg Diet, addressed to Charles V., but it received 
scanty courtesy there. From that time and stage in the 
Reformation, Luther and Zwingle unfortunately drifted 
apart. The last doctrinal statement made by Zwingle was 
an Exposition of the Christian Faith to Francis I. Of 
Zwingle's doctrinal views, as distinct from those of Luther 
and of Calvin, nothing definite can now be said. The chief 
subject of contention between them was the Lord's supper. 

The First and Second Confession of Basle were framed in 
1534, and form the transition symbol in the passage from 
the creeds of Zwingle to those of Calvin, whose advent they 
precede and herald. They are simple and orthodox in form, 
evangelical and temperate in spirit, and consist of twelve 

The First Helvetic or Swiss Confession, dating from 1536, 


The PuEsnYTERiAN Standards. 


is a much more important document, and in to be really 
i<lontified with the Second Confession of Basle above named. 
Its authors were Bucer and Capito, though others seem to 
have been associated with them in the work. Luther was so 
pleased with it that he sent letters of approval. This is the 
first of the Reformed creeds which obtained what may be 
called national authority. 

The Second Helvetic or Swiss Confession, dating from 
1562-1566, is the last, and Scliaff says the best, of all the 
Zwinglian Creeds. It is the work of Henry BuUinger, who 
was in correspondence with leading Reformers everywhere. 
This is a creed of much value, and it is more largely re- 
cognized than any of the continental creeds, except, perhaps, 
the Heidelberg Catechism. It is a well-matured product, 
and consists of thirty chapters. It deals with all the doc- 
trines and ordinances of the cliurch in a very clear and com- 
prehensive manner. In many respects the Westminster 
Confession of Faith seems to follow this creed. In this 
connection the Consensus of Geneva, 1552, the Consensus 
Formula, 1675, the Gallican Confession, 1559, the French 
Confession, 1572, and the Belgic Confession, 1561, can only 
be mentioned. 

The Synod of Dort, 1618-1619, dealt with the rising 
Arminian controversy. Arminius, 1560-1609, and Episco- 
pius, 158.3-1644, were the chief promoters of the Arminian 
views. The debate in the Synod gathered about five points, 
viz. : unconditional election, original sin, particular redemp- 
tion, invincible grace, and final perseverance. On all of 
these points the Calvinistic views were confirmed, and they 
have been ever since that time known as the five points of 
Calvinism. The Arminians drew up a remonstrance against 
the conclusions of the Synod, in which they set forth oppos- 
ing views, hence they have been known as the Remonstrants 
ever since. 

The Heidelberg Catechism is the great creed of the Re- 

The Great Christian Creeds. 


formed Church in Germany, and, indeed, of that church 
everywhere throughout the world. It dates from the year 
1563, and was drawn up by Ursinus and Olivianus, who 
were called to the task by the elector, Frederick II., who 
was a truly good man. Many editions of it have been issued, 
and it has been transiated into many different tongues. This 
Catechism is divided ii to three parts, which treat of the sin 
and misery of man, of redemption by Christ, and of the 
Christian life. It will be observed that the order of topics 
is about the same as that found in the Epistle to the 
Eomans. In the second part there is a full explanation 
of the Apostles' Creed. This Catechism is admirable in 
many respects, and especially for purposes of religious in- 

The Waldensian Catechism, whose date is 1498, and the 
Bohemian Catechism, made out in 1521, are interesting 
because they are so early, the former, indeed, being a 
prereformation document. Minor Eeformed Confessions, 
such as that of Sigismund, 1614; of Anhalt, 1581; of 
Nassau, 1578; of Bremen, 1598; of Hesse, 1607, can only 
be named. Of the symbols of Hungary and Poland nothing 
can be said. 

The Church of England Articles deserve some more ade- 
quate notice. As a matter of fact, they were a gradual 
growth. At first they consisted of forty-two articles, but 
they were afterwards reduced to thirty-nine, whence the 
title, Thirty-nine Articles. These Articles, with slight modi- 
fications, constitute the doctrinal symbols of the Anglican 
churches everywhere. No history of their production can 
be given here. The Reformation in England is not easily 
understood, especially as connected with Henry VIII. First 
of all, ten articles were formulated in 1536. In 1538 thir- 
teen articles were issued, and these became the basis of the 
forty-two, which are sometimes called the Articles of Edward 
TI. Under Elizabeth these Articles were revised and re- 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

duced to thirty-nine, in 1532, and they were ratified by 
Parliament in 1571. Theie are known as the Articles of 
Elizabeth, and they have remained substantially the same 
ever since. 

A comparison cf these Articles with the continental creeds 
is a very interesting and instructive task, as they represent 
various types of Calvinism. These Articles have been revised 
by the Episcopal churches in America, to meet the changed 
conditions of church and state in this country. The Church of 
England Catechisms, a larger and a smaller one, as also the 
Lambeth Articles, of 1595, nine in number, deserve mention 
in passing. These Articles are decidedly Calvinistic in their 
contents. The Irish Articles, drawn by Usher in 1615, are 
also strictly Calvinistic, and they are of much interest in 
relation to the Westminster Standards, for they exhibit in a^ 
large measure the same type of doctrine. The Reformed 
Episcopal Church in this country in 1875 changed the Articles 
in many important respects, and reduced their number to 

The Methodist churches are usually Arminian in doctrine. 
The Articles of Religion, twenty-five in number, Wesley's 
Sermons and Notes, together with the Book of Discipline 
and Catechisms, constitute the standards of the Methodist 
churches in general the world over. The stage has now 
been reached where the passage may properly be made ta 
the history of the Westminster Standards, the creed of the 
Presbyterian churches almost everywhere. 

II. The West7ninster Catechisms and Confession. 

Prior to the Assembly which met in Westminster Abbey,. 
London, doctrinal standards of Calvinistic type and Presby- 
terian in polity had been formulated in Scotland. Among 
these the National Covenant of 1581, and its renewal in 
1638-1639, may be mentioned. The latter marks the second 
Scottish Reformation. The solemn League and Covenant 
was drawn up and signed in 1643, and it forms the stepping- 

The Great Christian Creeds. 


stone to the Westminster A.isembly. The reasons for formu- 
lating these leagues were in a measure to defend both civil 
and religious liberty. They were testimonies against error 
as well as confessions of faith. 

There were native Scottish catechisms prior to those of 
the Westminster Assembly. Two such Catechisms were 
made out by John Gray, 1512-1600, about the time of 
Knox. The larger appeared in 1581, and the smaller in 
1591. Latin catechisms, one by Andrew Simpson and 
another by John Davidson, were in use prior to 1640. 

The Westminster Doctrinal Standards and Directory of 
Worship arose out of the Puritan conflict in England. Episco- 
pacy of various types was on the one side, and Presbyteri- 
anism with Independency was on the other. The conflict 
was partly civil and partly religious, and the real cause of 
the struggle lay in the fact that the Church of England, as 
established after the Reformation, was not thoroughly re- 
formed. There were many earnest spirits who desired to 
see the Reformation completed. This was the early Puritan 
element. The struggle was long and violent. 

In July, 1643, Parliament issued instructions to have an 
Assembly called at Westminster Abbey, in London, on July 
the first, of that year, to effect the complete reformation of 
the Church of England, in its liturgy, discipline and govern- 
ment, according to the word of God, and in harmony with 
the Reformed churches in Scotland and on the continent. 
The members of the Assembly were named, and their number 
was one hundred and fifty-one. There were one hundred 
and twenty-one divines and thirty laymen, ten of the latter 
being lords and twenty commoners. 

The work of the Assemblv was difficult, for there were 
really fonr parties in the body. There were some strict 
Episcopalians, a number of able Independents, several Eras- 
tians, and a large body of Presbyterians. In matters of 
doctrine proper there was not much difference of opinion. 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

ll ill 
p pi 

There were no Pelagians and really no Arminians, so that 
the type of doctrine which prevailed was well-defined Cal- 
vinism. Dr. Twisse, the moderator, was a supralapsarian, 
but the sublapsarians were greatly in the majority in the 
Assembly. It was concerning matters of government and 
discipline that the diversity of view soon appeared. Hence 
it is that upon these matters the Westminster Standards do 
not give such clear statements as they do upon points of 
doctrine; nor were the respective provinces of the church 
and civil authority at first clearly defined. The Episcopa- 
lians, as a matter of fact, never took much part in the discus- 
sions. The Independents and Erastians really withdrew 
before the Discipline was finished, so that the Prosbyterian 
system was finally agreed upon, but without the support of 
any but the Presbyterians. A little less strictness on their 
part at that time might have made England permanently, as 
she was for a short time nominally Presbyterian. 

The Assembly held one thousand one hundred and sixty- 
three regular sessions, from July 1, 1643, till February 22, 
1649. It was never formally dissolved, but simply vanished 
with the Long Parliament, which, under Cromwell, had 
brought it into existence. No account of the civil features 
of the struggle can be given here. 

The first task the Assembly undertook was to revise the 
Thirty-nine Articles, somewhat in the line of the Lambeth 
and Irish Articles, which were distinctly Calvinistic, This 
task was given up by the direction of Parliament in October, 
1643, and the work on a new Confession was then begun. 
By means of committees and sub-committees the work was 
pushed on, so that in two years and three months, with 
many breaks in the work, it was completed about the close 
of the year 1646, and reported to Parliament in 1647. 

The Scripture texts were added in April, 1647. In regard 
to the Catechisms, the Larger was prepared first and the 
Shorter soon after. Dr. Tuckney had much to do with 

The Great Christian Creeds. 


framing both of them, and they were completed towards the 
close of the year 1647. The Scottish General Assembly 
approved of them in July, 1647. These Catechisms, to- 
gether with Luther's and the Heidelberg Catechism, are 
likely to be enduring instruments of catechetical instruction 
in the church. 

It would be interesting to follow the action of the English 
Parliament in regard to these Standards. They were care- 
fully considered by both Houses of Parliament, and some 
slight changes were made. The House of Lords agreed to 
the Confession on June 3, 1648, and the Commons on June 
20 of the same year. The English Parliament twice en- 
dorsed the Confession as to its doctrinal articles, but it was 
inclined to an Erastian position in regard to matters of gov- 
ernment and discipline. When the monarchy was restored, 
the Confession shared the fate of Presbyterian polity in 
England, and Scotland was afterwards to become the heroic 
scene of its life and triumphs. 

With some slight changes, made necessary by the different 
conditions of the country, these Standards were adopted by 
all the Presbyterian churches in America, and in other parts 
of the world, as people sought new homes in foreign lands. 
The Congregational churches in New England also adopted 
these Standards "for substance of doctrine," but their adher- 
ence to this type of doctrine has loosened during the past 
century in this country. 

Early in this century the Cumberland Presbyterian Church 
originated. It modified the doctrine of the Confession in 
regard to predestination, so as to become virtually Arminian, 
while it retains a Presbyterian polity. It is really an Ar- 
minian Presbyterian Church, just as the Welsh Church is a 
Calvinistic Methodist Church. 

Finally, the great body of the regular Baptists, in America 
especially, while they do not formally accept the Confession 
and the Catechisms, yet they hold and teach the Calvinistic 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

doctrines which thej contain in such a systematic and scrip- 
tural form. 

At this point the historical sketch is concluded. The next 
chapter is also to be introductory, and will seek to explain 
the nature, and show the important uses, of religious creeds 
and confessions. 



BEFORE entering on the formal exposition of the West- 
minster Standards, which form the creed of the Pres- 
byterian Church, a short chapter explaining the nature and 
uses of religious creeds may also serve a useful purpose. Tt 
is all the more necessary to make some such explanation at 
the present day, when it is to be observed that from many 
quarters the cry comes to abolish all definite creeds, and 
thus give larger liberty of religious thought and action. It 
is assumed by some who object to religious creeds of any 
kind that they hamper the spirit of free inquiry, and hinder 
unbiased research concerning religious problems. Hence 
they are an evil to be abolished as soon as possible. 8uch 
views and claims are doubtless largely the result of misap- 
prehension, so that a simple explanation of the nature and 
function of religious creeds, or ecclesiastical symbols, may 
do something to remove this misapprehension, and show 
that creeds in their proper place are important and useful. 

T. The Nature of a Religious Creed. 

A creed may be defined as a brief and orderly statement 
of the system of divine truth contained in the sacred Scrip- 
tures. It is the meaning which one or more persons may 
take of the system of religious truth and life which is found 
in the Bible. In other words, a creed is that interpretation 
of the contents of the Scriptures, in relation to life and expe- 
rience, to which certain persons may agree as revealed au- 
thoritative truth. The creed thus becomes an expression of 
religious belief and life based on the Bible. From this point 
of view a creed is a confession of faith, which means that 
acceptance of, and submission to, the creed is confessed. A 





The Presbyterian Standards. 

creed and a confession are really the same thing from dif- 
ferent points of view. The more technical term applied to a 
creed or confession is symbol. This term first denotes a sign 
or mark. It next means a signal or watchword. Then in its 
religious sense it signifies a Christian creed or confession of 
faith. As such it is that summary of religious truth which is 
set forth as the official doctrinal statement of belief and 
practice by any branch of the Christian church. The word 
symbol thus becomes a third term to denote the same thing. 
The word catechism is also used in this connection, and in 
many cases catechisms are regarded as creeds or confessions. 
This is the case with the Presbyterian and some of the Re- 
formed confessions. A catechism is a summary of religious 
truth used for purposes of religious instruction. Where 
catechisms are regarded as parts of the creed they may be 
defined as creeds framed by question and answer, and so 
fitted for use in catechetical instruction. The Westminster 
Larger and Shorter Catechisms are of this nature, and as 
they form part of the standards of Presbyterianism, they 
must have a proper place in this exposition. 

A very important question which arises in connection with 
the subject of creeds is that of their relation to the Scrip- 
tures. As it is at this point that much of the misunderstand- 
ing concerning creeds and confessions has arisen, it may be 
well to explain this relation with some care. First of all, 
let it be distinctly understood that the Bible, and the Bible 
alone, is to be regarded as the infallible rule of faith and 
life. It alone sets forth a revelation from God which is dis- 
tinctly inspired, and hence of infallible truth and divine au- 
thority. The supreme standard in religion, therefore, is 
holy Scripture. The Scriptures are the standards in the 
highest sense, and to them the appeal must always be made. 
This position is held as firmly by those who have a formal 
written creed as it is by those who profess to have no other 
religious standard than the Bible. The divine creed is the 

The Natube and Uses of Keligious Creeds. 


Bible, and the ecclesiastical creed is the church's interpreta- 
tion of this divine creed. Such being the case, the creed is 
derived from, depends on, and is subordinate to, the Bible. 
The creed, therefore, cannot take the place of the Bible, 
much less can it be put above the Scriptures. The Scrip- 
tures, as the inspired word of God, rightly sit upon the 
throne in all matters pertaining to religious belief, conduct 
and worship. They cannot abdicate in fo,vor of, nor be sup- 
planted by, any summary of their contents, no matter how 
true and complete it may be. The Bible is the fixed, un- 
changing and infallible rule, while the creed may be regarded 
as the secondary, subordinate, temporary standard of faith 
and life. Nor is the latter to be divorced from the former, for 
the creed derives its meaning and value only from the Scrip- 
tures, whose contents it professes to exhibit. Hence, the true 
view of the relation of the creed to the Bible may be ex- 
pressed by the phrase, the Scriptures as interpreted by the 
standards. The Bible is the infallible rule, the creed is the 
accepted interpretation of that rule in systematic form. Thus 
the real standard is not the creed in itself considered, but 
the Scriptures as interpreted by the creed. If this intimate 
relation and dependence of the creed upon the Bible be kept 
clearly in mind, some confusion, and perhaps some mistakes, 
would be avoided. 

It may be well to add, that while the creed in the sense 
above explained is taken to be a written creed, yet the same 
thing is virtually true of an unwritten creed. This fact is 
often overlooked, and the objection to a written creed some- 
times comes from those who have a very definite and some- 
times a rather narrow creed, though unwritten. The creed, 
as we have seen, is the meaning of the Scriptures accepted 
by any body of Christians, and it may be written or un- 
written. The fact that it is written does not alter the case, 
for the unwritten creed may be as well defined and as firmly 
held as any written confession can be. It is well understood 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

that some honored branches of the church have no written 
creed, but profess to take the Bible pure and simple as their 
standard. This claim sounds well, and it certainly gives the 
Bible the place of honor which it deserves. But a little 
reflection will show that some of these churches do not 
honor the Scriptures any more than those which have written 
creeds in the sense explained ; and some of those churches 
which have no written creed, but rest upon the Bible alone, 
have an unwritten creed which is just as rigid as any written 
creed can possibly be. This is evident from the fact that 
when a minister seeks ordination in such a church, he must 
accept its credal interpretation of the doctrines, of the ordi- 
nances, and of the polity which it understands the Scrip- 
tures to teach. This is further seen to be the case also in 
the fact that in such branches of the church which have no 
written creed, the conditions of membership are much more 
rigid than in the Presbyterian Church, with its elaborate 
written one. It is clear, therefore, that an unwritten creed 
is exposed to all the objections which lie against one that is 
written, and at the same time the latter has many advan- 
tages over the former, as will be shown later on in this 

Another important question naturally arises from the in- 
quiry concerning the permanency of a creed. Can a creed 
once accepted be amended? The answer to this question 
appears from what has just been said about the relation of 
the creed to the Bible. From the view already taken of that 
relation, it is clear that the way is open for the church at 
any time, in accordance with her own chosen methods, to 
revise or modify her credal interpretation of the Scriptures. 
She dare not undertake to revise or amend the Scriptures, 
although even here room must be left for the textual critic to 
provide us with as correct a text of the Scriptures as it is 
possible to obtain, and for the legitimate work of the higher 
critic to shed what light he can upon the origin and struc- 






The Nature and Uses of Religious Creeds. 


as their 
ives the 
a little 
do not 
e alone, 
'act that 
he must 
ihe ordi- 
e Scrip- 
) also in 
have no 
Lch more 
en creed 
le that is 
J advan- 
i in this 

Q the in- 
1 a creed 
elation of 
)n of that 
hurch at 
thods, to 
1 critic to 
s as it is 
le higher 
nd struc- 

ture of the Bible. Leaving a place for the proper work of 
the textual and the higher critic, the position is still main- 
tained that the church has no right to revise her divine 
religious standard, which is holy Scripture. But the church 
may revise her credal interpretation of the Scriptures. In 
other words, creed revision is not to be denied as a right 
pertaining to the church. But such creed revision must be 
in accordance with the Scriptures themselves, and in order 
to set forth their meaning more clearly and completely. No 
other reason than this exists for creed revision. The reason 
sometimes given, to the effect that the church should revise 
her creed in order to bring it into harmony with the life and 
the thought of the church in a new age is not valid, un- 
less it can also be shown that the creed is not in harmony 
with the Scriptures. In any case the need for creed revi- 
sion should be really urgent before it is undertaken. Recent 
attempts in regard to the Westminster Standards cannot be 
regarded as successful. The aim of such revision, if under- 
taken, should be to express more clearly and fully the teach- 
ings of Scripture, rather than to bring the creed into har- 
mony with the thought and life of the church. The thought 
and life of the church is to be determined by the Scriptures, 
as the rule and norm thereof, and by the Holy Spirit, who 
applies the truth to the members of the church from age to 
age. Thus the creed, as the interpretation of the Scriptures, 
becomes the norm of the life of the church under the tuition 
of the Holy Spirit. But the creed can never, in the first 
instance, consist in an interpretation of the life of the church, 
however clearly that life may in turn reflect the contents of 
the Scriptures as interpreted in the Standards. 

As to the proper length of a creed as an interpretation of 
the Scriptures, opinions will differ. Some think that a very 
short and simple creed best suits the purpose. Others prefer 
a much more extended creed or confession of faith. Here, 
of course, each church must decide for itself. It may be 


The Presbyterian Standards. 



admitted that there are some things in favor of a short and 
simple creed, and at the same time be maintained that a 
compact and complete statement of religious truth, espe- 
cially for the purpose of doctrinal instruction, may have 
many advantages. It may be said that some things might 
be omitted from the Westminster Standards without affect- 
ing the substance of their doctrine ; still, the strong and com- 
plete outline of doctrine, and the clear and logical form in 
which it is presented in these historic Standards, have no 
doubt had much to do with making Presbyterians what they 
are the world over, as an intellectual and moral force. If 
the doctrinal area covered by the creed statement of any 
church be narrow, the danger of a decrease in intelligence 
and moral power will surely threaten that church. Hence a 
comprehensive creed has some important advantages which 
•exhort to hesitation before the demand for a short creed is 
acceded to. If a shorter creed would comprehend a greater 
number of Christians in one fold, it might fail to secure those 
clear and definite views in regard to religious truth which are 
found so necessary to give it strong vitality, and to make it 
a real and lasting power. What was gained in extension 
might be lost in intension. 

II. The Uses of Religious Creeds. 

In what remains of this chapter some of the chief uses of 
religious creeds will be indicated. From what has been said 
concerning the nature or function of religious creeds, it was 
hinted that creeds, confessions, and catechisms are valuable 
and useful. This hint must now be expanded, and it is hoped 
that the explanations now to be made shall elicit greater in- 
terest in the exposition of the Westminster Standards which 
the next chapter begins. Under four heads the main uses 
of creeds and confessions may be summed up. 

In the first place, a creed provides a well-defined bond of 
union as to doctrine, rite, and polity for those who belong to 
any branch of the church. The creed thus forms an intelli- 

The Nature and Uses of Religious Creeds. 


3rt and 
that a 
, espe- 
y have 
} might 
; affect- 
id coni- 
form in 
bave no 
bat they 
►rce. If 
of any 
Hence a 
es which 
creed is 
a greater 
are those 
srhich are 
make it 

uses of 

been said 

ds, it was 


is hoped 

reater in- 

ds which 

aain uses 

bond of 
belong to 
an intelli- 

gent basis for all those who are associated in any one Chris- 
tian communion. Especially does it secure a definite system 
to which all the office-bearers of any branch of the church 
profess agreement. Without some such common basis or 
bond it would be almost impossible to secure general har- 
mony of opinion and action. The Bible is such an extensive 
book that the task of each one for himself would be too great, 
and the prospect of harmony would be exceedingly small. 
Then, without a written creed it would be very difficult to 
examine any one who presented himself as a candidate for 
the ministry. But with a definite written creed the exam- 
ination becomes comparatively easy, and can be intelligently 
attended to, both by the church court and the candidate. 
So, when a man takes upon himself the solemn vows of ordi- 
nation, both he and they who ordain him have a definite 
system of religious truth to which it is understood that the 
vow relates. The Scriptures as interpreted by the Standards, 
the Standards as founded on and agreeable to the word of 
God, become the form according to which the ordination 
vow is presented. This affords a common systematic inter- 
pretation of the contents of the Scriptures, to which the 
office-bearers are committed, and which produces a given 
type of life and teaching in any church communion. 

Here it may be well to add that the subscription to the 
creed in the Presbyterian Church is required only from the 
office-bearers. For membership in this church, all that is 
required is an intelligent and credible profession of faith in 
Christ, and a sincere promise to obey and serve him in life. 
This fact is not always understood by Presbyterians them- 
selves, and many in other communions are not even aware 
of this fact. Of course, those who become members in the 
Presbyterian church may expect to receive the teaching of 
those who have accepted the doctrine of the Confession and 
Catechisms, but even then their private judgment is in no 
way denied an opportunity for exercise. But for the officers 



The Presbyterian Standards. 



of the church, the Standards are of the very highest value in 
providing u compact and comprehensive outline of Scripture 
truth which they are to maintain, promulgate and defend. 

In the second place, a creed is of much value in enabling 
the church to deal in a satisfactory way with cases of heresy. 
The church which has no written creed apart from the Scrip- 
tures is at a disadvantage in such cases. It has no gener- 
ally accepted statement, in written form, of the meaning it 
takes of the Scriptures, by which to test the truth or error of 
any opinions which may be alleged to be heretical. The 
written creed supplies as fully as possible just such a test. 
Moreover, it is also the test to which the accused party gave 
his assent at some earlier time. By this once-accepted test, 
which is still binding upon him, the views of the accused are 
to be judged. This test is not the creed, apart altogether 
from the Scriptures, but the Scriptures as interpreted in the 

At this point objection is sometimes made to the effect 
that this view virtually puts the creed above the Bible, and 
renders an appeal to the Bible impossible in the case ; but 
this is not so, for the appeal is to the Scriptures, as their 
meaning is expressed in the Standards, so that the appeal is 
as directly to the Bible as it can be, even where there is no 
written creed. If at any time it should appear that the creed 
does not correctly express the meaning of the Bible, then 
there is a proper and regular way, by means of the revision 
already spoken of, to bring them into harmony ; but when a 
case of trial for heresy is actually entered on, it does not lie 
in the power of the accused to make the objection alluded to, 
for the reason that the creed representis the doctrine of the 
church to which he belongs, and which doctrine he himself 
had accepted. This does not imply that creed revision is 
inadmissible ; it simply means that a trial for heresy is not 
the proper way or time to revise the creed. As has been 
stated, the church may at any proper time seek to bring her 


The Nature and Uses of Keliqious Creeds. 


creed into closer harmony with the Scriptures, bat the party 
accused of heresy is not the one to plead for this revision, 
when he is placed on trial by the church for his views. He 
is to be fairly tried according to the creed interpretation of 
the Scriptures to which he had subscribed, under which he 
had been serving the church, and whLh for the time being 
is the church's view of the Scrip<^"^^8. The accused is 
judged by the Scriptures as interpreted in the creed, and the 
church, not the individual, is the party to give the final de- 
cision as to wliether any controverted views are in harmony 
or not with the meaning of the Scriptures set forth in the 
creed. There can surely be no injustice in this. 

But, further, if any office-bearer of the church finds that 
his views are not in accord with those taught in the Stand- 
ards, he may withdraw from the church, and hold and even 
teach his views elsewhere. His remaining in the church is 
a voluntary matter, and the church simply protects herself 
when she says that if a man wishes to remain in the church 
he must conform to the opinions and practices of the church. 
Nor can there be injustice or hardship in this connection. 

In the third place, a creed serves to exhibit to other 
branches of the church the views of doctrine, polity, dis- 
cipline, ritual and worship held or observed by any particular 
branch of it. The Westminster Standards are very valuable 
in this respect. Those who are in communion with other 
churches may learn from these Standards what the Presby- 
terian Church believes and teaches. By this means miscon- 
ception can be avoided. In regard to those branches of the 
church which have no written creed, it is exceedingly diffi- 
cult to obtain any clear knowledge of the concensus of teach- 
ing in those churches. The result of this is lack of definite- 
ness and loss of force. 

Now, while dead uniformity is a thing not to be desired, 
and is not here advocated, still a definite written creed may 
combine that degree of uniformity and flexibility which shall 


The Presbyterian Standards. 


produce the best results. For those within the church there 
is unity and flexibility, and for those without the church 
there is a full exhibit of the teaching of the church, so that 
all who read may understand. If, as is sometimes the case, 
the Presbyterian Church is charged with holding views which 
it does not, then it is easy to show that the charge is un- 
founded, by a reference to tlie Standards. Thus it appears 
that the idea of a well-ordered doctrinal system, of a fully- 
organized form of government, and of a high ideal of life, 
sucl] as is usually associated with the Presbyterian church, 
is of great use in showing to other churches what the Pres- 
byterian Church believes and teaches. In like manner this 
is true of all those churches which have a definite written 
creed, and live in« conformity with it. 

In the fourth place, one of the most practical uses of a 
creed remains to be considered, and with a brief notice of it 
this chapter concludes. The creed, confession, or catechism 
always provides a valuable compend of Christian doctrine 
for religious instruction. A good catechism is of immense 
use for the instruction of the young, and for the indoctrina- 
tion of those in more advanced years. It is in this connec- 
tion that catechisms, which are merely creeds in catechetical 
form, have value. As a mere confession of faith, a creed 
may be the best form in which to have the Standards stated 
in, but even a creed is a very useful instrument of instruc- 
tion. But catechisms like the Shorter Catechism are of the 
utmost value for this important purpose. Churches which 
have no doctrinal symbols, or catechetical creeds, find diffi- 
culty in this connection. They Have not a form of sound 
words in which to sum up the teaching of Scripture regard- 
ing the doctrines and duties of our holy religion. It behooves 
the Presbyterian Church not to neglect her duty and privi- 
lege in this respect, with such excellent instruments of in- 
struction in her hands. She should diligently instruct her 
children and young people especially, and not neglect to 

The Nature and Uses op Keligious Creeds. 


teach constantly those in more advanced years. It is only 
by doing so that the people will grow to be strong, intelli- 
gent; and robust Christians, able to give a reason for the 
hope that is in them, and qualified to adorn the doctrine of 
Ood their Saviour in all things. 

These are some of the main uses of creeds and confessions 
in general, and of the Presbyterian Standards in particular. 
Other minor uses might have been mentioned and enforced, 
but what has been said may suffice to give the reader some 
idea of the value of creeds, and perhaps remove some of the 
prejudice which not a few sincere persons have in regard to 
creeds of any kind except the Bible. In the next chapter 
the formal exposition of the Standards of the Presbyterian 
Church, which consist of the Catechisms and Confession 
will be begun. 


Shorter Catechism, 1-3; Larger Catechism, 1-5 ; Confession of Faith, I. 

TWO chapters have been devoted to introductory matters. 
In one a brief history of the leading symbols of the 
church was given, and in the other the nature and uses of 
religious creeds were explained. 

In this chapter the exposition of the Westminster Stand- 
ards is formally begun. The Shorter Catechism is to be 
made the basis of the order in which the various topics are 
to be considered. At the same time a constant endeavor 
will be made to gather up the parallel and additional teach- 
ing which we find at various points in the Larger Catechism 
and the Confession of Faith. A chapter or two, towards the 
close, will be devoted to some subjects of which the Confes- 
sion alone treats. 

The present chapter is to deal with the doctrine of Holy 
Scripture which 1;he Standards exhibit. It is appropriate 
that the Standards should deal with this subject first of 
all, for the Scriptures are the source from which the vari- 
ous truths wLich enter into the creed are to be derived. 
The chapter of the Confession now to be explained deserves 
the most careful study at the ^>resent day, when the ques- 
tioxis which it treats of are raised anew and earnestly dis- 

As a fitting preliminary to the exposition of the Standards^ 

the Catechisms have something to say in regard to the 

nature and end of man's being and destiny. By implication 

this topic is involved in the first chapter of the Confession. 

This is the first topic about which a few things are to be set 



The Doctrine of Holy Scripture. 


I. The Nature and End of Man's Being and Destiny. 

The teaching of the Catechisms upon this topic is very 
brief, but exceedingly comprehensive. Man's chief end is to 
glorify God and to fully enjoy him forever. From this state- 
ment we gather two things: First, we have a statement of 
what man's nature is ; and, secondly, there is an assertion in 
regard to the purpose of his being and activity. 

1. In regard to man's nature, it is taught in the Standards, 
just as it is implied in the Scriptures, that man possesses a 
nature different from and higher than the beasts of the field. 
In the higher elements of his nature he is allied to God. 
This, again, implies two things : 

First, That the nature of man has in it a religious element, 
or that man has been made a religious leing, is taken for 
granted by the Standards. It is not necessary to explain in 
detail in what respects man differs from the brute, nor is it 
requisite to expound at length what is meant by the assertion 
that man is a religious being. It is enough to be sure of the 
fact, and the Standards, like the Scriptures, simply assume 
the fact. Since man has this nature he is the subject of 
religious experiences, and the agent in religious activities, 
which are to be in harmony with the moral relations which 
he sustains to God. In addition, since in his present sinful 
state man needs further light in matters of religion than his 
own nature or powers can supply, a revelation such as is 
found in the sacred Scriptures is urgently needed. 

Secondly, It is implied that man has been endowed with 
immortality; so that he shall have a real existence beyond 
this temporal life is also assumed by the Standards. It is 
not necessary to deteimine whether man's spiritual nature is 
inherently immortal, or whether God so endowed him when 
he created him. Here, as in the previous case, the fact as 
assumed or announced in the Scriptures is simply accepted. 
This is what the Standards do when they speak of the chief 
end of man to be in part the enjoyment of God forever. 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

There is, therefore, no need to present the rational arguments 
for the immortality of man in this exposition. 

2. The second thing in this connection is that the chief 
end or purpose of man's being is to glorify God, in the exer- 
cise of this religious nature, and to enjoy him forever in an 
immortal state. This sets a lofty aim before man, and indi- 
cates a high purpose for his existence and activity. It is the 
pole star of his life on earth, and the goal of his destiny in 
the world to come. Two things are to be noted here : 

First, The life and activity of man are not to be self-cen- 
tered. The end of his being is not to be autoceiitric. The 
selfish and self-seeking life are alike condemned, not only 
for present, but also for the life to come. This cuts by the 
root all forms of the selfish or hedonistic theory of morals. 
Nor does it leave any place for even a refined type of utili- 

Secondly, Man's purpose or aim is to be directed towards 
God. Man, the creature, is to glorify God, the creator, and 
to enjoy him forever. The aim of man is to be theocentric. 
The thinking of his mind, the love and trust of his soul, the 
homage and davotion of his spirit, and the obedience of his 
life, are to be turned away from self, and centered in God. 
Even the fact of the enjoyment of God, here emphasized, 
does not make the teaching of the Standards utilitarian at 
this point, for what ': denoted by the word "glorify" is not 
merely future blessedness in a selfish sense, but rather a per- 
fect joy in the service of God in the eternal state. It is 
sometimes said, with a measure of propriety, that there is a 
double aim for the being and destiny of man. This may be 
stated as blessedness in the service of God, or happiness in 
holiness. The glory of God, the service of God, the holiness, 
constitute the true end, while the enjoyment, the blessedness, 
the happiness, are secondary, and not to be sought as ends 
in themselves. If so sought they will never be found. 
This is the nature and end of man's being and destiny, 

The Doctrine of Holt Scripture. 


which is to be carried forward into the exposition of the 

II. The Holy Scriptures. 

That men maj be taught aright how they are to glorify 
God, some instruction which shall be the rule for their 
direction is needed. This rule is given us in the Scrip- 
tures. They are said to be the only rule to direct us in 
fulfilling the end of our being. This rule chiefly teaches us 
what we are to believe and do in attaining that end. This 
rule consists in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testa- 
ments, the word of God given by inspiration, consisting of 
sixty-six books. The number is merely mentioned in the 
Larger Catechism, but a complete list of these books by name 
is given in the first chapter of the Confession. The doctrine 
of the Standards is that these Scriptures form the only and 
all-sufficient rule for the guidance of men in all matters of 
religion. In expounding the contents of the Standards, and 
especially of that remarkable chapter with which the Confes- 
sion opens, the particulars may be summed up under three 
heads. These are the nature, the contents, and the inter- 
pretation of the Scriptures. 

1. The Nature of the Scriptures. 

As already stated, the sacred Scriptures are the sole and 
sufficient rule of faith and duty. In regard to this general 
statement, the Confession sets forth several particulars which 
are now to be noted in order. 

Firsts The place and value of the light of nature is sug- 
gested. By the light of nature is meant that manifestation 
of God's will and man's duty which may be derived from 
external nature, from the events of providence, and from the 
mental, moral and religious nature of man. The opening 
utterance of the Confession very clearly teaches that the 
power, wisdom and goodness of Almighty God are made 
known to men in these ways, to such an extent that they are 
conscious of moral responsibility, and without excuse before 

tr I I 


The Presbyterian Standards. 


God, if they fail to serve him. The light of nature is thus 
adequate to ground man's responsibility to God, and to make 
it just for God to punish man for disobedience. In this way 
the Standards assume the validity and value of natural re- 
ligion, and it is upon this sure basis that revealed religion is 
made to rest. It is important, therefore, to keep in mind 
that the Standards assume the reality of the religious element 
in man's const ition, and of the primitive knowledge of God, 
which, in the exercise of that religious element, man may 
obtain from nature and the events of providence. 

But with equal clearness the Confession asserts that the 
light of nature is not sufficient to give man that complete 
and correct knowledge of God which is necessary for salva- 
tion, duty, and destiny. Hence, mere natural religion can 
never secure for men who are in a sinful state that knowledge 
of God and of the way of life which they need. If men were 
not disabled by sin the case might be different. It might be 
further argued, that if any member of the sinful race of man- 
kind could be found who did so live up to the light of nature 
as to be without fault or sense of guilt, such a person would 
be acceptable to God. But the fact is, that no such case is 
to be found anywhere, and a sense of guilt rests universally 
OQ the race. It is, therefore, with great propriety that the 
Standards take the position, that while the knowledge of 
God and his will which men have in a natural way is ade- 
quate to leave them without excuse before God, still, it is not 

— iM„; — i. 4-^ 

save and rightly guide th( 

Secondly, The light of revelation is next considered. By 
the light of revelation is denoted that knowledge of God and 
his will which is set forth in the sacred Scriptures. These 
Scriptures contain God's revealed will touching salvation, 
duty and destiny, committed to writing. The Confession 
teaches, as do the Scriptures also, that God was pleased to 
meet man's need by revealing himself at sundry times and in 
divers manners, and in thus revealing himself to declare his 

The Doctrine of Holy Scripture. 


will to the church. In all the ages the revelation was made 
primarily to the church, and then by the church to the world. 
The church thus becomes the candlestick of the Lord, which 
is to hold forth the light of divine revelation to the world in 
darkness and sin. 

These special ways of revealing God's will, and committing 
it to writing, continued for a period of about sixteen hrr ndred 
years. In due time this was to cease, so that God was 
further pleased to secure, that the necessary things thus 
revealed should be committed entirely to writing, by the 
hands of men who were chosen and qualified for this pur- 
pose. This was necessary to preserve the revealed will of 
God, and to render its propagation possible in the world. 
The possession of the sacred oracles by the church ministers 
to the stability and comfort of her people in all ages, and 
affords her protection against the corruptions of the world 
and the assaults of Satan. For such reasons as these the 
Confession concludes that the revealed word of God, in per- 
manent written form, is most necessary for the welfare and 
progress of true religion. 

The Confession next defines the canon of Scripture, and 
gives a complete list of the canonical books of the Old Testa- 
ment, thirty-nine in number, and of the New Testament, 
twenty-seven more, making sixty-six in all. The Confession 
expressly excludes the Apocrypha from the canon of Scrip- 
ture, and it is not admitted to have divine authority. It is 
not to be regarded nor used in a way different from other 
merely human writings. The only authoritative word of 
God is the sixty-six books. 

Thirdly, The inspiration of the canonical Scriptures is to 
be considered. 

This is one of the most important questions in regard to 
the nature of the Scriptures, and this is the feature of them 
which mainly constitutes their authority. While the Confes- 
sion plainly states the fact of the inspiration of holy Scrip- 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

ture, it does not fully define in what that inspiration really 
consists. This does not imply that any view whatever may 
by taken of the scriptural facts denoted by their inspiration. 
The whole of the sixty- six books are given by inspiration of 
God, and the Confession in its teaching implies the full force 
of the claim which the Scriptures thus make as to their own 
origin and nature. God, by the agency of the Holy Spirit, 
is their divine author, through the free active powers of the 
men who wrote the books. 

Owing to the importance of the statement of the Confes- 
sion that the whole of the sixty-six books are given by inspi- 
ration of God to be the rule of faith and life for sinful men, 
some expansion of its meaning may be of service at the 
present day. This expansion can only give the headings 
of the statement of the doctrine of inspiration which is in- 
volved in the Confession. First, The divine inspiration of 
the canon of Scripture is supernatural, so that the various 
books are not the natural products of the times in which 
they were produced, or of the men who spoke or wrote their 
contents. Inspiration is not merely a natural genius for 
religion. Secondly, The agency of the Holy Spirit is dynami- 
cal, not mechanical. The Holy Spirit so operated upon the 
activities of the human authors of the several books that, while 
they were divinely controlled and directed, they were not 
coerced or compelled. They were not machines, but free 
men divinely guided. Thirdly, So far as the contents of the 
Scriptures are concerned, their inspiration is plenary, not 
partial. The whole of the Scriptures, not merely the more 
important parts, are inspired, and all these parts are pos- 
sessed of equal divine certitude. Fourthly, So far as the 
form of the contents of the Scripture is concerned, their in- 
spiration is verbal, in the sense that the writers were divinely 
guided in the choice of the language form, as well as divinely 
moved in regard to their thoughts. This does not imply 
mere dictation, but it asserts that the sacred writers were not 

The Doctrine of Holy Scbiptube. 


left to themselves in regard to the form of their writings, any- 
more than in respect to their contents. The inspiration of 
the Scriptures, therefore, is supernatural, dynamical, plenary, 
and verbal. Infallible truth as to contents, divine accuracy 
as to form, and supreme authority as to their claim, are the 
qualities of the sacred Scriptures as of no other writings. It 
is proper to add that these qualities belong in an absolute 
sense to the original writings of the inspired authors. Sub- 
sequent copies have been kept pure and authentic by divine 
providence in a most remarkable way. It is in this field 
that the work of the textual critic renders such a useful ser- 
vice, but the question of the correct text should never be 
confounded with that of the inspiration of the text, no matter 
how closely they may be related. 

Fourthly^ The question of the authority of the Scriptures 
next claims attention. What are the grounds upon which 
confidence in the supreme authority of the word of God may 
securely rest, and on account of which it is to be believed 
and obeyed? The answer to this question forms a very im- 
portant part of < '6 doctrine of the Confession at this point. 
Negatively, as against Rome, the authority of Scripture does 
not depend on any merely external support, such as that of 
any man, no matter how learned, nor upon any church, even 
though it be ready to speak with a great deal of authority. 
Positively, its authority depends wholly upon God, ^vho by 
his Spirit is the divine author of the Scriptures. They are 
to be accepted as authoritative because through them the 
voice of God is undoubtedly uttered. 

At the same time the Confession indicates, with great 
caution and skill, the proper place and form of the evidences 
which lead to the conviction that God is speaking to men in 
and by the Scriptures. When these evidences lead to this 
conviction, the ground or basis of their authority is not the 
evidence itself considered, but rather the fact that God is 
now known to be uttering his voice in the Scriptures. Three 
classes of evidences are mentioned in the Confession. 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

First, There is the external or the historical evidence of 
the divine origin and inspiration of the Bible. This is found 
in the witness of the church, either testifying in her corpo- 
rate capacity, or by means of individuals within her ranks. 
By the testimony of the history, by the witness of the mira- 
cles, and by the fulfilment of prophecy, men may be moved 
to a high and reverent esteem for the Scriptures and to a 
conviction of their truth and divinity. 

Secondly, There are the internal evidences which arise 
from the nature of the contents of the Scriptures. This is a 
very important branch of the evidences described in the 
Confession. It embraces the heavenliness of the matter, the 
efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent 
of all the parts, the scope of the whole, which is to give glory 
to God, the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's 
salvation, and many incomparable excellences, and the entire 
perfection of the Scripture, are arguments whereby it abun- 
dantly evidences itself to be the word of God. But when 
thus proved it is still true that the basis of authority is not 
in the evidence, but in the fact of the divine authorship of 
the writings. 

Thirdly, There remains what may be termed the spiritual 
evidence, which is the highest and strongest of all. This 
consists in the agency of the Holy Spirit, the divine author 
of the Scriptures, bearing witness by and with the word in 
the souls of men, and thereby producing a full persuasion 
and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority of 
the word in the heart. This is an exceedingly important 
but not easily understood position. It asserts that the same 
Spirit who gave the word by his inspiration, also produces 
by his illumination the full conviction in our hearts that it 
is what it claims to be, the sure word of God. This is the 
witness of the Spirit in experience. 

2. The contents of the Scriptures are next to be consid- 
ered. The topic which the Confession here raises is that of 




The Doctrine of Holy Scripture. 


noe of 
; found 
3 mira- 
id to a 

li arise 
his is a 
in the 
ter, the 
'e glory 
>f man's 
e entire 
t abun- 
it when 
y is not 
rship of 

. This 
) author 
word in 
lority of 
he same 
that it 
is is the 

3 that of 

the completeness of the Scriptures, as the rule of faith and 
life. This simply means that the whole counsel of God in 
regard to all things necessary for his glory, and the salvation 
and duty of man is contained in the Holy Scriptures. These 
things are discovered in the Scriptures in a twofold way. 
They are either expressly set down in Scripture, or deduced 
therefrom by good and necessary consequence. In the first 
case the matter is clear, and in the second, care must be 
taken that no improper inferences are made. 

The idea of the completeness of Scripture also implies that 
nothing is to be added to or taken from them at any time. 
The canon of Scripture is complete and closed, and all that 
men need for faith and life is therein contained. Hence no 
supposed new revelations of the Spirit are to be added, and 
the opinions and traditions of men are to bo excluded. 

The Confession further asserts, that for the saving know- 
ledge of the contents of the Scriptures the inward illumina- 
tion of the Holy Spirit is also needed. Spiritual things are 
to be spiritually discerned. The saving knowledge of the 
word is spiritual knowledge, and to give this kind of know- 
ledge the divine Spirit is necessary. The conclusion is that 
the Spirit first gave the word, the Spirit evidences the word, 
and the Spirit teaches the saving meaning of the word. 

At this point a very important principle, sometimes over- 
looked and sometimes pushed too far, comes into view. This 
principle relates to certain circumstances of government and 
worship, but it does not apply to matters of doctrine. Ac- 
cording to the Confession, there are certain circumstances in 
the government and worship of the church which are com- 
mon to human actions and societies, such as the hours for 
public worship, or the number of r' .ling elders to be chosen 
in any church, which are to be ordered by the light of natuje 
and Christian prudence. But even in these cases nothing is 
to be ordered or instituted in the church which is not in 
accordance with the general rules of the word. This plainly 






The Presbyterian Standards. 

means that even in these matters the great principles of the 
\eord of God are not to be departed from. 

3. The interpretation of the Scriptures is the third and 
last topic for discussion in this chapter. Some care is needed 
here also in order to understand the doctrine of the Con- 

It is first stated that all the things contained in the Scrip- 
tures are not equall^ nlain, or alike clear to all who read. 
At the same time 6 thing which needs to be known, be- 
lieved, and observed i^r salvation is so plainly and fully Bet 
forth, that the unlearned as well as the learned, with a proper 
use of the ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient know- 
ledge of them for salvation and life. This being the case, 
the common people are to have access to the Scriptures, 

To secure this, generally and continuously from age to 
age, the Scriptures are to be translated out of the original 
tongues in which they were immediately inspired by God, 
into the common language of every nation unto which they 
come, so that all may be taught thereby. In this connection 
the Confession states that, by the singular care and provi- 
dence of God, these Scriptures, passing from age to age, and 
from one language to another, have been kept pure and au- 
theutical ; that is, they have been preserved correct and intact. 
Consequently they may be relied on as in every way worthy 
of confidence. In all controversies of religion the appeal is to 
the Scriptures, and the people have a right to, and an in- 
terest in, the perusal of the Scriptures, so that, the word 
dwelling in them, they may worship God in an acceptable 
manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures 
have hope. 

Two important statements of the Confession remain for 
brief explanation. One pertains to the infallible rule for 
the interpretation of the Scriptures, and the other relates to 
the supreme judge in matters of religion. To the first, the 
answer of the Confession is that the Scripture itself is its 

The Doctrine of Holy Scuipture. 


own rule of interpretation. This is what is known as the 
principle of the analogy or proportion of faith. By means of 
this principle the meaning of one passage is to bo ascertained 
by the comparison of it with others which are perhaps more 
easily understood. Every part of Scripture is to be under- 
stood in the light of the analogy of the whole. To the 
second question the Confession makes the reply that the 
Holy Spirit speaking in the Scriptures is the judge, whose 
sentence is to determine all matters of religion, alike for the 
church and the individual. The decrees of church councils, the 
opinions of good men, and the impressions of private spirits 
are all to be guided and formed by the Holy Spirit speaking 
in the Scriptures. Thus it appears that the Holy Spirit is 
the final exegete, as well as the invincible apologete, of the 
sacred Scriptures. The infallible rule for the interpretation 
of Scripture is the Scripture itself, and the supreme judge in 
matters of religion is the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scrip- 
tures. It may be added that the Spirit thus speaks to the 
church, and through the church to the world. 





SnoBTKK Cateohism, 4-6; Largku Catechism, 6-11; Confession of 

Faith, II. 

THIS chapter is to explain what the Standards teach con- 
cerning the nature, attributes, and tri-personality of 
the Godhead. The Shorter Catechism has brief, but ex- 
ceedingly clear and comprehensive, statements upon "these 
topics. The Larger Catechism has a more extended outline 
of the doctrine of the Trinity, while the Confession gives 
prominence to the subject of the attributes of God. 

It is worthy of notice that the Standards do not undertake 
to prove in any way the fact of the divine existence. They 
take precisely the same position upon this point as the 
Scriptures. They simply take for gro,nted that there is a 
God, and then proceed to expound the contents of the reve- 
lation which he has been pleased to give. Incidentally, 
some of the arguments for the being of God are b^ggested 
in the Scriptures, but the fundamental position of the Bible 
is, that it assumes the existence and government of God with- 
out ihe presentation of formal proof. The Standards very 
properly take the same clear, bold ground, and proceed to 
state the teaching of the Scriptures in regard to the nature, 
attributes, and tri-personality of the divine being. There 
are three heads of exposition under which the teaching of 
the Standards may be arranged. 

I. The Nature of the Godhead. 

Here, of course, no attempt is made to define the essence 
of the Godhead, for there is a profound sense in which the 
divine essence, though the most real of all essences, is at the 


The Being, Attbibutes, and Pebsons, Etc. 


same time the most mysterious of all. The thought of man 
cannot find out the Almighty unto perfection, so that a 
reverent humility is the proper spirit to cherish in consider- 
ing such a profound theme as the essential nature of the 
divine being. 

1. The Standards in all their parts assert that there is only 
one living and true God. This is a plain assertion, based 
on Scripture, which excludes tri-theism, and every form of 
polytheism. It is a positive statement that there is only one 
divine essence, and that this single essence subsists as a 
unitary, personal being. No space need be occupied in 
showing, by various proofs, that there can be only one deity 
who meets the demands of man's reason, conscience, and 
life. It need only be stated that reason is at one with 
Scripture in the assertion of well-defined monotheism. But, 
further, the assertion that there is only one God implies 
that his essence has what may be called a unitariness, and 
that he is absolute and independent in his existence. The 
essence of God is such that it is incapable of any sort of 
division. There is one God, and his essence is unitary and 
indivisible. Since God is such a being as he is, there cannot 
be another such as he. 

2. The Standards further describe the nature of God as 
living and true. The Scriptures frequently draw the con- 
trast between the true God and false gods, between the liv- 
ing God and dead idols. The Standards very properly give 
emphasis to the same facts. The idea conveyed by the word 
living seems to be that of activity in originating all forms 
of life and motion, and in controlling and governing by active 
energy and omnipresent will all the events which transpire 
in the universe. The notion expressed by the word trice 
seems to be that there is none beside this God which is truly 
of the nature of deity. He, and he alone, is the one living 
and true God, and beside him there is none else worthy the 
'lame of God. 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

h; 1 



3. In regard to the nature of God, the Standards further 
assert the spirituality of the divine essence. God is Spirit. 
This is, perhapr the chief description of the nature of God 
which the Scriptures, and the Standards also, contain. The 
spiricuality of God is his distinguishing quality, apart from 
the material world. This excludes all materialistic concep- 
tions of the divine nature, and places him in the category of 
pure spirit. Such a conception lays the foundation for the 
intelligence and personality of God, and at the same time 
aflfords the proper ground for his volitional agency. It is in 
this connection that the Confession says that God, being a 
most pure spirit, has no body, nor parts, nor passions. This 
means that he has no material organism of any kind, in 
analogy with that of man ; that his essence cannot be divided 
into parts, and that he does not experience the passions to 
which man is subject. This statement ascribes to Almighty 
God pure, absolute, independent, active, spirituality of nature. 
Such a conception of God is found nowhere else than in the 

The idea of the divine Spirit can only be relatively under- 
stood. From the human spirit and its activities some faint 
conception can be obtained, by analogy, of the nature and 
operations of the divine Spirit. If the human spirit is made 
in the likeness of the divine Spirit, then there is an analogy 
between them which provides a basis for some reasoning 
from the one to the other. The spirituality of God is the 
peculiar possession of the Scriptures. As a pure spirit he 
is invisible to the bodily senses of man, still it is possible for 
him to reveal himself, just as one human spirit can make 
itself known to another. This kinship of nature is the basis 
for the dwelling of the divine Spirit in the human spirit, and 
thereby of a revelation from God to man. 

4. There are several terms in the Standards which do not, 
strictly speaking, denote divine attributes, but which rather 
describe, further, the divine nature, so that it may be proper 

The Being, Attributes, and Persons, Etc. 


to notice them at this point. He is self-existent, and thus 
has his being in and of himself. His existence is not a de- 
pendent one in any sense, for as self-existent he depends 
upon no one else for his existence. He is also absolute, and 
in himself all-sufficient, and is thus not in need of any of the 
creatures which he has made. He does not derive any essen- 
tial glory from any of his creatures, but his abiding and eter- 
nal glory is simply manifested in, by, unto, and upon the 
works which he performs. He is infinite also in all his being 
and perfections. His being is complete and boundless, and 
all his attributes, natural and moral, are absolutely without 
any defect. Finally, God is said to have sovereign dominion 
over all his creatures at all times, governing each according 
to the nature he has given to it. He is the source of all 
finite being, and upon him all things depend for their origin 
and continuance in being. With all his works he may at 
any time do as he pleases. 

II. The Attributes, or Qualities of the Divine Nature. 

This is an important topic, for it is chiefly by a knowledge 
of the attributes of God that an acquaintance with his nature 
and perfections is obtained. Consequently, in the Scrip- 
tures whereby God has made himself known to man, much 
is said about the attributes of the divine nature, and in the 
Standards prominence is given to the same thing. The 
Shorter Catechism, in its matchless answer to the ques- 
tion : What is God ? gives the main categories of the divine 
attributes. The Larger Catechism, and still more the Con- 
fession, enlarges this description considerably. 

A difficulty will be felt in the confessional statement of the 
attributes by almost any one who tries to define and classify 
them. As a matter of fact, no classification of the attributes 
is attempted in the Standards, nor is there given any defini- 
tion of what an attribute is. And some qualities which 
denote certain aspects of the essence are regarded as attri- 
butes, and this increases the difficulty. In a general way an 


The Presbyterian Standards. 




attribute may be defined as some quality which pertains to 
the essence or activity of God. This supplies a twofold 
general division of the attributes: the one essential, per- 
taining to the essence ; and the other determining, pertaining^ 
to the activity of God. But such a division is not formally- 
followed in the Standards, and so, for the sake of simplicity^ 
it may be better to gather their teaching around the "efinition 
of the Shorter Catechism. This opens up a fourfold division^ 

1. Attributes which pertain to the essential nature of God, 
and which qualify all the other attributes. From this point 
of view God is immutable, or unchangeable, which meana 
that his essential nature is not subject to any mutation. 
Immensity is also an attribute of the essence of God. Thi» 
is the basis of his omnipresence, which means that he ia 
everywhere present. God is also eternal, which simply de- 
notes the fact that his being has had no beginning, and shall 
have no end. He is from everlasting to everlasting. Then 
he is incomprehensible, which expresses the idea that the 
essential nature of God cannot be fully understood. God is 
also almighty and glorious, wMch means that he possesses 
all power, and is clad with all glory. This is the basis of 
his omnipotence, which is his power over all things, bound- 
less and free, rendering him all glorious. These are the 
chief essential attributes of God mentioned in the Standards. 

2. Attributes which are chiefly intellectual in their nature 
come next. God knows all things, for in his sight all things 
are open and manifest. His knowledge is infinite and infallible. 
It is also independent of the creature, and cannot in any 
real sense be contingent or uncertain. This is his omnisci- 
ence. Then he is all-wise, which signifies that he not only 
knows all things in all their connections and conditions, but 
that he has power to arrange all events according to the 
counsel of his own will, and thereby to adapt means to in- 
tended ends. This is the wisdom of God. Then God has. 
absolute freedom, as the Standards say that he is most free. 

The Being, Attributes, and Persons, Etc. 


His doings are not determined by anything apart from him- 
self. All that he does in creating the world, and in sustain- 
ing it, and all his gracious activity in the wide field of 
redemption, is freely done. In a sense this brings into view 
the moral attributes. The absolute freedom of God is the 
stepping-stone between the intellectual and the moral attri- 

3. Attributes which are mainly moral in their nature are 
now to be considered. Here the Standards enumerate quite 
a list, and in several cases it is evident that no clear line of 
separation is observed between the intellectual and the moral 
attributes of the divine nature and modes of operation. He 
is moBt holy, which denotes the absolute purity and moral 
perfection of his nature. He is also most righteous in all 
the exercises of his holy will, which means that all his doing& 
are in harmony with the rectitude of his moral nature, as 
expressed in the moral law. He is also mosD just in all hia 
dealings with his moral creatures, rendering unto each ac- 
cording to his deserts. These three attributes of holiness,, 
righteousness, and justice are not to be entirely separated^ 
for in a sense they are different aspects of the same thing 
rather than three different qualities. He is holy, says the 
Confession, in all his counsels, in all his works, and in all 
his commands. This description is all-embracing. As judge 
he administers his moral government in accordance with his 
holiness, righteousness, and justice; and if terrible, he i& 
also just in all his judgments. In like manner God does, a& 
he must from the very nature of the case, hate all sin. He 
cannot look upon it with the least degree of allowance. 

4. Attributes which are rather of the nature of emotions 
remain to be considered. Speaking by way of analogy, what 
may be called qualities of the heart of God are to be ex- 
plained. It is well to remark, however, that while the term 
heart is used, the language is taken from human analogies, 
for God has no such passions as human nature possesses. 


The Presbyterian Standards. 


Still, there are certain qualities exhibited by the divine activi- 
ties which can only be expressed by terms which denote 
human emotions. First of all, the Confession says that God 
is most loving. This is a wide, all-comprehensive statement 
of the love of God in all its aspects and exercises, as set 
forth in the Scriptures. The Confession cannot, therefore, 
be justly charged with giving no proper place to the love of 
God in its creed statement. God is also most gracious, 
showing free and abundant favor to all his creatures, espe- 
cially to those who are undeserving. In like manner, he is 
most merciful, and so extends clemency, on righteous grounds, 
to the guilty. He is long-suffering, too, bearing long with 
the wayward and hard-hearted; and to emphasize the love, 
grace, mercy and patience of God, it is added, both in the 
Confession and the Larger Catechism, that he is abundant 
in goodness and truth. The fact that he also forgives ini- 
quity, transgression and sin, and rewards those who dili- 
gently seek him, is in like manner stated in the Confession. 
If he hates sin, and will by no means clear the guilty, he 
shows mercy, that he may be feared, and is loving, patient 
and kind. 

Such, in four particulars, is the portrait which the Stand- 
ards draw of God, as his being and modes of activity are 
exhibited by his attributes; and this portrait is true to 
Scripture, presenting God as a being alike strong and tender, 
at once just and loving. Moreover, it is a portrait which 
fully justifies the statement of the Confession that to God 
is due, from angels and men and every other creature, what- 
soever worship, service, or obedience he is pleased to require 
of them. 

This completes the exposition of the attributes. In making 
it, the contents of the Standards have been exhibited with 
some care, and nothing additional has boen introduced. The 
remainder of this chapter deals with the tri-personality of 
the divine being. This raises the subject of the Trinity. 

The Being, Attributes, and Persons, Etc. 


III. The Tri-personality of the Divine Essence. 

This important doctrine is merely stated in the Shorter 
Catechism, and has only a single brief section devoted to it 
in the Confession. In the Larger Catechism, however, there 
are three comprehensive questions bearing upon it. These 
will be followed closely in the brief statement now to be 
made, and all further theological speculations upon a very 
intricate subject will bo avoided. 

In general, the doctrine of the Trinity may be stated thus : 
In the Godhead, three distinct persons, who are the same in 
substance and equal in power and glory, subsist in a single 
indivisible essence. This is a slight expansion of the Shorter 
Catechism. The Larger Catechism names the three persons, 
and adds that these are one true eternal God, the same in 
substance, equal in power and glory, although distinguished 
by their personal properties. The Confession makes a very 
compact utterance when it says that in the unity of the God- 
head there be three persons of one substance, power, and 
eternity. Putting what our Standards teach upon this great 
subject in an orderly form, there are four particulars to be 

1. The Godhead subsists in three persons. The names of 
these three persons are the Father, the Son, and the Holy 
Ghost. These three are properly called persons, because in 
the Scriptures the qualities of personality, such as individ- 
uality, intelligence, and free agency, are ascribed alike to 
these three. In other words, self-consciousness and self- 
determination, the elements of personality, are applied in the 
Scriptures equally to the three persons of the Godhead. 
The Father stands first in the order of being and operation. 
Hence, he is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding. Uni- 
formly he is spoken of as first in order. The Son always 
stands second in order, and is eternally begotten of the 
Father. He is, and ever has been, the only-begotten and 
well-beloved Son of the Father. The Holy Ghost, or Spirit, 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

Ill ways stands third in order, and is represented as eternally- 
proceeding from the Father and the Son, for he is called alike 
the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of Christ. On account of 
this order of subsistence and operation, they are called the 
first, the second, and the third persons of the Godhead. 
But this does not denote that there is any inferiority of 
essence, or any limitation of attributes, in any of the three 
persons. It is only meant that there are eternal and abiding 
relations subsisting between the three persons, in the indi- 
visible essence of the Godhead. 

2. The second point relates to the peculiar property per- 
taining to each person. This is a point about which th»r 
theologians say very much, but the Standards do little more 
than state the fact, as is done in the Larger Catechism. 
These peisonal properties are to be carefully distinguiohed 
from the divine attributes already described. The attributes 
qualify either the essence, or the modes of the activity of the 
essence. The personal properties are possessed by the three 
persons, and modify them separately. The attributes per- 
tain equally to all the persons, while the properties pertain 
only to each of the several persons in order. This distinc- 
tion must always be kept carefully in mind. 

First, The peculiar property of the Father is paternity, or 
fatherhood. The term is here to be taken in its narrow 
sense, as expressing the relation of the Father to the Son, 
The property of the Father is to beget the Son eternally. 
This does not imply the genesis of the Son in time ; it ex- 
presses an eternal relation between the first and second 
persons in the Godhead, whicli relation may be suitably 
represented by analogy with the relation subsisting between 
a father and a son among men, leaving out of view the fact 
of origin in time. 

Secondly, The peculiar property of the Son is filiation or 
sonship. Sonship is to be taken here in its special sense, as 
it bears upon the relation of the Son to the Father. The 

The Being, Attributes, and Persons, Etc. 


Son is begotten eternally, which simply means that the Son 
from aU eternity sustains that relation to the Father, accord- 
ing to which the person of the second person is constituted 
and ever abides, time not being taken into account at all. 
It is eternal constitution of person, and not temporal 
communication of essence, which should be made prominent 

Thirdly, The peculiar property of the third person is 
procession or spiration. This means that from eternity the 
Holy Ghost holds the relation of one proceeding from the 
Father and the Son. It is to be remembered here also that 
this relation does not imply a beginning in time of the third 
person. It is rather an assertion that from eternity the third 
person sustains a certain inner constitutive relation to the 
other persons, which the term procession, in a measure, 
denotes. There has been much debate between the Latin 
and the Greek churches as to whether the Spirit proceeds 
eternally from the Father and the Son, or from the Father 
only. This is the chief doctrinal barrier between the Eastern 
and the Western churches to-day. Protestantism has fol- 
lowed the opinion of the Western church, and holds that the 
Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son. 

3. In regard to the proofs for the fact of the Trinity, the 
Standards in the Larger Catechism merely state the head- 
ings of the proof from the Scriptures. In a large measure 
this proof relates to the divinity of the second peison and the 
personality of the third person, for the personality of the 
second and divinity of the third have scarcely ever been 
called in question. The complete proof of the Trinity re- 
quires the proof of the true deity and the real personality of 
each of the three persons. Omitting special points of proof 
which are peculiar to one or other of the three persons, the 
following heads of proof are common to all the persons, and 
are now mentioned. 

First, Divine names in various ways are applied indiscrimi- 


The Presbyterian Standards. 



nately to each of the persons. This is done by the Scrip- 
tures in such a way is to indicate the true deity and per- 
sonality of each of the persons. In the Scriptures names 
often indicate nature. 

Secondly^ Divine attributes, such as omniscience, omni- 
presence, absohite rectitude, and many others are applied 
equally to the three persons. This is done in such a way 
as to imply community of essence and true deity in each 

Thirdly y Divine works, such as creation, inspiration, wo. a.- 
ing of miracles and regeneration, are connected with the 
agency of each of the persons, and this again involves tnie 
deity and personal agency. 

Fourthly, Divine worship and homage are to be given to 
each of the three persons. This is evident from the terms 
of the apostolic benediction, and of the formula of baptism. 
If none but God is to be worshipped, and if each of these 
three persons is to be reverenced as God, then each must be 
truly of the essence of deity. 

From these mere heads of proof it is very evident that 
essential deity and true personality belong to each of the 
persons, and that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost 
are distinct divine persons. This is the doctrine of the 
Trinity as taught in the Standards. 

4. But a word may be added in regard to the modes in 
which the three persons stand related to the divine activity 
in creation, in providence, and in redemption. In general, 
it may be said that the Father works through the Son, by 
the Holy Ghost. Another statement is to the effect that the 
Father and the Son operate through the Holy Spirit. Still 
another way to state the same thing is to say that in all 
divine acts the three divine persons concur and agree. This 
is true of all the activities of the Godhead, but especially of 
those which pertain to redemption. Therein the Father 
originates the great and gracious plan by his wisdom and 

The Being, Attributes, and Persons, Etc. 


his love. Then the Son, as the Mediator of the covenant 
and the Redeemer of his people, works out its conditions 
and provides its benefits ; and, finally, the Holy Spirit brings 
sinful men into the personal possession of these benefits, and 
so he becomes the executive of the Godhead in the souls of 
men. But of this topic no further expansion can now be 




Shoktek Catechism, 7, 8; Lakgek CAJEonisM, 12-14; Confession of 

Faith, III. 

THIS chapter leads to the consideration of a very difficult 
set of topics, and has to deal with what forms one of 
the great distinguishing features of the Westminster Stand- 
ards. In general, the doctrine of predestination is to be ex- 
plained, according to its statement in the Standards. The 
Shorter Catechism at this point states the general doctrine 
of the decrees, and then, in connection with the doctrines of 
redemption in Christ, it sets forth the subject of election. 
The Larger Catechism does the same thing, though not quite 
so distinctly. In this celebrated third chapter of the Con- 
fession, the whole doctrine of predestination, together with 
that branch of it termed election, is fully exhibited. For 
purposes of compact and complete statement the plan of the 
Confession is perhaps best; but for practical purposes of 
exposition there are some advantages in the order pursued 
in the Catechisms. According to the latter plan the general 
doctrine of the decrees, or God's eternal purpose, would be 
explained at this point, and then, in connection with the great 
redemptive work of Christ, election as a branch of the eternal 
plan of God would be explained. This would be in harmony 
with the true order of the factors involved in the purpose to 
redeem, according to the view of that order held by generic 
Calvinism, as taught in the Standards. This would also 
avoid even any appearance of the supra-lapsarianism, which 
has sometimes been unjustly charged against the Confession, 
The Confession has the best order for a rigid creed state- 


The Decrees, or God's Eternal Plan. 



ment, while that of the Catechisms is no doubt the best for 
purposes of religious instruction. 

I. The explanation of some terms involved in the doctrine 
of this chapter may be useful at the outset. In this discus- 
sion there are several terms which are often used, and which 
it may be of advantage to have explained at once. This is 
now briefly done in a few paragraphs. 

It may be well to remark that the term decrees used in the 
Standards is often rather misconstrued. It is often popu- 
larly taken to mean some sort of efficient and entirely 
sovereign enactments, which, in an authoritative, if not in an 
entirely arbitrary, manner determine all events in precisely 
the same way. But this is not the correct meaning of the 
term, and the term itself is perhaps not the best one that 
might have been used. The idea denoted by some such word 
as purpose, or plan, made and executed, is what is meant by 
the term decrees in the Standards. In this there cannot be, 
in the nature of the case, anything arbitrary or irrational. 
The definition in the Catechisms in a measure explains the 
term decrees from this point of view, and so relieves the 
difficulty to a certain extent. The Shorter Catechism says 
that the decrees are God's eternal purpose, and the Larger 
Catechism describes them to be the wise, free and holy acts 
of the counsel of God's will. This signalizes the term pur- 
pose, which is a very good one to denote what is here meant. 
Perhaps the best single word to signify what is intended by 
the term decree, is the simple word, plan. According to this 
idea, it is asserted that God has had from all eternity an all- 
wise and intelligible plan, and that all the events in nature, 
in providence and in grace, are but the bringing certainly 
into effect of the various parts of this all-embracing plan. 
After this preliminary remark, the terms already alluded to 
may be explained. 

First, Foreknowledge is a term often used in these discus- 
sions. It expresses the fact that God, in the exercise of his 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

wisdom and omniscience, knows always and at all times 
everything which is to come to pass. Strictly speaking there 
is nothing future for him, as there is for finite minds, so that 
all events are at once present to his infinite knowledge. God 
knows beforehand all events in their relations, and with their 
conditions, so that there can be nothing entirely contingent, 
as a matter of fact. 

Secondly^ Foreordination is a general term which is used 
to express the fact that the divine ordination is related in 
some way or other to all that happens. The word reallj 
means to arrange beforehand, and so to predispose all events 
and their conditions in such a way that all shall come to pass 
according to the eternal plan. This fact pertains alike to 
the sphere of the natural order of the physical universe, and 
to that of the moral order of the divine government of re- 
sponsible agents. Foreknowledge and foreordination are 
closely related, inasmuch as God foreknows events because 
he has in some way prearranged the happening of these 
events. To admit foreknowledge carries foreordination 
with it. 

Thirdly, Predestination is still a stronger word, and it 
needs to be thoroughly understood. It literally means to 
bound or limit, and so to fix very definitely the happening 
of any event. Usually it stands as the word which specially 
denotes the Calvinistic views upon this subject, and so to 
express the plan of God as it relates to the acts and destiny 
of moral agents. In the Standards it is uniformly applied to 
the case of the elect, but never to that of the non-elect. The 
case of the latter is always denoted by the term ordination 
Predestinated to life and ordained to death is the fixed lan- 
guage of the Standards, and this should never be forgotten. 

Fourthlyy Election is the special term which, with abun- 
dant Scripture warrant, is applied to the heirs of salvation. 
The word means selected, designated, or chosen out. It re- 
lates to God's gracious plan or purpose to save certain per- 


The Decrees, or God's Eternal Plan. 


sons through Jesus Christ, and by the appointed mepns. 
This eternal plan, in its bearing upon those who are finally 
saved, must, in the nature of the case, be a gracious choice, 
and an efficacious salvation of sinful men. This is a very 
important term, and great care should be taken not to ex- 
plain away its true scriptural signification. 

Fifthly^ Eeprobation is the strongest word used in the 
discussions upon this great subject. At the very outset it is 
proper to say that this term, often so severely criticised, does 
not occur in the Standards. It has been introduced into 
theological discussions to denote the divine purpose in re- 
gard to the lost. But the Standards clearly do not quite 
justify the use sometimes made of this strong word. The 
Standards simply speak of the non-elect being passed by 
and left in their sin, so that the best word to express this 
fact is the word preterition, or passing-by. The non-elect 
are passed by and left in condemnation, on account of their 
sins. This word is certainly a much better one than repro- 
bation, and the latter, let it never be forgotten, is not found 
in the Standards. But this explanation of terms must suffice 
for the present. 

II. The fundamental fact in the doctrine of the decrees is 
the sovereignty of God over all things. It is needful to keep 
this in mind, in order to avoid narrow mechanical views of 
this great subject. The basal fact in the doctrine of the 
Standards at this point is the absolute sovereignty of an 
omniscient, omnipotent, and holy God. If this fact be 
rightly understood, as it is taught in the Scriptures and set 
forth in the Standards, then foreknowledge, foreordination, 
and predestination, which includes election, all follow as a 
matter of course. And, further, if this view of the divine 
sovereignty be held in its proper scriptural proportions, the 
Calvinistic view will appear to be the only one which does 
justice to all the facts in the case. If God bo before all, 
over all, in all and through all things, and if by him all 


The Presbyterian Standards. 


things exist and subsist, then his absolute direction and con- 
trol of all things, each according to the nature and powers 
which he has given it, must be admitted. And this is all 
that predestination, and that branch of it known as election, 
means ; and less than this cannot be held and justice be done 
to Scripture. Emphasis, therefore, must be laid upon the 
fact of the divine sovereignty in the intelligent interpreta- 
tion of the third chapter of the Confession. 

III. The decrees, or eternal purpose of God, are next to 
be explained in a general way. The Shorter Catechism ex- 
presses this aspect of the decrees when it says that God by 
his eternal purpose foreordains whatsoever comes to pass. 
This, in briefest form, is a statement of the general scope of 
the eternal purpose of God, and it includes several particu- 

1. The purpose, or plan, is eternal. That God did from 
all eternity ordain, predestinate or elect, is the language of 
the Standards. This means that God ever had the plan in 
view which is being wrought out in the order of successive 
events, and his decree or purpose concerning all the parts 
and conditions of the plan is eternal. No part of the plan 
is an after-thought. The entire plan was present to the 
infinite wisdom of God from before the foundation of the 
world, and all events were arranged to fall out in time just 
as they do. The plan is eternal, while its execution is tem- 

2. The eternal plan or purpose involved in the decrees is 
wise, holy, and free. All the parts of its complex frame are 
wisely adjusted to each other. The means and ends, the 
conditions and results, the causes and eifects, are all fitted 
to each other in such a way as to constitute a complex and 
organized whole. So far as God's immediate, or direct and 
efficient agency is concerned, it is holy. The plan had in it 
no evil of any kind, for everything was pronounced very 
good. Sin is an abnormal factor in the plan, as shall be 

The Decrees, or God's Eternal Plan. 


I con- 
is all 
3 done 
)n the 

lext to 
3m ex- 
rod by 
> pass. 
5ope of 

d from 
lage of 
plan in 
16 plan 
to the 
of the 
ne just 
is tem- 

irees is 
ime are 
ds, the 
11 fitted 
ex and 
ect and 
Eld in it 
3d very 
jhall be 


seen more fully in another chapter. Then, too, in framing 
the purpose, and in executing it, God is absolutely free. To 
decree, or purpose to create, was God's free choice. He was 
under no necessity of any kind in the case. So, also, in all 
the events of providence his free ordination is seen, for 
nothing happens by chance. And in the sphere of redemp- 
tion everything is of God's own free favor and choice, for the 
grace and good pleasure of God everywhere appears in the 
salvation of sinful men. 

3. God's eternal purpose is unchangeable, immutable, and 
unconditioned. These three words are grouped together to 
denote several general features of the eternal purpose of 
God. That God has unchangeably ordained whatsoever 
comes to pass is evident from Scripture, and from the nature 
of the case. As an omnipotent and omniscient sovereign he 
does not change. If at any time there be apparent change 
in the relations between the creator and the creature, the 
change must always be in th*" creature. The word immut- 
able, used in the Standards, means almost the same thing 
as unchangeable. The word unconditioned brings in a 
slightly different idea. It means that nothing apart from 
God himself moved or determined him in forming his pur- 
pose or eternal plan. While God knows that certain things 
will come to pass upon certain conditions, yet these condi- 
tions of such events are not the condition of the purpose of 
God concerning these events. Hence God has not purposed 
or decreed anything simply because he foresaw it as future, 
or because he perceived that it would happen upon certain 
conditions. Thus a careful distinction must be made between 
events within the plan, which may stand related as condition 
and result, and the purpose of God which so related them as 
itself an unconditioned purpose. As related to the divine 
purpose, the whole plan and all its parts are unconditioned, 
while as related to each other the several parts may condi- 
tion one another. 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

4. Several other features of the decrees may be grouped 
under a fourth head. The Standards carefully assert that 
God is not the author of sin. However and wherever sin 
had its genesis, it was neither in God, nor from his decree 
in any productive or efficient way. God simply, as will be 
seen in subsequent chapters, permits sin, and at the same 
time bounds and controls it for his wise and holy ends, even 
though these ends be inscrutable to men. In like manner 
Ahe free agency of the creature is not impaired, nor in vnj 
way made to suffer violence by the purpose of God. The 
decree or purpose, viewed as a mere plan, cannot possibly 
affect the will of the creature, for it never comes into contact 
with it. It is the execution of the decree, if anything, which 
would do violence to the will of the creature. But in this 
sphere consciousness very clearly testifies that men are free 
agents, and not under any sort of necessity, even though the 
acts of men as free agents effecting the divine purpose are 
in themselves certain. And, again, the reality of second 
causes, with their dependent efficiency, is not destroyed, but 
rather established by the eternal purpose. The reason of 
this is that God's plan includes means and ends in their 
relation to each other, so that both are alike related to the 
divine decree, and the result shall surely come to pass. 

5. The supreme end of the eternal purpose, plan, or decree 
is to manifest the glory of God. The Catechisms both say 
that God foreordained all things for his own glory. The 
Confession declares that it is for the manifestation of his 
glory, the glory of his grace, his power, and his justice that 
the purpose of God was formed and is carried out. The 
good of the creature, whilst a result which foUows, is always 
subordinate to the glory of God, which is the chief end to 
which the divine purpose always has reference. 

IV. Go(^ "^ eternal purpose is now to be viewed in its 
special or more limited sense. This brings up the teaching 
of the Standards in regard to the nature and destiny of 

The Decrees, or God's Eternal Plan. 


moral agents, such as men and angels, in relation to, or as 
affected by, the eternal purpose of God. This leads to the 
subject of predestination, in its bearing upon men and angels, 
and this requires an explanation of what the Standards teach 
regarding election and pretention. In making this explana- 
tion a few plain statements are set down in order. 

1. As to the use of the terms foreordination and predesti- 
nation, a remark of importance ought to be made. Predes- 
tination in the form of election is used only in regard to 
those who are chosen in Christ to be the subjects of salva- 
tion. It is never applied to the non-elect, who die impeni- 
tent and are finally lost. The term applied uniformly in the 
Standards to the latter class of men and angels is foreordi- 
nation. They are foreordained to dishonor and wrath for 
their sin. In the Shorter Catechism the saved among men 
are said to be elected, and nothing whatever is stated re- 
garding the lost. In the Larger Catechism some angels are 
said to be elected, certain men chosen to eternal life, and the 
lost are simply passed by and foreordained to their destiny. 
The Confession distinctly asserts that some men and angels 
are predestinated unto everlasting Hfe, and some are fore- 
ordained unto everlasting death. The elect are predesti- 
nated, and the non-elect are foreordained. This is the fixed 
usage of the language of the Standards, and it is of the 
utmost importance to observe this usage in order to under- 
stand the doctrine, to avoid some of the difficulties in the 
case, and to ward off. certain objections made against it. 

2. Again, the elect are always said to be chosen in Christ, i 
while the non-elect are simply said to be left in their sin. ' 
The divine purpose in election, therefore, is not an arbi- 
trary choice, even if it is, so far as the creature is concerned, 
entirely unconditioned. Believers are chosen in Christ, and 
unto holiness, and with a view to everlasting life. The 
Larger Catechism says that God hath in Christ, by an eternal 
and immutable purpose, chosen some men unto eternal life. 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

The Confession says that God before the foundation of the 
world hath chosen in hrist those who are predestinated 
unto life. So, also, the purpose of pretention is not an arbi- 
trary decree fixing destiny without any conditions on the 
part of those who are passed by. The sin of the non-elect 
is always presented as the ground of their final condemna- 
tion. The Larger Catechism states that those who are 
passed by are foreordained to dishonor and wrath to be for 
their sin inflicted. The Confession with equal distinctness 
makes the same assertion, when it says that those of man- 
kind who are passed by, God has ordained them to dishonor 
and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice. 
The elect are chosen in Christ to holiness and life, while the 
non-elect are ordained to death for their sin. This is a point 
often sorely overlooked by many of those who reject the 
teaching of the Standards upon this subject. 

3. According to the Standards, the ground of the salvation 
of the elect, and that of the doom of the non- elect, are very 
different. In the former case it is the love, the free favor or 
good pleasure of God, or the unsearchable counsel of his 
will. The Larger Catechism says that it was out of his 
mere love, and for the praise of his glorious grace, that some 
men and angels were elected. The Confession is much more 
explicit at this point, and says, negatively, that the ground 
of the choice of the elect is not God's foresight of their faith 
and good works, or their perseverance therein, nor is it 
anything in the creature that forms the basis of the electing 
purpose of God ; and, positively, that it was out of his mere 
grace and love, and according to his secret counsel and good 
pleasure, that their election was made before the foundation 
of the world. In the latter case the ground or condition of the 
condemnation of the non-elect is entirelv different. It is not 
merely the secret counsel and good pleasure of God which 
grounds the passing-by and condemnation of the non-elect. It 
is not merely the fact that God giveth and withholdeth mercy 

The Decrees, or God's Eternal Plan. 


as he pleaseth that conditions their destiny. It is the sin of the 
non-elect, and their continuance therein, which is the funda- 
mental ground of their condemnation. This is simply ordina- 
tion to death in harmony with the conditions and sanctions of 
God's moral government, for they, being left in their sin, are 
treated as their sin deserves. All were under sin, and so, guilty 
before God. Some are chosen to life, others are passed by 
and left in their sin. The ground of the choice is grace, 
while the ground of the passing-by is sin. The Standards 
must not be misunderstood at this point. 

4. As to the number of the saved and of the lost, the 
Standards have something quite definite to say. This is a 
point, also, where they have been assailed with great mis- 
apprehension of the real import of their meaning. It is 
necessary, therefore, to explain this point with some care. 
The Confession alone speaks upon it. It says that these men 
and angels, thus predestinated and foreordained, are par- 
ticularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is 
so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or 
diminished. This much-criticised passage gives no favor to 
the charge sometimes made, to the effect that the Standards 
teach that only a few are elected and shall be saved, whilst 
the vast majority of men and angels shall be lost. The real 
point in this statement does not lie in the reference to the 
number of the elect and non-elect respectively, but it relates 
to the certainty of the destiny of each, from the standpoint 
of God's eternal purpose. If the fact be certain as to the 
final estate of each man from tlie view-point of the fore- 
knowledge and foreordination of God, then the statement of 
the Confession is the only possible assertion in the case. If 
the matter be viewed from the standpoint of the result at the 
day of judgment, it will be seen that the number of the saved 
and of the lost is fixed. That this result is not of chance, 
nor even fixed by the choice of the moral agents concerned, 
apart from the divine purpose, is evident. Consequently, 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

! J 

I i 



the result, whatever it be as to the number saved and the 
number lost, was intended by God, and provided for in the 
purpose of election. From the view-point of the decree of 
God, or the divine purpose of election, the statement of the 
Confession is the only possible one which meets the facts in 
the case, if any statement at all is made. 

6. The means requisite for the salvation of the elect are 
also provided for and included in the eternal purpose. This 
is a fact often overlooked in the interpretation of the Cal- 
vinistic doctrine. In the Confession alone is this clearly 
brought out, when it says that 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. 
This being the case, all men are viewed as fallen in Adam, 
and then the elect of the fallen race are chosen in, and re- 
deemed by, Christ, effectually called and enabled to believe 
in Jesus Christ, by the working of the Holy Spirit in due 
season. Those who are thus called, regenerated, and be- 
lieve, are justified, adopted, sanctifi.ed, and kept by the power 
of God through faith unto salvation. All these steps, as 
means to the end, are included in the purpose to save, and 
in due time these means are made effectual according to the 
same purpose, which secures that the sinner shall be made 
willing in the day of divine and gracious power. It natu- 
rally follows that none others are redeemed, called, justified, 
adopted, sanctified, and saved but the elect only. This 
means that of those given by the Father to the Son not one 
is lost, and that all who are thus saved were so given. 

6. The end of predestination and foreordination is the 
glory of God. This does not mean that his essential glory 
is in any degree enhanced, but it implies that his glory is 
manifested in and by the divine purpose of election. The 
elect, in their final salvation, are for the praise of his glorious 
grace ; and the non-elect, in their final condemnation, are for 
the praise of his glorious justice. The supreme end of the 

The Decrees, or God's Eternal Plan. 


eternal purpose is the glory of God, the Father, the Son, and 
the Holy Ghost. 

7. The Confession very properly utters a closing word of 
c*aution in regard to what it calls the high mystery of pre- 
destination. It is a doctrine to be handled with care and 
prudence. For the sinner, the doctrine has no practical 
ineaning whatever. The only way by which a sinner can 
give evidence of his election is by attending to the revealed 
will of God, and by embracing the oflfer of the gospel, that 
by means of his eflfectual call he may prove his eternal elec- 
tion. Prior to this, nor in any other way, should the sinner 
ever raise the question of his election. But to the believer 
the doctrine becomes a matter of boundless praise to God, 
and of humble diligence in the service of Christ. When the ' 
believer thinks, as he may, that God had set his love upon 
him from all eternity, and in time wooed him from sin to the 
feet of the Saviour, and surely keeps and guides his steps all 
along the way to the gates of glory, then will his faith be 
made stronger, his love warmer, and his zeal in the service 
of his Master increase from day to day. The believer, there- 
fore, finds comfort, strength, and joy in the doctrine. 



SnoRTBR Catkohism, 9-11; Laroek CATKcmisM, 15-18; Conpesbion os* 

Faith, IV.- V. 

THIS chapter carries the exposition forward from the 
decrees to their execution, from the eternal purpose to 
its realization in time, from the all-comprehensive plan to its 
actual coming to pass. God executes his decrees, realizes 
his purpose, or carries out his plan in the works of creation 
and providence. At first glance, there may be some surprise 
felt that grace or redemption is not also mentioned here, but 
on looking into the Catechisras, and especially the Shorter, 
it will be found that the covenant of works is described as a 
special act of providence, which God exercised toward man 
in the estate in which he was created. In some respects it 
might have been better to have said that God executes his 
decrees in the works of creation, providence, and redemp- 
tion, though the truths taught under this threefold arrange- 
ment would be substantially the same. In this exposition 
the twofold plan of the Standards will be followed, and it is 
at once entered on. 

I. Creation is First Considered. 

The Shorter Catechism states that God executes his de- 
crees in the works of creation and providence. The Larger 
Catechism adds that this is done according to God's infalli- 
ble foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his 
own will. The Confession in a formal way devotes a chapter 
to the subject of creation, and one to that of providence. 
The former of these is now to be noticed. 

The fact of creation has reference to the origin of all finite 
existing things. There is a twofold distinction which it is 
necessary to keep in mind in this whole exposition. This is 


Creation and Providence. 


the dh ^ion between wliat may be called primary and 
secour ^reation. The former has reference to origin, 

strictly ^^jeaking; the latter to formation, or organization. 
That whicli relates to origin is real creation, and it consists 
in causing something to be where nothing was before ; and 
that which pertains to formation relates to the organization 
of elements already existing into new forms. 

Now the Standards, though they do not formally announce 
this distinction, do keep it in view in their various state- 
ments concerning the doctrine of creation. Perhaps it may 
be best to open up what the Standards say upon this subject 
by arranging their teaching under two general heads, the one 
dealing with the things created, and the other with the 
nature of the divine act in creating, so far as it can be 

1. The Finite Existing Things which were Created. 

(a), The world, or cosmos, and all things therein, comes 
first. This includes the whole frame of the material uni- 
verse, and not simply the earth, which is the abode of man. 
This also involves the origin of the primal elements which 
true creation brings into being, as well as new results which 
secondary creation produces in orderly form. The Confes- 
sion says that things visible and invisible were created. The 
term visible no doubt relates to the material or substantial 
elements of the universe, and the word invisible was likely 
intended to denote the invisible forces with which the ele- 
ments were endowed, and the orderly forms according to which 
they were arranged. Here, too, may properly be included 
all forms of life, no matter what view is taken of its nature. 
The term invisible might also embrace the souls of men and 
also the angels, but it is doubtful whether the framers of the 
Confession so intended. The main idea, no doubt, is that the 
whole cosmos of matter, force, and form was originated by 
the creative act of God. It is likely that angelic beings 
existed prior to the material universe. 


The Presbyterian Standards. 



(h), After God had brought into existence, either by pri- 
mary or secondary creation, all other things, he created man 
as the crowning product of his hand upon this earth. He made 
the race to consist of male and female, and endowed them 
with living, reasonable, and immortal souls. This statement 
cannot be easily harmonized with the theory that man was, 
either as to his soul or body, slowly evolved by some purely 
natural process from some lower animal form. There is 
evidently a genetic difference between man and brute, accord- 
ing to the Standards. His body and his rational and im- 
mortal nature are alike due to the creative power of God, 
either directly or indirectly exercised. His body was formed 
of the dust of the ground, and God breathed into his nostrils 
the breath of life, and he thus became a living soul. Then 
the woman was made of the rib of the man, as the LargT 
Catechism, following the Scripture, states. 

Further, man was created in the image or likeness of God. 
This image does not consist in mere bodily resemblance, but 
in spirituality of nature, and especially in knowledge, right- 
eousness, and true holiness. Hence the likeness of man to 
God consists chiefly in possessing a mental, moral, and reli- 
gious nature. 4.S a result of this, man was created with the 
law of God written on his nature, which means that he was 
made, not merely in a state of negative innocence with no 
bent of disposition toward God, but that he was created with 
original righteousness as a positive possession of his nature. 
He was also created with ability to fulfil the moral law, and 
to render that service to God which was required of him. 
Perfect obedience to the law under which he was placed by 
virtue of his creation was possible, and man's fall into sin 
was by no means necessary. He was also endowed with 
free agency, or liberty of will, so that whatever he did was 
done freely and without compulsion of any kind, such free- 
dom being necessary to moral responsibility. Then, having 
this moral freedom, and at the same time being finite and 

I ill 

Creation and Providence. 


not confirmed in virtue, his will, and consequently his ac- 
tions and moral disposition, was subject to change, and so 
man was liable to fall away from his state of obedience and 

The last thing mentioned in the Standards concerning man 
at this stage is that he had dominion over the creatures. 
This is what the Scriptures say, and it is in accordance with 
the well-known facts in the case. The Confession at this 
point hints at what is afterwards described as the covenant 
of life or works, but as this topic is referred to later on in 
the Confession, and is definitely treated of in the Catechisms 
at a subsequent stage, its consideration may be properly de- 
ferred at present. 

(c), In the Larger Catechism special mention is made of 
the fact that God also created the angels, and thf t this was 
done by him before man was brought into being. Angels 
were created as spirits, immortal, holy, excelling in know- 
ledge, of mighty power ; and it is added that the purpose of 
their being is to execute the commands of God, and to praise 
his great and holy name. Like man, the angels possessed 
moral agency, which involves freedom, and were therefore 
subject to change. It may be properly added that the angels 
were not created a race, or species, as man was. Each 
angelic being was a separate creation, and each one that fell 
must have fallen personally, even as those that were con- 
firmed in holiness must have experienced personal confirma- 
tion. This will be seen to be a very important fact when 
God's covenants with man come to be considered. Bace 
connection is a fact in the case of man, but it does not exist 
in that of the angels. This race connection is the ground of 
the covenant constitution between Adam and the human 
race. And the fact of the incarnation of the Son of God 
provides the basis for the covenant relation which subsists 
between Christ and his people. 

2. The nature of the creative activity in general is now to 

If i 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

be described. This topic is, of course, inherently myste- 
rious, so that all that need now be done is to mention some 
of the things which are stated in the Standards. What is 
here referred to is the nature of the genesis of finite de- 
pendent existence. It relates not me^'ely to material sub- 
stance and physical force, or even to forms of life, but also 
to the origin of spiritual substance; and the rational and 
moral endowment of responsible personal agents, such as 
men and angels. Here several items are to be noted. 

(a), The divine creative act produced its result out of 
nothing. Thip does not mean that nothing was the some- 
thing out of which the finite universe was made. This lan- 
guage merely lays stress upon the fact of a real origin, the 
genesis of something de novo. It simply means that some- 
thing began to be where nothing existed before, even in 
elemental form. All speculative notions of matter being 
eternal, or of finite substance being part of the essence of 
deity, are set aside by the teaching of the Standards upon 
this subject. 

(J), Next, the Standards teach that the world was made 
in the space of six days. Here secondary creation comes 
chif fiy into view, and the way in which the result of primary 
ere ition in chaotic form was reduced to an orderly cosmic 
condition during a period of six days is described. It is not 
necessary to discuss at length the meaning of the term days 
here used. The term found in the Standards is precisely 
that which occurs in Scripture. Hence, if the word used in 
Scripture is not inconsistent with the idea of twenty-four hours, 
or that of a long period of time, the language ol the Stan- 
dards cannot be out of harmony with either idea. There is 
little doubt that the framers of the Standards meant a literal 
day of twenty-four hours, but the caution of the teaching on 
this point in simply reproducing Scripture is worthy of all 
praise. The door is open in the Standards for either inter- 
pretation, and the utmost care should be taken not to shut 


bly myste- 

tion some 

What is 

finite de- 
;erial suij- 
3, but also 
ional and 
B, such as 

ult out of 
the some- 

This Ian- 
origin, the 
that some- 
3, even in 
tter being 
essence of 
ards upon 

was made 
ion comes 
of primary 
rly cosmic 
It is not 
term days 
rd used in 
four hours, 
the Stan- 
There is 
Qt a literal 
3aching on 
rthy of all 
her inter- 
3t to shut 

Creation and Providence. 


that door at the bidding of a scientific theory against either 


(c), The agency by which creation was effected is said to 
have been the word of God's power in the beginning. The 
Confession, with great scriptural accuracy, connects creative 
power and agency with each of the three personj of the 
Trinity. The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are 
all concerned in the matter of creation. The order of ex( u- 
iion here is what is usually found ir. the outward trinitarian 
operations. The Father creates through the Son and by the 
Holy Ghost. In other words, the three persons concur in 
all creative acts. 

(d), The nature of the product of creation was all very 
good. It was without defect of any kind. This does not 
imply that everything had reached its goil of absolute per- 
fection, but that everything was rightly fitted for its place 
and purpose. Physical disorder did not exist, nor did moral 
evil at first pertain to the results of the creative activity of 
God, so that it cannot be in any sense tho product of divine 
origination. The purpose of creation, it need otly be added, 
is the glory of God's eternal power, wisdom and goodness. 
This is the high aim which the Standard^^ always set for the 
creative acts of God, and in like manner for the activity of 
the creature. 

Many inferences might be made from the teaching of the 
Standards regarding creation. It is clear that the universe 
had a beginning, even as to its elements, so that matter 
cannot be eternal. Spirit is prior in time to matter, and 
hence materialism in every form is excluded. The result of 
creation is the origin of something entirely new, and hence 
pantheism is rejected, as it also is by the fact of the person- 
ality of God. It is evident, too, that mere natural develop- 
ment cannot explain the origin and intelligible order of the 
universe ; nor can it be maintained that man is the gradual 
product of organic evolution from some brute species. The 


The Presbyterian Standards. 



; t 


. i 




reality of man's moral nature, and the validity of God's 
moral government, are both clearly involved in the teaching 
of the Standards. 

II. The Doctrine of Divine Providence. 

This is a subject of much importance and of great diffi- 
culty. Its treatment in the Standards is as complete and 
satisfactory a discussion of the subject as is to be found any- 
where. The Shorter Catechism defines providence as God's 
most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all 
his creatures and all their actions. The Larger Catechism 
expands '.he last clause by saying that God orders his crea- 
tures and all their actions to his own glory; and it also 
makes special allusion to God's providence with respect to 
the angels. Both Catechisms suggest the two branches 
of the doctrine of providence which theologians usually 
discuss. These are known as "Preservation" and "Gov- 
ernment." The Confession, in its very complete statement 
of the doctrine of providence, does not so clearly announce 
this twofold division, although it virtually implies it. Ac- 
cording to the Confession, God upholds, directs, disposes, 
and governs all creatures, actions, and things, by his most 
wise and holy providence, according to his infallible fore- 
knowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own 
will. This is a very complete statement. The upholding of 
this passage is the preserving of the Catechisms; and the 
directing, disposing, and governing of which it speaks come 
naturally'under the Catechism notion of government. These 
two heads of the doctrine are to be now explained. 

1. Preservation is the First Branch of Providence. 

God, who created all things, also continues to preserve 
the works of his hands. As to this fact, the Standards very 
plainly assert it, so that all deistical theories of God's rela- 
tion to his works are excluded. Blind chance does not rule 
in the universe, but a free and intelligent preservation, 
which is not of the nature of continuous creation, is exer- 

Creation and Providence. 


of God's 
3 teaching 

;reat diffi- 
iplete and 
OTind any- 
) as God's 
erning all 
his crea- 
,nd it also 
respect to 
IS usually 
nd "Gov- 
)S it. Ac- 
his most 
ible fore- 
of his own 
holding of 
and the 
eaks come 
at. These 

lards very 
rod's rela- 
s not rule 
n, is exer- 

cised over all things by the same God who made them. 
God is immanent in all his works, as well as transcendent 
in relation to them. In him all things live, move, and 
have their being; and his tender mercies are over all his 

This preserving and upholding extends to all God's crea- 
tures, and to all their actions. Inanimate creation and all 
forms of organic life are not only upheld in being by him, 
but maintained in the exercise of all the powers which God 
may have given to each. All free moral agents, such as men 
and angels, are also preserved by God's providence, and are 
thereby sustained, directed, and disposed, in accordance with 
the free, rational, moral nature which each possesses. And 
the same preservation pervades the sphere of grace, and by 
means of it believers and the church are securely pre- 
served. Nothing is too great to be above divine direc- 
tion, and nothing is too small to be beneath God's pieserving 
care. He numbers the sp arrows as they fall, and couni the 
hairs on the heads of the children of men. God pre- 
serveth man and beast. This is a very important branch 
of the doctrine to keep in mind at the present day, when 
the tendency of certain modern types of science and phil- 
osophy is to put God as far as possible in the background of 
his works. 

2. Ooverwrnent is the Other Bi'anch of Providence. 

It is under this branch of the doctrine of divine provi- 
dence that the chief difficulties lie. The contents of the 
Standards at this point must, therefore, be explained with 
some care. A bold mechanical philosophy assails the doc- 
trine at this juncture, and some theologians are in danger of 
conceding too much to this philosophy. The following par- 
ticulars are of value here . 

(a), The D^ture of God's government is first stated. The 
Standards affirm that it is holy, so that there can be no ele- 
ment of evil in it. It is also a wise government, for under it 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

( '5 

there is a wise adaptation of means to ends, of conditions to 
results, and of causes to effects. All this adaptation serves 
to bring to pass what God has ordained, so that all things 
happen under God's hand, and not by chance. Further, it 
is a powerful government, so that whatsoever God pleases 
comes to pass under his almighty hand. 

(J), The ground or basis of this government is next to be 
stated. It rests upon God's infallible foreknowledge, and 
the free and immutable counsel of his will. God sees the 
end from the beginning, and he is able, therefore, to govern 
all things with certainty and wisdom. In the fact of the di- 
vine foreknowledge certainty is provided for, inasmuch as 
future events can only be known as certain by assuming that 
they are under the ordaining government of a wise and pow- 
erful God. Hence, if God foreknows all things, it is because 
he has ordained all things, and is effectively governing all 
that comes to pass. 

(c). Then the end of the government which God exercises 
over his creatures and all their actions is his own glory. 
The Confession says that it is for the praise of the glory of 
his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy. This is a 
very suggestive statement, and it emphasizes the fact again 
that the glory of God is his chief end in tho works of crea- 
tion, providence, and redemption. For the manifestation of 
his glory he created the universe ; in governing it he con- 
tinues to manifest his glory ; and in redeeming those who 
are the heirs of everlasting life he specially shows forth his 

(c?), The mode of tbe divine government is also exhibited 
in a vaiiety of connections in the Confession. The chief 
particulars tre now set down in order. 

Though, as has boen seen in connection with the fore- 
knowledge and ordination of God, all things that come to 
pass happen certainly, or, as the Confession says, immutably 
and infallibly, yet the same providence which, in the form 

Cbeation and Providence. 


itions to 
n serves 
11 tilings 
irther, it 
I pleases 

xt to be 
ige, and 
sees the 
o govern 
if the di- 
imuch as 
aing that 
md pow- 
3 because 
lining all 

n glory, 
glory of 

This is a 

ict again 
of crea- 
tation of 
he con- 

Lose who 
forth his 

?he chief 

he fore- 
como to 
the form 

of divine government, brings these things to pass with abso- 
lute certainty, also causes them to happen in harmony with 
the nature and powers of the things, creatures, or actions 
concerned. Hence, second causes, with their dependent and 
constituted efficiency, are called into play. These second 
causes operate under God's hand, and according to their 
several natures and original endowments. Hence, in the 
sphere of physical nature these causes operate according to 
the law of necessity, and the divine government is exercised 
in harmony therewith. In the case where one event is con- 
dititned upon another, as, for example, the rising of the sun 
with the revolution of the earth upon its axis, or the saving 
of tl 9 ship's crew with Paul in the shipwreck if they re- 
main(id on board, the event, though certain, is yet relatively 
contingent ; but the government of God in the case extends 
to both the condition and the result. 

In the case of the actions of free moral agents, their 
actions, as events, happen or come to pass in conformity with 
the laws of the nature of such agents. Hence, while all 
volitions and acts of free agents are, as a matter of fact, cer- 
tain, though not necessary, yet God's providential govern- 
ment extends over all the acts of free agents. From the 
divine side they are certain, because God governs them, and 
from the side of the free agent their production is con- 
sciously free. 

SGCondly, In thus governing, God usually uses means in his 
ordinary providential procedure, yet he is not so bound by 
such means as to be compelled always to resort to their use. 
As an absolute sovereign, he is free to work without, above, 
or against means at his pleasure. This allows a proper place 
for the :ntroduction and operation of the extraordinary or 
supernatural activities of God in any sphere of his provi- 
dential government. This statement of the Standards pro- 
vides a place for special divine revelation, for the miracle, 
for answer to prayer, and for the experiences of divine grace 

J- ■„■■ ,pt* 


I 4 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

in the soul. Hence, God is not bound by the order of nature 
which he has constituted, but is free to intervene, and in any- 
way deemed proper to modify that order by his providential 
government. This is the secure philosophical basis of the 
supernatural activities of God. 

Thirdly, God's providential government in respect to sin 
is also to be explained. Here there is a profound mystery 
in regard to which the Standards speak with rerPdrkable 
caution. The Confession says that the power, wisdom, and 
goodness of God are so manifested in providence that they 
extend themselves to the first fall of man, and also to all 
other sins of men and angels. This is a plain assertion that 
even sinful and sinning moral agents are under the provi- 
dential government of God. As to the mode of this govern- 
ment, the Confession teaches, negatively, that it is not a bare 
permission by which God has simply allowed sin to come 
into his domain. He does permit sin in the sense that he 
neither produces nor hinders it; but he also bounds the 
operations of sin by his wise and powerful providence, and 
he so orders and governs the sinful acts of moral agents that 
they are made to minister to his own holy ends. Thus, posi- 
tively, God by his providential government permits and yet 
so controls sin, that the sinfulness always pertains to the 
creature and proceeds from him, and never from God, who 
cannot be the author or approver of sin. 

Fourthly, The relation of the government of God to his 
church and people deserves brief remark. In a special sense 
God takes care of his church, and by his providence disposes 
all things for its good and his own glory. In regard to his 
people the Confession teaches that God may leave them to 
manifold temptations, and to the evil of their own hearts, for 
some wise and gracious end. This may be partly to chastise 
them for their former sins, or to reveal to them the evil and 
deceit of their own hearts, or partly to humble his children, 
and so lead them to walk more closely with God, and to 

Creation and Providence. 


)f nature 
id in any 
is of the 

)ct to sin 
iom, and 
;hat they 
so to all 
tion that 
le provi- 
3 govern- 
ot a bare 
to come 
6 that he 
ands the 
mce, and 
ents that 
lus, posi- 
i and yet 
IS to the 
jod, who 

>d to his 
ial sense 
rd to his 

them to 
earts, for 


evil and 

, and to 

cause them to exercise dependence and watchfulness, that 
they may not fall again into sin. In this connection the 
solution of many of the perplexing problems of religious 
experience may be found. It is the paternal discipline of 
the Father scourging every son whom he receiveth. 

Fifthly, The effects of God's providential government 
upon wicked and ungodly men is alluded to in a comprehen- 
sive and important section of the Confession. In respect to 
such men God is a righteous judge, and his government in 
their case is judicial. As punishment for former sins, God 
may blind the mind and harden the heart of the sinful moral 
agent. He may also withhold grace, and withdraw gifts, for 
all grace and every gift depends upon his good pleasure. 
The result of this procedure is to expose them more than 
ever to the evil of their own hearts, to the temptations of the 
world, and to the power of Satan. The consequence is that 
they harden themselves more and more. Even the same 
conditions which, with grace and divine favor, would soften 
and sanctify the heart, will produce hardening when grace 
is withheld and God's judicial displeasure incurred. This 
is a solemn fact sot forth in the Scriptures, and often sadly 
confirmed by the experience of men. 

Sixthly, A single brief paragraph remains to be added in 
regard to what thQ Larger Catechism says about God's provi- 
dence in reference to the angels. Under his inscrutable 
providence, God permitted some of the angels to fall wilfully 
and irrecoverably into sin, and so to come under condemna- 
tion. Yet even their sin he limits and orders for his own 
glory. The rest of the angels he has been pleased to estab- 
Ush in holiness, and he also employs them at his pleasure in 
carrying forward his purposes of power, mercy and justice. 
His angels do his pleasure, and are ministering spirits to the 
heirs of salvation. 

This concludes what the Standards teach in reference to 
the great topics of creation and providence. In the Cate- 






The Presbyterian Standards. 

chisms, as already mentioned, the sad fact of the fall of man 
into sin and guilt, and in a sense the wholo economy of re- 
demption, is construed under the scope of providence. But 
the Confession does not so strictly follow this arrangement. 
The next chapter proceeds to explain the first covenant con- 
stitution made with man. 


! I 





Shoktkk Catechism, 12, 13; Larger Catechism, 30, 21; Confession 

OF Faith, VI., VII. 

IN this chapter profound questions connected with God's 
moral government arise. Here, too, the dawn of that 
bright day of grace which God was preparing for the dark- 
ness of man's sin appears, for even the covenant of works, 
legal as it at first sight appears to be, is essentially gracious 
in its nature. The Catechisms describe the covenant of 
works as a special act of the providence of God ; and, as the 
covenant of grace is founded on the ruins of that of works, 
the whole scope of sin and redemption may be regarded as 
phases of God's providential dealings with the children of 
men. Three topics are to be explained in this chapter. 
These are the original state of man and his relation to God, 
the covenant of works or of life, and the sad failure of that 
gracious arrangement. On each of these the Standards 
have something to say, and what ^hey say is now to be 

I. Man's Original State and Relation. "' Ood. 

The original moral state of man, and his relation to God 
at the instant of his creation, and prior to the institution of 
the covenant of life with him, first come to view. Man is 
now to be considered under the conditions of pure moral 
government apart entirely from all reference to any sort of 
covenant arrangement. What view of man in this primitive, 
pre-covenant state do the Standards present? The Confes- 
sion does not clearly distinguish between this and the cove- 
nant state, and curiously enough it treats of the fall and of 
sin before it sets forth the covenant relations, and when it 
does set them forth it presents both covenants side by side. 






The Presbyterian Standards. 

The Shorter Catechism lays stress upon the covenant rela- 
tion, but says nothing definite about the pre-covenant state. 
The Larger Catechism has a good deal to say about this 
prior state of man, as well as of the covenant of works and 
its failure in the fall of Adam. The following particulars 
are to be considered here. 

1. The circumstances of man's primitive condition are of 
some interest. Touching this the Larger Catechism follows 
the narrative in Genesis very closely. Man at first was 
placed in what is called Paradise, which consisted in what is 
known as the garden of Eden. His pleasant task there wlis 
to till and dress the garden, and so to keep it in order. How 
delightful this task must have been, and how beautiful the 
garden as it was thus kept in that happy sinless era prior to 
the cursing of the ground for man's sake ! 

Man was also given full liberty to eat of all the fruits of 
the earth, for at first there seems to have been no prohibi- 
tion such as the subsequent covenant presented. It is also 
probable that in this early age man used vegetable diet only, 
and that animal food was not taken at all till a later period. 
And over the lower animal creation God gave man dominion ; 
and thus, as king of all created things on earth, man is re- 
presented as naming the animals, and the animals in turn are 
seen to be subject to him. Man and beast dwelt together in 
unity and peace in that joyous and happy Edenic state. 

Then marriage was also instituted, so that Adam and Eve 
were husband and wife in their primitive condition. They 
were to be helpmeets to each other, and all that true joy and 
support which the marriage relation would afford in a sinless 
state was no doubt theirs. In this way the ideal home and 
family were constituted among men. In addition, the Sab- 
bath, as a day of rest and as a season for worship, was ap- 
pointed. By this means the great creation process was kept 
in memory, and special opportunity given to man for com- 
munion with God. For this communion no mediator would 

The Covenant of Works or of Life. 


lant rela- 
ant state. 
3out this 
arks and 

>n are of 
n follows 
first was 
1 what is 
here was 
r. How 
tiful the 
prior to 

fruits of 
[t is also 
iet only, 
' period, 
►minion ; 
m is re- 
turn are 
;ether in 

and Eve 
. They 
joy and 
I sinless 
)me and 
be Sab- 
was ap- 
'^as kept 
Dr com- 
: would 

be needed in this holy, unfallen state, for therein man would 
have direct access to his Maker. 

2. Man's nature in this primitive state is now to be further 
explained. Already, in the preceding chapter, some things 
have been said touching this point, so that further remark 
may be quite brief. Man in this state was possessed of a 
completely endowed mental, moral, and religious nature. 
God's law was, so to speak, written in his heart, so that he 
had thereby an immediate knowledge of that law in relation 
to the divine moral government under which he, by the very 
fact of his creation, was placed. Hence, man had not to 
await instruction and experience in order to constitute him 
an intelligent, moral, and religious being. And in this con- 
nection it is worth while remarking that man in this primitive 
stage of his career was not a primeval savage. The bibli- 
cal account, which is reproduced in the Standards, entirely 
forbids the acceptance of some of those modern theories of 
primitive savagism, which are quite popular in certain cul- 
tured circles at the present day. While not in possession of 
all that knowledge of the arts and sciences which is involved 
in modern civilization, yet man was evidently in the enjoy- 
ment of a high degree of mental power, of a well-defined 
measure of moral culture, and of a decided religious attain- 
ment. This position must be firmly held. 

3. Man's moral endowment and ability are also to be ex- 
plained. This, too, was touched upon in the last chapter, so 
that only a remark or two need now be added. Made in the 
image of God, man had kinship with his Maker, and was 
qualified to know and serve him. By this fact man was 
lifted high above the brute, and was made a little lower than 
the angels. Man also possessed what is known as original 
righteousness. This righteousness was con-created, and was 
part of his original constitution, just as much as his mental 
and moral endowment. The Romish view, that original 
righteousness was a gracious gift bestowed upon man some- 








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WEBSTER, N.Y. 14S80 

(716) 872-4503 





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The Presbyterian Standards. 



time after his creation, and so not an inherent quality of his 
Tiature, is rcjcctGcl by the teuchlug of the Standards. With 
a nature thus endowed and equipped in the knowledge of the 
will of his Maker, man had entire ability to do all that God 
required of him in the way of moral obedience and religious 
service. It was in his power, therefore, to keep perfectly the 
law of Gcd, in the proper exercise of his moral nature and 
ability. Thus was man qualified to stand perpetually in the 
favor of God, though as free and finite he was mutable and 
subject to fail in his obedience, and fall away from the divine 

4. The condition of securing the divine favor, and of ob- 
taining eternal life in this pre-covenant state must also be 
understood. This is a point of some importance, f^ppecially 
in enabling one to understand the nature and benefitc of the 
covenant constitution. In the pre-covenant state man was, 
as has been shown, under pure moral government. God 
was moral ruler and man was moral subject. Personal, per- 
fect, and perpetual obedience was required on the part of 
man. Had many men appeared on the earth under this 
relationship, each one for himself would have had to stand, 
and on purely moral grounds win life and divine favor by 
personal obedience or good works. A single disobedience 
would bring the man into condemnation, and from this he 
would have no possible way of escape. Each man, too, 
would stand or fall for himself, and the standing or the fall- 
ing of any particular man would not affect the legal status of 
Itis posterity in the least, or bring them any imputed benefit 
or disability. It is easy to see that under this relationship 
mutable man would surely find his standing before God far 
from secure. Some might stand and others might fall, and 
there would be no adequ te ground upon which any one 
could be confirmed in holiness and the favor of God. Above 
all, there would be no possible remedy for the sin of those 
who were disobedient. At this point the gracious nature of 
the covenant of works is evident. 



The Covenant of Works or of Life. 

ty of his 
3. With 
ge of the 
;hat God 
Bctlj the 
fcure and 
Ij in the 
ible and 
le divine 

i of ob- 
also be 
'£■ of the 
lan was, 
t. God 
lal, per- 
part of 
ler this 
3 stand, 
Ivor by 
this he 

, too, 
he fall- 
atus of 
Jod far 
il, and 
ly one 

;ure of 

II. 77ie Covenant of Works, or of Life. 

The Catechisms speak very plainly of this first or legal 
covenant, but the Confession alludes with brevity to this 
covenant, as a sort of introduction to what it has to say at 
length about the covenant of grace, or the second covenant. 
All that the Standards have to say upon this important topic 
will now be gathered together in the statements of this sec- 
tion. Tht; covenant relation is called by difierent names in 
the Standards. The Catechisms describe it as a covenant of 
life. The Confession terms it a covenant of works, and also 
describes it as a command not to eat of the tree of the 
knowledge of good and evil. It is sometimes known as the 
legal covenant, to distinguish it from the evangelical cove- 
nant of the New Testament. All these terms of description 
denote difi'erent aspects of the new relation into which God 
entered with man. This new relation is known as the cove- 
nant relation, and the first form of it is that known as the 
covenant of works. This consists essentially in the fact that 
God made certain promises upon certain conditions, and 
attached certain sanctions to the promises. This is the 
essence of the covenant idea. 

1. The covenant relation, even in its first form, was gracious 
in its nature. While its condition was legal and required 
obedience, still the constitution itself and the result which it 
aimed to secure were gracious. The Confession emphasizes 
this by pointing to the fact that there is a vast distance 
between God the Creator and man the creature. This dis- 
tance is so great, and the demands of God's moral govern- 
ment are so exact, that although as reasonable creatures men 
did render perfect and constant personal obedience, they 
could never have any fruition of God. This simply means 
that men under pure moral government could never acquire 
any merit beyond that involved in meeting the strict demands 
of the perfect moral law of God ; and men all the while under 
pure moral government would be servants, rendering a legal 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

obedience, and not sons established in the favor of God, and 
©njoying the blessedness v/hich was to be secured through 
the covenant relation. To secure for man such benefits, a 
voluntary condescension on God's part was necessary, which 
would transpose the status of pure moral servitude into that 
of covenant merit and reward. This condescension, which 
was voluntary and gracious, God has been pleased to express 
by way of a covenant, and it is the first of these, that with 
Adam, which is now to be explained. 

2. The Nature of the Covenant of Works. 

Literally, a covenant is a compact, a bargain, an arrange- 
ment, a constitution or a treaty. As already stated, its 
essential features are certain promises made upon certain 
conditions. If it is found that promises were made by God 
to Adam upon certain conditions, and that these conditions 
were not fulfilled by him, so that certain penalties were in- 
curred, then the essential elements of a covenant exist. 
Here several particulars require to be mentioned. 

(a). In the covenant arrangement there are certain parties 
who enter into an agreement, wherein certain promises are 
made and accepted upon certain conditions. To use a legal 
phrase, these are the parties of the first and second parts. 
In the covenant of works the parties are God and Adam. 
But Adam in some way stood for, and represented, the race. 
The Catechisms simply assume this when they say that God 
entered into a covenant of life with man, for Adam was as 
yet the only man. The Confession speaks even more plainly, 
for it says that God in the covenant promised life to Adam 
and his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal 
obedience. The Larger Catechism, in the twentieth ques- 
tion, asserts that the covenant was made with Adam as a 
public person, in which capacity Adam must have acted not 
only for himself but for the whole human race as his pos- 

This federal or representative status of Adam in the cove- 



The Covenant of Works or of Life. 


God, and 
enefits, a 
fj, which 
into that 
n, which 
> express 
;hat with 

ated, its 
by God 
were in- 
d exist. 

I parties 
ises are 

a legal 
d parts. 

tie race, 
lat God 
was as 
) Adam 

m as a 
ted not 
is pos- 

B cove- 

nant is one which is very important, not only in regard to 
the way in which the whole race has become sinful and 
guilty by reason of its relation to Adam and his sin, but also 
in regard to Christ and in the covenant of grace, and the 
way in which those who believe in him obtain the benefit of 
his sufferings and death. In other words, the federal rela- 
tions of Adam and Christ are the ground of the imputation 
of guilt and righteousness respectively. At this point, there- 
fore, it may be well to give emphasis to this relationship. 
In the Standards two facts seem to be set side by side, in 
regard to the relation between Adam and the race in him, 
according to the covenant arrangement. The one is the 
natural rootship, and the other is the federal headship. Ac- 
cording to the former of these ideas, Adam is the source or 
fountain from which the whole race has come by natural 
generation, or hereditary descent. According to the latter, 
the whole race was legally represented before God in and by 
Adam. The fact that he was the natural root of the race 
fitted him to be the federal head, so that there could be 
nothing arbitrary or unjust in the covenant relation. If proof 
of the fact that such a covenant relationship really existed in 
the case of Adam were asked, it can be found in the cove- 
nants with Noah, Abraham, Jacob and others, as set forth in 
the Scripture record. Further proof may be derived from 
the fact that the divine method of procedure in the case 
of families and nations is to deal with them through repre- 
sentative persons. But the crowning proof of Adam's cove- 
nant status is the scriptural analogy between him and Jesus 
Christ, in regard to whose covenant relation there can be no 
doubt in the great matter of redemption. In some sense, 
therefore, the race was in Adam. As to the nature of this 
in-being in Adam, the doctrine of the Standards is that the 
race was in Adam both naturally and federally, under that 
modification of the divine moral government which is ex- 
hibited by the covenant of works. The race naturally springs 





t 1 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

from Adam, and it is in some v/ay iuvoived in the legal dis- 
abilities which Adam incurred. 

(h), The Conditio?!, of the Covenant. 

Broadly stated, the condition of the covenant was perfect, 
personal, and perpetual obedience to what God required. 
The Shorter Catechism says that perfect obedience, the Con- 
fession that perfect and personal obedience, and the Larger 
Catechism that perfect, personal, and perpetual obedience is 
the condition of the covenant. Of the two trees specially 
mentioned, the tree of life seems to have been the pledge of 
the covenant, while the tree of the knowledge of good and 
evil was the test of the obedience required. This tree was 
prohibited, and of its fruit man was forbidden to eat upon 
pain of death. The simplicity and suitableness of this test 
are evident. It served to test loyalty to, and confidence in, 
God, in an exceedingly effective way. It was a positive com- 
mand to abstain from what in itself, apart from the prohibi- 
tion of God, was entirely lawful. It was thus not a difficult 
moral achievement, from which man might justly have shrunk, 
but it was a simple act of abstinence, based upon the fact that 
God gave the command as a test of loyalty. This view of 
the case removes many of the objections brought against 
the divine procedure in connection with the covenant of 
works, to the effect that it was an artificial one. It was a 
simple, suitable, gracious test. 

(c), The Sanctions of the Covenant. 

This is the third important factor in the covenant. The 
promise attached to the covenant really constituted the sanc- 
tion. This sanction is twofold in its nature. It is at once a 
promise and a threatening. It involves both a reward and 
a penalty. The penalty follows disobedience, and the reward 
comes as the result of ^obedience. The Standards, following 
the Scripture narrative closely, describe the sanctions of the 
covenant chiefly on their negative side. Both the Catechisms 
set forth the sanction as pain of death, following closely the 


The Covenant of Works or of Life. 

the legal dis- 

' was perfect, 
od required, 
ice, the Con- 
l the Larger 
obedience is 
)es specially 
le pledge of 
3f good and 
his tree was 
to eat upon 
of this test 
nfidence in, 
)sitive corn- 
he prohibi- 
t a difficult 
ive shrunk, 
hie fact that 
his view of 
:ht against 
)venant of 
It was a 

ant. The 
the sanc- 
at once a 
»ward and 
tie reward 
>ns of the 
osely the 

words of Scripture, "thou shalt not die." The Confession 
presents the positive side when it says that life was promised 
to Adam and his posterity on condition of obedience. If 
the sanction, " eat and thou shalt die," be true, equally true 
is the converse, "eat not and thou shalt live." It is to be 
kept in mind that the death here spoken of is death in its 
deepest sense, as the penal sanction of the covenant. This 
includes, as will soon be further seen, physical, spiritual, and 
eternal death. 

3. The Besult of the Keeping of the Covenant on MarHs Part. 

Not much need be said upon this point, as the Standards 
say but little directly concerning a happy result which was 
never attained, for the destiny of the race soon passed inio 
the dark shadow of the failure of the covenant on man's part. 
If the condition of the covenant had been fulfilled by Adam, 
life at the end of the covenant probation period would have 
been secured for Adam himself, and for the whole race in 
him. This is usually taken to include two things: Firsts 
There would have been permanent establishment in the favor 
of God, and possibly elevation to the status of sonship ; and. 
Secondly, Confirmation in personal holiness would also foUow. 
If the probation under the covenant had been successful, 
these two results would no doubt have been the inheritance 
of the race. The gracious nature of the covenant plan again 
very clearly appears in this connection, for the whole race 
was given a probation under the most favorable circum- 
tances, there was limitation in the number of persons whose 
obedience was required, Adam was as capable as any man 
could possibly be to render the obedience, and there was 
limitation, in all probability, in regard to the time during 
which covenant obedience was required. Each of these facts 
shows divine grace towards man in the covenant relation. 

III. The Fall^ or the Failure of the Covenant of Works. 

This is the third and last topic for this chapter, and it 
raises some exceedingly deep and difficult problems con- 

.1 ■ ; 

, i 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

nected with the coming in of sin to the sphere of human 
history. Why a holy and almighty God should permit the 
fall of man is one great problem, which only carries the in- 
quiry further back, and raises the question of the origin of 
moral evil in the apostasy of Satan and his hosts. To this 
no answer can be given, so that, with bowed head, the dark 
mystery can only be confessed. In like manner, the sin and 
moral apostasy of a holy moral agent with a disposition in- 
clined to God and righteousness is a mystery scarcely less 
serious. The Standards, with their usual wisdom, do not specu- 
late upon these deep problems ; they simply state the dark, 
sad facts as they appear in Scripture and are illustrated in 
human history. Several particulars are to be set down. 

1. Tlie Possibility of the Fall of Man from his Holy State. 

That the fall occurred is evidence of its possibility. But 
to explain its possibility is not so easy a matter. Man, a» 
has already been seen, was endowed with moral freedom, and 
as a free, responsible agent he was placed under the covenant 
relation. Both Catechisms say that our first parents were 
left to the freedom of their own will ; and the Confession, in 
the ninth chapter, asserts that man in his unfallen state had 
power to will and to do what was good, yet he was mutable, 
so that he might fall from his holy state. The teaching here 
seems to be, that in some mysterious way the possibility of 
the fall lay in the fact that man was endowed with finite, 
mutable, moral freedom. In the particular nature of the 
test of loyalty, under the covenant already referred to in this 
chapter, there is another side-light cast upon this dark sub- 
ject. The prohibition not to eat of the fruit of a certain tree 
was a positive command, not in its own nature moral. Hence, 
innocent desire for that which was in itself morally indiffer- 
ent might pass over into the transgression of a positive di- 
vine command relating to that which was morally indifferent. 
This may be the line along which the solution of the problem 
of the possibility of the fall of man lies, but it is not presented 

i k 

The Covenant of Works or of Life. 


> of human 

permit the 

ries the in- 

le origin of 

;s. To this 

d, the dark 

the sin and 

position in- 

carcely less 

) not specu- 

e the dark^ 

ustrated in 

t down. 

Holy State. 

•ility. But 

'. Man, as 

aedom, and 

le covenant 

rents were 

ifessiou, in 

state had 


hing here 

isibility of 

dth finite, 

ire of the 

to in this 

dark sub- 

rtain tree 


Y indiffer- 

sitive di- 




as a full explanation of the problem. The facts are simply 

2. The Source of the Fall. 

Touching this inquiry the Shorter Catechism is silent, but 
the Larger and the Confession have something to say upon 
it. On the one hand, our first parents were tempted by Sa- 
tan ; and on the other, this temptation and their fall under 
it were permitted by God. Our first parents were seduced 
by the subtiity and temptation of Satan, and so sinned by 
eating the forbidden fruit, says the Confession; -v^hile the 
Larger Catechism says that it was through the temptation of 
Satan that they transgressed the commandment of God, and 
so fell from their estate of innocence. This sin God was 
pleased to permit, according to his wise and holy counsel, 
having purposed to order it for his own glory. This permis- 
sion is not a bare permission, but a bounding and control- 
ling to holy ends of the sin of man. Man fell, tempted by 
Satan, permitted by God, and freely acting. 

3. The Process of the Fall. 

This, of course, is not described fully in the Standards, 
yet it is so implied therein that a few sentences setting forth 
the account in Genesis may be of some value here. The 
tempter came upon the scene; he approached the woman 
first ; ho appealed to her physical appetite, to her desire for 
knowledge, and to her natural pride. She was persuaded to 
eat, and she gave also to her husband, who was now with * 
her, and he did eat. And when they did thus both eat, the 
transgression of the covenant law was complete. The test 
of loyalty was broken, and man went into apostasy and re- 
bellion. A breach between God and man was made. Moral 
and spiritual separation between them took place. As a 
proof of their sense of guilt, Adam and Eve hid themselves 
from the presence of God ; and, as an evidence of tliefr sense 
of inward defilement, they sought to cover their nakedness. 
In this way, by eating of the fruit of the forbidden tree, our 




The Presbyterian Standards. 

first parents failed to fulfil the covenant condition of life, 
and so they forfeited the life that was promised by the cove- 

4. T7ie Remdts of the Fall of Man. 

This is a large subject, which can only be briefly treated 
here. The Standards are closely followed, and a few items 
are noted. 

First, By reason of the fall of man sin came in. It en- 
tered the sphere of man's activity, and became a part of the 
stream of human history. Want of conformity to, and trans- 
gression of, the law of God were introduced. Man became 
sinful and sinning. And, further, our first parents were re- 
duced from their representative status. They became pri- 
vate persons, and began a career of actual transgression, 
which would have ended in eternal death had the promise 
of a deliverer not been made to them. Thus sin entered, 
and thus the promise appeared. 

Secondly, Guilt was incurred. The race of man fell into 
an estate of condemnation. This condemnation was judicial, 
and by means of it they lost their original righteousness, 
and were deprived of their communion with God. The in- 
fluence of the Spirit of God would be judicially withdrawn, 
and all spiritual fellowship with God would be broken. This 
judicial infliction, and the spiritual death in sin which would 
follow, are the penal consequences of the sin of our first par- 
ents and of the failure of the covenant thereby. It is also 
sad proof of the fact that all men became guilty before God, 
and that the penalty of that guilt was death, which involves 
the separation of the soul from God, and the defilement of 
all the faculties of both soul and body. The image of God 
was effaced, original righteousness was lost, and the corrup- 
tion of the whole nature of man followed. 

Thirdly, Life and divine favor were no longer possible by 
means of this covenant. The Confession says that man by 
his fall made himself incapable of life by that covenant of 


The Covenant of Life or of Workh. 


ion of life, 
y the cove- 

Bfly treated 
. few items 

in. It en- 
part of the 
and trans- 
an became 
IS were re- 
ecame pri- 
be promise 
in entered, 

n fell into 
IS judicial, 
The in- 
ken. This 
lich would 
r first par- 
It is also 
)fore God, 
a involves 
ilement of 
ge of God 
e corrup- 

works which he failed to keep. Man lost all by failing to 
keep the covenant condition, and, in the very nature of the 
case, man could not repair the damage which his sin had 
wrought, either for himself or for the race in him. If saved 
at all, another covenant must be devised, which shall meet 
the conditions of the guilt and depravity into which man, by 
his sin and fall, had brought himself. 

ossible by 
t man by 
•venant of 


Itii ii 

^n !, 

Il p 


I -i 


SnouTEK Catkoiiism, 10 10: \j\\i(iR\i (.'atkciiihm, 23-29; Confession of 

Faith, VI. 

THIS is a dark subject, and, withal, one which is treated 
at some length in the Standards. The Catechisms 
especially give large space to it, for at this point they set 
forth the entire doctrine of sin which thej teach. The Con- 
fession, as already indicated, treats of the fall and its effects 
upon man before the covenant of works is described. In a 
single brief chapter the teachings of the Standards in re- 
ference to the dark, sad fact of sin will be gathered up in an 
orderly way. It will be noted that this exposition connects 
itself closely with the conclusion of the last chapter. 

I. 27iree General Introductory Remarks. 

It may be of some advantage in giasping the doctrine of 
the Standards in regard to sin to have some general ex- 
planatory remarks made concerning three important points. 
This is now done at the outset. 

1. The Standards evidently assume that the race of man- 
kind is bound up with our first parents in some close and 
intimate way. This connection, however it be understood or 
explained, is assumed by the Standards to be a great and 
basal fact in their doctrine of sin. The race was in some 
sense in Adam, sinned in him, and fell with him in his sin. 
He was the root from whence the race sprang, and under the 
covenant he was also the legal head of the race. The cove- 
nant was made with Adam for himself and his posterity, so 
that he was a public or representative person in this relation. 
Then, when Adam sinned, the race which was bound up in 
him sinned in and fell with him, and so it lost all that was 


Original Sin. 



is treated 
i they set 
The Con- 
its eflfects 
ed. In a 
'ds in ro- 
up in an 

>ctrine of 
leral ex- 
it points. 

of man- 
lose and 
:stood or 
reat and 

in some 
L his sin. 
nder the 
he cove- 
erity, so 
id up in 
khat was 

in prospect by the covenant. This is the basis of the im- 
putation of the guilt of Adam's sin to his posterity. This 
race connection is the first important point to keep in mind. 

2. The precise nature of sin as held by the Standards 
needs to be understood. The definition of the Shorter Cate- 
chism, with an addition from the Larger, gives a full view of 
their doctrine of sin. Sin is any want of conformity unto, 
or transgression of, the law of God, given as a rule to the 
reasonable creature. This is very comprehensive. On the 
positive side it calls all transgression of God's law sin, and 
on the negative side it points out what men are ready to 
forget, that defect, omission, or lack of conformity to what 
God's law requires is sin also, and brings men into condem- 
nation just as surely. For a man to fail to love God and his 
neighbor is sin, just as truly as murder or blasphemy, though 
there may be differences in the degree of guilt incurred 
thereby. It must also be carefully kept in mind that the 
notion of sin implied in the Standards includes all those 
states of mind and dispositions of heart which are not in 
harmony with the will of God. These are also of the nature 
of sin, and incur guilt. This is the second important point 
to be observed. 

3. The distinction between guilt and depravity must also 
be clearly conceived. This is of the utmost importance in 
interpreting the Standards. Guilt is legal liability to pun- 
ishment due on account of sin. Depravity is moral and 
spiritual defilement of the nature. Guilt springs from the 
relation of the agent to the law and its penalty. Depravity 
arises out of the relation of the defilement of sin to the nature 
of the agent. These two things always go together, though 
they are quite distinct aspects of the same thing. Guilt may 
be said to rest on the agent, and depravity to abide in him. 
The doctrine of sin involves both. 

The importance of this distinction lies in the fact that guilt 
is imputable, but depravity is not; and that depravity de- 

1 < t 



:! I 

■i t 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

scpnds by heredity, while guilt does not. In a word, guilt, as 
liability to punishment, may be imputed or reckoned rrom 
one to another, while depravity, or spiritual defilement, ia 
inherited or communicated from one generation to another. 
Depravity, or the corruption of the nature, is often, or, as the 
Catechism says commonly, called original sin. It is heredi- 
tary sin, native corruption, inbred or birth sin. Now, in the 
case of Adam's sin in his covenant relatic_ , the guilt of his 
sin, and thereby its penalty or liability to puniehment, was 
imputed or reckoned to his posterity, but the corruption of 
his whole nature, which as spiritual death is part of the 
penalty, is conveye ' from generation to generation by heredi- 
tary descent. This is the third point of an introductory 
nature, and perhaps it is the most important of the three. 
The way is now prepared for the discussion of the doctrin3 
of original sin contained in the Standards. 

II. The Doctrine of Original Sin Exhibited in the Standards. 

The three remarks just made pave the way for the intelli- 
gent presentation of this doctrine. It must always be kept 
in mind that original sin in its wide sense includes both guilt 
and depravity. In this sense it includes the whole state of 
sin in which men, descended from Adam, are born. In its nar- 
rower sense it -denotes hereditary depravity as distinguished 
from imputed guilt. The usage of the Standards is not quite 
uniform in regard to this matter, though it is necessary to 
take the wider sense of the term original sin in order to em- 
brace all that the Standards teach upon the subject. In a 
word, original sin in the Standards really includes every evil 
and disability, legal and spiritual, which has come upon the 
race through its natural and covenant relation with Adam, 
who sinned and fell, and carried the race with him into 
apostasy. But some analysis must now be made of this state. 

1. All men are in an estate of sin. This is tho teaching of 
the Scripture and the - erdict of experience. This is a some- 
what general statement of the state into which the fall brought 


OitiGiNAL Sin. 


, gnilt, as 
led from 
)meiit, is 

)r, as the 
i heredi- 
V, in the 
It of his 
ent, was 
ption of 
i of the 

e three. 

be kept 
th guilt 
jtate of 
its nar- 
)t quite 
sary to 
to em- 
In a 
ry evil 
on the 
D. into 
I state, 
ling of 

all mankind. The Confession calls it a death in sin. There 
are several factors which the Catechisms and the Confession 
both emphasize as entering into that sinful condition into 
which men are bom. 

tirst, There is the guilt of Adam's sin. This came upon 
the race by imputation, and on account of Adam's failure to 
keep the covenant of works. Men became liable to punish- 
ment and are born under penalty. In some way the whole 
race has become involved in the penal disability which came 
upon Adam. The Catechisms mention this element of guilt 
first of all, which favors the theory of immediate imputation. 

Secondly, Comes the loss of original righteousness. As 
has been seen, man was created with this as part, of his 
original religious endowment, and in this, in part, consisted 
the image of God. With the loss of original righteousness 
the image of God was effaced, and the divine spiritual like- 
ness in man disappeared. Thus man lost that which allied 
him to God, and the basis of communion between man and 
God was destroyed. Then came the sad estrangement be- 
tween them which history reveals. In this way man's chief 
divine ornament was broken and cast to the ground when 
man lost his original concreated righteousness. 

Thirdly, The corruption or spiritual defilement of the 
whole nature followed. This corruption of the nature is 
original sin in the narrow sense, and it is what is sometimes 
called spiritual death. Man is thereby dead in sin, and in- 
seisible to anything spiritually good. In this state man's 
spiritual nature is wholly defiled. This means that all the 
powers and parts of both soul and body are thus defiled. 
The mind is darkened, the affections are polluted, the con- 
science is perverted, and the will has become helpless to 
choose that which is holy. The body, too, has felt the cor- 
rupting effects of sin, and, above all, the balance between 
the soul and body, between the lower and the higher powers 
of man's nature, has been destroyed. The practical result of 




U ■ !! 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

all this is that man, as the Confession and Larger Catechism 
both teach, is utterly indisposed to the good, and so all hia 
desires are averse to it. Further, man is helpless to do 
anything good, and hence moral and spiritual inability has 
smitten him. Still further, man is also made opposite to all 
good, and is thereby at open enmity with God and not sub- 
ject to his law. And, to crown all, the Standards teach that 
man is wholly inclined to all evil, which simply means that 
the whole bent of his disposition and activity is away from 
God, and towards evil. The love of God is not in him, and 
the love of evil is in his heart. This inclination is also said 
to be a continual one. It is thus a fixed bent and habit, 
which needs a radical revolution to set right. This dark 
picture drawn by the Standards is true to Scripture, and the 
experience of man uniformly confirms it. 

Fourthly, Out of this sinful, corrupt nature all actual trans- 
gressions flow. Both Catechisms and Confession agree in 
saying that all actual transgressions proceed from this per- 
verted and polluted nature. Of course, if the source of 
voluntary action be the nature and di .position, and if that 
nature be depraved and opposed to all good, then it neces- 
sarily follows that actual sinning will be the result. The tree 
is known by its fruits. The tree of fallen humanity is cor- 
rupt and inclined to evil, hence its fruitage of voluntary 
acts is sure to be sinful. Actual transgression is the self- 
expression of a sinful nature. In like manner, the fact that 
all men, if left to themselves, go astray, and without excep- 
tion become guilty of actual sin, is positive proof that the 
nature is corrupted, and the disposition perverted. Sinful 
self-expression proves a sinful nature. 

2. Men, as sinful in and through Adam, are in an estate of 
misery. This fact is emphasized in the Catechisms. This 
miserable condition is the inevitable result of the sin of 
Adam, and part of the imputed penalty of that sin. Here, 
also, there are several particulars to be noted. 

Original Sin. 


) all his 
3 to do 
ility has 
te to all 
lot sub- 
icli that 
ms that 
ay from 
im, and 
Iso said 
i habit, 
is dark 
and the 

1 trans- 
gree in 
lis per- 
irce of 
if that 
le tree 
is cor- 
e self- 
ct that 
at the 

;ate of 
isin of 

First, The displeasure, or wrath and curse of God, rests 
upon mo.n. This evil comes in connection with the loss of 
communion with God, which gave such peace and joy to the 
soul of man in his nnf alien state. When this communion 
was broken, the smile of God was turned into a frown. A 
sense of the displeasure of that God, whose favor is so neces- 
sary to the comfort of the soul, filled the heart of man with 
fear and alarm. This brought sore misery to man. To be 
without God is to be without hope in the world. This 
brought a desolation to the soul of man which is sad beyond 
all description. 

Secondly, Man became liable to all miseries in this life. 
Here very many things might be said, but the statement 
must be briefly made. Pain and sickness, disappointment 
and misfortune, grief and sorrow are all to be thought of in 
this connection. The burden which sin lays upon the body, 
and the wounds which it makes in the soul, are all to be 
traced to the same source. Then the curse which was passed 
upon the ground for man's sake comes in to make his lot all 
the more miserable, as he toils for his daily bread in the 
sweat of his face. The believer, of course, feels the burden 
of this in a measure, though he has a well-spring of consola- 
tion to support him at all times. But the man still in sin 
must endure all the misery without any support or comfort 
in it. All the miseries of thic life make up a painful category 
of ills which pertain to the lot of man in his sinful estate. 

Thirdly, The bondage of Satan is next to be noted. This 
important factor is mentioned in the Larger Catechism only, 
but the Scriptures often teach that man by reason of the fall 
has lost his true liberty and become the bond-slave of Satan. 
By nature men are the children of darkness and of wrath. 
In this state they are led captive by Satan at his will. By 
the fall, therefore, men have in some sense passed under the 
dominion of Satan, and his cruel bondage ret^s upon them as 
a painful part of their sinful estate. It would, of course, be 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

I!!i i! 

i r 




going too far to say, as some ancient divines did, that man 
had so passed under the power of Satan that the atonement 
was a ransom-price paid to Satan for the redemption of the 
elect. Still, in some sense men by the fall have become the 
servants of sin, and the bond-servants of Satan. This galling 
yoke greatly increases the misery of the race. 

Fourthly^ Death itself and the pains of hell are mentioned 
last. Both of these facts cause much fear and trembling v\ 
the heart of man. Death is dreaded because it ushers man 
into his eternal state, and launches him on his everlasting 
destiny. The torments of hell, to be further described under 
the next head, even in anticipation render man's condition 
most miserable. Then the actual realization of this must be 
ten times worse. Had man not sinned, death, as we now 
understand it, would not Ukely have been experienced ; and 
hell, so far as man is concerned, would have had no meaning 
at all. Still, it would not necessarily follow from this that all 
the members of the human race would always have remained 
alive upon the earth. This might have been the case, but it 
is more likely that the transition known as death would not 
be the dark and dreadful thing it now is, but would have 
been a happy translation to the heavenly estate, for which 
the earthly career, long or short, was a suitable preparation. 
There would have been no fear in looking forward to this 
transition, and no misery would attend its actual experi- 

3. Men in this state of sin and misery are in a condition 
of guilt. Many passages of these Standards, as they repro- 
duce the teaching of the Scriptures, must be understood as 
asserting that all men by nature are exposed to the wrath of 
God and the penalty of sin. By guilt, as already explained, 
is meant liability to punishment or exposure to suffering on 
account of sin. This guilt rests upon all men when they are 
born; and when actual transgression is committed and re- 
mains un forgiven the guilt becomes all the greater. Every 


\ •'■ 

Origi ^L Sin. 


sin, says the Confession, both original and actual, being a 
transgression of the righteous law of God, does in the nature 
of the case bring guilt upon the sinner. He is thereby 
bound over to the wrath of God, and the curse of the law, 
and so made liable to death, temporal, spiritual, and eternal. 
The Larger Catechism says that, by reason of their sinful 
estate, men are made justly liable to all punishments in this 
world and in that wliich is to come. Such passages of the 
Standards clearly show that they teach that man by nature 
is in a guilty state before God, and so exposed to the penalty 
of sin. They also show that the penalty which rests upon 
them is death. This term must be here taken in its deep 
penal significance, wherein the notion of separation is funda- 
mental. Temporal death is separation of soul and body, 
spiritual death is separation between God and the soul, and 
eternal death is perpetual separation of man from God. This 
awful threefold penalty sums up everything under it. 

Undei this general head the Larger Catechism states some 
additional particulars which must now be set down in order. 

Mrsi, There are certain punishments which come upon 
men in this life because of their guilty state. These are said 
to be of two classes, and very dreadful in tlieir nature. 

In the first place, there are those which are inward in 
their nature. Here there are several factors. Blindness of 
mind is one of these. This is really judicial blindness of the 
understanding in spiritual things. A reprobate sense, which 
may be taken to mean an utter insensibility to God and 
spiritual things, is also mentioned. Then strong delusions, 
or fixed self-deceptions of some sort, hardness of heart, 
which is in part judicial and in part the result of habit, 
horror of conscience as a sense of danger in the soul, and 
vile aifections which cling to some object degraded and de- 
grading, make up the remaining factors noted in this Cate- 

In the second place, there are punishments which are out- 




i t 

11 1 

llll ^1 

i 1 












The Presbyterian Standards. 

•ward in their nature. They are such as these : God's curse 
resting upon the creatures on account of the sia of man, the 
ground bringing forth briars and nettles before him, and all 
other evils which come upon men in their bodies, names, 
estates, relations, and employments, culminating in death 
itself. This dreadful list of penal inflictions, inward and 
outward, is the heritage of the race on account of the guilty 
state into which it has been brought by means of sin. 

Secondly, There are also certain punishments in the life 
to come, mentioned in the Large Catechism. Everlasting 
separation from the comfortable presence of God is properly 
mentioned first. In the world to come, the lost shall not be 
beyond the dominion of God, but they shall be forever shut 
out from the comfortable presence of God, and excluded 
from communion with him. In some respects this will be 
one of the most awful things in future punishment. Then 
there shall be endured most grievous torments in soul and 
body without intermission forever. This is a dreadful state- 
ment, but not more so than the assertions of the Scripture 
texts quoted in its support. Both body and soul will be the 
seat of the torment, and it shall be constant and unremitting. 
It is said to be in hell-fire. The Standards here simply use 
Scripture language, and they no more mean literal physical 
fire than do the Scripture passages denote this. Denying 
the presence of literal fire does not lessen the intensity of 
the torment, but perhaps deepens it. In any case, the tor- 
ment will be spiritual in its nature, and suited to an endless 
and immortal existence. The question of the endlessness 
of the punishment will come up later on in the exposi- 
tion, so that nothing further need be added now. 

4. Another important question remains. It relates to the 
precise nature of the relation between Adam and his pos- 
terity in the matter of sin and guilt. The special point 
which now emerges refers to the way in which guilt and de- 
pravity come upon the race, in, through or from Adam. The 


Original Sin. 



Shorter Catechism simply says that the race sinned in him^ 
and fell with him in his first transgression. The Larger 
Catechism says that original sin, by which it evidently means 
only the corruption of the nature, is conveyed from the first 
parents unto their posterity by natural generation, so that all 
proceeding from them in that way are conceived and born in 
sin. The Confession states the matter thus : Our first parents, 
being the root of all mankind, the guilt of their sin was im- 
puted, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature was 
conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by 
ordinary generation. It would thus appear that the Shorter 
Catechism simply states the fact that the race sinned and 
fell in Adam, the Larger Catechism deals only with the trans- 
mission of depravity by hereditary descent, while the Con- 
fession treats of the whole subject of guilt and depravity. 
According to the statement of the Confession, the guilt of 
the sin of Adam was imputed, and the corruption of his 
nature was conveyed by ordinary generation. It would thus 
appear that the Confession clearly teaches the doctrine of 
imputation; and, from the order in which the factors of 
guilt and depravity are mentioned, there is much in favor of 
the view of immediate imputation. The legal guilt of Adam's 
sin was imputed or reckoned to Adam and his posterity. 
This imputed guilt as liability to punishment brought pen- 
alty. That penalty in part was to be born with a corrupt or 
depraved nature, and this is simply spiritual death viewed 
as the penal result of Adam's sin. Guilt passes upon '' 
men first, depravity comes next as part of that guilt. Again, 
it is seen that guilt is imputed, and that depravity is in- 
herited. This is the doctrine of the Standards, and it is 
undoubtedly the best philosophy of the facts. If depravity 
is held to come first in the logical order, then it can only be 
an arbitrary infliction without any just ground ; but if guilt 
is held to come first logically, then depravity stands as part 
of the penalty inflicted on just covenant grounds, unless the 


The Presbyterian Standards. 


:(il !' 

justice of the covenant arrangement be denied altogether. 
It is proper to add that, in the experience of men, guilt and 
depravity are bound up together, so that they are not to be 
separated in time. The order is only a logical one, and yet 
it has its significance. 

5. The last point for this chapter relates to a topic which 
fully emerges later on when sanctification is explained. Still, 
as the Confession alludes to it here, what it says must be set 
down to make the discussion complete. The point raised 
has reference to the remains of the corrupt nature which 
exists in the regenerate. This is not cast out all at once, but 
it continues to subsist along with the new regenerate nature. 
Through Christ it is pardoned and mortified. The regen- 
erate believing man is justified, and this ])laces him in an 
abiding state of acceptance with God, through the merits of 
Christ. As the believer lives in this state of grace, his sinful 
deeds are pardoned, and the corrupt nature itself, by the in- 
dwelling of the Holy Spirit, is mortified, crucified and sub- 
dued more and more, until it is finally conquered at death. 
And it is expressly added that this old sinful nature, and all 
its motions or activities, are truly and properly sin. This 
statement cuts the roots of Plymouthism on the one hand, 
and leaves no ground for entire sanctification in this life on 
the other. At this point, again, the wisdom and caution of 
the Standards are abundantly evident. 



guilt and 

not to be 

e, and yet 

pic which 
led. Still, 
lust be set 
int raised 
ire which 
once, but 
ie nature, 
he regen- 
lim in an 
) merits of 
his sinful 
by the in- 
and sub- 
at death, 
re, and all 
jin. This 
3ne hand, 
lis life on 
jaution of 



SnoKTEB Cateohism, 20; Larger Cateohism, 30-35; Confession of 

Faith, VII. 

WITH this chapter the passage is to be made from the 
dark shadows of sin to the bright landscapes of 
grace. Here it will be seen how God in his wonderful mercy 
has provided a suitable and complete remedy for man's sad, 
sinful estate as fallen in Adam. The method according to 
which this remedy is set forth in the Standards is that of the 
covenant relation. Just as man in the first Adam failed 
under this relation, so by the second Adam he is recovered 
under the provisions of a covenant, which is usually called 
the covenant of grace. This is the topic for study in this 
chapter, and its explanation will present the gracious basis 
upon which the whole scheme of redemption securely rests 
in a plan of grace. 

Sometimes the distinction is made by theologians between 
what is called the covenant of redemption and the covenant 
of grace. According to the former, God enters into covenant 
with his Son, giving him a people whom he redeems and 
assuredly saves. According to the latter, God enters into 
covenant with his people to redeem and save them by his 
Son, as the Mediator whom he has appointed. In the first 
case, God and the Son are the parties to the covenant, and 
th« Son is the surety for his people ; and in the latter case, 
God and the elect are the parties, and the Son is the Media- 
tor between them. The Standards do not distinctly recog- 
nize this twofold aspect of the covenant. They speak of a 
second covenant, commonly called the covenant of grace, 
according to which God has been pleased to provide for 
and secure the salvation of the elect. This distinction may 
8 118 





The Presbyteiuan Standards. 

be regarded as a valid one, so long as the idea of two cove- 
nants is not entertained. Strictly speaking, there can be 
only one covenant, but that covenant may be viewed in the 
twofold aspect, which this distinction implies. The Scrip- 
ture terms mediator and surety, as applied to Christ, quite 
justify this twofold view of the covenant of grace, though 
the covenant itself is always one and the same. 

It is a matter worth noticing at the outset that the Shorter 
Catechism has only one question given to this topic, while 
the Larger devotes six questions to it, in which almost the 
same points are covered as are treated of in the Confession. 
From the two latter parts of the Standards the materials to 
be explained in this chapter are chiefly drawn. 

I. The Nature of the Covenant of Grace. 

The very essence of this covenant is that it is gracious. 
Both of the Catechisms emphasize the fact of electing love 
and grace in this connection. The Shorter says that God, 
out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some 
to everlas' ig life, and did enter into a covenant of grace to 
deliver and save them by a Redeemer. The Larger says that 
God, out of his mere love and mercy, delivers his elect out of 
their estate of sin and misery. The Confession, after setting 
forth the fact that the covenant of works was a gracious 
condescension on the part of God, goes on to say that by 
the second covenant he freely offers unto sinners life and 
salvation by Jesus Christ. In this way, stress is laid by the 
Standards upon the gratuitous nature of the second covenant. 
And were it not that the grace of God thus appears in it, man 
would indeed have no hope. By reason of the fall he had 
incurred guilt, which he could neither atone for nor forgive. 
He had also, by the fall, come into the possession of a de- 
praved nature, which he was helpless to change or remove. 
Hence, grace alone could rescue him, and that grace must 
be divine. The Larger Catechism lays special stress upon 
the gracious nature of the second covenant. 



The Covenant of Grace. 


two cove- 
e can be 
^ed in the 
he Scrip- 
rist, quite 
J, though 

e Shorter 
pic, while 
Imost the 
terials to 

ting love 
hat God, 
ted some 
grace to 
jays that 
ct out of 
r setting 
that by 
life and 
d by the 
it, man 
he had 
)f a de- 
se must 
5S upon 

There are two ideas presented in the Confessioti in regard 
to this gracious covenant relation. First, There is the idea 
expressed by the term covenant, presently to be explained at 
length; and. Secondly, that denoted by the word testament, 
according to which the Confession says that the covenant of 
grace is frequently set forth in Scripture. The ninth chap- 
ter of Hebrews is the important passage in this connection. 
There the reference is to the case of a man making his last 
will or testament, by means of which, in view of his death, 
he bequeaths his property to those whom he appoints his 
heirs. So, in regard to the covenant of grace, when the term 
testament is applied to it, special reference is made to the 
death of Christ, the testator, by means of which the ev^corlast- 
ing inheritance, and all that pertains thereto, is bequeathed 
to those who are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. 
This is a precious factor in the covenant. In the covenant, 
strictly speaking, there is made prominent the fact of the 
divine promise of salvation through faith in Christ; but, 
with the testamentary idea, the fact of divine heirship is 
emphasized. Both the fact of covenant promise and of 
testamentary heirship are to be kept in view in explaining 
the covenant of grace. 

II. The Parties to the Covenant. 

As in the first covenant God and Adam were the parties, 
so in the second covenant God and Christ are the parties. 
And as in the first covenant relation Adam stood for himself, 
and the race in him as his seed, so in the second covenant 
relation Christ stands and acts for himself and his covenant- 
elect seed. Hence, the parties in the covenant of grace are 
also twofold. 

First, There is God the Father for the Godhead. In this 
case the first party is precisely the same as in the first cove- 
nant. It is proper to note with care the fact that, while it is 
said that God the Father is the first party, he stands for and 
represents the entire Godhead, as all the persons concur in 


The Prehdyterian Standards. 



tho divine procedure. Moreover, the covenant does not con- 
template the eternal Son merely as the second person of the 
Trinity, but also, if not chiefly, as the incarnate God-man, 
who is made partaker of the human nature. 

Secondly, There is Christ for himself and his elect seed, 
given him by the Father, as the second party. This state- 
ment blends the distinction already explained be'^ween the 
covenant of redemption and of grace. The covenant was 
made with Christ for himself, and in him on behalf of the 
elect, or those whom the Catechism says were ordained unto 
life. The Catechisms both clearly teach that Christ stood 
and acted for the elect in a direct covenant relation with 
God, in order to deliver them from an estate of sin and 
misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation and 

This brings distinctly into view the federal or representa- 
tive principle in connection with the work of Christ, in such 
a way as to make it plain that the Standards are constructed 
according to what is known as the federal idea, and that they 
consequently exhibit a distinct phase of what is termed the 
covenant or federal theology. It is quite true that the 
Standards do not push the covenant idea so far as some 
representatives of that type of theology, but it is evident 
that on broad scriptural outlines they are constructed under 
the control of the federal principle, both in regard to the 
natural and the legal relations in Adam, and in reference to 
the gracious and redemptive relations in Christ. There is 
some need to emphasize this aspect of the structural princi- 
ple of the Standards at the present day, as there is a ten- 
dency in certain quarters to overlook, or lay it aside. This 
principle is the very essence of both covenants. 

III. The Conditions of the Covenant. 

This is a very important point, which can only be consid- 
ered in part at this stage of the exposition of the Standards, 
for it really raises the whole mediatorial work of Christ, as 

The Covenant of Grace. 


not con- 
n of the 

)ct seed, 
is state- 
reen the 
lant was 
f of the 
led unto 
st stood 
ion with 
sin and 
don and 


in such 


hat they 

oaed the 

hat the 

IS some 


d under 

i to the 

[•ence to 

rhere is 


a ten- 


brist, as 

prophet, priest, and king. The full discussion of this work 
comes up later on, so that at this stage only a general view 
is to be taken of the covenant conditions. These conditions 
are really twofold, as suggested by the Standards at this 

1. On Christ's part, perfect obecJience to the covenant law, 
and full satisfaction for the penalty incurred by the failure 
of the first covenant, were made. In this way Christ, stand- 
ing in the covenant place and relation of the first Adam, took 
up the covenant liabilities just where they had been laid 
down by our first parents. He rendered the obedience re- 
quired, he met the penalty incurred, and this complete two- 
fold satisfaction made by Christ is the condition of the 
covenant fulfilled by him on his part. Had he failed, its 
saving benefits would not have been procured by him, to be 
made over to his people. But he fully met all the covenant 
conditions assumed by him, and so wrought out an everlast- 
ing righteousness which is unto all and upon all those who 
believe in him. 

2. On man's part, the only condition is faith in the Lord 
Jesus Christ. By means of this gracious condition, those 
who believe in Christ obtain the benefits of the fulfilment of 
the legal conditions of the covenant of grace. This is im- 
plied in the statements of the Catechisms at this point, and 
it is more fully brought out in the Confession later on, when 
it announces that God requires faith in Jesus Christ, on the 
part of sinners, that they may be saved. This saving faith, 
to be afterwards more fully explained, is the single gracious 
condition of the covenant on man's part. Satisfaction made 
by Christ, and faith exercised in Christ, make up the twofold 
condition of the covenant. 

It is worth while observing, further, that the condition, so 
far as Christ himself is concerned, was purely legal, with a 
view, of course, to a gracious end. Christ, as the Redeemer, 
was made under the law, he obeyed the demands of the law, 

i \ 





The Presbyterian Standards. 

and he also suffered under the curse of the law. Hence, his 
standing under the covenant, and the conditions which he 
fulfilled, were alike legal. This being the case, the reward of 
his obedience and the result of his death became a matter 
of debt to him. His claim to this reward is justly made, so 
far as he himself is concerned, on the basis of a strict, legal 
satisfaction made by him, as the second Adam. But when 
man's case is considered, the benefits of the covenant, coming 
to him by the way of faith, are entirely a matter of grace to 
him. Christ, having fulfilled the legal conditions, has pur- 
chased life and salvation for all those who believe in him ; 
then, when that life and salvation are conveyed by faith to 
tho believing sinner, it is oflfered and received as a gift. 
Hence, eternal life is debt to Christ for his people, but gift to 
his people from him. 

IV. 77ie Results of the Covenant of Grace. 

The conditions of the covenant being fulfilled, certain 
results follow. The result, so far as Christ is concerned, is 
life and salvatio'i. purchased for his people. This precious 
result is fully secured and freely offered to men in the mes- 
sage of the gospel. 

But the results of the covenant are set forth chiefly in 
their relation to sinful men. These are now to be briefly 
exhibited, as they are expressed in a threefold way in the 
Standards. The Catechisms present the case in a positive 
and a negative way, while the Confession also points out 
the agency which brings the sinner into possession of these 

1. There is deliverance from, the guilty estate of sin and 
misery. Those who believe in Christ are delivered from sin, 
both as to its guilt and its depravity, and from the misery 
which that state of sin involves. Hence by the provisions of 
the covenant of grace, whose conditions Christ has fulfilled, 
there is deliverance for the elect who believe in Christ from 
the sin, guilt and misery, which the failure of the first cove- 

The Covenant of Grace. 


ice, his 
lich he 
ward of 

lade, so 
;t, legal 
t when 
;race to 
as pur- 
in him; 
faith to 

a gift, 
t gift to 

rned, is 
le mes- 

liefly in 
in the 
Qts out 
)f these 

lin and 
om sin, 
ions of 
3t from 
t cove- 

nant entailed. This is the all-important negative result 
which the covenant of grace secures for those to whom it 

2. Then, introduction into a state of grace is the positive 
result of the covenant promise to sinful men, through the 
fulfilment of its legal conditions by Christ. The word sal- 
vation must be taken here in its very widest sense, as includ- 
ing everything which comes to the believer through Christ, 
the Mediator of the covenant. It embraces all that eternal 
life involves. Justification, adoption, regeneration, sancti- 
fication, and glorification, with all that is therein implied, 
make up the splendid category of the things entering into 
the full salvation which flows from the covenant of grace. 
Not only is there full remission of sin, as under the preceding 
head, but there is also complete salvation from sin procured 
in due time for all the elect who are ordained unto life and 

3. The promise of the Holy Spirit is also made good unto 
all those who are ordained unto life and salvation. The pre- 
sence and work of the Holy Spirit have been procured by 
Christ in fulfilling the conditions of the covenant. The spe- 
cial office of the Spirit is to make the elect, who are ordained 
unto life and salvation, both able and willing to believe in 
Jesus Christ. This is a very important feature of the theo- 
logy of the Standards. It sets forth the doctrine of deter- 
mining grace, which is sometimes known as the irresistible, 
or invincible, grace, which operates in the case of the elect. 
Being dead in sin, men need the Holy Spirit to renew them, 
and to unite them to Christ, who is their life. The Larger 
Catechism speaks very distinctly upon this point, when it 
says that God gives the Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work 
in them that faith, with all other saving graces, and to enable 
them unto all holy obedience, as evidence of the truth of 
their f^ith and thankfulness to God. This ministry of the 
Spirit is the result of the work of Christ, the Mediator of the 


The Pbe8byteRx.:n Standards. 

covenant ; and the outcome of the Spirit's work is to make 
good in actual experience, in the case of the elect, the bene- 
fits of the covenant, by leadint; them to believe in the Media- 
tor thereof. When they thus believe, being united to Christ, 
they are delivered from their estate of sin and misery, and 
are brought into an estate of salvation through the Eedeemer 
in whom they trust. 

It may be well, in closing this topic, to point out the fact 
that certain common operations of the Spirit and certain 
outward benefits are secured indirectly through the covenant 
for the non-elect. Respite from the immediate punishment 
of sin, the opportunity to repent in the day of divine mercy, 
the quickening of the conscience within, and the restraints 
from sin without, together with all the care and gifts of di- 
vine providence which the non-elect receive, are to be traced 
indirectly to the work of Christ as the Mediator of the cove- 
nant. This is implied in the doctrine of the Standards, but 
it is not emphasized as much as, perhaps, it ought to have 
been, in order fully to represent the teaching of the Scrip- 
tures upon this important subject. So far as the case of the 
©lect is concerned, the doctrine of the Standards is, that all 
the elect, and they only, have given to them that renewing 
and determining grace which makes them willing and able 
to repent of sin and to believe in Jesus Christ. 

V. TJie AdTninistratiori of the Covenant of Grace. 

This heading opens up a very interesting and instructive 
line of study, which leads to the consideration of the histor- 
ical unfolding of the covenant among men from age to age. 
The Shorter Catechism has nothing to say upon this pointy 
but the Larger Catechism and the Confession have state- 
ments which are quite complete, and almost entirely similar. 
Several important items are now gather^id up. 

1. It is said that the covenant of grace is one and the same ii^ 
all ages and under all dispensations. From the promise mad© 
to our first parents, that the seed of the woman should bruise 


The Covenant of Grace. 


the head of the serpent, onward through all the stages of 
the unfolding of the purposes of grace, there appears but 
one gracious method of providing and bestowing the benefits 
of God's purpose to redeem. However the outward form 
may vary, there is but one underlying covenant relation. 
Its essential nature, or, as the Confession says, its substance, 
always remains the same. In the patriarchal and the Mo- 
saic eras, in Old and in New Testament times, there is one 
and tlife same covenant, with the one only Mediator, Jesus 
Christ, the same promise of life and salvation, and the similar 
condition of faith in order to the reception of the blessings 
of the covenant, which is well ordered in all things, and sure. 
2. But the mode of administration may, and does, differ 
from age to age. Hence arise what may be called different 
dispensations of the covenant of grace. By this is meant 
that there are different ways of exhibiting and conveying the 
gracious benefits secured by the provisions of the covenant. 
In the early dispensations the mode was quite simple and 
direct ; in the Mosaic it became much more elaborate in its 
outward forms ; and in the New Testament it appears to be 
more distinctly spiritual. It is not an easy matter to make 
clear divisions between some of these dispensations, and 
various writers are by no means agreed as to the number of 
them to be defined. As a matter of fact, they seem to shade 
into each other, just as one prepared the way for another. 
Some would divide as follows: From Adam to Noah, from 
Noah to Abraham, from Abraham to Moses, from Moses to 
Christ, and from Christ to the end of the world. A careful 
study of these covenant eras, noting in each the measure of 
truth revealed, the form of the ordinances instituted, and the 
measure of grace conveyed, makes a most interesting biblical 
inquiry. As the historical unfolding of the covenant moves 
on, it assumes more and more definiteness. The stream nar- 
rows its channel, but it flows ever more deeply till the time 
of Christ, when it overflows all its banks and exhibits again its 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

i I- 


! 1 


primitive universality. There are two great dispensations 
recognized in the exposition of the Standards, and these are 
to be briefly considered in closing this chapter. They are 
known as the Old and New Testaments. 

These two great dispensations, are not covenants strictly 
speaking. That of the Old Testament has law so much in 
the foreground that it is sometimes called the dispensation 
of law ; that which is called the New Testament has grace so 
much in the foreground that it is very properly termed the 
gospel; yet both are gracious. But law is in the fore- 
ground and grace is in the background in the Old, while 
grace is in the foreground and law in the background in the 
New Testament. Thus law and grace are blended in the 
covenant relation. A few things are now to be said concern- 
ing each of these dispensations. 

J*irst, The Old Testament, or covenant, dispensation is 
considered. Here the mode was by promises which related 
to the blessings of the covenant, by prophecies which set 
forth the nature and work of the Messiah and his kingdom, 
by sacrifices which pointed constantly to the one great sacri- 
fice to be made in the fulness of time, by circumcision which 
was the seal of the covenant, by the passover which was a 
perpetual memorial of a past deliverance and an abiding 
pledge of the deliverance from sin, and by other types and 
ordinances, such as the kingly and priestly official lines, and 
the various rites of the Jewish economy. By means of all 
these things the coming of Christ was foresignified, and 
thereby the faith of the true Jews in the advent of the ex- 
pected Messiah, by whom they were to obtain salvation and 
eternal life, was constantly built up. In every case Christ in 
the new was the substance and antitype of the shadow and 
the type of the old dispensation. 

Secondly, The New Testament, or covenant dispensation 
follows. Under this dispensation Christ the substance was 
exhibited. In it, also, although the ordinances are fewer in 

The Covenant of Grace. 


number than in the Old Testamei.i, and although there is 
more simplicity in outward form and less glory in ritual, 
yet in these few simple ordinances there is held forth with 
more fulness, evidence and spiritual efficacy, to all nations, 
whether Jew or Gentile, the blessings of the covenant of 
grace. The ordinances by which the benefits of the covenant 
of grace are dispensed are the preaching of the word, no 
doubt including prayer, together with the two sacraments of 
baptism and the Lord's supper, which have taken the place 
of circumcision and the ppssover of the old dispensation. 
These, as means of grace, will come to be spoken of in a 
later chapter, so that no exposition need be added here. 

3. Men, specially the elect, were, and are, truly saved under 
both dispensations. The Standards teach distinctly that the 
Old Testament saints were as truly saved as those in the 
gospel dispensation, and that they were saved by the Holy 
Spirit, through the merits of Jesus Christ, and by means of 
faith on their part. The Confession and Larger Catechism 
agree in saying that the modes by which the covenant was 
administered under the law of the Old Testament dispensa- 
tion were for the time sufficient and efficacious through the 
operation of the Spirit to instruct and build up the elect in 
the faith of the coming Messiah, by whom they had full re- 
mission of sins and eternal salvation. Thus the Old Testa- 
ment believers were as truly saved by faith as are those of 
New Testament times. The Romish opinion of the Lirnbus 
Patrem is not only unscriptural, but entirely unnecessary, in 
the light of the exposition of the covenant of grace just made. 
Hence, the doctrine is, one covenant with two dispensations, 
one Mediator and one method of salvation, and multitudes 
fully saved under both dispensations of the covenant of 

^ i 




Shorter Catkchism, 21, 23; Larger Cateoiusm, 36-42; Confession of 

Faith, VIII. 

IN this chapter the heart of the redemptive scheme, an 
outline of which was given in the last chapter, is reached. 
The Confession and both Catechisms have very complete 
statements concerning the person of Christ. The Larger 
Catechism gives a specially full outline of this cardinal doc- 
trine of the Christian system. The Confession unites in a 
single chapter what it has to say concerning both the person 
and the work of the Redeemer. In the first three sections 
the person of Christ is described. 

It can scarcely be necessary to insist upon the vital 
importance of true scriptural views in regard to this great sub- 
ject. The Standards, though not, strictly speaking, Christo- 
centric in their structure, yet give very great prominence to 
the person and work of the Redeemer in their system. They 
rightly make this the central topic in their redemptive 
scheme. As that scheme is wrought out by the method of 
grace known as the covenant relation, and as Christ is the 
Mediator of that covenant, and the only Redeemer of the 
elect who are ordained to life, so he is the centre from whose 
person and work all the lines of redeeming love and grace 
radiate. It is the glorious person of the blessed Redeemer, 
as the God-man, that awaits description in this chapter, as 
it is set forth in the Standards. 

I. A General Statement. 

In the Confession there is at the outset a general compre- 
hensive statement relating to the person of Christ as the 
Mediator of the covenant between God and man. It is first 


i ^^ 


The Person of Jesus Christ, the Mediator. 125 

announced that in his eternal purpose God was pleased to 
choose and ordain for the work of redemption the Lord 
Jesus, his only begotten Son, to be the Mediator of the 
second covenant between God and man. In this off ' ial and 
divinely appointed capacity, he was commissioned to act as 
a prophet, as a priest, and as a king. He was, also, the head 
and saviour of the church, and heir of all things for himself 
and his people. He was, also, appointed to be the judge of 
the world ; and this judicial function relates not only to his 
own church and people, but also to the unbelieving world 
that remains impenitent, and is finally cast out and punished. 
Then, the gracious purpose of electing love is emphasized by 
the Confession in this connection. It is said that from all 
eternity God the Father did give to the Son, as Mediator, a 
people to be his seed, and that this people are in time to be 
redeemed by him. In like manner all things involved in their 
salvation are made certain, so that all this elect covenant 
seed shall in due time be called, justified, sanctified, and 
glorified. Here the representative principle again emerges. 
On behalf of that people given in covenant to the Son by 
the Father, the Son stands and acts. Thus his people are 
federally identified with him from all eternity, in the cove- 
nant. They are his sheep given to him by the Father. And 
those thus federally in Christ through the covenant are in 
due time to be spiritually united to him in their eflfectual 
calling, and then they are experimentally and consciously 
joined unto him by faith unto justification. It is in relation 
to this broad and eternal basis of electing love and grace 
that the person and work of the Redeemer come into view 
in the Standards. 

II. The Two Natures of the Redeemer. 

The doctrine of the Standards touching the person of 
Christ is to the effect that in his person there are two na- 
tures, the human and the divine, joined in an eternal union. 
This makes the God-man, or the theanthropic person of the 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

'" i 





1 ' 

Redeemer, accordinf^ to which he is represented as subsist- 
ing with these two natures in one person for ever. 

1. The divine nature is to be first described. In this re- 
spect Jesus Christ, as Mediator and Redeemer, is the eternal 
Son of God. He is not Son either as the highest and first 
creature, or as the official Redeemer only. As the eternal 
Son of God, he is the second person of the Trinity, and truly 
of the essence of deity. He is thus of one and the same 
divine essence as the Father, and equal with him in power 
and glory. In no respect, therefore, is there mj essential 
inferiority in the Son to the Father. This is a plain em- 
phatic statement of the true deity of the divine nature in the 
theanthropic person of the Redeemer. In view of the ancient 
heresies, and of modern kenosis theories concerning the person 
of Christ, this statement, with its scriptural proofs, is of the 
highest value. In no respect were the trinitarian relations 
disturbed by the assumption of the human nature, and hence 
the stability of the Trinity and the true deity of the eternal 
logos are preserved in the person of the Redeemer. This is 
a simple statement of the fact, without any attempt to ex- 
plain its mystery. 

2. The human nature is to be next explained. In the 
fulness of time this eternal Son became man, or took upon 
himself man's nature. The former is the language of the 
Catechisms, and the latter is that of the Confession. In 
some respects the confessional statement seems to be the 
better one, although the meaning of the Catechisms is after- 
wards explained in almost the same sense. The eternal Sorj 
did not become man in the sense that ho no longer retained 
his true deity. He did take man's entire nature into abid- 
ing union with his deity. In the human nature thus as- 
sumed there were all the essential elements of man's nature. 
He had a true human body of flesh and blood, just like that 
of any man, sin excepted. He was thus of the seed of Abra- 
ham, and not of the nature of angels. Then, too, he had a 

The Person of Jesus Christ, the Mediator. 127 

reasonable soul, which means that he had all the rational 
faculties, and the moral powers, and the religious sentiments 
pertaining to human nature. He became man by taking to 
himself this true body and reasonable soul, and then he 
grew up from infancy to manhood just like any other member 
of the human family. Hence, the Scriptures describe him 
as increasing in stature, as to his body, and in wisdom, as to 
his soul ; and as growing up in favor with God and man. 

This human nature, the Confession further states, had all 
the essential properties and common infirmities of man's 
nature, with the exception of sin. This means that all the 
physical, mental, moral and spiritual qualities necessary to 
true humanity were possessed by him. Every essential 
quality pertaining to the body, to the mind, to the heart, and 
to the spirit of man were possessed by the God-man. By 
the common infirmities here mentioned are meant, not sinful 
weaknesses, but the ills and pains to which human nature is 
heir, together with the sorrows and disappointments which 
the soul of man may feel. And in these very facts there is 
further proof of the true and complete humanity of the Lord 
Jesus Christ. 

III. How was the human nature assumed? is the next 
question answered in the Standards. To this point the 
Standards speak but briefly, and in almost similar language 
in the Confession and both Catechisms. He was conceived 
by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin 
Mary, and born of her, yet without sin. This is simply stat- 
ing this most mysterious fact in the language of Scripture. 
The parentage of the child Jesus was not human on the 
father's side. Through a miracle wrought by the Holy 
Ghost, the human nature of the Redeemer was brought into 
union with the eternal Son of God. The work of the Holy 
Ghost in this connection is worthy of careful remark. He is 
the divine person by whose agency the two natures were 
joined together in the incarnation, so as to constitute the 



%\ < 

\ i 



■i ! 

* i 

tlieanthropic person of tie Redeemer. How far the work of 
the Spirit in continued in this connection it is not easy to 
say, and how far the Holy Spirit should even now be re- 
garded as the medium through which the divine nature acts 
on, or through, the human nature, is an inquiry in regard to 
which much care is needed. It can hardly be the case, that 
the Holy Spirit's agency is constantly exercised in holding 
the two natures together in the God-man. There can be no 
doubt, however, that the Holy Spirit rested upon Christ and 
upheld him in his human nature throughout his mediatorial 
work on earth. 

It is further added, that Jesus was of the substance of 
Mary, and born of her. By partaking of her substance, 
Jesus truly participated in human nature. That Jesus was 
thus born of the substance of Mary, sin excepted, excludes 
those curious theories which maintain that he had not a real 
human body, but that it was some sort of an angelic body 
which was given him, and which was brought forth from the 
womb of his mother, Mary. The body was true and the 
birth was real, and the incarnation, by the agency of the 
Holy Spirit, is the answer to the question : How did the Son 
of God assume the human nature? The whole mysterious 
process involved in the miraculous conception, and in the 
remarkable birth of Jesus, is denoted by the term incarna- 
tion. And this includes more than an ordinary birth. In 
its deepest aspects it relates to the way in which the union 
of a true, yet impersonal, human nature with the eternal 
Logos, or second person of the Trinity, was effected, in 
order to constitute the unique and suitable person of the Re- 
deemer and Mediator of the covenant of grace. 

IV. The next question raised in the Standards relates to the 
way in which the natures are united in the one person. This 
is another difficult point upon which the Catechisms say but 
little, but of which the Confession speaks at greater length. 
The former both simply say that Jesus Christ, as Media- 

The Person op Jesus Christ, the Mediator. 129 

tor of the covenant of grace, was, and continues to be, God 
and man, in two entire distinct natures and one person, for 
ever. The Confession, however, enlarges upon this, and 
asserts that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, which 
are termed Godhead and manhood, are inseparably joined 
together in one person. The whole divine nature of the 
second person of the Trinity, and an entire human nature 
were thus united. The divine nature was not robbed of any 
of its perfections, nor was the human nature wanting in any 
of its essential qualities, as they were brought into union. 
The natures were essentially distinct as they were brought 
together, and though joined in what is called the hypostatic 
union, which is a personal union, the natures are not blended 
nor commingled. Moreover, the union thus constituted is 
inseparable in its nature. 

As to the manner in which the union of the two distinct 
natures in one person is effected, and as to the results of 
that union, the Confession, after the manner of the ancient 
ecumenical creeds, says that they are joined inseparably in 
the one person, without conversion, composition, or confu- 
sion. To explain all that this statement means would l)e to 
recite some of the most earnest controversies of the early 
Christian church, and it is by no means the purpose of this 
chapter to do this. Only a sentence or two, by way of ex- 
planation, shall be set down. The natures, then, are not 
converted into each other, either the divine into the human, 
so as to make a divine man, or the human into the divine, 
so as to make a human God. Nor are the natures com- 
pounded in some strange way, and so blended together as to 
be no longer one or the other, but a third, different from 
either. Nor, again, are the natures confused in any way, 
or so mixed together that the essential properties of both 
natures are indiscriminately existing in the theanthropic 
person. But, positively, the Standards teach that in the one 
person of the Bedeemer true deity and real humanity are 


The Presdyterian Standards. 


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m I 

I! i' 



joined together in an inseparable personal union. Hence, 
Christ is truly God and really man, yet there is only one 
Christ and one Mediator between God and man. The the- 
anthropic person is one, yet it is constituted of the two 
natures, complete yet not commingled. 

V. The Standards next take up the question : "Why must 
the Mediator be God? To this interesting inquiry the 
Larger Catechism alone speaks, and what it states is worthy 
of study. There are here given, in a simple way, the reasons 
why the Mediator must be divine. These are now to be 
mentioned in order. 

1. The human nature is thereby sustained. As Mediator 
the sins of his people were laid upon him, and the infinite 
wrath of God, as his fixed purpose to treat sin as it deserves, 
came upon him ; and the penalty of death, in all its dreadful 
punitive meaning, was to be met and endured. This being 
the case, the human nature, unsupported by the divine, 
would surely have been crushed beneath the load. Geth- 
semane and Calvary needed the supports of the divine nature 
for the burden which rested on the human in the agony of 
the garden and the sufferings of the cross. 

2. The presence of the divine nature gives value to his re- 
demptive work. Though it cannot be said, nor do the Stan- 
dards teach, that the divine nature really suflfered, yet the 
fact that the human nature, which was the real basis of the 
sufferings of the Eedeemer, was in union with the divine 
nature, gave a worth and an efficacy to the sufferings in the 
human nature, which render them entirely different from, 
and of higher value than, the sufferings of any mere man. 
This fact marks the difference between the sufferings of 
Christ and of the martyrs. In like manner, the active obe- 
dience which Christ rendered in the human nature has at- 
tached to it a meaning and a dignity far above that which 
the obedience of any mere man couJd possibly deserve. And 
his intercession, too, was endowed with a value and an effi- 

The Person op Jesus Christ, the Mediator. 131 

cacy of the very highest order, because the divine nature 
sustained the human. Indeed, without the divine nature, 
there would have been no access on the part of the Mediator 
into the presence of God at all. By reason of the exalted 
dignity given to the person of the Mediator, through the 
presence of the divine nature, his intercession is all-pre- 

3. The divine nature along with the human was necessary 
to give assured success to his work. Here several particu- 
lars need only be mentioned in the briefest way. To meet 
and satisfy the demands of the law and justice of God, one 
who was clad with divine power and dignity was needed. The 
favor of God was to be procured, and tnis could not be done by 
man alone, but it required one who was the well-beloved Son 
in whom the Father is ever well pleased. A peculiar people, 
his elect covenant seed, are to be redeemed, and to give value 
to the ransom-price the presence of the divine nature was 
required. To secure the mission of the Spirit, the third 
person of the Trinity, it was requisite that the second person 
of the Godhead should be so related to the theanthropic per- 
son, who made the atonement, as to justify the claim he 
might make for the efficacious grace of the Holy Spirit for 
his people. Then, too, the enemies of Christ and his people 
are to be conquered, and this needs more than human power. 
Satan is stronger than man, but not mightier than God. To 
crown all, in order to bring in an everlasting salvation from 
sin and Satan requires one who is at once God and man, 
that by the omnipotence of his divine nature he may conquer 
his foes, and bring his people off more than conqueror in 
the end. 

VI. Another question dealt with in the Standards is : Why 
should the Redeemer be man? On this question the Larger 
Catechism chiefly speaks, although the Confession has also 
some valuable statements which bear, indirectly at least, 
upon the inquiry here raised. To effect mediation between 

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:* 1 ' 




God and man, it was just as necessary for the Mediator to be 
man as to be God. A few particulars are noted to show 

1. It was necessary that he should be man in order to 
advance the human nature. Through union with the divine 
nature, the human nature was greatly elevated, and endowed 
with a high and advanced dignity. With this advancement 
of nature, the man Christ Jesus was qualified to render suit- 
able satisfaction to law in the room and stead of sinful men, 
and also to make a prevailing intercession for them, seeing 
that he was made in their nature. Above all, by the pos- 
session of a human nature Jesus Christ the Mediator of the 
covenant, and the Kedeemer of his people, was invested with 
a tender sympathy and compassion, which fully fitted him 
to have a fellow-feeling for their infirmities. But these 
points need not be enlarged upon, although they are very 
important and precious. Having the human nature, he is 
in every way fitted to be the Redeemer of the children of 

2. It was necessary that Christ should be man in order 
that his people might be made sons and heirs. Jesus, as to 
his divine nature, is the Son of God. Having assumed the 
human nature, this relation to the Father abides, so that che 
Son of God is also the Son of man. 1'hus, by the human 
nature in the theanthropic person, Christ has lifted up into 
the relationship of sons all his covenant people. They 
thereby receive the spirit of adoption, and become the sons 
of God through Jesus Christ. In addition to all that r>dop- 
tion and heirship implies, they also have the comfort of the 
children of God, and have access to him with holy boldness 
at a throne of grace. This sonship and heirship, this source 
of comfort and freedom of access in prayer, aU come through 
the fact that the Mediator possesses the human nature. If 
these precious privileges were ever to be granted to sinful 
men, it was needful that Christ should be man. Christ's 


The Person of Jesus Christ, the Mediator. 133 

covenant people have, therefore, in him a great high priest 
who acts in their nature, and is fully equipped to do for 
them all that they need. 

VII. Another question discussed by the Standards relates 
to the reason why the Mediator should be of one person. 
But a sentence is needed here, based chiefly upon what the 
Larger Catechism says. Since the Mediator is to reconcile 
God and man, it is evident from the nature of the case that 
he must not only have the natures of both the parties whom 
he is to reconcile, but that in his person, as reconciler, he 
shall be only one. It is in this way alone that the proper 
works of both natures, in the ministry of reconciliation, are 
capable of being ascribed to the one person, and be accepted 
of God for his people, and at the same time relied on by sinfnl 
men. The two natures must, therefore, be bound up in the 
unity of the one person, in order to give efficacy to the works 
which the natures severally perform as the instruments of 

Herein is seen the importance of the unity of the person. 
As the result of tliis unity, the attributes and works of both 
natures may be ascribed in common to the person, and at the 
same time they cannot be ascribed to either nature indis- 
criminately. In like manner, it is proper to remark that, while 
both natures are necessary to the completeness of the per- 
sonality of the Bedeemer, as distinguished from the Logos, 
that is, the theanthropos, as distinct from the eternal Son of 
God, yet the s^t of the personality of the theanthropic per- 
son is in the divine nature. This is in analogy with the case 
of man, for while body and soul are both necessary to the 
personality of man, the seat of the personality is really in 
his soul, or spiritual nature. 

VIII. Why is the Mediator called Jesus and Christ? is 
the last question raised by the Standards, in regard to the 
person of the Mediator. This double question may be an- 
swered from the Larger Catechism also in a sentence or two. 



II f^ 



1. He is called Jesus in the Scriptures, because he shall 
save his people from their sins. The name Jesus, or Joshua, 
means "saviour," or "deliverer," and, as applied to the Re- 
deemer, it denotes the j^recious fact that he delivers hia peo- 
ple from their sins, both in regard to their guilt and their 
pollution. As Jesus, he is Saviour, or Deliverer. 

2. Then, he is called Christ, because he was anointed with 
the Holy Ghost above measure to fit him for his work. The 
Greek word Christo6 means " anointed one," and it has pre- 
cisely the same meaning as the Hebrew word Messiah. By 
the anointing of the Holy Ghost he was set apart for his 
work of redemption, and at the same time he was thereby 
fully furnished with all ability and authority for his media- 
torial service. He was thus qualified in every way to exe- 
cute the office of a prophet in revealing the will of God, of a 
priest in making atonement and intercession, and of a king 
in ruling over his people and defending them from all their 
foes. All these things, and everything else necessary, Christ, 
as the anointed of God, effects, alike in his estate of humilia- 
tion and of exaltation, even as he is Mediator in both na- 
tures, and under all dispensations. 

3. The Confession adds a few things which can be best set 
down at this point. It says that the Lord Jesus, in his 
human nature as united with the divine, was sanctified and 
anointed with the Holy Ghost. As the result of this, he was 
filled with all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge ; for in 
nim it pleased the Father that all fulness shoj^ld dwell. And, 
further, by reason of this anointing of the Spirit, he was 
holy, harmless, and undefiled, full of grace and truth ; and 
in this way he was thoroughly furnished to execute the of- 
fice of a mediator and surety. The Confession adds, that 
Jesus Christ did not take this office of Mediator to himself, 
but was called to it by the Fatho.. And when the Father 
thus called him to this office, he gave into his hand all power 

The Person of Jesus Christ, the Mediator. 135 

and judgment; and he further gave him command to execute 

his mediatorial commission. 

The exposition of this important chapter is now com- 
pleted. The closing paragraphs form a suitable preparation 
for the next chapter, which will deal with the work of the 
Mediator in his several offices. That the person of our ador- 
able Kedeemer, as the Catechisms call him, or of our Media- 
tor and Surety, as the Confession terms him, is amply ade- 
quate for his work, is abundantly evident from the careful 
summary of the splendid statements of the Standards given 
in this chapter. 




Shorter Cateohism, 23, 24; Larger Cateohibm, 41-43; Confession of 

Faith, VIII. 

THE last chapter dealt with the person of the Mediator \ 
this one will begin the explanation of his work as the 
Eedeemer. At the very outset it is worthy of notice that the 
Catechisms and the Confession unfold the great work of the 
Redeemer according to very different plans. The same well- 
defined doctrine is presented in both, but that doctrine i» 
opened on different lines, and according to diverse structural 
principles. In the Confession the statement is general, and 
is based mainly on the idea of mediation, and of what the 
Mediator suffered and secured. In the Catechisms the sub- 
ject is unfolded under the guidance of the idea of the three 
offices which Christ executes as our Redeemer. He is at 
once prophet, priest, and king. The Confession, again, 
alludes in only a brief way to the humiliation and exaltation 
of Christ, while the Catechisms, especially the Larger, give 
much space to these facts in the work of the Redeemer. It 
will be noted, also, that there is no definite discussion of 
what is known as the doctrine of the atonement, under the 
heading of that term. There is, of course, a very clearly- 
defined doctrine of atonement presented in the Standards,, 
both as to its nature and design, but its factors are assumed 
and incidentally unfolded, rather than formally discussed. 
These differences in the treatment of the work of Christ as. 
our Redeemer in the Catechisms and the Confession make 
it rather difficult to gather together what they have to say 
upon this great theme. Perhaps the ends of orderly and 
compact discussion can be best secured by first present- 



The Offices of the Mediator — The Prophetic. 137 


ing the general view which the Confession gives, and then 
unfolding the scope of the three offices of the Eedeemer, 
as they are stated in the Catechisms. Then, the whole 
may very properly be concluded by exhibiting the factors 
;vhich enter into the humiliation and exaltation of Christ, 
especially as given in the Catechisms. To do all this will 
require at least three chapters. 

I. A General Statement of the Mediator's Work. 

Several particulars are to be mentioned under this general 
view, in order to give an outline of it. 

1. The office of mediator and surety Christ did most will- 
ingly undertake. And it was necessary that he should volun- 
tarily engage to enter upon this work, even as he was called 
and appointed to it by the Father. For it is in the very 
fact that he voluntarily entered upon his work, and willingly 
completed it, that the whole virtue and value ot his obedi- 
ence and sacrifice consist. Had he been driven to this work, 
or had he obeyed as a slave and died against his will, the 
real efficacy of his work would have been entirely destroyed. 

2. Then Jesus Christ was fully qualified for his mediator- 
ial work, not only in his person, as was seen in the preced- 
ing chapter, but also in the relations which he assumed, and 
in the experiences to which he submitted. That he might, 
as Mediator, redeem those who were under tlie penalty of 
the law, he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfil 
it. He also observed the ceremonial law ; he kept the moral 
law, both in its letter and spirit ; and he fulfilled, both nega- 
tively and positively, the legal conditions of the covenant of 
grace. He entered precisely into that covenant place under 
the law at which the first Adam failed to render the obedi- 
ence required, and was condemned to suffer the penalty in- 
curred. Hence emerge the two great branches of his work. 
He obeyed the law whose precept had not been carried out 
by the first Adam, and thereby he purchased for his people 
a title to the reward of that obedience. He also endured 

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The Presbyterian Standards. 



the penalty which, by transgression, the first Adam had in- 
curred for himself and his posterity, so that by his one sac- 
rifice of himself a just basis is providea for the removal of 
that penalty, and the remission of the punishment which it 
entailed. In this twofold way he perfectly fulfilled the law 
in the threefold sense above noted. He obeyed the precept 
of the law, he suffered the penalty of the law, and he met 
the covenant conditions of the law. 

3. In doing this he served as a sacrifice, and as Mediator 
he was made perfect by sujGfering. He also learned obedi- 
ence by the things which he suffered. At this point the 
Confession recites, in a manner something like that in which 
the Catechisms describe the humiliation and exaltation of 
Christ, the painful things which he experienced. He en- 
dured sore torments immediately in his soul, and he was 
subjected to most painful sufferings in his body. He was 
crucified, and did really and truly die on the cross. He was 
buried in a borrowed tomb, and remained under the power 
of death for a season ; yet his body did not undergo dissolu- 
tion, or see corruption. Then, on the third du,y he rose from 
the dead, and his resurrection body was not only real, but it 
was the same which was his prior to the crucifixion. He 
afterwards ascended into heaven in the selfsame body, which 
was, no doubt, glorified to fit it for its heavenly state. Hav- 
ing ascended into heaven, he took his seat at the right hand 
of his Father, in the place of honor and authority, and there 
entered upon his work of mediatorial intercession. Then, 
finally, in due time he shall return to judge men and angels 
at the end of the world. In all these things there is a careful 
recital of scriptural facts and teaching, and no mere theory of 
the nature of these facts is propounded. The meaning of 
these facts is more fully presented in the next paragraph. 

4. This perfect obedience which Christ rendered, and the 
sacrifice of himself which he voluntarily made in offering 
himself up to God through the eternal Spirit, has fully satis- 

The Offices of the Mediator — The Prophetic. 139 

fied the justice of the Father. Here it is distinctly an- 
nounced that the sacrifice of Christ was an offering to satisfy 
the justice of the Father. This means that it was penal and 
vicarious in its nature. The result of this satisfaction to the 
justice of the Father is twofold. He secured, by purchase, 
reconciliation for his people, so that God is reconciled and 
his wrath is propitiated. Christ has also purchased an ever- 
lasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven for all those 
whom the Father has given unto him. These two classes of 
benefits are connected with the two aspects of Christ's work 
already alluded to in this chapter. By suffering the penalty 
of the law he procured reconciliation, and by obeying the 
precept of the law he purchased the inheritance. The plain 
and simple way in which, on a sure scriptural basis, without 
needless speculation, the satisfaction of Christ is presented 
in the Standards, deserves much praise, and merits careful 

5. The Confession, further, points out the fact that, al- 
though the work of redemption was not actually wrought out 
in time till after the incarnation, yet that work was in the 
divine purpose and plan viewed as a fact, so that the virtue, 
efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated unto the 
elect in all ages and dispensations, even from the beginning 
of the world. These benefits, prior to the incarnation, were 
exhibited in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices 
which revealed Christ, and showed him to be the Seed of 
the woman who was to bruise the head of the serpent, and 
that he was the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of 
the world, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. By 
faith the elect in all the ages and dispensations previous to 
the advent of Christ laid hold of the promises to which the 
types and sacrifices related, and thus there was communi- 
cated to them by the Holy Spirit the proper grace and sal- 
vation which these things represented in Christ, the Messiah, 
who was to come. 

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The Presbyterian Standards. 

6. At this point the Confession emphasizes a fact alluded 
to in the last chapter. In the work of mediation it is ever 
to be kept in mind that Christ acts according to both natures. 
This means, against the doctrine of Rome, that Christ is 
truly Mediator in both natures. In thus effecting media- 
torial work, each nature does that which is proper to itself. 
Still, by reason of the unity of the person, the qualities and 
acts which are proper to the one nature are ascribed to the 
person, even when that person is denominated by titles which 
pertain to the other nature. " The Son of man which is in 
heaven" is one passage to illustrate; and "the church of 
God which he has purchased with his own blood " is another. 

7. The last general point to be noted here has reference 
to the actual application of the benefits of Christ's media- 
tion. As this important topic comes up again for remark, 
only a brief notice of it is now needed. To all those for 
whom Christ, according to the purpose of electing grace, has 
purchased redemption, he does in due time certainly and 
effectually apply and actually communicate this redemption, 
together with all that it implies. This he does in four im- 
portant ways : First, by making intercession for them. This 
is the basis of all. Secondly, by revealing to them in and by 
the word the mysteries of salvation. This is done by the 
Holy Spirit speaking in the Scriptures, to the end that the 
elect are spiritually enlightened thereby. Thirdly, by effec- 
tually persuading them, by the same Spirit, to repent of sin, 
and to believe and obey the gospel. This relates to the re- 
newing and sanctifying work of the Spirit in their souls, by 
which they are made willing to believe and to obey ; and, 
Fourthly, he governs in the hearts of his people, and rules over 
their lives, by his word and Spirit, and he also overcomes all 
their enemies by his almighty power and infinite wisdom. 
This splendid category of benefits will be further expanded 
in later chapters, but it is of value to have it set down in 
outline even thus early in the exposition. 

The Offices of the Mediator— The Prophetic. 141 

II. The Offices of Christ as Mediator. 

Strictly speaking, there is only one office, that of Mediator ; 
but the Mediator in that office discharges three functions. 
Still, as the Catechisms use the term office in the sense of 
function in this threefold way, it will doubtless be best to 
follow this familiar usage in the explanations now to be 
given. The brief statement of the Catechisms is that Jesus 
Christ, as the Mediator between God and man, and the Re- 
deemer of his people, exercises under all dispensations 
three offices, that of prophet, that of priest, and that of king. 
These three offices he occupies, and fulfils their duties both 
in his estate of humiliation and exaltation. Without further 
preliminary remark the explanation of these offices is entered 
on. The rest of this chapter will deal with the prophetic 
office, and in the next chapter the other two offices will be 

III. Christ the Mediator and Redeemer^ as the Prophet of 
the Covenant of Grace, 

The generic idea of a prophet is of one who speaks for 
God, and from God, to man. His work is to bring a divine 
message, and this message may be brought in various ways 
and forms. Prediction is often a part of the message, but it 
is not the essential element in the mission of the prophet. 
In the sense of one who speaks for God to men, Jesus Christ 
is the prophet of tlie covenant of grace. He is the great 
teacher sent from God to men, so that whosoever heareth 
him heareth the Father. In this sense he is the eternal 
Logos, or "Word, and the revealer of the Father. He it is 
who reveals to sinful men, by the word and Spirit, the will of 
God for their salvation. As the Mediator of the covenant 
and the Redeemer of his people he first discharges the office 
or function of a prophet in this broad sense. This implies 
several things to be noted. 

1. Those to whom this revelation of God's will is first 
made are stated. The position of the Standards is here plain 


The Presbyterian Standards. 



and unmistakable. It is to the church that he reveals God's 
will. This, of course, follows from his place and service in 
the covenant of grace. As Mediator of that covenant he acts 
for his elect seed, given to him by the Father. This seed is 
the whole body of the elect, and this constitutes the church 
in the sense of the invisible church. But, as the visible 
church stands, with her divinely-ordained laws and appointed 
ordinances, as the concrete form of the invisible church at 
any particular age, the visible church is also to be included 
in the view now taken of that body to which the revelation 
is made by the prophet of the covenant. To this body God 
makes known his will in this way, and this same body having 
received the divine oracles, is also the appointed custodian 
of them. She is also to be the interpreter of the revealed 
will of God, and also its exponent and herald to the world. 
Hence, according to the Standards, God does not reveal his 
will directly to the world by his Son, Jesus Christ, the Medi- 
ator of the covenant, in a general or indiscriminate way, but 
he reveals that will primarily to the church ; and, then, it is 
the duty and privilege of the church to make it known to the 
world. Here, in its covenant aspects, emerges the funda- 
mental principle of all forms of missionary effort, both at 
home and abroad. God, through Christ, by the Spirit, has 
given the message of life to the church, and the church in 
turn is to give this saving message to the whole world. 

2. The instrument and agent by which this is effected is 
the word and Spirit of God. In Old Testament times, and 
in the apostolic age, men, divinely chosen and inspired, re- 
ceived and communicated, by the aid of the Spirit, the will 
of God ; and, under the same divine direction, then reduced 
to permanent written form as much of the things revealed as 
divine wisdom deemed necessary for the church in all ages. 
In all this period the word and Spirit are the instrument and 
agent of Christ, as the prophet of the covenant. 

Since the days of the prophets and apostles, and the com- 

The Offices of the Mediator — The PiiorHETic. 143 

pletion of the canon of Scripture by them, the word as in- 
strument has remained complete ; and in and by tliis word 
the Spirit acts in making known to men the will of God for 
theii salvation. The word is the sword of the Spirit, and 
that sword is wielded by the Spiiit. The Spirit also unfolds 
the meaning of the message contained in the word ; but no 
additional message, other than that contained in the word, is 
to be looked for, either by the individual or the church. 
This is an important practical thing to remember, in order 
to guard ogainst the vagaries of those supposed revelations 
which men, even in these later days, are supposed to receive. 
The revelation is completed in the word, which, as was seen 
in an early chapter, contains all that was needful to direct 
men in the way of life, salvation, and duty. The Spirit, 
then, enlightens the mind, and teaches the meaning of the 
message given in and by the word of Scripture. This is an 
important position which the Standards hold fast throughout. 

3. The Larger Catechism alludes to the various modes by 
which, in different ages, the prophetic office has been ad- 
ministered by Christ, and the will of God thereby made 
known. It does not enlarge upon this point, however, so 
that only a hint or two need now be added. In general, 
there are two modes of the administration of this office, 
which may be readily observed in the history of the revela- 
tion from God which is given by the prophetic office of 

First, In some cases it is administered immediately. In 
the Old Testament, instances of this are found in the the- 
ophanies, as they are called, wherein God, usually by the 
angel of the covenant, revealed in various ways some measure 
of his will to men. In all these cases the pre-incarnate 
prophet of the covenant was administering this office imme- 
diately. So, also, in the New Testament, in the personal 
teaching of Jesus Christ, there is to be seen another way in 
which the prophetic office is directly administered. He was 


The Presbyterian Standards. 



the great teacher sent from God, and his utterances were the 
voice of God. 

Secondly^ In other cases Christ administered the prophetic 
office of the covenant mediately. In the Old Testament 
dispensation the prophets were his messengers. God, by- 
Christ, the true mediatorial prophet of the covenant, was 
constantly revealing his will to his church and people. So, 
in the New Testament dispensation, Christ mediately ad- 
ministered his prophetic office by the agency of his apostles, 
whom he commissioned to speak for him, and to whom he 
promised the Spirit to lead them into all the truth. All the 
inspired utterances of the apostle^, therefore, were through 
Christ, the prophet of the covenant, and by the Holy Spirit 
acting for him through the agency of the apostles. Then, 
finally, since the canon of Scripture has been completed, and 
for men now, the administration of the prophetic office is 
mediate in still a different sense than that which appears in 
the case of the apostles. It is now through the inspired 
word alone, and by the Holy Spirit speaking therein, that 
the will of God, in all that pertains to life and salvation, is 
made known. In no case is the administration now imme- 
diate ; it is mediate, through the word by the Spirit. 

4. The extent of the prophetic work of the Mediator is 
again emphasized here in the Larger Catechism. The whole 
will of God, in all things pertaining to the edification and 
sanctification of his people, is unfolded through the pro- 
phetic office of Jesus Christ. This is true in regard to the 
contents of the message which is found in the inspired Scrip- 
tures. It is true, also, in regard to the saving knowledge of 
Jesus Christ which the believer possesses. The whole will 
of God necessary for salvation is found in the Scriptures, 
and that message brought home to the mind, the heart, and 
the life by the Spirit, affords all the means necessary for a 
knowledge of salvation and duty. This being the case, there 
is no need of any special present-day revelations. The duty 

The Offices of the Mediator — The Prophetic. 145 

and privilege of all men is to search the Scriptures, as the 
oracles of God, and to pray earnestly for the gracious aids 
of the Holy Spirit, to make the message clear and saving to 
their souls. 

5. The last point which merits notice in the Standards 
refers to the period during which Christ continues to dis- 
charge this prophetic office. As he is the Mediator of the 
covenant in all ages, so, as Mediator, he discharges the pro- 
phetic office during all these ages. Directly or indirectly, 
he is the one only true revealer of the Father, and the only 
divine unfolder of the will of God. He was with the church 
in the wilderness, as its prophet, priest, and king. Amid all 
the changes in the mode or manner of administering this 
office, the fact remains that the abiding relation of the pro- 
phetic office is the fixed and unchanging factor. In patri- 
archal times, in the Abrahamic covenant, in the Mosaic 
economy, and in the gospel dispensation, the office of the 
pre-incarnate Logos, second person of the Trinity, either as 
pre-incarnate Logos or as the theanthropic Redeemer, was to 
reveal the Father, and to make known the will' of God to the 
church in all the ages. Even now, the Holy Spirit is ob- 
tained by men only because the Mediator of the covenant 
exercises his prophetic office as well as his priestly. By this 
means Christ, by and through his word and Spirit, is con- 
stantly revealing to his church and people those things which 
make them wise unto salvation. And then his church is in 
turn commissioned to declare to men the will of God in the 
message of the gospel. Here, again, in a slightly different 
way, the great duty of the church, to give the good news of 
life and salvation to all the nations of the earth, is announced. 
The Standards, therefore, exhort the church to forget not her 
true mission among men in the world. She is to be the liv- 
ing mouthpiece of God, through Christ, by the word and 
Spirit, to the world. 

It maybe interesting to note an inference which can be 

1 1 


11 I 

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properly made at this point, in regard to the nature of the 
office of the minister of the gospel. It is evident, from what 
has just been said, that the office of the gospel minister 
stands closely connected with the prophetic office of Christ. 
It does not, therefore, stand directly related to the priestly 
office, so that in no proper sense are the ministers of the 
gospel to be regarded as priests, nor should they assume 
any priestly functions. They are but the mouthpieces of 
the church, as she seeks to declare the message of God to 
the world. They are the stewards of the manifold mercies of 
God, and they are to interpret the word and declare the mes- 
sage to the world. Behind all this lies the prophetic office 
of Christ, and to this office that of the gospel ministry is 
directly related. Christ alone is the priest at the altar, and 
his servants are ministers, not priests. 



8 of 

58 of 


y is 







SnoBTER Catechism, 25, 26; Larger Catechism, 44, 45, and 55; Con- 
fession OF Faith, VIII. 

IK this chapter the e^.position of the offices of Christ as 
the Redeemer is to be continued. What the Standards 
teach concerning the priestly and kingly offices is to be ex- 
plained. Some simple introductory remarks are necessary 
in order to understand aright the general teaching of the 
Standards, especially in regard to the priestly work of the 
Mediator of the covenant of grace. Two such remarks are 

The first is to the effect that much that was said at the 
beginning of last chapter, in the general outline of the teach- 
ing of the Confession in reference to Christ's mediatorial 
work, relates directly to the two offices now under considera- 
tion. Though the terms priest and king are not there used, 
the things which they denote are really implied in what the 
Confession states. Then in the Larger Catechism, the inter- 
cessory work of the Redeemer, as a priest, is spoken of at some 
length, in connection with his exaltation in the fifty-fifth 
question, as it is also in the eighth chapter of the Confession, 
from the fifth section onwards. It is worthy of remark, also, 
that all through what the Larger Catechism has to say in 
regard to the humiliation and exaltation of Christ, many 
things which pertain to his priestly and kingly offices are at 
least indirectly expressed. 

The second remark of an introductory nature is to the 
effect that the space in the Standards which is dev^oted to 
the priestly work of Christ seems very limited, when com- 







The Presbyterian Standards. 

pared with that devoted to this subject in many of the great 
treatises on theology. In not a few of these treatises much 
more space is given to the priestly office than is devoted to 
both the prophetic and kingly offices taken tegether. In the 
Shorter Catechism almost the same length of statement is 
used in regard to each of the offices, while in the Larger Cate- 
chism the kingly office has more space assigned to its state- 
ment than either the prophetic or priestly. In the Con- 
fession, all the offices are so blended together in their 
statement under the general idea of mediation that no clear 
line of division appears between them. One thing, however, 
is evident from the mode of statement given in the Confes- 
sion, and that is, that what the theologians discuss at great 
length as the atonement does not receive special or separate 
treatment in it; and it is a matter which causes some sur- 
prise that the term atonement does not formally occur in the 
Standards. Keconciliation and intercession, redemption and 
salvation, sacrifice and satisfaction, are the great words 
which the Standards use to express what the term atonement 
includes. It may not be going too far to say that the state- 
ment of the Confession can scarcely be regarded as so clear 
and strong as that of the Catechisms. One, indeed, could 
almost wish that the Confession had laid a little more stress 
upon this cardinal doctrine. 

I. The Priestly Office of the Mediator. 

In general, it may be said that the special function of a 
priest is to act for man to God. If the prophet speaks from 
God to man, the priest acts for man towards God. The idea 
of mediation between God and man, which the priest among 
men represents, is that which appears as the priestly office 
of Christ is considered. Many things bearing upon this 
office in a general way were stated at the beginning of last 
chapter. In the further exposition of this chapter several 
important particulars, based largely upon the Catechisms, 
are to be set down in reference to the priestly office. This 

Offices of the Mediator — Priestly and Kingly, 149 

office has really two great branches, and it may be best to 
considor these separately under different heads. These may 
be called the atoning and intercessory phases of Christ's 
priestly work. 

1. The atoning or sacrificial work of Christ, the Mediator, 
is to be first considered. The Standards in various ways 
emphasize this phase of Christ's priestly office. At times 
the sufferings and death of Christ, as the means by which 
atonement or satisfaction was made, are given great promi- 
nence; and at other times the results of this atonement in 
purchasing redemption, or in making reconciliation, are 
chiefly dwelt upon. In the explanations now to be made, 
the contents of the Standards may be summed up under sev- 
eral heads, some of which, on account of their intrinsic im- 
portance, may be somewhat expanded. 

Firsts As a mediatorial priest, Jesus Christ is the one who 
makes the offering which is to secure satisfaction. Being 
taken from among men, and being appointed by God, the 
priest is one who officiates on behalf of men. He officiates 
at the altar, and offers both gifts and sacrifices for men. So 
in the case of Christ in his priestly office, and as the repre- 
sentative of his elect covenant people at the holy altar of the 
divine justice, there is a priestly satisfaction made by him 
for them. And he himself is the divinely-appointed and 
fully-qualified priest who officiates at this altar. 

Secondly, Christ is not only the priest, but he is also the 
sacrifice. He offered himself once for all. Hence, the re- 
markable fact appears that he is both the priest who makes 
the offering, and the sacrificial victim offered. In this respect 
his priestly service is entirely different from that which ap- 
pears among men, even in the Jewish dispensation. With 
them the priest was one thing, and the sacrificial offering was 
another thing. But in the case of Christ, the offerer and the 
offering were found united in the same person. He himself 
as an offering was perfect, or, as the Larger Catechism says, 




I , 

\ . 



I 1 

IP ; 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

he was without spot before God. This was in accordance 
with what the law of Moses required, for the sacrificial lamb 
was to be without spot or blemish. He was the spotless 
Lamb of God, as an offering laid upon the altar. This means 
that he was sinless in his humanity. He was faultless in his 
theanthropic person. He was in this way qualified to be a 
true sin-offering for sinful men, and so to bear the sins of 
his people in his own body on the tree. 

Thirdly, As a priest he rendered a perfect obedience to the 
law of God. This is what is termed Christ's active obedi- 
ence. By means of this he fulfilled the precept of the law 
which Adam left unfulfilled, when he failed and fell. In this 
relation he rendered a perfect obedience, and became en- 
titled to the reward of that obedience on behalf of his people. 
And all the sufferings and humiliation of his earthly lot, as 
he kept perfectly the whole law of God as no mere man since 
the fall could keep it, are to be taken into account in this 
connection. This phase of the priestly work of Christ is one 
which is often left too much in the background. It is by 
means of it that the everlasting inheritance has been pur- 
chased, as the positive benefit of redemption. The mere 
remission of penalty, even where satisfaction has been made, 
is purely negative, and in the nature of the case cannot bring 

Fourthly, As a priest Christ makes a sacrificial atonement 
for the sins of his people. This is the very core of the work 
of Christ in his priestly office. It is sometimes called the 
passive obedience of Christ, and by means of it he rendered 
satisfaction to the penalty of the law which had been in- 
curred by the whole race through the transgression of Adam. 
All parts of the Standards give prominence to this point. 
The Confession says that he offered up a perfect sacrifice of 
himself once unto God, and thereby fully satisfied the justice 
of the Father, and purchased reconciliation. The Larger 
Catechism states that he offered up himself to be a recon- 


Offices op the Mediator — Priestly and Kingly. 151 

ciliation for the sins of his people. The word reconciliation 
is evidently used here in the same scriptural sense as the 
term atonement in modern theology, and it seems a capital 
word. The Shorter Catechism to a certain extent modifies 
the language, but presents the same idea when it asserts that 
Christ once offered up himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine 
justice and reconcile us to God. This is perhaps the best 
brief statement of the doctrine to be found anywhere outside 
the Scriptures. It will be observed that the Catechisms do 
not distinguish between the active and the passive obedience 
of Christ, the former meeting the precept of the law, and the 
latter its penalty under the covenant, as the Confession does 
when it says that Christ rendered a perfect obedience and. 
sacrifice. The result of the passive obedience, expressed by 
his sacrifice of himself, is that he purchased reconciliation 
for his people. 

Fifthly, It is clearly the teaching of the Standards that 
IJhrist's obedience and sacrifice, in the priestly ofl&ce, are 
penal and vicarious. These words are not directly found in 
the Standards, but they are distinctly implied in all their 
teaching at this point. The very idea of the priestly office 
suggests that its service is vicarious, as the priest in it 
officiates on behalf of others, and answers for the legal 
liabilities of those whom he represents before God. Then 
the phrase, "for the sins of his people," which is found so 
often in the Standards, can only mean the same thing. Very 
many passages of Scripture fully justify the statements of the 
Standards upon this subject. And in like manner, the whole 
status of Christ, as the Mediator of the covenant, as it is pre- 
sented in the Standards, and according to which he is the 
legal representative and voluntary substitute of his covenant 
people, implies that his priestly service is vicarious, and that 
his sacrifice is not merely an exhibition of unselfish, moral 
heroism, but a penal offering to the justice of the Father for 
the sins of his people. As a sacrifice, his atoning death. 

, \ 




The Presbyterian Standards. 

i f 

ii t) I 



was penal and vicarious, according to the teaching of the 
Standards ; and it is very evident from the proof liexts that 
the Standards do not overstate the truth of Scripture upon 
this subject. 

Sixthly, The closing remark concerning the sacrificial work 
of Christ is of a somewhat general nature. The priestly- 
work of Christ, as exhibited in the preceding paragraphs, 
has a twofold bearing upon the results of the mediation 
which Christ performs between God and man. First, To- 
wards God : the perfect obedience and sacrifice of Christ, 
having made satisfaction to divine justice, propitiated the 
wrath of God, and procured his favor. Hence, God is re- 
conciled, and his auger is turned away. It is in this sense 
that Christ is a propitiation for the sins of his people. 
Secondly, Towards man : the same obedience and sacrifice of 
of Christ expiates the guilt of the sins of his people. That 
guilt is met and fully removed by Christ. In this sense 
Christ is an expiation for the sins of his people. The sacri- 
fice which he offered was offered on their behalf, and, as a 
result, their guilt was expiated by him, as he bore their sins 
in his own body on the tree. Hence, by the sacrificial 
branch of Christ's priestly work, the wrath of God is pro- 
pitiated, and the guilt of man is expiated. He makes our 
peace with God, and takes all the guilt of his people away. 

2. The intercessory work of the Mediator of the covenant 
of grace is now to receive some attention. On its own ac- 
count, and because of the present comfort which this branch 
of the doctrine brings to the believer, it deserves careful at- 
tention. What the Standards say concerning it is scattered 
through several sections, so that an effort must be made ta 
gather these together in the form of a complete summary at 
this point. Both Catechisms announce that one important 
part of the priestly work of Christ is to make continual in- 
tercession for his people. The Confession says that Christ 
sitteth at the right hand of the Father, making intercession ; 





Offices of the Mediator — Priestly and Kingly. 153 


and, again, that he maketh intercession on behalf of those 
for whom he hath purchased redemption. But it is in the 
Larger Catechism that the fullest statement of the interces- 
sory work of Christ, the Mediator, made in the Standards, is 
to be found. It contains several items of much interest and 

First, He appears continually in the human nature before 
the Father in heaven. He is the God-man in his thean- 
thropic person, having a glorified human nature, still in 
union with the divine nature, in his Father's presence in 
heaven. His person, therefore, is well qualified to do the 
work of intercession. The dignity of his divine nature gives 
him equality with God, and his human nature gives him a 
kinship with men that enables him to bring them into his 
Father's presence with favor and acceptance. 

Secondly, As the meritorious ground of his intercession, 
Christ presents the virtue of his perfect obedience and sac- 
rificial death. This is the condition of the covenant which 
he fulfilled perfectly, so that he can justly claim the promised 
covenant reward for his people as well as for himself. In 
the advocacy which he thus makes as a priestly Mediator he 
presents the value of the satisfaction which, by his active 
and passive obedience, he rendered as Mediator of the cove- 
nant. By this means he abundantly provides for the virtual 
justification of all his covenant seed. This might be called 
federal justification. 

Thirdly, In making his intercession, or advocacy, Christ 
pleads with his Father that the benefits of the redemption 
which he purchased may be applied to all his people who 
believe in him. This means that there shall be given to 
them the Holy Spirit, to renew them and unite them to him, 
and thus grant to them eternal life, and produce in their 
hearts and lives all the Christian graces. In like manner he 
engages to answer all charges or accusations made against 
them, and to secure their justification and adoption at the 



haud of his Father. By this means the intercession of Christ 
secures the application of all saving benefits to all believers, 
and consequently their acceptance with God and assured sal- 
vation from sin, both in respect to its guilt and its power. 

Fourthly ^ By his work of intercession Christ also secures 
for his people peace of conscience, which means that relief 
from the inward sense of guilt, and the dread thereby engen- 
dered, is procured by him for all his believing people. This 
inward sense of peace and reconciliation flows from the out- 
ward removal of the guilt of sin almost as a matter of course, 
and this all the more surely when it is remembered that prior 
to the exercise of the faith v hich conditions the removal of 
the guilt of sin in justificaMon, the nature of the believer has 
been renewed, and has become spiritually alive. Even in 
the face of daily faults and failures, believers have, through 
the prevailing intercession of Jesus Christ, the Mediator of 
the covenant of grace, constant access with holy boldness at 
a throne of grace, where they may obtain the pardon of their 
sins, and grace to help in every time of need. And, further, 
it is only by virtue of the intercession of Christ that believers 
possess, and may assuredly rejoice in, an abiding sense of the 
acceptance of their persons and services in the sight of God. 
This point of view will emerge again when justification is ex- 
plained, so that it is not dwelt on at length now. Christ 
intercedes in heaven with the Father, and he procures the 
Spirit, who intercedes with men on the earth. The former 
is conducted before God, and the latter is effected in the soul 
of the believer. Made effective by the intercession of Christ, 
they bring God and the elect believing seed into peace and 
harmony. Considerable space has been devoted to the two 
branches of the priestly office of Christ, because of its tran- 
scendent importance and on account of some modern ten- 
dencies to make less of it than the Scriptures demand. The 
Standards are only true to the Scriptures when they lay great 
stress upon this part of Christ's work of redeeming grace. 




Offices of the Mediator — Priestly and Kingly. 155 

II. The Kingly Office of the Mediator. 

The kingly oflfice of Christ is now to be taken up and de- 
Teloped with some care. In the great treatises on theology 
this office of the Mediator is disposed of far too hurriedly, 
especially when it is to be observed that it has great promi- 
nence both in the Scriptures and in the Standards. Thus 
the elder Hodge devotes one hundred and thirty pages to 
the exposition of the priestly office, and only thirteen to that 
of the kingly, while Shedd really gives no proper separate 
treatment to the kingly office at all. This is not in harmony 
with the structure of the Standards and the balance of the 
parts of Christ's work which they exhibit. This exposition 
will seek to guard against this defect. 

Here, too, the Catechisms, especially the Larger, contain 
very complete statements of the doctrine taught in the Stand- 
ards upon this point. The fact that Christ discharges the 
office of a king implies that there is a kingdom, or spiritual 
commonwealth, of which Le is the king or head. This king- 
dom is the invisible church, strictly speaking ; but this will 
be fully considered later on in the explanation of the Stand- 
ards. The fact is only pointed out now, and the remark added, 
that the visible church, in its outward organization, is the 
concrete expression, for the time being, of that spiritual 
kingdom of which Christ is the king and head. The par- 
ticulars here involved are now set down in order. 

1. It is as a king that Christ gives the Spirit, as was seen 
in the explanation of his intercession, to effectually call a 
people out of the world to be his peculiar people. They are 
thereby translated from the kingdom of darkness into the 
kingdom of God's dear Son, and delivered from the bondage 
of Satan to be introduced into the liberty of the children of 
God. In this way Christ, as mediatorial King, constitutes 
his own kingdom, and makes his own subjects. All true be- 
lievers are subjects of this invisible spiritual kingdom, while 
all professing Christian are the members of the visible form 
of this kingdom. 


The Presbyterian Standards. 





2. As a king he also subdues his people unto himself. 
They are made willing in the day of his power. Having 
called them by his Spirit, that same Spirit, dwelling in them, 
brings them into sweot and willing obedience to his holy 
and righteous will. Having given to them in the Scriptures 
the laws of the kingdom, they are enabled, by the aid of the 
Spirit, to obey from the heart these laws, which express the 
will of God. This experience proceeds through all their life, 
so that head and heart, will and conscience, words and actions, 
are brought ever into more v^omplete harmony with his will. 

3. As a king he next rules his people as the subjects of 
his kingdom. This rule or control is exercised with the 
sceptre of love in the hearts of his people, so that from the 
heart they submit to his authority in all th'ngs. Before him 
every knee bows and every tongue confesses. In this con- 
nection the Standards signalize the important fact, to be en- 
larged upon afterwards, that Christ as king has given to his 
people, as his kingdom, certain officers, laws, and censures, 
by means of which he visibly governs them. These things 
evidently relate to the visible church in the world, just as 
the rule of love and grace in the heart pertains to the mem- 
bers of the true invisible church. The visible church has 
thus had given to it certain officers, who are to rule for 
Christ in his kingdom. These officers are announced in the 
Scriptures, and their several duties are prescribed. He has 
also given them suitable laws, and these are to be found in 
the Holy Scriptures, which may almost be termed the con- 
stitution and statute-book of the kingdom. And, finally, ne- 
cessary censures are appointed in the Scriptures, and these 
are to be administered, not by physical or temporal pains or 
penalties, but by divine sanctions and spiritual penalties, in 
order to secure propriety of conduct on the part of those 
who profess to be the subjects of the kingdom of Christ. 
These three things form the confessional basis for the sys- 
tem of church polity to be afterwards unfolded. 



Offices of the Mediator — Priestly and Kingly. 157 


4. Again, as a king Christ defends his people. There are 
spiritual foes, and they are many, subtle, and strong. From 
the assaults of these Christ defends his people by his word 
and Spirit. As a king he corrects his people for their sins, 
80 as to make them more careful in time of temptation, and 
to cause them to rely more and more upon the gracious sup- 
port of their king. He also rewards them for their faithful 
service, and thus cheers them in their conflict with sin and 
all their lofeti. He also supports them in all their tempta- 
tions, and makes his powerful grace sufficient for all their 
need, for he will not suffer them to be tempted above what 
they are able to stand. So, also, in the season of sorrow and 
suflfering, they will not be overlooked nor forgotten by their 
king, but will receive strong consolation, seeing that they 
have fled to him for refuge. This is a very precious doc- 
trine which the Standards thus exhibit so fully. 

5. But Christ, as mediatorial king, does still more than 
this, for even the enemies of his people are under his con- 
trol, and he powerfully restrains them. Satan is but a crea- 
ture, and, though he is allowed to tempt believers, yet even 
he is not free to exercise all his evil designs upon them, for 
the reason that Christ, as their king, not only stands for 
their defence, but also restrains and overcomes their ene- 
mies. For the individual believer this fact is full of comfort 
and cheer. At times it may almost seem as if the enemies 
of the kingdom were going to have things all their own way ; 
but there is divine assurance that the gates of hell shall not 
prevail against this spiritual kingdom, and that not one of 
its subjects shall be destroyed. Through Christ, their king, 
they shall all be more than conquerors in the end. 

6. Finally, as king, Christ powerfully orders all things for 
his own glory, and for the good of his church and people. 
It is in this respect that he is head over all things to the 
church, which is his body, and of which body he is the head. 
Thus he rules over the realm of nature and in the sphere of 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

providence. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. The 
cattle upon a thousand hills, and the silver and the gold, are 
his. He orders all the events of providence among men and 
among the nations of the earth in such a way as to truly fur- 
ther the interests of his kingdom, and at the same time to 
promote his glory in the world, and to secure the present and 
eternal welfare of the individual members of his kingdom. 
And thus it is that all things shall work for the good of his 
people, since the "all things" are in his hand. He is thus 
able powerfully to order them all for the good of those who 
love him, and who are the called according to his purpose. 
This fact cannot fail to greatly cheer the believer in his 
earthly pilgrimage. 

In this connection it is added, last of all, that, as a king, 
Christ takes vengeance on those who know not God and 
obey not the gospel. Thus, the Standards teach that the 
authority of Christ as the mediatorial king extends, in a ju- 
dicial way at least, over all his enemies and over the ene- 
mies of his kingdom. They shall one day be made to lick 
the dust, and they shall become his foot-stool ; and he shall 
be exalted King of kings and Lord of lords, to the glory of 
God the Father. 







THE nU\rrLTA TTON and exaltation of CHRIST. 

SnoRTEK Catkohism, 27, 38; Lauoeu OATBonisM, 46-66; Confession of 

Faith, VIII. 

THIS chapter leads to the exposition of what is usually 
called the estates of the Redeemer. So far, at least, 
as the Confession is concerned, some of the same things will 
come up for discussion as have engaged attention in the two 
preceding chapters. It is in the Catechisms that special and 
very complete statements are to be found. The Shorter has 
two suggestive questions upon this subject, while the Larger 
has no fewer than ten, which cover the whole ground very 
fully, and give a more extended statement of the same facts 
as are set down in the fourth section of the eighth chapter 
of the Confession. 

In a general way, the estates of Christ embrace all those 
stages of experience and activity through which the Re- 
deemer passed, specially during the period from his incar- 
nation till his glorification. They describe all that he was, 
did, and suffered from the time that he left his Father's 
bosom till he returned to his Father's right hand. It is evi- 
dent, therefore, that a knowledge of what is involved in these 
estates is very necessary in order to obtain a complete view 
of what Christ was, what he became, and what he endured, 
and how he triumphed as the Mediator of the covenant and 
Redeemer of his people. These estates are, therefore, con- 
sidered with some care in this chapter. 

I. Christ's Estate of Humiliation. 

In this estate the prophetic office comes clearly into view 
in the personal teaching of Jesus Christ on the earth, but 
the priestly work of the Redeemer is still more prominent, 







' ! 





The Presbyterian Standards. 

especially towards the close of his ministry among men. As 
a great teacher sent from God he was exercising the pro- 
phetic office when he spake as never man spake ; and then, 
in the obedience which he rendered and in the sufferings he 
bore, and specially in the death which he endured, he was 
discharging the important functions of the priestly office. 
It is at the same time to be remembered that the kingly 
office was not in abeyance, though it was in the back- 
ground, in this estate, whose particulars are now to be ex- 

1. Christ Humbled Ilimself in his Birth. 

The humiliation of Christ, which is that low condition in 
which for our sakes he emptied himself of his glory, and 
took upon him the form of a servant, really begins with his 
incarnation and birth, although in the divine purpose it was 
ideally in view from all eternity. All that was involved in 
emptying himself of his glory, and in assuming humanity into 
union with his deity, of course, cannot be fully understood 
or explained. The Standards state the fact, but do not offer 
any elaborate explanation of it. In his conception and birth 
it is evident that he greatly humbled himself. The second 
person of the adorable Trinity appeared as a helpless babe 
at Bethlehem. He was the eternal Son of God, and dwelt 
in the bosom of the Father; yet, in the fulness of time he 
became the Son of man and was found in fashion as a man. 
Then he was born of a woman in the lowly walks of life. 
He was not born of princely parentage or of lofty lineage, 
though he was of the house of David, for that once royal 
house was now in decadence. His advent, too, was marked 
by not a few circumstances of more than ordinary abasement. 
He was born among strangers, far from home, and in a 
stable. He was cradled in a manger with the dumb animals 
about him, yet out on the plains near by the heavenly hosts, 
with their divine anthem, heralded his advent. The Lord of 
glory was a babe in the L wly manger. 



The Humiliation and Exaltation of Christ. 161 

2. Christ Humbled 1 nmself in his Life. 

Here the whole of that wonderful life of Jesus of Nazareth 
might be properlj described, and this would give a picture 
such as men had never seen, or the world never known. He 
subjected himself to the stern demands of law, although as 
its author he was really above the law under whose claims 
he voluntarily passed for a time. Having thus taken his 
place under the law, there came to him as a matter of course 
much of hardship and humiliation. He submitted to the cer- 
emonial law, and so was circumcised, observed the Passover, 
and lived as a Jew. He also came of his own volition under 
moral law, and assumed his place under the legal conditions 
of the covenant of grace, and thus undertook to render the 
perfect obedience which was required in all these relations. 

Thereby he perfectly fulfilled all forms of legal obligation 
thus assumed. He came to fulfil and not to destroy the law 
and the prophets. His life was in perfect conformity, both 
in its form and spirit, with the moral law of God. He was 
holy, harmless, and undenled. He also completely fulfilled 
all the conditions of the covenant of grace of which he was 
the mediator, so that he could say that he had finished the 
work which the Father gave him to do. With the cold and 
heartless indignities of the world he was in constant conflict. 
The spiritual dullness and actual unbeUef of his disciples, 
the impenitence of his own people, and the cunning and cruel 
opposition of the Jewish rulers, Jl laid heavy burdens upon 
him during his life. And worse than all, the temptations of 
Satan, especially in the wilderness of Judea, were one of the 
severest conflicts, and no doubt one of the sorest humilia- 
tions, of his earthly career. This temptation, let it be re- 
membered, was real, and one specially painful factor in it, 
doubtless, was the close contact with sin and suffering which 
must have been so abhorrent to his holy soul. He was also 
subject to the usual infirmities incident to the estate of man. 
He was weary, hungry, thirsty, and often kept his sleepless 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

vigil upon the mountains. And all this was aggravated by 
the fact that in his lowly earthly condition he had no temporal 
resources to support him, or to aflford relief amidst it all. 
He was dependent upon others for many of the ordinary 
necessaries and supports of this life. 

3. Christ TImnhled Ilimself in his Death. 

At this stage the humiliation of the Redeemer becomes 
still deeper. All the suffering-^ associated with his closing 
days on the earth come into view at this stage, and of these 
the Larger Catechism gives a good summary. The descrip- 
tion of these sufferings may begin with Gethsemane and the 
agony there. Then comes the betrayal by Judas, one of the 
twelve, by means of which he was put into the hands of his 
enemies. This perfidy must have pierced his true and trtHSt- 
ful soul with sore sorrow. Worse still, in some respects, was 
the fact that all the rest of his disciples forsook him and fled, 
and one of them who had sworn that he would never leave 
his Master denied him in that trying hour. He was thus 
left to tread the winepress of his humiliation alone ; and how 
deeply he must have felt the isolation of that season! In 
addition, by the cold and heartless world he was scorned and 
rejected. He was scourged, mocked, smitten, spat upon, and 
crowned with thorns, at the hands of the Jews and Romans, 
who may be taken to represent ilie world. He was con- 
demned by Pilate on the testimony of false witnesses, and to 
appease the clamor of the Jewish rulers he was sorely tor- 
mented by his persecutors. Then of a still deeper nature 
was the humiliation which arose at this point from his con- 
flict with death as the penalty of sin, and as he stood face to 
face with the powers of darkness in deadly spiritual combat. 
He felt the pangs of the penalty of sin and he bore the awful 
weight of the wrath of God, and this led him, in the desolation 
of his soul, to cry out, " My God, my God, why hast thou for- 
saken me ? " This wrath of God which he bore is not to be un- 
derstood as passionate anger or revengeful rage, but as the 

The Humiliation and Exaltation of Christ. 163 


inexorable moral antagonism of God against sin, expressed 
by the necessary infliction of penalty. In this sense he en- 
dured the wrath of God, and the measure of the shame and 
humiliation which this entailed no tongue shall ever be able 
to tell. Finally, he laid down his life as an offering for sin. 
He laid it down willingly, for he was not forced to die. He 
had power to lay down his life, and he had power to take it 
again. Hence, he made his soul an offering for sin, and 
presented himself as a sacrifice without spot unto God. Nor 
can the fact be overlooked that the mode of his death was 
painful and humiliating in the extreme. It was the cursed 
death of the cross, with all its shame and woe. The Lord 
of life and glory was nailed as a malefactor to the tree. 

4. lie Ifurnhled Ilimself after his Death. 

This brings us to tho deepest dept-\s of his humiliation. 
His body was taken from the cross by kind-hearted strangers, 
who were, perhaps, secret disciples, and buried in a new- 
made tomb. He remained in the state of the dead and 
under the power of death for a time. It is the midnight of 
his humiliation now. It seemed as if now, surely, the powers 
of darkness had gotten the victory, and that Satan had tri- 
umphed. Death, the penalty of sin, had laid him low, and 
the grave held him firmly in its grasp. He M'as really dead. 
His spirit had gone to God who gave it, and his body lay 
cold and lifeless in its rock-hewn tomb. 

It is in this connection that the phrase in the Apostles* 
Creed, " and he descended into hell," which is alluded to in 
the Larger Catechism, properly comes up for some brief 
remarks. This much-discussed phrase does not mean that 
Christ, in his disembodied spirit, actually went, after his 
death and prior to his resurrection, to the spirit world, and 
to that region of the unseen abode where the spirits of the 
saints of the Old Testament dispensation were held for the 
time, to declare the full gospel message to them, and so to 
bring them into the enjoyment of the felicity of the heavenly 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

state. Nor does the phrase mean that the human soul of 
Christ went really into hell, there to secure a victory over 
Satan in his own proper abode. Nor, again, can it be rightly 
taken to signify that his human soul actually went to that 
place of punishment where the souls of the lost are kept, 
that he might there fully endure all that was needed to make 
a full penal satisfaction for sin. To understand the phrase, 
the meaning of the word hell must be observed. It does not 
mean the place or state of the finally lost, but it rather de- 
notes the invisible world of departed spirits. Hence, the 
meaning of the phrase is, that during the period between 
his death and his resurrection Christ's human spirit, or soul, 
was in the region of departed disembodied souls in the un- 
seen world, and at the same time his body was lying in the 
tomb. In his case, of course, the departed human spirit 
would go to the estate of the blessed, for he had said to the 
thief on the cross, who died penitent, that they would be 
together that day in paradise. And all through even these 
experiences, the personal union of the human and the divine 
natures was not destroyed in the God-man. This completes 
the teaching of the Standards in regard to the humiliation of 
the Redeemer. 

II. Christ's Estate of Exaltation. 

The humiliation of Christ leaves him under the power of 
the last enemy in the state of the dead, and it is just at this 
point that the description of his exaltation given in the 
Standards finds him. This estate embraces several important 
particulars as follows : 

1. Christ was Exalted in His Res^irrection. 

Though he came under the power of death, he was not 
suffered to see corruption, for on the third day he rose from 
the dead, even as he said he would. By his resurrection the 
very same body in which he was crucified was reanimated, 
as he rose triumphing over the grave. This body, thus 
raised, possessed all the essential properties which it had 

The Humiliation and Exaltation of Christ. 165 


prior to his death on the cross, but after the resurrection it 
was to die no more, so that it did not possess mortality, or 
other common infirmities incident to this present mortal life. 
In the article of the resurrection the human soul of Christ 
was reunited with the reanimated body, thereby constituting 
the complete human nature which remained all the time in 
indissoluble union with the second person of the Trinity. 
He also raised himself by his own power, having power to 
take up his life again, even as he willingly laid it down. 
By this fact he gave forcible proof that he was truly the 
Son of God. Moreover, by the fact of his resurrection 
Christ gave final and convincing proof that he had con- 
quered death, and vanquished him who had the power of 
death, and so became the Lord of the quick and the dead. 

All this, the Larger Catechism says, he did as a public 
person and as the head of the church. By this fact the 
representative and vicarious nature of Christ's office and 
work is further evident. By the resurrection of Christ the 
justification of all his people is assured, for as he died for 
their sins, he also rose again for their justification. Thus, 
by virtue of his atoning death and triumphant resurrection, 
he secured the virtual justification of all his elect covenant 
seed before his Father's face. In like manner, by the resur- 
rection of Christ from the dead, his people have the assurance 
of quickening grace in their hearts, the promise of almighty 
support against their enemies, and a sure pledge of their 
own resurrection at the last great day. The resurrection of 
Christ, therefore, has much meaning and great comfort for 
the believer. 

2. Christ was Exalted in His Ascension. 

In this important fact the exaltation of Christ appears 
more distinctly. After his resurrection he was often seen 
by his disciples, conversed much with them, especially in 
regard to the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, and 
at the close of forty days he gave them the commission to 



The Presbyterian Standards. 


preach the gospel to all nations, and added the promise that 
the Spirit would be poured out upon them. Having done 
these things, he ascended up into heaven from the Mount of 
Olives, near Jerusalem. He ascended still in the human 
nature ; and he was also the federal head of his people, and 
mediatorial king of his kingdom. Triumphing over all his 
foes, h© went up into heaven visibly, and entered the highest 
heavens, there to receive gifts for men at his Father's gracious 
hand. It is further said, that by the fact of his resurrection 
and ascension Christ raises the affections of his people 
heavenward, and that he has gone to his Father's house of 
many mansions to prepare a place for them. There he now 
is, and shall continue to be, till his second coming, at the 
end of the world, when he shall come to judge the q lick and 
the dead at the appointed day. 

Two interesting questions are suggested by the statements 
of the Standards at this point. The first relates to the 
precise time when the body of Christ was really changed 
into the glorious body, and the second has reference to the 
time and purpose of the second advent of Christ. As to the 
first of these questions, the Standards do not directly speak. 
Some things seem to indicate that the body was at least 
partly changed soon after the resurrection, but definite con- 
clusions cannot be drawn from what even the Scriptures say. 
It is clear, however, that in connection with the ascension 
the change was completed, and that his body was then 
glorified, and made meet for its heavenly estate. As to the 
second question, it is evident that the Standards teach what 
is now known as the post-millennial view of the time and 
purport of the second advent of Christ. Their teaching is, 
'hat he has ascended to the right hand of the Father, where 
he shall remain till the end of the world, and that when he 
shall come again it shall be to judge the quick and the dead. 
3. Christ is Exalted by Sitting at the Right Hand of God, 
This fact marks a distinct onward stage in the exaltation 

The Humiliation and Exaltation op Christ. 167 

of the Redeemer. It is in his theanthropic person, as the 
God-man, that he sits at the Father's right hand, where he is 
advanced to the very highest favor with God the Father. 
And, as he wears the nature of his people, and represents 
them, he makes them sit together with him in the heavenly 
places. There he is also granted fulness of joy, and invested 
with divine glory, and at the same time he is pdven power 
over all things in heaven and on earth. lie is thus in the 
place of honor, power, and glory, at the right hand of the 
majesty on high. 

The kingly office comes now more and more distinctly into 
view, though the prophetic and priestly are, of course, still 
exercised. At the right hand of the Father he administers 
the affairs of his great spiritual kingdom. He gathers in his 
people, as the subjects of his kingdom, and then defends 
them by his good providence and powerful grace, and at the 
same time subdues all their enemies under him. He also 
furnishes his ministers with gifts and graces, so that they 
may be fitted for their work. This section closes by adding 
that Christ makes intercession for his people at his Father's 
right hand; but as this poinii was fully explained in last 
chapter in connection with the priestly office of Christ, 
nothing more need now be added. It will suffice to observe 
that intercession seems to be a priestly function exercised 
specially by Christ in his estate of exaltation, just as atone- 
ment is a priestly function exercised in his estate of humilia- 

4. Christ is to he Exalted in Coming to Judge at the Last 

This is the final factor or stage in the exaltation of the 
Redeemer. The exercise of this stage lies yet in the future, 
for the stage of the exaltation now in progress is the one 
described in last section. In coming again to judge, it is 
eminently appropriate that he who was unjustly judged, con- 
demned, and put to death by wicked men, should be the 




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judge of men and angels in the end. The Standards say 
that he shall come in great power, and in the full manifesta- 
tion of his own glory, and of his Father's as well. The con- 
trast between his first and second advents is indeed very 
marked. Then he was an infant in the manger, now he is 
the judge upon the throne. Of his first advent the angels 
were the attendant heralds, of his second all the holy angels 
are also to be attendants at the world's last great assize. He 
shall come with a shout, and with the voice of the archangel, 
and with the trump of God, to judge the world in righteous- 
ness. The resurrection of the dead, which will be treated at 
length in its proper place later on, will come to pass, and 
then the judgment will be set. Thus, in the midst of this 
august scene, Christ will appear on the highest summit of 
the estate of his exaltation. He is now the judge upon the 
throne. The whole race of mankind will be assembled for 
its final judgment. The holy angels, as has been seen, are to 
be there as attendants, and all mankind, both the just and 
unjust, the former on the right hand, and the latter on the 
left hand of the judge, shall be present. The apostate angels, 
with Satan at their head, will also be there, to have meted 
out to them their final and irrevocable doom. The elements 
shall melt with fervent heat, and the heavens shall be rolled 
up as a scroll. The membership of the invisible church 
shall then be found complete, ready to hear its last joyful 
welcome, and to enter upon its eternal home. Then time 
shall be no more, and when the judgment is over the destiny 
of men and angels will be forever fixed. Then, last of all, 
Christ will deliver up to the Father the kingdom of which he 
is the mediator, and the purposes of redemption will enter 
on their final and eternal stage. 

With the close of this chapter an important stage in the 
exposition of the doctrines of the Standards is reached. 
What they have to say in regard to the worV of Christ as 
mediator, in itself considered, is complete. In the next, and 

■' r 


The Humiliation and Exaltation of Christ. 169 

some subsequent chapters, that aspect of Christ's work 
according to which it is considered in its application to his 
people for whom he purchased redemption will engage atten- 
tion. It is at this stage that the Confession considers the 
exceedingly difficult and ver^ important question of man's 
freedom, or the problem of the moral agency of men. The 
Catechisms do not directly discuss this question, but later on 
they deal with man's ability to keep the law of God, and thus 
really raise one important phase of the same question. This 
being the case, it may be best to exhibit what the Standards 
teach upon this subject in a complete statement at this stage. 
And it seems all the more fitting to do so in this connection, 
when the question of the application of the benefits of the 
redemption which is in Christ Jesus to sinful men is raised, 
and when their ability in the case should be understood. 
At this stage, therefore, what the Catechisms say upon this 
knotty point will be incorporated with the teaching of the 
Confession, although this will rearrange the order of the 
topics in the Catechisms, which has been followed quite 
closely thus far in the exposition. 



SiiouiKK Catkoiiism, 82-84; Laugkk Catkouism, 149-153; Confession ok 

Faith, IX. 

IN entering upon the exposition of man's free agency, one 
of the most difficult problems in metaphysics, and one of 
the most perplexing questions in theology, arises for consid- 
eration. The question of man's moral agency is at the same 
time one of the utmost importance, alike for a sound system 
of moral philosophy, and for a proper scheme of Christian 
doctrine, both in its theoretical and practical aspects. With 
wonderful caution, and at the same time with profound phil- 
osophical insight, do the Standards speak upon this great 
subject. An attempt will be made in this chapter to give a 
somewhat careful exhibit of that teaching. 

No elaborate discussion of the metaphysics of this intri- 
cate subject can now be undertaken; although, in explaining 
the doctrine of the Standards, some general explanations of 
the philosophy of man's moral agency is necessary to a 
proper understanding of the subject in its theological bear- 
ings, and to clearly perceive the important issues involved in 
the theory of man's moral agency adopted. 

I. The Doctrine of Man's Moral Freedom. 

The doctrine of the Standards upon this great subject is ex- 
pressed in the following brief and pregnant statement : " God 
hath endowed the will of man with that natural ability, that 
it is neither forced, nor by any absolute necessity of nature 
determined, to good or evil." It will be observed that this 
statement is somewhat negative in form, and yet it asserts in 
very pos'tive terms the fact that man in his very nature, 
being endowed with volitional agency, is a free moral agent, 
and, hence, a responsible being. This being the case, all 



FiiEE Will and Ability ; Guilt and its Degrees. 171 

charges made against the Standards, to the effect that they 
teach the doctrine of necessity, are utterly without any 
grounds whatever. The fact of man's natural freedom and 
consequent moral responsibility is clearly taught here, and 
implied elsewhere in the Standards. Just as was seen in 
a previous chapter, that the great fact of the sovereignty of 
God was plainly asserted, so now at this stage, with equal 
force, the fact of man's free moral agency is announced. The 
statement just quoted from the Standards, though very brief, 
contains several things which are now to be carefully con- 

1. The 7iature of the will must be first explained. This is 
a point about which there is still much diflference of opinion 
among both philosophers and theologians. In what does 
the will as a faculty or power of man's nature or constitution 
really consist? What is the nature of man's volitional 
agency? Two general views upon this question have pre- 
vailed in the history of speculation. 

First, Some take a comprehensive view of the nature of 
the faculty called will. According to this view the will em- 
braces the exercise of all the conative, or striving faculties 
of man's nature, as well as that of volitional agency. As 
thus used, the term "will" includes desire and appetency as 
well as choice or volition. The whole of those activities of 
human nature which are spontaneous, as well as those which 
are directive, are included under this broad view of the nature 
of the will of man. If this view of the nature of the will be 
taken, it will include not only those decisions which are de- 
termined by some inward disposition or motive, but also 
those movements of man's nature which are the result of 
mere external inducement. To express the same still more 
briefly, the will in this wide sense includes self-expression as 
well as self-determination. This use of the term is often 
found in the discussions upon this subject. When so used it 
includes not only volitional agency but everything related to 



The Presbyterian Standards. 


ipi mil 

it. Hence, volition and conation, motive and inducement, 
desire and choice, are all taken together in this wide view of 
the nature of the will of man. It seems quite just to say 
that much confusion has been introduced into a very intri- 
cate subject by the adoption of this general view of the 
nature of the will of man. 

Secondly, Others take the term will in a much narrower 
sense, and define its nature in a much more limited way. 
According to this view, the will includes only those activities 
of man's nature which are voluntary or self-directive. All 
that is conative or. purely spontaneous is excluded, and 
only that which is of the nature of choice or volition is 
taken into account. According to this view, the will is the 
faculty of rational self-determination. It is to be carefully 
distinguished from conation, desire, or appetency, and may 
even be found running counter to it. And, further, outward 
inducement may be related to desire or conation, but motive, 
in the strict sense, is connected only with volition or choice. 
This view confines the scope of the nature of the will to a 
much narrower area than does the former, and it denotes 
self-determination as distinguished from self-expression. It 
is in this limited sense that the term is used in the Standards, 
and care must be taken to keep this in mind in the exposi- 
tion of their doctrine upon this subject. The nature of the 
will, as a faculty of the constitution of man, denotes the power 
of choice, in the sense of free rational self-determination. 
In his very constitution, this endowment belongs to man. 
The will is not something apart from or other than the man ; 
but it is just the man choosing or determining himself by 
means of free rational volition. 

Into other questions, such as the relation between will and 
appetency, will and intelligence, will and conscience, will and 
the emotions, it is not necessary now to enter, nor does tho 
space at command in this exposition permit doing so. The 
fact that the Standards clearly teach that man is a free 

Free Will and Ability ; Guilt and its Degrees. 173 

rational agent is emphasized, and this simply means that 
there is in his nature a power of free rational self-determina- 
tion, and that this is the adequate basis of his moral responsi- 
bility before God. 

2. Tfie Freedom of the Will, or of the Moral Agent. 

As has been indicated, this is the real point upon which 
the Standards lay special stress. Man is free. He has 
natural liberty, and so is rationally responsible for his voli- 
tions and acts. In stating their position so clearly upon 
this point, the Standards guard against two false views, both 
of them really necessitarian^ of the way in which the will is 
determined. These may be briefly noticed before the true 
doctrine is set forth. 

First, The will is not forced in any way. Man, in the 
exercise of vr Ktional agency, is not under restraint or com- 
pulsion. He is not compelled in any way from without. 
Indeed, it would be a contradiction in terms to speak of a 
will that was forced, or of a volition that was the product of 
compulsion. The very notion of will is that it is a faculty or 
power which is free. If not free it would be mechanical, 
and man would be but a machine, and not a moral agent. 
The statement of the Standards at this point rebuts this 
mechanical view of the way in which the volitional activity 
of man is determined. It is not by force of outward circum- 
stances that this determination is brought about. The con- 
nection between volitions and their causes is not of the 
nature of physical causation at all, but man in willing, or in 
the exercise of his power of rational determination, does not 
act under any kind of external restraint. Hence, physical 
necessitarianism is not the doctrine of the Standards. 

Secondly^ Nor is the will of man determined by any abso- 
lute necessity of its own nature. The statement of the 
Standards here relates to the inward conditions of voluntary 
rational action, and it is directed against all forms of what 
jiQ.ay be called rational or moral necessitarianism. If the 

* 3 

1 '■ 


1 J 


11 i 

i! : 

i ' 




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will of man were determined by some inner necessity of its 
own nature, it would not he really free at all. If man were 
thus determined in his volitions he would not really be a free 
agent. I^ inner necessity of natore determined the man in 
acting he would be after all but a rational machine and not 
a free agent. But the doctrine of the Standards is to the 
effect that man is in no sense a machine, but a free rational 
moral agent. By the necessity of his nature as a voluntary 
agent, he is not, by the very conditions of that nature, so 
determined to good or evil that of necessity he is determined 
to the one or the other absolutely. Hence, again, volitions 
and their causes are not linked together by what may be 
called a rational causal necessity. 

Thirdly, On the positive side, the Standards teach that 
man by the very fact of his creation and by virtue of his 
constitution, has been endowed with a peculiar power which 
is of the nature of a natural liberty to choose as he pleases, 
or to exercise his voluntary activity as he desires. In this 
sense and in this way man is free. Whatever a man's nature 
prefers that he freely chooses, and he is responsible for the 
choices or volitions thus exercised. Whatever may be the 
connection between the nature and dispositions of the man, 
and his choices and volitions, the latter are truly and con- 
sciously free. If there be any connection asserted between 
them it can only be of the nature of free moral causation, in 
harmony with the power with which man has been endowed. 

Here the distinction between liberty and ability appears 
to be of considerable importance. Liberty is simply the 
power to choose or decide as the man desires or pleases. 
Ability is the power io choose this or that course, even 
though it may be contrary to the desirep or dispositions of the 
man. Liberty is freedom in willing, ability is freedom to will 
this way or that way. An illustration may make the differ- 
ence more fully understood. A wicked man constantly sins. 
In sinning he chooses freely to sin. He sins freely because 


I w 


Free Will and Ability; Guilt and its Degrees. 175 

Tie pleases to sin, and h^ has full liberty in that direction. 
It cannot be said that he sins under compulsion. But, on 
the other hand, he has no power to choose or prefer holi- 
ness. He has no ability to will that which is pure and good. 
Herein lies his inability. He has liberty in willing the evil, 
but he has no ability to will the good. The case of the un- 
fallen angels who are confirmed in holiness further illustrates 
this distinction. Th y have the fullest liberty in serving 
God and willing the good, and at the same time they have 
no ability to sin or dislionor God. Henc'>, it is apparent, from 
the nature of the case, that in exercising his volitional agency 
man is perfectly free in that exercise. This simply means 
that his liberty is unquestioned. But it is equally true that 
a man, owing to the nature of his desires and dispositions, 
may be entirely without ability to exercise his volitional 
agency at all in certain directions. This distinction kept in 
mind goes far to make plain the nature of that freedom which 
man has. 

It is proper to point out, at this place, the force of the dis- 
tinction made by some theologians between natural and 
moral liberty or freedom. This distinction resembles that 
madv3 in tlie previous paragraph, but is not to be identified 
with it. The view now under notice holds that man has a 
natural ability to do all that God requires of him. This im- 
plies that he has all the natural endowment necessary to 
enable him to will and to do what God requires. But by 
reason of sin he has no ability to choose, or to do, the will 
of God. The sinner, according to this view, has natural 
ability, but no moral ability ; and all that he needs is merely 
the restoration of that moral ability in order to be pived and 
servo God. It will be observed that this distinction between 
natural and moral ability really overlooks the import of the 
deeper distinction between liberty and ability. Hence, what 
a sinful maii needs is not merely the restoration of ability in 
regard to the choice of the good, but rather a radical change 


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in the desires and dispositions of his nature, for it is out of 
these dispositions that choice, volition, or self-determination 
freely flows. Till this change is effected, the man with the 
sinful disposition always prefers the sinful, and wills or 
chooses accordingly. Hence, while there may be some force 
in the distinction between natural and moral abiUty, it must 
not be pushed too far. It is better to clearly grasp the dis- 
tinction between liberty and ability of will as it is set forth 
in the Standards. By doing this the disability under which 
the sinner lies will appear to be not merely a certain dis- 
ability of the will, but a deeper perversity of the whole 
nature, and it also will become evident that regeneration is 
not merely a change in the will or volitional agency of the 
sinner, but a radical renovation of the dispositions of the 
whole nature. The force of this will be seen more fully 
later on. 

3. The question of the freedom of the will now requires 
some more definite discussion. In explaining more fully the 
doctrine of the Standards upon this subject, it may be in- 
structive to give an outline of the main types of theory 
which have been announced concerning this knotty subject. 
This may, perhaps, be done in a twofold way, for the subject 
of the freedom of man has been discussed from two distinct 
standpoints. It may be considered from the view-point of 
philosophy, and in its relation to theology. A brief sketch 
of the chief types of theory under each of these aspects of 
tne subject may help to shed some light upon it. Through- 
out, it will be seen that philosophy and theology run in par- 
allel lines. 

First, The philosophical theories of man's moral freedom 
are to be considered. In general, aU these theories may be 
reduced to three heads. The first may be termed th?t of 
mechanics ^. necessity, the second that of contingent liberty, 
and the third that of moral certainiiy. A very brief statement 
of r^ch of these is all that can now be made. 

Free "Will and Ability ; Guilt and its Degrees. 177 

The theory of mechanical necessity is first explained. 
This theory virtually denies freedom to man. Volitions and 
their causes are connected by the law of physical causation, 
so that man is a mere machine. Events in the moral sphere 
are in no essential respect different from those that happen 
in the physical. The will of man is determined in precisely 
the same manner as the forces of nature produce their effects. 
According to this theory, all events belong to the same cate- 
gory, and the distinction between the physical and the moral, 
between freedom and necessity, is obliterated altogether. If 
this theory be correct, man's volitional agency is a piece of 
refined mechanism, and his supposed freedom is a delusion. 

The theory of contingent liberty is next considered. This 
type of theory is not easily described, because it appears in 
various forms, and is often stated in very ambiguous terms. 
In general, it goes to the opposite extreme of the preceding 
view, and regr.rds th'^ will as an entirely unstable element in 
our nature. It is loc jd on as not only distinct, but as sepa- 
rated, from the desiros and dispositions of the nature of man. 
It is further held that the will is possessed of the power of 
asserting itself against the dispositions of the nature. And, 
in order to freedom and moral responsibility, this theory also 
holds that the conscious power to choose the contrary is 
necessary. It is asserted that if there be no such power to 
choose, man's freedom is destroyed, and his moral career can 
have no reality. Hence, the ability of will to choose the 
opposite of that which is actually chosen is needed to make 
man a free agent, and to render him responsible for his acts. 
This is contingent liberty, or power of contrary choice. 

This theory is right in asserting that man is a free agent, 
and that freedom is necessary to moral responsibility. But 
it errs in disregarding the close connection between the dis- 
positions of the nature and the volitions of the will. It errs, 
also, in assuming that the power of contrary choice is neces- 
sary to moral freedom and responsibility, and it is in danger 




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of taking tbe position that a man can be conscious of ability 
to choose in any other way than is actually chosen. More- 
over, this theory, as will be seen later on, confounds neces- 
sity and certainty, and concludes that since the former is 
inconsistent with freedom the latter is also. 

The theory of moral certainty remains for remark. This 
theory takes middle ground between the two already ex- 
pounded. It maintains that man has moral freedom, and is 
endowed with the native power of self-determination. Man 
has liberty of will, is able to choose as he pleases, and to will 
in accordance with his desires and dispositions. Between 
his desires and choices, between his disposition anr volitions, 
there is intimate connection, yet that connection is not me- 
chanical or necessary, but moral and certain. In all his 
volitional activity man chooses, wills, or decides freely, yet 
his desires, dispositions or moral states determine certainly, 
though not necessarily, the volitions which he exercises. All 
that is necessary to true freedom and responsibility is liberty 
or freedom in willing, not ability to will the contrary. 
Hence, this theory maintains that freedom in volition and 
certainty in regard to the direction of the volition are not 
inconsistent ^'ith each other. This is the theory of moral 
certainty. • 

This is accepted to be the true theory of the philosophy of 
man's moral freedom, which is involved in the doctrine of 
the Standards. It takes the middle ground between tw^o ex- 
tremes, and does justice to all the facts in the case. Nor is 
it open to the objections to which both of the other theories 
are exposed, for they are both one-sided, and hence defective. 
The will of man is not bound up by an iron law ot re^essity, 
nor is it in a condition of entirely unstable equilibrium. 
Man has freedom or liberty in all his choices or voluntary 
decisions, which simply means that he determines himself. 
Thpt his moral self-determinations are certain to be in ac- 
cordance with his dispositions and moral states is quite con- 



Free Will and Ability ; Guilt and its Degrees. 179 


sistent witli their freedom and the moral responsibility of 
the agent. This is a very important position. 

Secondly, Theological theories in regard to man's moral 
freedom open up the other view of this intricate subject. 
The speculations of the philosopher upon this subject have 
passed over into the hands of the theologian. To a certain 
extent the philosophical theory has determined the theo- 
logical doctrine, but care should be taken not to allow this 
to take place at the expense of the faets set forth in the 
Scriptures. The phase of the subject which now comes 
specially into view relates to the effects of sin on man's free- 
dom, and to the liberty of man as he lies under the disabili- 
ties of his sinful estate. Touching this aspect of the problem, 
there are three distinct types of theory, to a certain extent 
corresponding to the philosophical theories just described. 
These are now to be stated in outline. 

"What is known as the Pelagian view comes naturally first. 
This theory denies that sin has in any way disabled man's 
moral agency. He has always possessed the power to will 
good or evil, or to choose rightly or wrongly. The first man 
had this power, and men ever since have retained the same 
ability. This theory denies, also, that any evil result has 
come upon the race by reason of its relation to the first man. 
Men are brought into the world now with the same moral 
character that the first man had, and there is in it no natural 
bias to good or evil Every man, as a moral agent, is free 
to choose or decide in one way or the other upon all moral 
questions. At first, character has vo moral quality, and voli- 
tions produce character according as they are good or bad. 
Each man voluntarily stands or falls when he acts in a holy 
way, or commits personal sin. However much of force this 
theory might have in the case of uniallen moral agents, it is 
evident that it is not the true view of the moral agency of 
sinful man. It is not in harmony with the teaching of the 
Scriptures in regard to the condition of man in his sinful 




estate, and it is inconsistent with the facts of experience, 
observation, and history. 

The Arminian theory is properly considered next. This 
theory denies that sin has entirely disabled the moral agency 
of man. It holds that it has been greatly weakened by reason 
of the sin of the first man, but the benefits of what is called 
common grace, bestowed upon all men as the result of the 
universal atonement for sin made by Christ, restores to all 
men their moral ability. The moral weakness or disability 
which rests upon the race is a misfortune for which it is not 
responsible; hence, justice to the race on the part of God 
required that he should in some way restore to man his 
moral ability, otherwise God could not justly punisTi men for 
remaining in their sinful estate. By reason of this restored 
ability men are able to choose or reject the good, to accept 
or refuse the gospel. In this way man was placed in sub- 
stantially the same position that Adam was in prior to the 
fall. Thue, by the aid of common grace, man is put in the 
same position that the Pelagian assigns to him, and the 
theory of his moral freedom held is virtually that of con- 
tingent liberty, according to which the power to choose the 
contrary is held to be necessary to his responsibility. This 
theory of man's moral agency under sin is inadequate. It is 
not in harmony with the statements of Scripture in regard to 
his helpless estate in sin, about the gratuitous nature of sal- 
vation, and in reference to the necessity of determining grace 
to enable the sinner to turn and choose the good, to decide 
for God, for Christ, and for holiness. 

The Calvinist theory remains for some simple explanation. 
This theory asserts that man's moral agency has been totally 
disabled, so far as any ability to choose the good, or to will 
that which is holy, is concerned. The nature of man has 
been corrupted by sin^ so that his desires and disposi- 
tions are perverted, and his whole voluntary activity is 
turned away from God and holiness. Still, men are free in w 


Free Will and Ability ; Guilt and its Degrees. 181 

all their wicked acts, and consequently responsible for them. 
Man has liberty in regard to all the exercises of his will, but 
he has no ability to choose the right or holy. Thus man is 
perfectly free, even while he acts certainly in the line of evil. 
The disabling effects of sin, which he has inherited, and the 
guilt of which rests upon him, have entirely destroyed his 
ability to know, to love, to choose, or to will the good, but 
they have not destroyed his liberty or his ability in the love 
and choice of the evil. 

The theory thus briefly stated is accepted as the true one. 
It is in harmony with the teaching of Scripture, and in 
accordance with the true philosophy of man's moral agency 
already described. It is also consistent with all the facts in 
the case. According to this view, man has free agency in all 
that he wills and does. This implies that he chooses and 
acts freely, in accordance with his dispositions and inclina- 
tions. Still, man in his sinful state and apart from special 
grace has no ability to choose or will the good or holy; and 
for this inability he is held responsible, by reason of his 
race relation to the first man. This inability, moreover, is 
part of the penalty of original sin, as was seen in a former 
chapter, and guilt rests upon the race on this account. This 
brings up directly the question of the inability of man in his 
sinful state, as this is exhibited in the Standards, especially 
in the Confession, where the subject is treated at greater 
length than it is in the Catechisms. 

4. Man's moral inability under sin is now to be explained. 
The Catechisms state plainly that no mere man is able in 
this life, even when assisted by divine grace, to keep per- 
fectly the holy law of God. The Confession covers the whole 
field in the fourfold view it gives of man's moral agency and 
ability in relation to the effects of sin. These four phases 
ot the question of man's ability and inability will now be 
presented in outline. 

Firsts In his unfallen state of innocency the first view of 


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i t, 




man's moral agency appears. In this state man had free- 
dom of choice between good and evil, and ability both to 
will and do that which was pleasing to God. This freedom 
and ability were not absolutely confirmed, though, doubt- 
less, the desires and dispositions were towards the good. 
Hence, man's moral agency in the state of innocency was a 
mutable ability to do all that God required of him, and being 
mutable he was liable to fall from it. 

Secondly, In his sinful fallen state the moral agency of 
man has undergone important changes. By reason of his 
fall into a state of sin, man has wholly lost all ability to will 
any spiritual good accompanying salvation. This statement 
fixes attention upon a single important fact. Man by the fall 
has lost all ability to will any good which is spiritual, or 
which looks to salvation. He has lost ability to will in the 
direction of the spiritually good. His dispositions have been 
corrupted, and made averse to that which is holy, and the 
result is, that though he chooses as he pleases when he freely 
wills the evil, yet he has no ability in his natural state to 
choose in the opposite way. He is under spiritual death, 
and has no power to will or do the spiritually good. He 
cannot by any effort of his own convert himself, which 
means that he cannot change his natural dispositions, and 
consequently he is unable to restore to himself the ability to 
preier and choose the good; nor can he prepare himself 
thereto. This means that a man cannot do anything to 
change for the better the natural evil dispositions out of 
which his choices or volitions all proceed. This, of course, 
does not mean that a man cannot put himself in the wf\y of 
obtaining, through the appointed means of grace, that 
spiritual renewal which alone can work a change in the 
desires and dispositions of the nature. In this state man is 
■under total inability, and he remains so till his nature is re- 
newed by the gracious operation of the Holy Spirit. 

Thirdly f In a state of grace., man is freed from his natural 


Ai 3; 

Free Will and Ability; Guilt and its Degrees. 183 


bondage in sin, and is delivered from his inability to will 
that which is spiritually good. This is brought about by the 
eflfectual grace of God, which works a radical renovation in 
the sinful, helpless state of man's moral nature, and by 
means of which he is translated into a state of grace and 
favor. In this gracious spiritual condition he is delivered 
from the bondage of his moral and spiritual inability, and 
the consequence of this is that the sinner is endowed with 
ability to freely will and do that which is spiritually good. 
He is made willing in the day of God's gracious power, which 
delivers him from the thraldom in which sin holds him, and 
makes him a freeman in Christ Jesus. It is added in the 
Confession, that by reason of his remaining corruption man 
does not perfectly nor only will that which is good, but he 
does also will that which is evil. This may be called a 
mixed state, wherein the will freely chooses good or evil, 
having power to do so, though not in iLe sense of having 
the power of contrary choice. The remaining corruption, 
which is only slowly extirpated from the nature of the be- 
liever, sometimes leads him into sin. But the bondage of 
sin is broken, and ability to will and do the good is enjoyed, 
ihongh holiness is not yet confirmed. 

Jp'oi< rWy, In the state of glory, the will of man is made 
pe"' ctly and immutably free to good alone. There is now 
confirmation in holiness, the corruption of the nature has 
been entirely removed, certainty of holy volitions is fully and 
for ever assured, and the saints in glory enjoy a freedom and 
enlarged liberty, such as they cannot know in this life. 
Here, again, is illustrated the fact that while freedom and 
necessity exclude each other, still freedom of volition and 
certainty in regard to the kind of volitions are entirely con- 
sistent with each other. 

The teaching of the Standards in regard to the subject of 
man's ability and inability may r<ow be summed up in a 
closing sentence. In the state of innocence man had full 


The Presbyterian Standards. 




moral ability, yet was mutable; in the state of sin man still 
had freedom, yet no ability to will that which was good ; in 
a state of grace man has freedom with a mixed ability to will 
both the good and the evil ; and in the state of glory man has 
an immutable freedom to will the good, and no ability to will 
or do that which is evil. This is, indeed, a matchless creed 

II. Ouilt and its Degrees. 

This is a topic which the Catechisms handle in close con- 
nection with that of man's moral inability, and, perhaps, it 
can be best treated as the concluding part of this chapter. 
The Catechisms, after stating that no mere man is able in 
this life, either of himself or by any grace received, perfectly 
to keep the commandments of God, but doth daily break 
them in thought, word, and deed, proceed to consider the 
question of the heinousness of different sins in the sight of 
God. The position taken is that all sins are not equally 
heinous in God's sight, but that in themselves and by reason 
of several aggravations some sins are worse in God's sight 
than others. At the same time it is stated distinctly, that 
every sin, small and great, even the least, since it is an 
offence against God's sovereignty, goodness, holiness, and 
righteous law, deserves God's wrath and cuise, both in this 
life and in that which is to come. The Larger Catechism 
adds that man cannot atone for his own sins, but that the 
blood of Christ alone can expiate the sins of men. Here 
there are two things to be briefly explained. 

1. The nature of guilt must first be understood. Guilt, 
strictly speaking, is liability to punishment, or the infliction 
of punitive suffering. The penalty of sin is punitive suffer- 
ing on its account. The guilt of sin, or its liability to pen- 
alty, is to be carefully distinguished from its depravity or 
pollution. Guilt comes upon the transgressor, depravity 
abides in the sinner. Guilt is directly related to the law and 
its sanction, depravity pertains directly to the nature of the 







Free Will and Ability ; Guilt and its Degrees. 185 

agent. Both always go together, but they are not to be con- 
founded with each other. The pardoning mercy of God, on 
the ground of Christ's mediation, takes away guilt ; the re- 
newing grace of the Holy Spirit removes depravity. 

If guilt is liability to penalty, or responsibility under vio- 
lated law, then in the very nature of the case the penalty which 
the sanction of the law threatens is incurred through sin. 
Then it is in relation to this fact that the second point arises. 
This raises the question of the degrees of guilt, or the mea- 
sure of penalty incurred by various transgressions. 

2. The degrees of guilt is the question now to be briefly 
explained. The Standards plainly teach that guilt is gradu- 
ated according to the sinfulness of the sin. This graduation 
arises from two considerations: First^ Some sins in them- 
selves are worse than others. Murder is worse than evil 
speaking, stealing than covetousness. If the sin be against 
the express letter of the law, if it be not only conceived in 
the heart but break out in act, if it allow of no reparation, if 
it be in violation of any promise, or be done deliberately, the 
sin is more heinous than if not so done; and such sins 
deserve a severer punishment. Secondly, By reason of vari- 
ous aggravations some sins are more heinous in the sight of 
God than others, and bring the transgressor into greater con- 
demnation than others. The Larger Catechism is very com- 
plete in its statement upon this point, for it mentions several 
sets of aggravating circumstances. 

First, From the persons offending. If the persons be of 
mature years, and of wide experience or grace ; or if they be 
eminent for profession, gifts, place, or office ; or if they be 
guides to others whose examples are likely to be followed, 
the sins of such persons are to be regarded as more heinous 
than they might be in other persons- 

Secondly, From the parties offended. If the sin be directly 
against God or his attributes, or worship ; or against Christ 
and his grace, or against the Holy Spirit, his witness ; or if 





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The Presbyterian Standards. 


it be against superiors, or those with whom we are closely- 
related ; or if it be against the brethren, especially against 
the weak ; or against the common good of all or many, the 
offence becomes the more heinous on this account, and en- 
tails a greater degree of guilt. 

Thirdly, From circumstances of time and place. If the 
oflfence be committed on the Lord's day, or during divine 
worship, or just before or after such worship ; or if it be done 
in a public way, or in the presence of others who may be led 
astray by example, the offence becomes all the more heinous. 

Man, of course, cannot estimate the exact degree of guilt 
which each several sin deserves, but there can be no doubt 
that the judge of all the earth will do right, and graduate the 
penalty of each sin according to its just deserts. 

This concludes a very difficult subject, upon which the 
Standards have very important teaching. The nature of 
man's moral agency, and the question of the moral freedom 
of man, have been explained. The moral ability of man in 
his fourfold estate of innocence, of sin, of grace, and of 
glory has also been expounded ; and the nature and degrees 
of guilt, or liability to punishment, has had brief treatment. 
In the next chapter the way by which man is recovered from 
this helpless estate of sin and guilt will be entered on, and 
another important stage in the exposition of the Standards 
will be reached. 








Shorter Catechism, 29-31; Larger Catechism, 57-60 and 66-69; 

Confession of Faith, X. 

IN preceding chapters it has been seen how, by the media- 
tion of Christ, redemption has been procured, and an 
everlasting inheritance has been purchased for his elect 
believing people. In the last chapter it was shown that 
man was in a state of guilt and sin, and unable to turn to 
God or to remedy his sad estate. The question which next 
arises relates to the way in which the redemption purchased 
by Christ comes into the possession of guilty, helpless sinners. 
This is the question which the chapter on effectual calling 
undertakes to answer. How are the elect from among sinful 
men made partakers of the redemption which is in Christ 
Jesus, and of all the benefits which are connected therewith? 

It is interesting to note the fact that the Standards do not 
use the term regeneration in this connection, while this term 
has a large place and a wall-defined meaning in theological 
writings. At first glance it may seem that the Standards 
are defective in their statement upon this point, but a little 
reflection will show that such is not the case, for it will 
appear that what the theologians call regeneration is in- 
cluded under the term effectual calling in the Standards; 
and the great fact of the union of the believer with Christ is 
also impUed in effectual calling. To signalize all this, these 
three terms are set down at the head of this chapter. 

It may be well to remark, further, that the Confession and 
the Shorter Catechism deal with this subject in a compact 
and comprehensive way, while the Larger Catechism intro- 
duces five or six questions at this stage which deal with the 



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church viewed in its visible and invisible aspects. As the 
subject of the church is not touched upon in the Shorter 
Catechism at all, and as it is treated of in another place in 
the Confession, its discussion may be properly deferred till 
a later stage in this exposition, so that attention can be en- 
tirely devoted to the all-important topic of this chapter. 

I. The various ways in which the different parts of the 
Standards deal with effectual calling must be first explained. 
The question is, How are believers made partakers of Christ's 
redemption ? How are the benefits of the Redeemer's work 
applied to the elect ? The briefest form of the answer, which 
is found in substance in all parts of the Standards, is that we 
are made partakers of the benefits of Christ's redemption by 
the effectual application of it to us by the Holy Ghost. The 
Holy Ghost, therefore, is the agent in this important matter. 
The truth is the instrument which the Spirit usually employs, 
yet the truth, in the way of instruction or moral suasion, 
does not itself effect the work. There must also be a direct 
operation of the Holy Spirit in the dead, sinful soul, in order 
to the saving reception of the benefits of the redemption 
which is in Christ Jesus by that soul. 

It is exceedingly instructive to observe the manner in 
which the Confession and the Catechisms describe the mode 
by which this effectual application takes place. This is now 
briefly noticed. 

In the Confession, what is prominent is the change in the 
moral state of the sinner. God, by his word and Spirit, 
bring,s the elect out of that state of sin and death in which 
they are by natrre, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ, 
thereby taking away their heart of stone and giving them a 
heart of flesh. This statement emphasizes the change of 
nature involved in regeneration. 

In the Larger Catechism vital union with Christ is sig- 
nalized. This union is described as one which is spiritual 
and mystical in its nature, and at the same time ic is said to 





Efpectual Calling ; Union With Christ, Etc. 189 

be real, and to unite the beUever and Christ inseparably. 
The figures of the head and the members, and of the hus- 
band and wife, are used to illustrate this union, which is the 
work of God's grace in the heart of the believer. By means 
of this union the basis of communion between Christ and his 
people and of the communion of the saints with each other 
is laid. 

In the Shorter Catechism stress is laid on the fact of faith in 
this connection. The Holy Spirit applies to us the redemp- 
tion purchased by Christ by working faith in us, thereby 
uniting us to Christ in our eflfectual calling. This statement 
puts the stress upon the experimental or practical side of 
the great truth here taught, and thus faith is in the fore- 

These three aspects of the same great fact are exceedingly 
instructive, and, taken together, they supply a very com- 
plete view of the various factors involved in effectual calling. 
The Confession accents the change of nature, the Larger 
Catechism signalizes union with Christ, and the Shorter 
Catechism gives emphasis to faith in Christ, while the agent 
behind all three factors is the Holy Ghost. Thus, in the 
complex process by which the Spirit applies, and the be- 
liever receives, the benefits of Christ's redemption, there is 
the change of nature usually known as regeneration, the 
mystical union with Christ, the source of spiritual life, and 
saving faith, which is the sinner's act of appropriating Christ 
and his benefits. The first two are implied in effectual call- 
ing, and the third grows out of it. Effectual calling viewed 
Christwards effects spiritual union with him; viewed man- 
wards it produces regeneration, and in the sphere of man's 
activity it evinces faith in Christ. This is the complete 
statement of the matter as taught in the Standards. 

II. The nature of effectual calling must now be more 
fully explained. It is a very important matter lio under- 
stand tlie precise nature of that change of nature and union 


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with Christ which eflfectual calling denotes. What was said 
in the previous paragraph paves the way for a more careful 
statement in this one. 

1. The distinction between the external and the internal 
aspects of the calling now under notice is of some im- 
portance. This distinction is not fully set forth, though it 
is distinctly implied, in the Scriptures. The term effectual 
indicates that there is a peculiar phase of this calling or 
vocation to be considered. Then the Confession speaks of 
some who may be called by the ministry of the word, and 
who may have some of the common operations of the Spirit, 
yet who never truly come to Christ, and therefore cannot be 
saved. And the Larger Catechism speaks in almost the 
same terms. This brings out the distinction between the 
two phases of the calling in question. The outward call is 
by the word, which is to be preached to all men. Some who 
hear it may not be saved. The inward call is by the Spirit, 
usually through the word, and it comes, as will be presently 
seen, to the elect. All who experience this call are surely 
saved, it is the latter aspect of the call which is termed 
eflfectual, and which is now under discussion. 

2. This effectual call is entirely gracious in its nature. 
The Confession clearly asserts that this eflfectual call, ad- 
dressed by the Holy Spirit to the elect, is of God's free and 
special grace alone. "What are known as the common opera- 
tions of the Spirit are not sufficient, hence the eflfectual grace 
is special. It is grace which changes the nature, unites to 
Christ, and works faith in us. Hence, it may also be called 
efficacious grace, or invincible grace. 

And, as gracious, it does not rest in, nor spring from, any- 
thing foreseen in the nature or actions of men. Neither the 
believer's faith nor his good works can be the ground of the 
call, for these facts imply or follow eflfectual calling; Further, 
man is viewed as passive in experiencing this call ; and, until 
quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is not able to 


Effectual Calling ; Union "With Christ, Etc. 191 


answer the call, and to embrace the grace offered and con- 
veyed in it. But, when thus quickened and renewed by the 
effectual call which results in regeneration and union with 
Christ, the sinner is able to answer the call by the response 
which his personal faith gives. The Larger Catechism 
emphasizes the gracious nature of this call in slightly dif- 
ferent terms. It is said to be a work of God's almighty 
power and grace, and that it is bestowed out of God's free 
p,nd especial love to the elect, and while nothing in them 
moves him to bestow this grace, yet in the fulness of time 
he doth invite and draw them to Jesus Christ by his word 
and Spirit. Hence, the application of redemption is gratui- 
tous at the very outset. Salvation is all of grace. The 
Arminian view, which requires, as a matter of justice at 
God's hand, common grace to restore man's lost ability, de- 
stroys the gracious nature of salvation at its very root ; and 
the further Arminian claim, that the improvement of com- 
mon grace purchases renewing grace, makes salvation depend 
upon the yet unrenewed will of man. 

3. The several factors which enter into effectual calling are 
next to be considered. All the three parts of the Standards 
enumerate these factors in a somewhat similar way. Per- 
haps the clear-cut statement of the Shorter Catechism gives 
the best outline to follow in making further explanation of 
this doctrine. 

First, There is conviction of our sin and misery. It has 
already been pointed out that, by reason of the fall, man is in 
a state of sin, misery, and guilt. The first thing which the 
Spirit does is to convince us of our sinful, miserable, and 
guilty condition, and to show us that we are without God 
and without hope in the world. This factor is properly set 
down first in order. The inward spiritual sense of sin, and 
the conviction of our ill-desert and guilt, is a very important 
matter in a true religious experience. 

Secondly, The enlightenment of the mind in the knowledge 



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of Christ comes next. This is, of course, spiritual enlighten- 
ment, and not merely intellectual knowledge. And it is not 
merely a general knowledge about Christ, but a knowledge 
which relates to him as the only means of deliverance from 
the guilt and power of sin. The Confession speaks of this 
as an enlightenment of the mind spiritually and savingly to 
understand the things of God, while the Larger Catechism 
briefly describes it as savingly enlightening the mind. This 
is that spiritual discernment which the Scriptures say is 
necessary in order to know the things of God, which the 
natural man does not, and canriot, know. 

TJiirdly, The renewal of the will follows. This is the 
simple language of the Shorter CJatechism. The Larger 
Catechism is more complete in its statement, saying that the 
will is not only renewed but also powerfully determined, so 
that, although dead in sin, we are made willing and freely 
able to obey his call. The Confession has a complete state- 
ment, to the effect that our wills are renewed by his almighty 
power, determining them to that which is good. This is the 
determining grace already spoken of in its bearing upon the 
will, in accordance with the true doctrine of the will as set forth 
in a former chapter. The Confession has a phrase at this point 
which is worth adding here. It says that the heart of stone 
is taken away and a heart of flesh is given. This statement 
clearly relates to the change of the nature of the believer, 
and thus cf his moral states and dispositions, which is effected 
by regeneration. 

Fourthly, Embracing Christ as he is freely offered in the 
gospel is the culmination of effectual calling. The will being 
renewed, the sinner is persuaded and enabled to accept 
Christ as his Saviour. The Holy Spirit by means of the 
word persuades, and by his divine operation in the soul en- 
ables, the sinner to embrace the Saviour as he is presented in 
the gospel message. The Larger Catechism says that we are 
invited and drawn to Christ in effectual calling, and are made 




Effectual Calling ; Union With Christ, Etc. 193 

able and willing to accept the call. The Confession says 
that we are effectually drawn to Jesus Christ, and at the 
same time we come most freely, being made willing by his 
grace. This is an admirable statement of an exceedingly 
difficult ^-opic. "We are effectually drawn, and our wills are 
determined by his almighty power ; and yet that power is so 
exercised by the agency of the Holy Spirit that no violence 
is done to the faculties of our nature. The sinner comes to 
Christ as a free, rational, responsible agent, and yet he comes 
because he has been made able and willing to come. Thus 
the people of God are made willing in the day of his power. 

III. The next question is: Who are the subjects of this 
effectual call? Under this general heading several subjects 
remain to be considered in this chapter. The four following 
topics are touched upon in the Standards : Those who are 
effectually called, the salvation of infants dying in infancy, 
the failure of some who hear the gospel to attain unto salva- 
tion, and the salvation of those who have never heard the 
gospel at all. These several points are now taken up in 
order, and very briefly considered. In regard to some of 
these topics there has been a good deal of controversy, and 
some of them have been made the ground of objection to the 
system of doctrine taught in the Standards. In regard to 
these controverted points the wise caution with which the 
Standards speak is abundantly evident. 

1. Who are effectually called ? This question is referred 
to in several places in the Standards, and receives somewhat 
various answers. The Confession opens its statement upon 
this subject by saying that all those whom God hath predes- 
tinated to life, and those only, he is pleased in his appointed 
and accepted time, to effectually call by his word and Spirit. 
Others, not elected, may be outwai Jly called by the ministry 
of the word, yet are not inwardly called so as to truly come 
to Christ for salvation. The Larger Catechism says that all 

the elect, and they only, are effectually called, and that 



The Presbyterian Standards. 


f ,11 



others, even though they may have the common operations 
of the Spirit, do never truly come to Christ. For their wilful 
neglect and contempt of the grace offered they are justly left 
in their unbelief. This simply means that the non-elect are 
not effectually called, but are just left in their sinful state. 
Another way to state the answer would be to say that all 
those for whom Christ has purchased redemption are in due 
time effectually called, and have that redemption so applied 
to them that they are made sure partakers of it. This, of 
course, leads back to the gracious purpose of God's electing 
love. All those who by that purpose are given in covenant 
to Christ are in due time redeemed by him, and in due season 
they have made good to them, by the word and Spirit of 
God in effectual calling, all that Christ has procured for 

In this connection it is very instructive, as well as con- 
firmatory of the teaching of the Standards at this point, to 
note that in the Scriptures the elect and the called are re- 
garded as identical. For " whom he did predestinate, them he 
also called." All who are elected are effectually called, and 
those who are thus called are thereby assured of their elec- 
tion. The reason of this harmony lies in the fact that the 
eternal purpose of grace has regard not only to its end in the 
salvation of the elect, but also to all the means and agencies 
necessary thereto. 

2. The second question relates to the salvation of infants 
dying in infancy, and of others, elect persons, who are incap- 
able of receiving the outward call by the word. This raises 
a difficult question, which needs some careful remark. And 
there is the more need of careful explanation here, because 
the Standards have often been charged by ignorant persons 
with teaching infant damnation, and with giving no proper 
ground for the salvation of idiots. In general, it may be at 
once said that these charges are utterly unfounded. The 
teaching of the Standards at this point is entirely consistent 



'r ' 





Effectual Calling ; Union With Christ, Etc. 195 

with their teaching elsewhere. They also speak with the 
utmost care, and what they say relates only to those who are 
elected and saved, and not to the non-elected at all. The Con- 
fession simply says ihat elect infants dying in infancy are 
regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit. It says 
not a word about any other infants, and leaves it open to 
make the reasonable inference that all infants so dying are 
among the elect. This inference is just as valid as to say 
that there are non-elect infants who die in infancy, for the 
contrast drawn in the Standards is not between elec- and 
non-elect infants, but between elect persons who die in 
infancy, and elect persons who do not die in infancy. Elect 
persons who die in infancy are regenerated and saved by 
Christ through the Spirit, and in the case o^' elect persons 
who reach adult years, precisely the same con iitions of salva- 
tion are required, only in the case of adult elect persons 
personal faith comes into exercise. 

So all other elect persons, such as idiots and incapables 
of any sort, are saved by Christ and the agency of the Spirit. 
They are not saved because they are incapable o.! responding 
to the outward call of the word, but because the / do receive 
the benefits of the mediation of Christ, and experience the 
renewing work of the Holy Spirit in their souli. Hence, 
when the root of the matter is reached, the conditions of 
salvation are the same in the case of all elect person? '., whether 
they be infants, incapables, or adults. These conditions con- 
stitute effectual calling, whereby the elect are united vo Christ 
and regenerated by the Holy Ghost, and thus made partakers 
of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. If any of tae^ie die 
in infancy faith does not emerge, but in case of others who do 
not die in infancy faith in the Saviour in due time appears. 

To make the dogmatic statement in a creed that all infants 
dying in infant years are saved, whether of believers, unbeliev- 
ers or pagans, can scarcely be justified by the Scriptures, al- 
though a well-grounded hope that this is true may be cherished, 


The Presbyterian Standards. 



V '1 >■' 


for where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. But 
it can with the fullest confidence be asserted, in the language 
of the Confession, that elect infants dying in infancy are saved, 
because they are regenerated and saved through Christ by 
the Spirit. This statement cannot be modified without 
trenching upon the fundamental positions of the Standards 
in regard to electim and tactual calling. This teaching 
also magnifies the grace of God, and better than any other 
system provides a good and gracious ground for infant salva- 
tion. Thus, those who deny infant baptism cannot con- 
sistently maintain infant salvation, and those who make the 
decision for salvation turn finally upon the choice of the 
human will, apart from determining grace, have serious diflS- 
culty in giving any basis for infant salvation, unless they 
deny that the infant is guilty and depraved, or make its 
salvation depend on the mere fact that it happens, in the 
order of providence, to die in infancy. But the doctrine of 
the Standards is free from these and other difficulties, so 
that it may be confidently relied on as in harmony with 
Scripture and sound reason. 

3. The failure of some who hear the outward call to attain 
to salvation is the third question to be considered. This 
point calls for but brief remark. The position of the Stand- 
ards in reference to it is that all who hear tho gospel and 
live within the visible church are not saved. This follows 
directly from what was stated in the previous section. By 
means of effectual calling we become members of the in- 
visible church, which is the body of Christ, and those who 
are not so called are not saved, whether they belong to the 
visible church or not. Those who are not elected are not 
saved, and yet it is their wilful neglect of grace and continu- 
ance in sin which grounds their condemnation. Even the 
common operations of the Spirit are not enough, for, as has 
been seen, special renewing and determining grace is needed. 

4. The last topic relates to the salvation of those who do 

Effectual Calling ; Union With Christ, Etc. 197 


not profess the Christian religion. This raises a wide and 
important inquiry, upon which the Confession announces no 
uncertain opinion. The persons who now are to be con- 
sidered are not those who may profess but do not possess 
the benefits of redemption, but it is the case of such as do not 
profoss the faith of Christ at all. This class includes the 
mere moralist and the profane man in Christian lands, and it 
also embraces the devotees of all forms of pagan religion. 
The cautious teaching of the Confession relates to the case 
of those who are seeking to frame their lives by the light of 
nature, or to follow the law of the religion, other than the 
Christian, which they profess. The position of the Stand- 
ards upon this subject is that such persons shall not be 
saved, no maUer how great their diligence or earnest their 
eflforts. To assert that they may is very pernicious and to 
be detested, is the strong language of the Standards upon 
this matter. It will be observed that this teaching bears in 
a very practical way upon the faithful preaching of the gospel 
in Christian lands, and that it is of vital moment in regard 
to the spread of the gospel among the people of heathen 
countries. To teach, directly or indirectly, that the heathen 
may be saved without the knowledge of Christ which the 
gospel gives is unscriptural, and must be fatal to all mis- 
sionary effort. 

But the case is not now to be argued. The fact is simply 
pointed out that the teaching of the Standards is to the 
effect that, in the case of the moralist, he cannot be saved by 
the light of nature, be he ever so careful to frame his life by 
that light, for no man has ever so lived up even to this light 
that he has no sense of defect and sin. Even if it be admitted 
that salvation were possible by the light of nature, which 
could only be if man were unfallen, the fact remains that no 
mere man has ever fulfilled the conditions. 

Then, in regard to the heathen, three things are to be kept 
in mind. First, A sense of hopeless guilt rests upon them, 


mii % ^ 

I (jg The PBEsaYTEHiAN Standards. 

from whose awful burden their systems of religion do not set 
free. SeccuUy, The Scriptures insist upon such a change of 
heart and life as is never produced by any of the pagan 
systems of religion. TkinUy, The Scriptures plamly teach 
that men who are ignorant of the gospel and who have no 
saving knowledge of Christ, go down to a i°Pf f «'f °'.'^: 
The solemn teaching of the Scriptures, as set forth in the 
Standards upon this great topic, should be ^e"""^!? P""" 
dered by all "who are interested in the success of missionary 






Shorter Catechism, 32, 33; Larokk Catechism, 70-73; Confession of 

Faith, XI. 

THE benefits which those who are effectually called ob- 
tain through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, 
are now to be considered with some care, as they are fully 
set forth in the Stsmdards. It is clear that a very important 
stage in the exposition of the Standards is now reached. 
At this point, too, there is considerable difference between 
the Confession and each of the Catechisms, in regard to the 
order in which the various topics are arranged. Before 
taking up the proper subject of this chapter some explana- 
tions must be made in regard to this diversity of order. 

In the Confession, justification, adoption, and sanctifica- 
tion are exhibited in successive chapters, immediately after 
effectual calling is explained. Then follows a chapter on 
saving faith, one on repentance unto life, and another on 
good works. After this come two chapters, one on the per- 
severance of the saints, and one on the assurance of grace 
aiii salvation. Then comes, last of all in this connection, 
an important chapter on the law of God. 

In the La?ger Catechism, after effectual calling and the 
communion in grace which the members of the invisible 
church have with Christ are considered, justification is ex- 
pounded; and, in connection with it, saving faith is fully 
explained. Then comes adoption, and after it sanctification 
is set forth. Then, in connection with sanctification, re- 
pentance unto life, together with the security, perseverance, 
and assurance of believers, is considered. Following this, 
there is something further said regarding the communion of 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

I It 

saints, and then theii death, resurrection, and final judgment 
are described. At this point this Catechism concludes what 
it has to say in regard to what man is to believe concerning 
God. Then, in its second part, it takes up the law of God, 
and sets forth a full discussion of the contents of the deca- 
logue, and thereby unfolds a splendid scheme of Christian 

In the Shorter Catechism, the topics are treated in still a 
different order, resembling in part that of the Confession, 
and in part that of the Larger Catechism. After effectual 
calling is stated, the benefits which those who are effectually 
called obtain through Christ are exhibited. Thus, in clear- 
cut and well-defined order, come justification, adoption, and 
sanctification, as in the Confession. Then some further 
benefits which believers receive from Christ in this life, at 
death, and at the resurrection, are mentioned, but at this 
stage there is no reference to faith or repentance at all. The 
law of God is next taken up ; and, after some preface, the ten 
commandments are carefully recited and expounded, both In 
tl 3ir positive and negative aspects. At the close of this 
Exposition the question of man's ability to keep this law of 
*God perfectly is raised, and the degree of the ill-desert of 
various sins is stated. Then the conditions of escape from 
the w^rath of God which every sin deserves are laid down, 
and it is at this point that faith and repentance rre ex- 
plained, in connection with the means of grace. In the 
Shorter Catechism there is nothing about the church, visible 
or invisible, nor is there anything said concerning the resur- 
rection of the wicked, or the final judgment of all men. 

It is no easy matter to decide between the merits of these 
three orders of treatment. That of the Confession, and that 
of the Shorter Catechism, though tixey are different, both 
have the merit of logical consistency. Perhaps the Confes- 
sion, in handUng faith and repentance before it takes up the 
law of God, has the better order, for that law then becomes 



The Benefits of Christ's Eedemption. 



the rule for the Christian man in his walk and conversation. 
On the other hand, it is to be observed that the order in the 
Larger Catechism, which connects faith with justification, 
and repentance and good works with sanctification, has the 
merit of presenting the factors in harmony with the order of 
their development in religious experience. On the experi- 
mental side, therefore, a good case could be made out for 
this order of treatment. 

It only remains to add that the Larger Catechism at this 
point makes a comparison between justification and sanctifi- 
cation which is of much value, and that both Catechisms are 
in advance of the Confession in the exposition which they 
give of the law of God, and especially of the ten command- 
ments. Having made these comparisons in regard to the 
order in which the topics are treated in the several parts of 
the Standards, the way is clear to take up j^istification, which 
is the first of the benefits of Christ's redemption which those 
who are effectually called receive. The exposition of this 
great doctrine may be presented in an orderly way under 
several heads. 

I. The nature of justification is to be the first topic. The 
Standards have a good deal to say about this subject, 
although they do not formally separate the discussion into 
distinct sections, as is done in the explanations now to be 

1. The meaning of the term itself needs some explanation. 
It is a distinctly legal or judicial term. It does not mean to 
make just, holy, or pure. The word sanctify properly de- 
notes this. To justify does not mean merely to pardon, 
which is the act of a sovereign alone. But the word only 
and always means to declare just. Its experience implies 
that all the demands of law and justice have been fully met, 
and that the justified person is entitled to all the reward 
which that perfect conformity with law secures, and then he 
is regarded and treated accordingly. That this is the proper 




meaning of the term is evident, not only from its general 
use in the Scriptures, but also from its analogy with the 
term condemn, which is its opposite. To condemn does not 
mean to make wicked and guilty, but simply to declare 
guilty in relation to the law which has been disobeyed. So 
it ma^ be rightly argued, that to justify simply mean* to 
declare just in relation to law and its penalty, and not to 
make just, righteous or holy. This gives a clear hint as to 
the nature of justification. 

2. Then justification is an act of Qod the Father, acting 
for the Godhead. The Standards, following the Scriptures 
closely, always connect justification with the first person of 
the Trinity. The Father justifies, the Son redeems, and the 
Spirit sanctifies, and yet at the same time all three persons 
concur in each of these acts. 

3. Next, justification is a judicial act of God. God in 
justifying the believing sinner acts neither as a sovereign nor 
as a father, but as a judge. If justification were a sovereigja 
act it would be nothing more than mere mercy or executive 
clemency, and would result only in pardon or the remission 
of the penalty. If, on the other hand, it were the act of a 
father, it would be mere paternal dealing, without any neces- 
sary relation to justice or the demands of law. But being 
the act of God, proceeding as a judge to administer in a 
judicial way his moral government in accordance with the 
provisions of the gospel, justification, resting on the basis of 
Christ's redemption as fully satisfying all legal demands, 
declares the person just in relation to law and justice, and 
hence entitled to the reward of conformity with the law. 

4. Further, justification is God's gracious act. The Stand- 
ards make this very plain. The Shorter Catechism says that 
it is an act of God's free grace, and the Larger that it is an 
act of God's free grace unto sinners. In the Confession the 
statement is to the efiect that those who are effectually called 
are freely justified, and that justification is only of free grace, 


The Benefits op Christ's Redf tption. 



that both the exact justice and the rich grace of God might 
be glorified in the justification of sinners. The Larger Cate- 
chism also goes on to show how justification is so entirely a 
matter of grace in three particulars. First, Because God 
graciously agreed to accept in the sinner's stead a mediator 
and surety. God was under no obligation to do this, yet he 
did so arrange it in the provisions of the covenant of grace. 
Secondly, Because he provided in the gift of his own Son the 
suitable surety, and agreed to accept his obedience and 
death as a satisfaction in their stead. All this was a matter 
of grace entirely. Tliirdly, Because the condition of justi- 
fication, which is faith alone, is itself gracious, being the 
gift of God, so that even the ability to accept Christ, and 
so obtain the benefit of his mediation, is also a matter of 
grace. Thus it is all of grace to the sinner, and at the same 
time all of debt to Christ the mediator. 

5. Then, negatively, justification is in its nature very care- 
fully described in th( Standards, especially against the errors 
of the Biomish and the Arminian theologies. The Shorter 
Catechism does not formally state this negative aspect, but 
it so presents the positive side as to imply the negative 
aspect also. The Larger Catechism says that we are not 
justified because of anything wrought in us, or done by us. 
The Confession, however, is much clearer in its statement on 
the negative side. Justification, it says, does not consist in 
infusing righteousness into us; nor does it consist in any- 
thing wrought in us or done by us, for this would destroy its 
gratuitous nature altogether ; nor does it consist in imputing 
faith itself, the act of believing, for this is merely the instru- 
ment of justification ; nor does it consist in reckoning any of 
the Christian graces which do always accompany faith, and 
flow from justification, for these graces only follow justifica- 
tion ; nor, finally, as the Larger Catechism says, is it good 
works, the fruits of faith, nor the grace of faith, nor any 
act of faith itself which constitutes justification. In this 


The Presbyterian Standards. 



statement every possible error seems to be met and warded 


6. The last point here has reference to what may be called 

the contents of justification, or the actual blessings which it 

brings. Both Catechisms agree in the brief statement that 

justification grants the remission of our sins, and secures the 

acceptance of our persons as righteous in the sight of God. 

The Confession, however, expands these statements, and 

three points are to be noted in order. 

First, Justification administers the pardon of our rsins. 
This consists essentially in the remission of the penalty, and 
secures deliverance on adequate grounds from the punish- 
ment of sin. This is an important part of justification, but 
it is not, as the Arminian says, all that it implies. 

Secondly, Justification secures the acceptance or account- 
ing of our persons as righteous or just in relation to the law 
of God. The righteousness of Christ thus becomes ours, 
and in this we are accepted in him. Hence, no charge lies 
against us, and we are treated as if we had rendered a per- 
fect obedience, and had met all legal demands. 

Thirdly, Those who are justified are thereby given a title 
to the reward which the perfect obedience of Christ merits. 
Christ as their surety, having by his perfect obedience and 
sacrificial death earned the reward which this deserves, pro- 
vides that this reward shall be made over to them, and this 
is effected when God justifies the believing sinner. We thus 
come into possession of a sure title to the reward, as really 
as if we had rendered the obedience ourselves. Hence, on 
the positive side, justification brings three important things: 
the pardon of all our sins, the acceptance of our persons as 
righteous, and a title to the reward of the work of Christ the 

II. The ground of justification is the next important ques- 
tion to be considered. Its consideration leads back to what 
was explained in a previous chapter on the offices of Christ 



The Benefits of Christ's Eedemption. 


the mediator. Especially what is secured by the priestly 
office of Christ comes again into view at this stage, for it ia 
by means of what Christ does in that office that he provides 
the ground for the justification of his people. But as this 
matter is set forth at this point in a slightly different way, it 
calls for a little further explanation. This is, perhaps, all 
the more necessary, since it has been previously indicated 
that, in the chapter already alluded to, no very complete 
treatment of the atoning work of Christ was given. In gen- 
eral, according to the Shorter Catechism, the ground of justi- 
fication is the righteousness of Christ alone. The Larger 
Catechism in slightly different language says that it is the 
perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ which forms 
the ground. This latter statement gives a very good expla- 
nation of what the righteousness of Christ is. In nearly the 
same terms the Confession says that the ground of justifica- 
tion is the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, and this 
obedience and satisfaction is, later on in the chapter, called 
the righteousness of Christ, in accordance with its two 
branches of active and passive obedience, spoken of in a 
former chapter. 

But, following the Confession, the ground of justification 
must be more fully expounded. The Confession says that 
Christ by his obedience and death did fully discharge the 
debt of those who are justified. Nothing stands charged 
against them by justice, and nothing which the law demands 
is wanting to them. In discharging this debt Christ did 
make a real and full satisfaction to his Father's justice on 
their behalf. This is one of the clearest statements of vica- 
rious atonement to be found anywhere. The satisfaction 
which Christ made was a proper one, not a satisfaction in 
itself inadequate, though accepted instead thereof by God. 
It was also a real satisfaction, and not a fictitious one, to 
serve merely as a shining example of patient suffering, or to 
make a profound impression upon moral intelligences every- 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

where, or to sustain the authority of the moral government 
of God. And it was a full satisfaction, and consequently an 
entire moral equivalent. This, however, does not imply what 
has been called the commercial theory of the atonement of 
Christ, but it simply teaches that Christ, by the dignity of his 
person and the perfection of his obedience, as well as th» 
merit of his death, did fully meet and answer all the demands 
of law and justice, of penalty ai.d reward. This was ren- 
dered to the justice of God, and so it was made strictly under 
law, and served to meet all its requirements. And, finally, 
to make the vicarious factor plain, the statement is added 
that this satisfaction was rendered to the justice of the 
Father on behalf of all those who are justified. This real 
and complete obedience and satisfaction of Christ is alone the 
ground of the justification of believers, and this is the sure 
basis upon which the divine procedure securely rests. 

Positively and negatively this ground is further expounded 
in the Standards, in analogy with what was said a little while 
ago in regard to the nature of justification. Negatively, the 
ground of justification is not good works of any kind, ceremo- 
nial, moral, or gracious ; nor is it faith, nor any of the Christian 
graces, either foreseen, or otherwise regarded. It is not 
found on the sinner's side, either in anything he is, has done, 
or may become. In this respect justification is radically 
different from sanctification, though Romanists entirely con- 
found them. And, positively, it is Christ and his righteous- 
ness, as above explained, which constitutes the ground of 
justification. This and this alone is the basis of the sinner's 
pardon and acceptance. On this basis he is pardoned, 
accepted, and rewarded. This is a very important point, 
exhibiting alike the justice of God in the full satisfaction 
made, and the rich grace of God in the great boon granted. 

III. The mode of justification is now to be explained. 
This follows properly after the discussion of its nature and 
ground. How is justification eff'ected? What is the divine 


The Benefits of Christ'p Redemption. 


procedure in the case, and what is man's part therein ? The 
answer which the Standards give is, in general, twofold in 
its nature. The Shorter Catechism says that it is the right- 
eousness of Christ imputed to us and received by faith, and 
the Larger Catechism uses almost the same language. The 
Confession says that not faith, but the obedience and satis- 
faction of Christ, is imputed to those who are justified, and 
that faith receives and rests upon Christ and his righteous- 
ness. These statements plainly exhibit both imputation and 
faith. Imputation is the act of God, and faith is the act of 
man in the case. Each needs some explanation. 

1. Imputation is taken up first. "When dealing with the 
effects of the In and fall of Adam upon his posterity, the 
meaning of the term imputation was explained. It signifies 
to count, to reckon, or lay to the charge of another. The 
same meaning is now to be retained. Now, so far as the 
divine procedure is concerned, imputation is the very essence 
of justification. Moreover, this imputation is twofold in its 
nature. On the one hand, the guilt of the sinner is imputed 
to Christ, who assumed the penalty and rendered the re- 
quired obedience ; and, on the other hand, the righteousness 
of Christ is imputed to the sinner, who believes in him. 
Thereby the sinner is pardoned, accepted as righteous, and 
given a title to the reward of the satisfaction of Christ. 
All the parts of the Standards agree in teaching the doctrine 
of imputation, for which in turn vicarious atonement lays 
the adequate foundation. These two facts go together. 

2. Faith in Jesus Christ is the other branch of the mode of 
justification. In it the human instrument or condition of 
justification appears. By faith Christ is received and rested 
on, and his righteousness is embraced and trusted in unto 
justification. Christ crucified and Christ risen is received 
and trusted alone for salvation. Faith, therefore, is the in- 
strument or occasion of justification, and it is the second 
branch of its mode. As the nature of faith will be fully 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

explained later on, its function at this point is merely men- 
tioned, although, as has already been pointed out, the Larger 
Catechism treats faith fully at this stage, in connection with 
justification. For the sake of more systematic discussion, 
the order of topics in the Confession is now followed, and 
faith will be expounded more fully later on. 

IV. The results of justification remain for exposition. This 
raises a large subject, which is not easily treated in a compact 
way, for at several places and in various ways these results 
are stated in the Standards. Of course, pardon, acceptance 
and reward come, as a matter of fact, along with justification. 
As already explained, these three factors are the main con- 
tents of jr:4tification. The Shorter Catechism also connects 
many precious things with justification, adoption, and sanc- 
tification, but the statement of these is also deferred till a 
future stage in the discussion. 

At this point, however, it may be well to notice how the 
Standards deal with the quest! i of the time when justifica- 
tion actually takes place, and indirectly with the distinction 
between what is known as virtual and actual justification. 
By virtual justification is meant the formal pardon and ac- 
ceptance of all the elect when Christ ascended to the Father's 
right hand. Then actual justification is what takes place when 
each sinner personally believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Upon this difficult question the Confession speaks with the 
utmost caution when it says that God did from all eternity 
decree to justify the elect, and that Christ did in the ful- 
ness of tim.e die for their sins, and rise again for their 
justification, yet they are not actually justified till the Holy 
Ghost does in due time actually apply Jhrist to them. 
Prospectively, according to the purpose of grace, the elect 
are looked upon as justified, but they are not really justified 
till they are effectually called, and led to believe on Christ. 
Having made these preliminary remarks, the way is open to 
set forth the results of justification in an orderly manner. 


The Benefits of Christ's Redemption. 



1. Peace with God comes first. This includes reconcilia- 
tion and acceptance. This peace is primarily outward in its 
nature, and has reference to the legal relations between God 
and the believer. By the satisfaction of Christ, God is ren- 
dered propitious, and the guilt of the believing sinner is ex- 
piated. This lays the ground for outward peace between 
God and man, and it also carries with it a sure sense of in- 
ward peace, which rests upon the assurance of our accept- 
ance with God, and which in turn is due to the work and 
witness of the Holy Spirit in the soul of the believer. 

2. The sure production of the Christian graces also flows 
from justification. Although these graces are not really pro- 
duced by, nor do they constitute the ground of, justification, 
yet justification is always followed by them. And even 
though the grace of faith is the instrument of justification, 
and though no other Christian grace sustains this relation, 
yet this faith is not alone in the experience of the person 
justified, but is ever accompanied with all the other graces 
of the Christian life. Faith alone justifies, but that faith is 
not alone, for it is a living faith which works by love, and 
overcomes the world. Thus, as justification is entirely of 
grace, it is followed by the entire circle of those graces which 
adorn the heart and life of the believer. Good works are the 
assured fruits of justifying faith, and growth in grace cer- 
tainly appears in this state of grace. This result arises 
from the fact that, prior to the origin of that faith in 
the soul which secures justification, the soul itself has been 
regenerated and united to Christ in effectual calling. From 
this renewal and union with Christ, the life of Christ by the 
Spirit causes growth in grace, and produces good works. 

3. Then, an abiding relation of security is constituted be- 
tween God and his people by the fact of justification. When 
God, on occasion of the sinner's faith in Christ, and on the 
ground of the righteousness of Christ, grants the believer 

pardon, acceptance and reward, the relation thereby consti- 


The Presbyterian Standards. 


tuted is a permanent one. OocVs unchanging love, his eternal 
purpose, their covenant relation, their union with Christ, his 
continual intercession for them, and the indwelling of the 
Spirit, all conspire to secure the result that the state of grace 
into which justification introduces the believer is an abiding 
one, and that the relation it implies shall never be broken. 
If believers do fall into sin, God, for the sake of Christ, con- 
tinues to forgive the sins of his believing justified people; 
and at the same time he secures, by his grace, that they will 
repent of their sins so as to be forgiven. In this way provi- 
sion is made in the redemption which is in Christ for the 
removal of all the sins of believers. Still, it may be, that, 
like a wayward child, which remains a child still in spite of 
its waywardness, and is often forgiven by its earthly father, 
so when the believer fails, and, perhaps, falls into sin, his 
heavenly Father does not cast him out of his justified estate, 
but he forgives and restores him when he repents and returns. 
Justification thus provides for all the sins of believers. 

Further, the Standards teach, that while the believer shall 
never so fall from his justified state as to be finally cast away, 
yet he may, on account of his sins, fall under God's fatherly 
displeasure, and experience a sense of guilt and shame from 
which he will not be recovered till he humbles himself, seeks 
pardon, and renews his faith and repentance. This state- 
ment paves the way for the treatment of the perseverance of 
believers in due time. Believers who are once renewed and 
united to Christ, though they may backslide, are never finally 
lost. Their justification stands secure. Even if they fall 
into sin they will repent and be restored. They are all held 
secure by the provisions of the covenant of grace. 

The Confession adds that the justification of bene vers 
under the Old Testament was in all these respects one and 
the same with the justification of believers under the New 
Testament. There is the same mediator, the same spiritual 
gifts, and the same condition of faith in both dispensations. 

The Benefits of Christ's RedejIption. 


and the church of God is one, in its deepest sense, in all ages 
and dispensations. 

This concludes the exposition of justification, and paves 
the way for that of adoption and sauctification. The Stand- 
ards have been closely followed in their teaching upon this 
cardinal doctrine of the gospel and evangelical religion. 

At the present day the teaching of the Standards upon 
effectual calling and justification meritH moat careful atten- 
tion. If the old theology sometimes exalted the legal at the 
expense of the ethical side of the gospel, the new is in dan- 
ger of making the ethical side the main thing, alike in the 
work of Christ and in the experience of the sJhristian. There 
is a tendency nowadays, both in preaching and in writing, to 
lay stress upon the ethical element in religion, apart from 
the cross of Christ on the one hand and the work of the 
Holy Spirit on the other. Both the legal and the ethical 
must be given their proper place and proportions, both in 
the system of doctrine and in the scheme of Christian life 
which is maintained. To divorce the ethics of the Christian 
life from the cross of Christ is to make a fatal mistake. The 
teaching of the Standards binds them together, and thus 
gives a sound doctrine and a true view of spiritual life. 







Shcktek Catkohism, 34-36; Larger Catecdism, 74, 75 and 77-81; 
Confession of Faith, XII. and XVIII. 

ADOPTION and sanctification are two important bene- 
fits which come to believers through the redemption 
which is in Jesus Christ. These are now to be explained 
in a single chapter. Each will receive separate treatment, 
though sanctification will naturally require the more ex- 
tended statement. 

1. Adoption Comes First in Order. 

The Standards throughout give a separate place to this 
doctrine. Each of the Catechisms has a question upon it, 
and the Confession devotes a separate chapter to its con- 
sideration. In view of this fact it seems a little strange that 
some of our leading theologians should give no distinct place 
to adoption in their systems, and many of them devote but 
little attention to it. By some it is made a factor in justi- 
fication, by others it is regarded as belonging partly to justi- 
fication and partly to santification. It is clear that the 
Standards give to adoption a place of its own, and the expo- 
sition now to be given will follow the Standards in this con- 

The Shorter Catechism defines adoption to be an act of 
God's free grace, whereby we are received into the number, 
and have a right to all the privileges, of the sons of God. 
This definition the Larger Catechism expands considerably, 
while the Confession has a brief chapter which contains a 
very clear statement of the doctrine. Though it is not 
necessary to justify at length the propriety of assigning a 
separate place to adoption in the system of doctrine, still a 



The Benefits of Kedemption — Adoption, Etc. 213 

hint or two may be of some value in confirming the view 
taken by the Standards. 

Fii'st, In the Scriptures there are two distinct sets of texts 
of significance in their bearing upon this question. The one 
set uses the terms law, justice, pardon, justify, reconcile, and 
other legal words or phrases, and the other set employs the 
terms adoption, sonship, heir, begotten, and others of a 
similar natuie. Now, these words and phrases cannot be 
well construed in terms of each other, so that they naturally 
call for separate doctrinal places, the former under justifica- 
tion, and the latter under adoption. This is just what the 
Standards do. 

Secondly, In the Scriptures justification is directly related 
to the law of God, and adoption to the love of God. This 
being so, each should have its own doctrinal place. If this 
be done, due prominence will be given to the love of God in 
the system of doctrine, and the fact of the sonship of be- 
lievers will thereby be put in its proper place. It may be 
that the limited attention devoted to this topic in some of 
the great treatises on theology has had something to do 
with the undue development, in other directions, of the idea 
of the fatherhood of God, and the divine sonship of all 
men. This is, no doubt, the swing of the pendulum from 
one extreme to the other. The true position is that of the 
Standards, which gives a separate place to adoption, and 
plants the fact of the spiritual fatherhood of God and the 
divine sonship of the believer, as distinct from that which is 
merely natural, upon the redemptive work of Christ our 
elder brother. 

Thirdly, According to Scripture, the results w^hich flow 
from adoption are different from those which arise from 
either justification or sanctificatiou. From justification flow 
peace, reconciliation, acceptance in a legal sense, and assur- 
ance of the divine favor. Under the experience of sanctifi- 
catiou, there come the renewal of the nature and the recti- 



The Presbyterian Standards. 


tude of the life. But under adoption there emerges the 
relatii n of sons, as distinct from that of servants. Behevers 
receive the adoption of sons, which makes them the spiritual 
children of God. As children they are heirs of God and 
joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. They have power or au- 
thority to become the sons of God. They receive the spirit 
of adoption and can cry, Abba, Father; and they are called 
the sons of God, and God sends forth the Spirit of his Son 
into their hearts, and this Spirit witnesses to the fact of their 
divine sonship. For such reasons as these the Standards 
are right in giving a separate place to the article of adoption. 

1. Adoption is God's gracious act. It assumes justifica- 
tion, and vouchsafes a further benefit. By means of adoption 
the believer is transferred from the estate of legal accept- 
ance and reward, which justification secures, to that of the 
filial relation, with its privileges of sonship. This transfer 
is eftected by the judicial act of God, and in this respect 
adoption resembles justification. As gracious, the act of 
adoption, like that of justification, rests upon the work of 
Christ as its ground. It is in and for the sake of his only 
Son Jesus Christ that God makes believers partakers of the 
grace of adoption. Believers are thereby put in the relation 
of sons of God, and their standing is made secure therein. 
Adoption also stands related to regeneration, which pro- 
duces the nature of God's sons, and then sanctification builds 
up that nature in the divine image. Adoption puts believers 
in the filial relation, with respect to God and his spiritual 
household, and secures to them the nature of the sons of 
God. Adoption thus assumes election, effectual calling, re- 
generation, faith, and justification. 

2. By means of adoption all those who are justified are 
taken, or received, into the number of the children of God. 
By the judicial act of God this change of legal relation is 
effected. God's name, as the Confession and Larger Cate- 
chism say, is put upon them, so that they are members of 



The Benefits of Redemption — Adoption, Etc. 215 

the household of faith and of the family of God. In this 
new relation the spirit of adoption is bestowed upon them, 
and in this new and tender relation they have the spirit of 
the children of God. This is the main matter in adoption i 
on the purely legal side. 

3. Again, by means of adoption those who are justified 
have a covenant right to all the liberties and privileges of 
the children of God. These liberties and privileges are re- 
cited at some length in the Confession and the Larger Cate- 
chism. These are now to be set down with some care, as 
they are very precious. In addition to having his name 
upon them, and his Spirit in them as a filial spirit, they have 
access with boldness at a throne of grace. Just as a child 
in the home has nearer access to the father, and may make 
his requests with more boldness than the servant dares, so 
in the enjoyment of the grace of adoption the believer may 
come at all times with boldness to a throne of grace and 
make known his requests, assured that as an earthly father 
hears and helps his children, so the heavenly Father will 
hear and help his children. Then, by reason of adoption it 
is the privilege of believers to call God, Father. Were it 
not for this gracious privilege of adoption, believers could 
never call the great God their Father in the tender way in 
which they now can. Further, believers, as the adopted 
sons of God, have the precious privilege of being pitied by 
one who pities as a father, of being protected under the 
fatherly care of Almighty God, and of being constantly pro- 
vided with every good and perfect gift by his unfailing provi- 
dence. Another important privilege given in adoption is 
that God's children are chastened by the Lord as by a 
father. For their sins and failures they may not be pun- 
ished, strictly speaking, but they are chastened by his fatherly 
discipline, for their own good and growth in grace. Thus, 
many of the ills of this life may turn out to be blessings in 
disguise, while the chastisement itself is a proof of the love 


The Presbyterian Standards. 





of God, and of their adoption into bis family. Finally, the 
privilege of security is more fully enjoyed by believers by 
reason of their adoption. They are sealed by the Holy Spirit 
unto the day of redemption, they are heirs of God through 
Jesus Christ and inherit all the promises of God, and they 
are heirs of everlasting salvation and fellow-heirs with Christ 
in glory. 

This comprehensive inventory of the privileges which 
adoption brings shows how important and precious it is. 
Justification could never bring these benefits, for it leaves 
the believer in the forum of the divine procedure, with par- 
don, acceptance, and a title to reward, and it can bring 
nothing more. But adoption takes the believer from the 
forum and places him in the family of God, where he may 
rejoice in all the privileges already mentioned. Thus adop- 
tion has its proper place as a doctrine of the Christian sys- 
tem, and it is a very precious practical religious experience. 

II. Sanctification is the Third Great Benefit which Be- 
lievers Receive through the Work of Christ as Hedeemer. 

This is a doctrine and a fact of Christian experience which 
is carefully considered in the Standards, and hence it must 
be suitably explained in this exposition. Certain closely- 
related topics, such as good works, perseverance therein, 
and the assurance of faith and salvation, must be adjourned 
to a subsequent chapter, after faith and repentance have 
been considered. 

In a general way, sanctification may be described as in- 
ward spiritual renewal of the nature and dispositions, which 
results in outward reformation of life and conduct. Sanc- 
tification is intimately related to regeneration, and is to 
be carefully distinguished from justification. Sanctification 
grows out of regeneration as its root, and it carries OjQ the 
work begun in eflfectual calling and regeneration. 

1. The relation of sanctification to justification requires 
Bome explanation at the outset. This point is specially 

The Benefits of Eedemption — Adoption, Etc. 217 

treated of in the Larger Catechism, and a brief paragraph is 
now devoted to it. Sanctifieation and justification are in- 
separably joined together, hence all who are justified, they 
being also regenerated, are under the experience of sanctifi- 
eation, and none others but those who c're justified are being 
sanctified. But they differ in certain important respects. 
In justification God imputes the righteousness of Christ to 
the believer ; in sanctifieation the Holy Spirit inf useth grace 
and enableth to the exercise thereof. In justification sin is 
pardoned, so that its guilt is removed; in sanctifieation sin 
is subdued, so that it no longer exercises its supreme con- 
trol. In justification all believers are equally freed from the 
revengeful wrath of God perfectly in this life, so that they 
never fall into condemnation ; but sanctifieation is not equal 
in all, but of various degrees ; nor is it perfect in any in this 
life, but growing up unto perfection. These distinctions, 
though not expressly stated in the Confession, are yet plainly 
implied in the exposition it makes of justification and sanc- 
tifieation, respectively. 

2. Sanctifieation is God's gracious work in the renewed, 
believing, justified, and adopted soul. Instead of being an 
act of God done once for all, like justification and adoption, 
it is a work of God's Spirit carried on gradually and con- 
tinuously in the believing soul. Thus sanctifieation is a 
real, personal work in the soul, by means of which its dis- 
positions and acts are radically changed. This work, more- 
over, is gracious. Both Catechism" agree in saying that it 
is the work of God's free grace, in which the believer ac- 
tively co-operates, as he works out his own salvation, God 
at the same time working in him both to will and to do of 
his good pleasure. As believers are chosen in Christ that 
they should be holy, sanctifieation actually m; ^es them holy, 
so that the means as well as the end are included in the 
eternal purposes of electing grace. 

3. The indispensable condition of sanctifieation is that 


The Presbyterian Standards. 


mystical union with Christ which is secured in effectual call- 
ing, and which results in consequent faith. The Confession 
says that the effectually called are further sanctified through 
the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection. Through their 
union with him they are made partakers of his life, even as 
they have obtained the benefits of his death. The Larger 
Catechism says that God, through the powerful operation of 
his Spirit, applying the death and resurrection of Christ 
unto them, eifects the sanctification of his people. This 
grounds the sanctification of believers, finally, in their union 
with Christ, who is thus not only their peace but is also their 

4. The agent in sanctification is the Holy Spirit, and the 
usual means by which his work is done is the word of God. 
The sanctifying Spirit of God and of Christ, for both terms 
are used in the Scriptures and in the Standards, is the agent 
by whom believers are sanctified. This Spirit first unites 
them to Christ and renews them, and then dwells in them to 
nourish the seeds of grace in their souls. The means by 
which the Spirit usually works is the word or truth of God. 
The Scriptures themselves emphasize this fact, and our Lord 
prays, " sanctify them through the truth, thy word is truth." 
The apostle also speaks of sanctification, not only being by 
the Spirit as its agent, but also through belief of the truth 
as its instrument. This brings out the function of faith in 
relation to sanctification. Believers are sanctified by the 
Spirit, and their hearts are purified by faith. 

5. The 7iature of sanctification is, perhaps, the most im- 
portant point to be explained in connection with the doctrine. 
Several things are to be mentioned here. 

Firsts Sanctification, the Confession says, is throughout in 
the whole man. Body, soul and spirit are brought under its 
gracious operation, and every power and faculty of man's 
complex nature is affected thereby. Just as sin has affected 
the whole man, and has wrought ruin therein, so grace in 


The Benefits of Redemption — Adoption, Etc. 219 

sanctification seeks to undo the dreadful ravages of sin, and, 
in due time, as will be soon seen, it shall succeed. The 
dominion of the whole body of sin is to be destroyed, as 
sanctification progresses. It is not mere reformation in out- 
ward conduct ; it is the inward renovation of the dispositions 
and states of the soul in the whole man after the image of 

Secondly, On the negative side, sanctification consists in 
dying daily unto sin. Believers are thereby enabled to die 
more and more unto sin. This is the clear language of the 
Catechisms. The Confession says that the several lusts of 
the body of sin are more and more weakened and mortified. 
The corruption of nature remains, but it is being subdued 
and will be finally extirpated. The flesh with its affections 
and lusts is crucified daily, and the deeds of the body are 
mortified increasingly, and the old man with his deeds is 
being constantly put off. The Standards here follow the 
Scriptures very closely. 

Thirdly, On the positive side, sanctification consists in the 
believer being renewed in the whole man after the image of 
God, and in his being enabled to live more and more unto 
righteousness. The Larger Catechism has a somewhat dif- 
ferent form of statement here. It says that believers are 
renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and have 
the seeds of repentance unto life, and of all the other saving 
graces, put into their hearts, and those graces stirred up, 
increased, and strengthened as they rise unto newness of life. 
The Confession has still another form of statement. After 
stating that sinful lusts are weakened and mortified, it goes 
on to say that in sanctification believers are more and more 
quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the prac- 
tice of true holiness, without which no man can see the Lord. 
This statement gives a very full, complete view of the nature 
of sanctification on the positive side. The image of God, 
lost by the fall, is slowly reproduced, and righteousness is 




The Presbyterian Standards. 

exhibited in heart and hfe. Grace is poured into the heart, 
to the end that the graces may be stirred up and strengthened 
unto newness of hfe. True hoUness is the sure result in 
this hfe, and meetness for heaven is the certain outcome for 
the hfe beyond. Thus the inward and the outward life, 
the nature and the acts, of the believer are all affected by 

Fourthly, Though sanctification extends to the whole man, 
it is yet ever imperfect in this life. There still abides some 
remnants of corruption in every part. The old sinful nature 
with its lusts, though pardoned and mortified, yet remain/ in 
part, and its motions are of the nature of sin, for sin pertains 
not merely to voluntary acts, but also to the states and dis- 
positions of the heart. The imperfection of the sanctification 
of believers arises from these remnants of sin abiding in 
every part of them, and from the perpetual lusting of the 
flesh against the spirit. The result is that believers are often 
foiled with temptations and fall into various sins. They are 
also hindered in all their spiritual services, and their best 
works are imperfect and defiled in the sight of God. In this 
statement there is no favor for any form of perfectionism in 
this life, nor for entire sanctification in this earthly state. 
Sanctification is the goal towards which the believer is to 
strive, and to which he shall be finally conducted ; but this 
goal is only reached at the time of death, and is never 
attained in this life. 

Fifthly^ As. a result of the presence of good and evil in 
the believer, an irreconcilable warfare is found to be going on 
in his experience. The old man and the new, the flesh and 
the spirit, the law of the members and the law of the mind, 
are in constant antagonism, whence arises an incessant 
spiritual conflict, in which the flesh lusts against the spirit, 
and the spirit against the flesh. Still, in this warfare there is 
no doubt as to the final outcome, for though the remaining cor- 
ruption with its lusts may, for a time, prevail, yet victory is 

The Benefits of Redemption — Adoption, Etc. 221 

d by 

sure in the end, because through the continual supply of grace 
and strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ the regen- 
erate part of the nature overcomes the unregenerate part. 
It is through this conflict and its pledge of victory that believ- 
ers grow in grace and perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. 

From all this it is evident that the Christian life is a con- 
stant conflict between good and evil in a true religious ex- 
perience, and that sanctitication is a constant and gradual 
growth going on in the heart of the Christian. It begins 
with regeneration, and it is continued by the Spirit of God 
and the suitable means of grace, till at the end of life's con- 
flict it is found to be complete. Those who make justification 
a progressive work, like sanctification, as the Romanists do, 
make a serious mistake. No less serious is the error of 
some Protestants, who hold that sanctification is an imme- 
diate act of God producing entire freedom from sin. Sancti- 
fication, in the sense of setting apart to a holy service, may 
be regarded as an immediate act, and as alike and complete 
in all believers ; but sanctification, in the sense in which it is 
chiefly used in the Standards, as denoting spiritual renewal 
and moral purification, is not, and in the nature of the case 
can scarcely be, an immediate act, either of God or of the 
soul. It is a slow, gradual, ebbing and flowing, progressive 
work, moving steadily on towards its goal, and certainly 
reached at death. 

III. There are some important benefits flowing from justi- 
fication, adoption, and sanctification which remain to be 
considered. The statement of these benefits is found in the 
Shorter Catechism. They consist in the benefits which flow 
to believers from justification, adoption, and sanctification in 
this life, at death, and at the resurrection. Little more need 
be done here than to mention some of these benefits, as in a 
future chapter, based upon the Confession and Larger Cate- 
chism, some of these same facts will have to be explained in 
another connection. 



i. i 

r i 

I ! 

E ) 


The Presbyterian Standards. 



I ?: 

One of the benefits received in this life is assurance of 
the love of God. The believer has the good confidence of 
God's love, for it is shed abroad in his heart by the Holy 
Ghost which is given unto him. Then he has peace of 
conscience, for reconciliation has been effected, and he is 
admitted to the household of faith. By the word and Spirit 
of God the enmity of the believer's heart is also subdued. 
Thus, that which provides for peace outwardly in relation to 
God produces peace inwardly in the conscience of the be- 
liever. There also follows joy in the Holy Ghost. This is 
a holy spiritual joy, which the world can neither give nor 
take away. Increase of grace and perseverance unto the 
end are also assured to the believer. Grace gains momentum 
as it moves onward, and it halts not till its goal is reached 
in glory. 

The benefits which come at death and the resurrection 
need only be mentioned. At death the souls of believers are 
made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into 
glory. Their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in 
their graves until the resurrection. This is the precious hope 
of the believer. At the resurrection, believers, being raised up 
in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted at the 
day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the enjoying 
of God to all eternity. This is the glorious hope of every 
believer, and it is the crowning benefit which comes to all 
those who are justified, adopted and sanctified, through the 
rich provisions of the gospel of God's dear Son. And this, 
moieover, is all that the Shorter Catechism has to say con- 
cerning death, resurrection, the middle state, and the final 



Shortkk Cateohism, 85-87; Lakgeu Catkciiism, 73-70, and 158; Confes. 

SIGN OF Faith, XIV., XV. 

IN this chapter two very important practical topics have 
to be considered. The order of the Confession is now 
followed in taking up faith and repentance at this stage in 
the exposition of the Standards. The Shorter Catechism 
treats of these topics after the law of God has been ex- 
pounded while the Larger Catechism explains them in close 
connection with justification and sanctification. Faith is 
there made the instrument of justification, and repentance is 
regarded as a constituent element in sanctification. The 
order of the Confession, which is now followed, deals with 
faith and repentance in separate chapters, after justification, 
adoption, and sanctification are exhibited. 

While speaking of the order of these topics, it may be of 
some service to devote a short paragraph to a deeper order. 
That deeper order relates to the ordei in experience of the 
several factors in salvation. It is necessary to remember 
that the logical order of the doctrines as arranged in the 
system may be different from the experimental order in 
which the various factors appear in a gracious religious ex- 
perience. The latter is a fixed order, while the former may 
vary according to the logical principle of doctrinal classifica- 
tion which may be adopted. In the actual experience of the 
sinner, under the recovering grace of God, effectual calling 
surely comes first. Thereby the benefits of the redemption 
of Christ are applied to the soul, the soul is regenerated, 
and at the same time it is united to Christ. Conversion, or 
the actual turning to God in Christ for salvation, results 
from effectual calling. In conversion there are two factors, 



The Presbyterian Standardb. 


in both of which the soul is active. These are faith and 
repentance, and they not only mark the beginning of the 
active experience of those who are eflfectually called, but 
they abide all through the believer's life as important factors 
in his experience. Thus faith conditions justification and 
adoption, and, along with repentance, it enters into sanctifi- 
cation as a factor in it; while, on the other hand, sanctifica- 
tion grows out of regeneration and union with Christ as its 

The Catechisms both mention faith and repentance among 
the conditions of salvation, or of escape from the wrath of 
God due to us for our sins. These conditions are said to be 
faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, repentance toward God, 
and the diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ 
communicates to us the benefits of his redemption. The 
Confession omits this arrangement altogether. It is also a 
curious thing to observe that the two Catechisms differ in 
regard to the order in which faith and repentance are men- 
tioned. The Shorter puts faith first, while the Larger men- 
tions repentance first. This may or may not have any 
doctrinal significance; still, it is an interesting fact in its 
bearing upon the much-debated question of the order of 
faith and repentance. 

I. Saving Faith is to he First Explained^ Inasmuch as it 
Stands First hi the Confession as Well as in the Shorter Cate- 

In the chapter before the last it was pointed out that faith 
in Christ was the condition or instrument of justification. 
In the last chapter it was seen that faith was not only the 
instrument of justification, but that it was also an important 
means of sanctification. This all-important personal condi- 
tion of salvation is now to be explained with due care as it 
is set forth in the Standards. 

No discussion of the philosophy of faith in general, nor of 
the psychology of saving faith in Christ in particular, inter- 


Faith and Repentance. 


th and 
of the 
ed, but 
on and 
t as its 

erath of 
id to be 
ird God, 
y Christ 
n. The 
is also a 
differ in 
fire men- 
ger men- 
lave any 
ct in its 
order of 

uch as it 
'ter Gate- 

hat faith 
only the 
al condi- 
3are as it 

il, nor of 
ar, inter- 

esting as they are, vvill be now entered on. These interesting 
and difficult questions the Standards do not raise for discus- 
sion. They simply assume faith as a fact, and take it in its 
somewhat ordinary, popular, scriptural senee, and proceed 
at once to expound its function in relation to St>lvation. The 
statement of tlip Shorter Catechism is worth setting down at 
the outset, as the starting-point of the explanation. The 
Confession anu Ajarger Catechism simply expand this state- 
ment. "Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we 
receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is freely 
oflfered to us in the gospel." The Larger Catechism calls it 
justifying faith, and the Confession gives the title of saving 
faith to its chapter upon this subject. The Larger Cate- 
chism somewhat strangely lays considerable stress upon the 
fact of the conviction of sin in connection with saving faith. 
Some particulars are now to be noted. 

1. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace wrought in the 
heart of the sinner by the word and Spirit of God, whereby 
the elect are enabled to believe in him to the saving of their 
souls. The Confession says that it is the work of the Spirit 
of Christ in their souls. It is gracious, therefore, and really 
God's gift to the soul. It presupposes eflfectual calling and 
regeneration, by means of which a new life is imparted to 
the soul, and ability to exercise faith in Christ is originated. 
The Confession in its exposition seems to take a wider view 
than the Catechisms of the scope of saving faith. The latter 
limit it almost exclusively to the matter of the faith which 
unites us to Christ in eflfectual calling, while the former 
seems to take the wider view of faith as a general religious 
exercise of the soul. Hence, the Confession says that by 
this faith the Christian believes to be true whatsoever is 
revealed in the word, for the authority of God himself speak- 
ing therein, and acts differently upon its different parts. But 
the Confession adds that the principal acts of saving faith 
are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

! i 


justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the 
covenant of grace. It would thus appear that the Cate- 
chisms present faith, saving faith, as the single act of receiv- 
ing and resting upon Christ, while the Confession regards 
faith as a series of acts, some of which lay hold of the truth 
of the revealed word of God, and others terminate upon 
Christ for the benefits of personal salvation. But these two 
views are not at all inconsistent with each other, and the 
broader view of the Confession will be of service in the full 
exposition of faith 

2. By saving faith the revealed word of God is taken to be 
true, and he who possesses this faith will be ready to act in 
accordance with the commands, threatenirgs, and promises 
of the word. This is what is sometimes called historical 
faith, which takes God at his word, and accepts the testi- 
mony which he has given concerning himself, concerning our 
sinful estate, and concerning the way of salvation through 
Jesus Christ his only Son. This conviction, as was seen in 
an early chapter of this exposition, is not a mere natural 
result of the truth in contact with the mind, but it is wrought 
in our hearts by the Spirit of God. But this intellectual 
conviction is not itself, even though it be produced by the 
Spirit of God, all of saving faith. Still, it may be said to be 
so necessary that if it be absent, or if there be intellectual 
revolt against the truth of the message which God has given 
in his word, then saving faith, receiving and resting upon 
Christ alone for salvation, can never rise in that soul. At 
this point, also, it is to be carefully noted that the intellectual 
factor in faith, of which explanation has been made, is not 
a merely natural product of man's powers loading up 
to spiritual saving faith in Christ. This intellectual con- 
viction is itself the product of the Spirit of God in the 

3. The Larger Catechism, with peculiar propriety, empha- 
sizes, in relation to faith, the fact of our personal conviction 


Faith and Repentance. 


e of the 
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laid to be 
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soul. At 
le, is not 
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;ual con- 
d in the 

, empha- 

of sin and misery. The Confession also hints at this fact 
when it says that faith in the revealed word of God leads 
us to tremble at its threatenings. The Larger Catechism 
further says that this conviction discovers to the sinner his 
disability in himself, or, by the aid of all other creatures, to 
recover himself out of his lost condition. The Shorter Cate- 
chism lays stress upon the fact of the conviction of sin in 
connection with repentance, but this only shows how very 
closely faith and repentance are associated in the complex 
yet unitary experience of the sinner's recovery from his sin- 
ful estate. It is undoubtedly true that all saving faith, ter- 
minating upon Christ, has connected with it a sense of sin, 
and a conviction of our inability to save ourselves from its 
guilt and power. Hence, a personal conviction of our sin 
and of our helplessness wrought in our hearts by the word 
and Spirit of God is to be intimately associated with saving 
faith in the believer's experience. 

4. The special function of saving faith is to receive and 
rest upon Christ and his righteousness as it is set forth in the 
promise of the gospel. This faith not only assents to the 
truth of the promise of the gospel, but it also trusts in Christ 
as held forth therein for the pardon of sin, and for accept- 
ing and accounting our persons as righteous in the sight of 
God. This is what the Confession calls the principal act of 
faith, and it is really its consummation. The other two 
factors are necessary as leading to this one, but they might 
both exist, and yet if the element of personal trust in Christ, 
as the mediator of the covenant of grace, through whom alone 
we have justification, adoption, sanctification and eternal lifo, 
were absent, our faith would not be complete as saving 

This point connects itself closely with the exposition of jus- 
tification ; for when the sinner believes upon Jesus Christ as 
his personal Saviour, Lhen God pardons his sins, which were 
borne by Christ in his own body on the tree, and accepts his 


The Presbyteri\n Standards. 

I' P I 

person as righteous by imputing to him the righteousness of 
Christ, and gives to him a title to the reward of eternal life 
on the ground of Christ's perfect obedience, which is also 
laid to his benefit. Thus saving faith conditions everything 
on man's side in the matter of salvation. 

It is worth while noting the force of the words receive and 
rest upon Christ for salvation. The word receive evidently 
relates to the acceptance of Christ at first unto justification 
of life. The phrase rest upon points to the abiding state and 
relation of the believer in Christ. It is a permanent state of 
grace, and the form w^hich faith takes is a constant res inj^ 
on, or trusting in, Christ, so that the life which we now live 
we live by faith upon the Son of God. This is an all-im- 
portant point, both in regard to the function of faith in the 
believer's life, and as exhibiting that abiding state of grace 
into which justification introduces him. 

5. The Confession adds a statement to the effect that this 
faith is different in degrees, sometimes weak and sometimes 
strong ; and that, though it may be often and in many ways 
assailed and weakened, yet it gets the victory in the end, 
growing up in many into the attainment of a full assurance 
through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our 
faith. Here faith is viewed rather as one of the Christian 
graces in connection with sanctification, than as saving faith, 
the condition or instrument of justification. Of course, the 
statement of the Confession is true in both respects, but as a 
Christian grace it is brought specially before us in this state- 
ment. In the oame believer faith may be much stronger at 
some times than at others ; and in different believers it may 
be widely variant in strength. One may have the faith that 
could remove mountains, and another faith which is only like 
a grain of mustard seed. In a word, faith viewed as a Chris- 
tian grace shares in the fluctuations of all the other graces in 
the experience of sanctification, but in every case victory is 
assured in the end. 


Faith and Repentance. 


ss of 
II life 

e and 

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)ate of 
es in^ 
w live 
in the 


at this 
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le end, 
of our 
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n. R&peiitance unto Life is the Other Topic for this 

Repentance is always to be coupled with faith, as the 
twofold factors in conversion. Both have reference to sin. 
Faith relates to the guilt of sin, and repentance to its 
heinousness. Faith is directed towards the Lord Jesus 
Christ, and repentance is directed towards God. Both are 
to be preached constantly by every minister of the gospel, 
so says the Confession. A number of points are now noted 
in order, in connection with repentance as it is presented in 
the Standards. 

1. Repentance is a saving grace wrought in the heart of 
the sinner by the word and Spirit of God. The Catechisms 
both call it repentance unto life, while the Confession calls 
it evangelical rej entance. It is not the mere natural sorrow 
or regret for sin which is unto death, but a godly sorrow 
which is unto life. The root idea of the word is a change of 
mind or view, in regard, specially, to the matter of sin. It 
implies a radical change of heart and mind, of life and con- 
duct, in regard to sin and its deserts. It is distinctly set 
forth in the Scriptures as the work of the Holy Spirit. It is 
said to be a gift of God, just as plainly as faith is. To give 
repentance unto Israel and the remission of sins is the 
frequent language of the word of God upon this matter. It 
is clear that repentance implies that the heart which repents 
has been regenerated. 

2. Repentance implies a sight and sense of sin. This is 
the language of the Larger Catechism and of the Confession, 
while the Shorter Catechism speaks of a true sense of sin. 
This is a sense and sight of the danger of sin, and of the 
certainty that it will surely be treated as it deserves. To 
see sin in its relation to the law of God, which is perfect, 
and in the light of his holy character; and, above all, to 
behold sin in the light of the cross, and of the love of him 
who suffered thereon, is an all-important factor in repent- 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

ance. To be convinced of the danger of co^i tinning in sin is 
another element in true repentance. From this danger re- 
pentance bids the sinner flee to God in Christ. 

3. Repentance also involves a sight and sense of the filthi- 
ness and odiousness of sin. This sight shows sin to be 
utterly contrary to the holy nature and righteous law of God. 
Sin is seen to be moral depravity, and iitterly abhorrent to a 
holy God. God cannot look upon sin with the least degree 
of allowance, and in true repentance we are led to look upon 
it in the same way. Sin is spiritual leprosy or uncleanness, 
and repentance should lead us to regard it with the utmost 
abhorrence. It is very important to have this feeling in 
regard to sin in order to true repentance. 

4. Again, repentance implies an apprehension of the mercy 
of God in Christ. A sense of danger alone will only alarm, 
and not lead to any action, unless some place of shelter 
from the danger be also pointed out. A mere sense of the 
odiousness of sin will afford no relief, but rather produce 
dismay, unless there be also provided some remedy from this 
odious thing, sin. The gospel message presents Christ as 
the refuge from the danger, and his blood as the means of 
cleansing from the pollution. When this message is brought 
home to the heart and life, the sinner turns to this refuge, 
and seeks the cleansing of the blood. This, too, is an element 
in true repentance which should ever have due importance 
given to it. To learn that God is merciful, gracious, long- 
suffering, and ready to forgive all who come to him by his 
Son, Jesus Christ, is a strong motive to lead the sinner to 
exercise true repentance by turning from sin to God in Christ. 

5. Repentance further implies true penitence, and grief for 
our sins, and a hatred of them. The Shorter Catechism says 
that there is to be grief and hatred of our sins in repentance, 
but the Larger Catechism and the Confession use the word 
penitence, which is an exceedingly good term. It denotes 
the inward experience of the heart which has a true sense of 







to a 





g in 

Faith and Eepentance. 



sin, while repentance is rather the outward action following 
that inward experience. Penitence is the humble, broken 
heart on account of sin, while repentance is the change of 
mind in regard to sin. The grief now spoken of points to 
the true sorrow for sin, and not to the sorrow of the world 
which ^vorketh death. Moreover, this sorrow does net exer- 
cise itself so much with the consequences of sin, as with the 
inherent nature of sin, as an offence against God, whose law 
is just, holy, and good. The hatred here spoken of indi- 
cates the antagonism to sin which true repentance gene- 
rates. The heart being renewed, and the view of sin having 
undergone a radical change, the nature, ap renewed, is 
opposed to sin; and the affections, which used ^o go out 
towards it, are now turned away from it with hatred. This 
hatred is essential to evangelical repentance. 

6. Once more, repentance involves turning from all our 
sins unto God, with a holy purpose and an honest endeavor 
to walk worthy of God, and in the ways of his command- 
ments. This is the outward, practical side of repentance which 
relates to our conduct. True penitence results in piety of 
heart, and genuine repentance produces reformation in life. 
Unless our sight of the danger of sin, and our sense of the 
ill-desert of sin, result in our actually turning away from it 
into the ways of a new obedience, there is a defect some- 
where in our repentance, and we have good reason to doubt 
its reality. There must be full purpose of, and endeavor 
after, new obedience ; and if this exists in any heart, it affords 
one of i;he best evidences that the repentance is a genuine 
one. Thus repentance, if it is bringing forth its meet fruits, 
results in real reformation of life and conduct. Even though 
the believer fall into sin he will rise again, repent and be 
forgiven. Thus, penitence surely paves the way up to per- 
fection, and repentance leads finally to complete reformation. 

7,. Yet again, repentance is, in a sense, necessary to salva- 
tion. True, it is not necessary in the sense that faith is 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

necessary. Still, it is true that without repentance no one 
can be saved. Repentance, of course, is not iu any way to 
be trusted in as a satisfaction for sin, nor is it 'v. any sense 
to be regarded as the cause of the pardon of sin. All ^^^his 
is due to the free grace of God in Christ, yet repentance is 
indirectly the condition on our part for the exercise of the 
divine clemency in the pardon of our sins. Hence, repent- 
ance is necessary for salvation, in the sense that no one can 
expect pardon without repentance. 

Then, too, this repentance relates to all sins, small and 
great, as they are sometimes called. There is no sin so 
small that it does not deserve condemnation, hence if we are 
to escape we must repent and obtain forgiveness. Then, on 
the other hand, the Confession happily assures us that there 
is no sin so great that it can bring damnation upon those 
who truly repent and turn to God in Christ for pardon. The 
Confession further adds, that men should not be content 
with a general repentance, but it is every man's duty to 
repent of his particular sins, particularly. This is a very 
valuable practical suggestion. Men are apt to be content, 
both in their public prayers and in their private devotions, 
with a very general repentance and confession, which may 
not mean very much. Our sins should be set in order before 
us, and then laid before God in sincere confession, praying 
that they may be forgiven, every one. 

8. Finally, repentance is to be followed by confession, and, 
in certain cases, by reconciliation with our neighbor. Every 
man who repents of his sins and turns to God for pardon 
must make a personal confession of his sins to God, and 
then pray sincerely for the divine forgiveness. Then, if his 
repentance be true, and he foisake his sins, he shall find 
mercy at the hands of God and be freely forgiven. This 
matter of confession completes repentance, and if it be want- 
ing no one can expect pardon or peace. 

Further, in certain cases where a man by his sins has 


Faith and Bepentance. 


scandalized his brother or the church of Christ, the Coufes- 
In says that he ought to be wiUing, by a p.-ivate or pablic 
ronfeslon -><! sorrot for his sin, to declare his repen ance 
rthose who are offended. It is their duty in turn to be 
loncUed to him. and in love to receive and restore him. 
Care must be taken here to give no favor to theBom:sh doc- 
SneTpenance, according to which the church forgives 
sins and?t is eve^ to be kept in mind that no man, not even 
reChom we may have injured or offended, can pardon o„ 
sins in the case. Man may forgive the mjunes done to h« 
fellowman, but God alone can pardon his sins. Sin has 
thus i^ some cases, a twofold bearing. It may be a sm 
taLt God and an injury to our neighbor. Our neighbor 
ly forgive the injury, but God alone, and he only for 
rbrist's sake, can pardon our sin in the case. 
"'t^L c'ietes'the exposition of faith and repen anc. 
The next chapter will deal with some additional topics m 
reUgrous experience, especially good works, perseverance, 
and assurance. 


i 'iff a 






SiiOKTKR C* VECHI8M, 30; Lakoer Catkohism, 78-81; Confession of 
Faith, XVI., XVII., XVIII. 

THREE important topics are now reached. In regard to 
them the Shorter Catechism says little directly, though 
it implies a good deal indirectly, while the Larger Catechism 
has not a little to say about perseverance and assurance, bat 
has no distinct treatment of good works. It is the Confes- 
sion alone which deals at length with good works, and it has 
a chapter of some length upon each of the topics at the head 
of this chapter. The Confession, therefore, must now be 
our chief guide in this exposition. 

I. Good Works is the First Topic to he Considered. 

Strictly speaking, good works are the outward result of 
sanctification which appears in the conduct of life. They 
imply effectual calling, justification, and adoption on the 
divine side, and faith and repentance on the human side. 
An attempt will now be made to sum up what the Confes- 
sion has to say upon this great subject, which has caused so 
much controversy among theologians. 

1. Good works are those only which are done according 
to the rule of God's Holy Word. The Scriptures, as we have 
seen, are the only rule to direct us how we may glorify God. 
These Scriptures are the norm of the life of the believer ; and, 
hence, they are also the rule for the good works which he is 
to do. Only those things which God has commanded are of 
the nature of good works. Mere human devices framed out 
of blind zeal, no matter how much pretence of good inten- 
tion they may exhibit, cannot be good works, inasmuch as 
they have no warrant in the word of God. This strikes at 
the root of many things which have been done in the name 


Good Works; Perseverance; Assurance. 


of religion, and for which holy Scripture gives no warrant 
whatever. Religious persecution illustrates this point in 
several ways. 

2. Good works are at once the fruits and the evidences of 
a true and lively faith. Where there is such faith there is 
peace with God, and a filial spirit towards him, on the one 
hand; and on the other, union with Christ, and the renewal 
of the heart. Out of this renewed heart faith, the inner 
principle of good works, comes. Hence, good works are 
done only by a regenerate heart, and they are the fruits of 
the faith of such a heart. This indicates one of the radical 
differences between the truthfulness and honesty of a re- 
generate and of an unregenerate heart. Thus good works 
become the practical evidences of regeneration, and of a true 
and lively faith. We thus show our faith by our works, and 
prove that our faith is not a dead faith. A faith that is alone 
is dead, but faith followed by good works thereby evinces its 

3. Further, good works exhibit some important results in 
heart and life. By means thereof believers manifest their 
thankfulness to God for all his benefits, and especially for 
the riches of his grace toward them in Jesus Christ. Then, 
good works serve to strengthen the assurance of believers 
that they are really God's children. Having the fruits of 
the Spirit apparent in heart and life, they properly conclude 
that God's renewing and sanctifying grace is working in 
their hearts, and then their hearts assure them before God. 
Then, too, by means of good works believers edify their 
brethren, and so become helpers of their faith. By bring- 
ing forth good works in daily life, others seeing our good 
works are led to glorify our Father in heaven. And, further, 
by good works believers adorn the profession of the gospel 
which they make, and exhibit the beauty and excellency of 
the Christian life and conversation. In like manner, good 
works stop the mouths of adversaries who speak against the 


The Presbyterian Standards. 




1 ' 



religion of Christ. By this means believers may commend 
the faith of Jesus to a wicked and gainsaying world, and 
supply the very strongest evidence for the truth and power 
of Christianity. To crown all, good works minister to the 
glory of God. This is the very highest result in the case. 
Since believers are created anew in Jesus Christ unto good 
works, when they exhibit good works, these glorify their 
true author. Believers are thus the workmanship of God, 
and having their fruit unto holiness and the end eternal life, 
the good works which they are enabled to do redound to the 
glory of him whose workmanship in holiness they are. 

4. In regard to the source of the ability to do good works, 
the Confession plainly teaches that it is not of the believer's 
own ability, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ that they are 
enabled to do good works. In order to do good works, the 
grace already received and improved is not sufficient, but 
there is ever needed an actual influence of the Holy Spirit to 
work in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. The 
believer never reaches a stage in the spiritual life wherein 
of his own ability he can bring forth truly good works. In 
every case good works have behind them the sanctifying 
Spirit of God. Then, on the side of the believer, the Confes- 
sion points out, with wonderful care and caution, that he 
must be in earnest about the matter, and not indolent nor 
negligent in seeking to bring forth good works. Much less 
are believers to sit still under the feeling that they are not 
bound to perform any duty, unless upon a special motion of 
the Spirit. They are to be ever diligent in stirring up the 
grace of God that is in them. While God is working in them 
both to will and to do of his good pleasure, they are to be 
diligent in working out their own salvation with fear and 
trembling. Thus, the Spirit's grace and the believer's dili- 
gence produce good works. 

6. A brief paragraph in the Confession is directed against 
the Romish doctrine of works of supererogation. The truth 

Good Works ; Perseverance ; Assurance. 





here is stated in a twofold way. Mrst, They who attain to 
the highest possible excellence in good works in this life 
cannot possibly do more than God requires of them, or 
supererogate a single element of good works. The standard 
of God's absolutely perfect moral law has not been in any 
way lowered, or abrogated, as the rule for the believer's con- 
duct, so that, even when he has obeyed perfectly, he has but 
done his duty ; and it is never in his power to do more than 
his duty in the case. On the other hand, instead of going 
beyond what is required by the perfect law of God, believers 
constantly come short of much that they are in duty bound 
to do. The remnant of indwelling sin always brings this sad 
contingency upon them; and, when they have done their 
best, they are unprofitable servants, and imperfect in their 
good works. 

6. In another aspect the Confession guards its doctrine 
against a serious Arminian error. Good works, even our 
very best good works, cannot merit the pardon of our sins, or 
obtain eternal life for us at the hands of God. Good works 
are possible only after our sins have been pardoned in justi- 
fication, and the title to eternal life has been thereby secured ; 
hence, these good works cannot possibly be the ground of 
pardon, acceptance and the title to reward. In addition, the 
Confession says that, by reason of the great disproportion 
there is between them and the glory to come, and on account 
of the infinite distance there is between us and God, and 
owing to the fact that by our own works we cannot in any 
way profit him nor satisfy for our former sin, good works 
done by us cannot possibly merit the pardon of our sins, or 
procure for us the title to eternal life. And, finally, the con- 
sideration is urged, that so far as our works are good they 
proc'jd from the Spirit of God, and so far as they are 
wrought by us they are defiled and mixed with so much 
weakness and imperfection that they cannot endure the 
severity of God's judgment. Owing, therefore, to the mixed 



The Presbyterian Standards. 


If^ ' 

and defective nature of oiir good works they cannot possibly 
be the ground of merit before God. 

7. From another point of view good works are, neverthe- 
less, acceptable to God. Since the persons of believers are 
accepted through Jesus Christ, their good works are also 
accepted in him, who is the ground of all merit for pardon 
and acceptance. These good works are accepted in Christ, 
nc^ as though they were in this life unblamable and unre- 
j ible in God's sight, but because God, looking upon 
bto. /ers in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that 
which is sincere, although marked by many weaknesses and 
imperfections. Here, again, is seen the well-balanced state- 
ment of the Standards. Good works are not acceptable in 
the sense that they are the ground of merit for our pardon 
and acceptance, but in the sense that believers, being accepted 
as to their persons in Christ, their good works are also ac- 
ceptable in and through him. 

8. A statement regarding the works of unregenerate men 
concludes the chapter. These works, for the matter of them, 
may be things which God commands, and of good use both 
to themselves and others, as, for example, truth, honesty 
and charity ; but since they do not proceed from a heart puri- 
fied by faith, that is, from a regenerate heart, nor are done 
in a right manner according to the word of God, the only 
rule, nor directed to a proper end, nor prompted by a right 
motive in the glory of God, they are sinful and cannoc please 
God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God. 
Such works, not done by a renewed heart, nor according to 
a right rule, nor from a proper motive, are not pleasing to 
God, even if the subject-matter of them be that which is in 
itself right. With great propriety it is added, that to neglect 
good works is more sinful and displeasing to God. This 
simply means, that while the honesty and charity of merely 
moral men cannot commend them to God's favor or accept- 
ance apart from Christ, still the thief and the miser are more 

Good Works; Perseverance; Assurance. 



displeasing in his sight. The propriety of this statement is 

II. The Perseiferance of the Saints is Next Explained. 

Concerning this important topic, information is given in 
several questions in the Larger Catechism, in a single clause 
in the Shorter, and in a chapter of some length in the Con- 
fession. It may be remarked in passing that this is what is 
known as the last of the five points of Calvinism. The term 
preservation merely means keeping, as the text, "kept by the 
power of God through faith unto salvation," implies. The 
term preservation is one which would, in some respects, 
more accurately express the truth here. Believers persevere 
because they are preserved ; they follow because they are led 
by grace divine. What the Standards teach upon this sub- 
ject may be summed up under three or four heads. 

1. It is distinctly taught that those whom God has ac- 
cepted in Christ, and who are eflfectually called by his Spirit, 
can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, 
but shall certainly persevere unto the end and be eternally 
saved. This signifies that all the elect, being called, justified, 
adopted, and sanctified, shall persevere and attain unto sal- 
vation. They cannot at any time totally fall away from 
their state of grace, so as to lose their standing in Christ as 
accepted before God ; nor can they finally fall away from 
their gracious state, so that they cannot be restored, and at 
last perish. Then, positively, the doctrine is that believers 
shall certainly persevere in grace and good works to the end, 
and be surely saved at last. All the means to this end, as well 
as the end itself, are provided for in the purpose or plan 
of God's grace. 

2. The grounds or reasons for this perseverance are stated 
with care in the Confession. Negatively, the perseverance 
of the saints does not depend upon their own free will. It 
is not the strength of their own purpose, resolution, or effort 
which produces their perseverance. Positively, it depends 



The Presbyterian Standards. 





^ 1: 



/ ' 


upon a series of divine facts, which lay a sure foundation for 

J^irsi, There is the immutability of the decree of election, 
which flows from the free and unchangeable love of God. 
God's loving purpose cannot fail. His eternal gracious plan 
shall be accomplished. Christ, having loved his own 
which were in the world, loved them unto the end. Hence, 
as God's plans and purposes are all immutable, so his 
purpose to save his people secures their perseverance to 
the end. 

Secondly, The efficacy of the merit and intercession of 
Jesus Christ secures the perseverance of all those who believe 
in him. It is through the merit of his all-sufficient sacrifiice 
that they are pardoned and accepted. This basis can never 
change nor fail; and the intercession of Christ is constantly 
available on their behalf, and this secures all those spiritual 
agencies of wisdom, grace, and strength, through the ministry 
of the Spirit, which assures the perseverance of believers to 
the very end. As Christ and his merit are always accept- 
able to God, so all those who are in Christ are accepted in 

ITiirdly, The indwelling of the Spirit of God secures the 
same end. The Spirit is bestowed on the ground of the 
meritorious advocacy of Christ, and the Spirit in the heart 
subdues and preserves it, by the incorruptible seed, the 
living word of God, unto life everlasting. 

Fourthly, The nature of the covenant of grace is also such 
that all whom it embraces shall not fail to receive its full 
benefits. Christ, having made good the c jnditions of that 
covenant as its mediator, all that the Father gave to him in 
covenant shall receive the benefits which he has procured 
for them, and not one of them shall fail of attaining unto 
eternal life and glory. Upon these four foundation-ston'is 
the preservation of the saints rests, and their perseverance is 
thereby assured. 

Good "Works ; Perseverance ; Assurance. 


tion for 

of God. 
)us plan 
is own 
BO his 
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3. Still, believers may backslide for a time. This fact is 
clearly taught in the Confession and the Larger Catechism. 
The latter speaks of the imperfection of sanctification in 
believers, and of their falling into many sins, from which, 
however, they are recovered. But the Confession speaks 
more distinctly upon this subject. It says, in substance, 
that owing to the temptations of Satan and the allurements 
of the world, the prevalency of the corruption remaining in 
them, and the neglect of the means appointed for their pre- 
servation, they may fall into grievous sins, and may continue 
for a time therein. This teaching of Scripture and fact of 
experience is not to be regarded as falling from the gracious 
state, but it is backsliding for a time into sin. The result of 
this falling into sin for a time is that believers incur the dis- 
pleasure of God, and grieve his Holy Spirit. Further, they 
may be deprived of some measure of their graces and com- 
forts under the fatherly discipline of God. Their hearts 
may be hardened and their consciences wounded, so that for 
a time they may seem to have lost all grace and hope of 
salvation. They may even hurt and scandalize others, and 
bring temporal judgments upon themselves. But from all 
these things they will eventually be recovered, if they be 
true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, for he will bring 
them off more than conquerors in the end. Believers are, 
therefore, secure, and their perseverance is assured, because 
they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salva- 
tion, ready to be revealed at the last day. 

III. The Assurance of Grace and Salvation is the Last Topic 
.for this Chapter. 

Its basis is found chiefly in the Larger Catechism and the 
Confession. The latter has a long chapter upon asr^urance. 

1. This chapter opens by admitting that hypocrites and other 

unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false 

hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God, 

and in the estate of salvation, which hopes shall perish ; yet 


! I 

• ! £ 




The Presbyterian Standards. 

such as truly believe in tlie Lord Jesus, and live in sincerity, 
endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before him, may 
in this life be certainly assured that they are in a state of 
grace, and may rejoice in the glory of God, which hope shall 
never make them ashamed. The Larger Catechism states 
the same thing in a somewhat different way. Such as truly 
believe in Christ, and endeavor to walk in all good conscience 
before him, may, without extraordinary revelation, but by 
faith grounded upon the truth of God's promises, and by the 
Spirit enabling them to discern in themselves those graces to 
which the promises of life are made, and bearing witness 
with their spirits that they are the children of God, be in- 
fallibly assured that they are in a state of grace, and that 
they shall persevere therein unto salvation. The doctrine 
here clearly taught is that the assurance of grace and salva- 
tion is the privilege of believers, and that it is theirs to seek 
to rejoice in this high honor and happy privilege. It is 
a common blessing to which all believers may look and 
in which they may rejoice. 

2. The grounds of this assurance are also set down in 
order, showing that it is not a bare conjecture, nor a proba- 
ble persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope, but an infalli- 
ble assurance of faith resting upon good grounds. It is, 
therefore, no mere perchance, but a well-grounded convic- 
tion or persuasion. The main grounds for it are mentioned 
as follows : First, The divine truth of the promises of sal- 
vation upon certain conditions which have been embraced. 
Secondly, The inward evidence of the possession of those 
graces to which these promises are made. Thirdly, The 
testimony of the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our 
spirits that we are the children of God. JbourtKly, The 
Spirit dwelling in believers is the earnest of their inheri- 
tance, and by means of his work they are sealed unto the 
day of redemption. He that has begun the good work in 
them will carry it on till the day of Christ Jesus. These 

Good Works; Perseverance; Assurance. 


I, may 
Date of 
e shall 

3 truly 
but by 

by the 
•aces to 
, be in- 
nd that 
1 salva- 
; to seek 
(. It is 
ook and 

down in 
a proba- 
n infalli- 
It is, 
I convic- 
s of sal- 

of those 
'dly, The 
with our 
my, The 
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unto the 

work in 

B. These 

grounds are all alike divine and gracious. They do not con- 
sist in our own feelings, which ebb and flow like the restless 
tide of the ocean, but they rest on divine promises, on the 
graces produced by the Spirit, and the witness of the Spirit 
himself. This constitutes a sure basis for assurance of a very 
definite kind. 

3. But this infallible assurance of grace and salvation is 
not of the essence of faith. This simply means that there 
may be true faith without this assurance, and a true believer 
may wait long and contend with many difficulties before he 
is made partaker of it, yet being enabled by the Spirit to 
know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, 
without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of ordinary 
means, attain unto full assurance of grace and salvation. 
Hence, it is the duty of every believer to give all diligence to 
make his calling and election sure. Again, to guard against 
looseness in liVing, which some may suppose that this doc- 
trine of assurance genders, the Confession says that this 
assurance enlarges the heart of the believer in peace and 
joy in the Holy Ghost, in love and thankfulness to God, and 
in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience. 
These, we are rightly advised, are the proper fruits of 
assurance, and that they tend to holiness and not to laxity 
of Hfe. 

4. The last point noted in the Standards is, that believers 
may at times have this assurance shaken, diminished, or in- 
termitted. They may not always have it. They may even 
lose it, and yet not lose their salvation. NegUgence, some 
special sin, some sudden temptation, the withdrawing of the 
light of God's face so that they walk in darkness, may aflfect 
for a season the believer's assurance. Still, believers never 
become utterly destitute of the seed of God in their souls, of 
the life of faith, of the love of Christ and of the brethren, 
and of the sincerity of heart and conscience of duty, out of 
which, by the operation of the Spirit, their assurance may in 




The Presbyterian Standards. 

due time be revived, and by which in the meantime they are 
supported from utter despair. 

It is added, in conclusion, upon this topic of assurance, 
that the Standards have been allowed to speak almost 
entirely for themselves. Only here and there has any addi- 
tional comment or exposition been made. That this is wise 
all will agree. 





jr are 

j vnse 



Bhortkr Catechism, 39-42 and 83, 83; Lakgkk Catechism, 91-98; 
Confession of Faith, XIX., XX. 

A GREAT theme, which is viewed in various aspects and 
treated of in several connections in the Standards, is 
now reached. With some care an attempt will be made to 
bring the whole together, so as to reduce the various teach- 
ings to harmony as far as possible. The Catechisms have 
really nothing to say about Christian liberty, but so far as 
the law of God is concerned they contain very full exposi- 
tions, especially in regard to the summary of the law found 
in the ten commandments. Indeed, the very complete expo- 
sition of the decalogue given in the Catechisms forms a real 
difficuly for a discussion like this, which can scarcely, with- 
out undue expansion, follow out all the particulars stated in 
the Catechisms. In this chapter the teaching of the Con- 
fession, which is full and definite upon the law of God, and 
of those passages in the Catechisms which bear directly upon 
the nature and use of the divine law, will be explained. 
Then, the fuller discussion of the law of God as the rule of 
the believer's conduct, and hence as the basis of Christian 
ethics, will be taken up under the discussion of the means of 
grace. This mode of procedure may relieve the subject of 
some of its difficulties, and make it possible to exhibit the 
twofold aspect of the law of God set forth in the Standards. 
The one of these relates to the law of God in connection with 
divine moral government, and the other refers to the same 
law viewed as the rule of duty for the Christian man. Then 
the remainder of the chapter will give a concise statement of 
what the Confession has to say about the liberty which the 
Christian enjoys, and in regard to the liberiy of conscience 



The Presbyterian Standards. 


which he possesses. This last is a subject of vast practical 
moment against Romanism and antinomianism. 

I. The Law of God is the First Question. 

1. The expression, law of God, itself needs some explana- 
tion, for it is used in a variety of senses. In general, the 
divine laws are either moral or positive in their nature. 
Those which are moral in their nature are founded upon 
eternal and immutable facts or relations. Here, again, there 
are two classes of moral laws. The one class is founded 
upon the divine nature viewed as morally perfect, and the 
other upon the fixed moral relations which subsist among 
men. To love and obey God is an example of the first class, 
and '.o refrain from stealing illustrates the second. The first 
class is absolutely immutable, and cannot be repealed even 
by God himself; the second class is of universal obliga- 
tion, so long as the present relations subsist among men. 
Those which are positive in their nature obtain their au- 
thority, and find their obligation in the positive command of 
God. These may be of temporary obligation and intended 
to serve some special purpose. Many of the civil and judi- 
cial, and most of the ceremonial laws, of the Mosaic system 
illustrate this class of divine laws. But even here the moral 
and the positive are often so mixed that it is not easy to 
separate the two elements. Perhaps the best illustration of 
this class of laws is to be found in the prohibition given to 
our first parents not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the 
knowledge of good and evil. 

From the fact of moral law, either as founded in the divine 
nature, or upon the moral relations existing among men, it 
may be justly assumed that God has established a moral 
government which extends over all moral beings. From the 
same fact it may be further assumed that man has, by virtue 
of his creatit - a, a moral nature, and is thus fitted to become 
the subject of moral government. With this moral nature, 
man, as a subject of the divine moral government, is under 

The Law of God, and Christian Liberty. 


law to God, and is bound to render perfect obedience to the 
law under which he is placed, and which is also written upon 
his nature. If he obeys he will be rewarded, but if he dis- 
obeys he surely incurs penalty. It is the law of God as 
moral which is now prominently in view in this discussion, 
and the profound teaching of the Standards upon this sub- 
ject deserves the most careful study. 

2. Man's relation to the moral law and government of God 
is set forth in several aspects in the Standards, especially in 
the Confession. A paragraph is now devoted to the explana- 
tion of these different aspects. 

(a.) The first view of this law and of man's relation to it 
appears in his original state prior to, and irrespective of, the 
covenant of works, as explained in a previous chapter. Ac- 
cording to this view, each man as a moral agent would sus- 
tain direct moral relations to God, and would have to stand 
or fall for himself, and an obedience which was personal, 
entire, exact, and perpetual would be required of each. This 
is, of course, largely an ideal state for man, for only Adam, 
and he for a very short time, ever stood in this relation. 
The angels, as moral agents under moral government, best 
illustrate this relation. From their case we can reason by 
analogy to that of man, apart from the covenant relation, 
and under pure natural moral government. This funda- 
mental relation the Standards assume rather than fully 
expound, so that nothing further need be said about it 

(h.) The second aspect of the law of God and of man's rela- 
tion to it is represented by the case of Adam in what may 
be called his covenant relation. This has already been ex- 
plained at length, and need not be enlarged upon at this 
point. The Confession says that God gave Adam a law, as 
a covenant of works, by which he bound him and all his pos- 
terity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience. 
This is the covenant or federal form of the law of God, and 










■ I 
1 1 




The Presbytertan Standards. 

under it the representative status of Adam is assumed in its 
broadest outlines, as requiring perfect and perpetual obedi- 
ence on the part of Adam and his posterity in him. Further, 
this covenant form of law promised life to all those to whom 
the covenant related upon the fulfilment of its conditions, and 
it threatened death for the breach of its terms or conditions. 
It is interesting to note the fact, that the scope of the cove- 
nant law here is broadly outlined, for it is not the eating of 
the forbidden fruit which is signalized here, but the whole 
obedience itself considered, which the covenant or federal 
law required. The Confession also adds in this connection 
that man had power and ability to keep this law. Notice, 
also, that it is not power and abil.ty to eat or not eat of the 
fruit of the tree upon which tho stress is laid, but upon the 
power and ability of Adam to rerder that perfect obedience 
which was required. This relation is what some writers 
very properly describe as moral government modified by the 
covenant of works, just as the former aspect of the law of 
God is termed moral government in its essential principles. 
According to the covenant form of the moral law and govern- 
ment of God, when the probationary term of obedience was 
completed, this obedience would have been accepted for the 
justification of Adam and of the race in him, so that thereby 
they would have been permanently established in holiness 
and in the favor of God as a reward for the obedience ren- 

(c.) A third aspect of the relation of man to the law of God 
emerges after the fall and the failure of the covenant of 
works. The law of God after the fall continues to be bind- 
ing upon man. Upon the believer it is binding as the rule 
of his Christian service, and upon the unbeliever it is bind- 
ing as the condition of life. This condition the unbeliever 
having failed to fulfil finds himself under the sentence of 
death. When it is said that the law of God is the rule of life 
for the believer, it does not mean that any man can attain. 



ET -- '■ -s-r-, 

The Law of God, and Christian Liberty. 




nor that the believer does attain, to life and righteousness 
by keeping the moral law. Christ is the end of the law 
for righteousness to every one that believeth, and for him 
that believeth the law of God is the perfect rule for life and 
conduct in holiness as much as ever. According to the 
Larger Catechism, the moral law is the declaration of the will 
of God to mankind, directing and binding every one to per- 
sonal, perfect, and perpetual conformity thereunto, in the 
frame and disposition of the whole man, soul and body, and 
in the performance of all those duties of holiness and right- 
eousness which he oweth to God and man. And the Con- 
fession adds that the moral law doth forever bind all, as 
well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; and 
that not only in regard to the matter contained in it, but 
also in respect to the authority of God the creator who gave 
it. Christ in the gospel does not dissolve, but does much 
strengthen, this obligation. 

Thus, it appears that the moral law is binding upon all 
moral agents, and that there are three distinct aspects under 
which the moral law is exhibited in the Standards. jFirst, 
In a state of nature the moral law is binding, both as the 
condition and as the rule of life; under the covenant of 
works, where it was the condition of life for all those in- 
cluded in Adam in the covenant, and it would have been 
their rule of conduct afterwards ; and under the covenant of 
grace, where it appears as the condition of life in the case of 
Christ, who fulfilled it for himself and those included in this 
covenant, and then as the rule of conduct for those who be- 
lieve in Christ the mediator of the covenant of grace. In 
every case it will be observed that moral law holds those 
under it in the grasp of moral obligation, only that obliga- 
tion appears in different relations. It need only be added 
that this moral law was first manifested in man's moral con- 
stitution, and then it was revealed at sundry times and in 
divers manners, but specially at Sinai. It is summed up in 

I ;' 


The Presbyteiiian Standards. 

the ten commandments, and no part of this moral law has 
boon, or can be, abrogated. 

{(I.) In addition to this form of the law of God, which is 
distinctively moral and which is permanent in its nature, 
God was pleased to give to the people of Israel, as a church 
under age, certain ceremonial laws containing several typical 
ordinances. Thus, the Old Testament era is viewed as the 
childhood of the church, when, as a child in its minority, it 
is to be regarded as needing tutors and governors, and suit- 
able special instruction. These ceremonial laws and typical 
ordinances have a twofold object. First, As ordinances of 
worship they pre-figure or typify Christ, and exhibit in 
various simple, significant ways the graces, actions, sufferings 
and benefits of the Redeemer. • Secondly, They serve to min- 
ister instruction in various moral duties in all the activities 
of life, both towards God and towards man. In this way, 
both the condition of life and salvation in Christ, and the 
rule for the duties of a godly life, are pre -figured by those 
ceremonial and typical ordinances. The shadow points to 
the substance, the type to the antitype. 

(e.) Once more, God also gave to his people Israel, as a 
body politic, that is, as a civil or national institute, sundry 
judicial laws. These are given at great length in the Mosaic 
economy. They were, so far as they did not involve strictly 
moral elements, positive in their nature, and not binding 
upon any other people, though many of these judicial laws 
have such marks of divine wisdom that they may well arrest 
the attention of modem legislators. But these laws, as well as 
the ceremonial laws mentioned in the previous paragraph, 
have expired. The former, save so far as general equity 
may require, passed away with the Jewish commonwealth, 
and the latter have been fulfilled or abrogated in the New 

3. The uses of the law of God are next to be considered. 
This is a practical topic about which the Confession and 

The Law of God, and Christian Liberty. 


the Larger Catechism have a good deal to say. The latter 
especially has a very complete statement iipou the subject. 
The Standards uniformly teach that since the fall of man in 
Adam the law of God cannot be of any use to man as a con- 
dition of lite and salvation. Sinfuf man cannot possibly use 
it for this purpose ; and he need not so use it, for Christ has 
fulfilled it for him. The law condemns, but does not save, 
the sinner. Christ has come under the condemnation of the 
law, and hence he can save. The several uses of the law 
are now to be ri^Acd in order. 

(a.) Its use for all men comes first. It is useful for all men 
to inform them of the holy nature and will of God, and of 
their duty to God and their fellowmen. It is also of use to 
all as an authoritative rule binding them to walk according to 
its precepts. It is, further, of use to every man as a lamp to 
discover the sinfulness of his nature, of his heart, and of his 
life, so that, examining himself thereby, he may be humbled 
under a deep sense and conviction of his sin, as well as have 
a hatred of sin produced in him. It is added that the law 
of God is of use to all men in showing them their inability 
to keep it, and their ruin under it. 

(b.) The use of the law of God to the unregenerate calls for 
brief explanation. Its use to them is to awaken their con- 
sciences with true spiritual conviction of sin, and to stir them 
up to flee from the wrath to come. It is also helpful in 
showing them clearly their need of the redemption of Christ, 
and of his perfect satisfaction to all the demands of the law 
of God. The result of this is to drive them to Christ, even 
as his grace draws them. Thus the law becomes a school- 
master to teach and lead sinners to come to Christ. Further, 
the law is of use to the unregenerate in showing to them that 
they are inexcusable if they abide under the curse of the 
law and away from Christ, who is the end of the law for 
righteousness to every one who believeth. Moreover, the 
law serves to restrain the corruptions of their sinful natures 



The Presbyterun Standards. 

by what it forbids, and by the threatenings which come upon 
them in this life for disobedience. Then, the promises which 
are attached to obedience serve to lead the sinner to think of 
the blessings which thus follow ; and that, if he cannot by 
works secure these, he iftay be led to Christ, who made the 

(c.) The use of the law of God to the regenerate comes up 
last for remark. This has been in part already described, 
but a few important things remain to be set down in a more 
definite way. Those who are regenerated and who believe 
in Christ are so freed from the law of God as a covenant of 
works that they are neither justified nor condemned thereby, 
yet in addition to the general uses of the law for all men, the 
regeneruto find that the law has some special uses for them. 
It shows them how they are bound to Christ with strong 
bonds for his fulfilling the law, and enduring the curse of it 
in their stead, and for their good. The result of this is 
that they are provoked to thankfulness more and more, and 
prompted by the constraining love of Christ to conform their 
walk more and more according to the moral law, as the per- 
fect rule of their conduct. To a certain extent, what was said 
at the close of the last paragraph from the Confession is of 
indirect value here. 

With its usual cautious completeness the Confession adds 
that these several uses of the law, especially in the case of 
the regenerate, are not contrary to the grace of the gospel, 
but do sweetly comply with it- The reason or cause for this 
harmony consists in the fact that the Spirit of Christ dwell- 
ing in them subdues and enables them to do freely and 
cheerfully what the will of God revealed in the law requires 
to be done. They are made both willing and able to obey 
the moral law as a rule of life, having rested on Christ as 
the condition of life and salvation. 

It only remains to be added at this stage that the moral 
law is summed up in the ten commandments, which were 

The Law of God, and Christian Liberty. 


delivered to Moses at Mount Siuai. Here is the substance 
of our duty to God and man, though it is also to be kept in 
mind that the Scriptures, as a whole, contain an expansion 
of the moral principles implied in the decalogue. The 
further treatment of the moral law from this point of view 
is deferred till the chapters upon the means of grace are 

II. Chrisiian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience is now 

This is a practical and perplexing subject, upon which the 
Confession alone speaks. It raises one of the important prin- 
ciples of Protestantism, for which the Reformation earnestly 
contended against the spiritual domination of Bomanism. 
What the Confession teaches upon this subject will now be 
set down in order, and a few simple comments upon that 
teaching will be made. In the chapter of the Confession 
which deals with this general subject there are really two 
closely related topics which require some explanation. The 
one is Christian liberty, and the other is liberty of conscience. 

1. Christian liberty may be first explained. In what does 
it consist? To a certain extent the answer has been supplied 
in connection with the explanation made some time ago of 
the doctrine of justification, which rests upon the satisfac- 
tion or righteousness of Christ. Several points are to be 
noted here. 

First, Christian liberty is that liberty which Christ has 
purchased for believers under the gospel. It consists, first 
of all, in their being freed from the guilt of sin, and from the 
condemning wrath of God. This is almost a twofold way of 
stating a single important fact. That fact is that, by the 
terms of the gospel of the grace of God, those who believe in 
Christ have the guilt of their sin pardoned through his aton- 
ing blood, ha^e the wrath of God turned away from them, 
since they are justified and accepted in the beloved, and 
have the curse of the violated moral law entirely removed 

;l * 

■ '■i 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

from them through him who was made a curse for them. 
Their relation to God becomes a gracious one, in which they 
are no longer under guilt and condemnation, but are free 
from these things through the liberty which they have in 

Secondly, This Christian liberty further consists in the 
fact that believers are, in a measure, being delivered from 
the power of this present world, which holds the unregen- 
erate in subjection to its spirit and dictation. They are 
delivered from the bondage of Satan, who now no longer 
leads them captive at his will. In like manner they are set 
free from the dominion of sin, which now no longer rules in 
their mortal bodies that they should obey it in the lusts 
thereof. They also escape many of the afflictions of this 
life, and are sustained in the midst of those which they are 
called to endure. In addition, they are delivered from the 
sting of death, which holds the unregenerate in bondage. 
They no longer fear the gra> 3, which has been robbed of its 
victory through him who has triumphed over death and the 
grave. And in the end, they are fully and finally delivered 
from everlasting damnation, and set free from the dread of 
the place of woe. 

Thirdly, Christian liberty embraces the fact that believers 
have freedom of access to God through Jesus Christ. The 
unbeliever has not this precious privilege. It belongs to the 
believer as a part of his liberty in Christ, and it gives him 
freedom of access at all times to God in prayer, for he has 
an interest in the advocacy of Jesus Christ, by whom he has 
access with boldness at a throne of grace. In close connec- 
tion with this, there is the additional fact that the obedience 
which the believer renders to God and his holy law is not 
produced by slavish fear, but prompted by a childlike love, 
and is the fruit of a willing mind. This is a very precious 
part of Christian liberty. The obedience which the believer 
renders is that of a son, not that of a servant ; it is prompted 

The Law of God, and CHitidTiAN Liberty. 


by love, and not by fear. It is willingly and cheerfully given 
to him who has brought them into such a glorious liberty as 
that with which Christ makes his people free. 

Fourthly, The Confession further points out that though, 
under the Old Testament, believers had a goodly measure of 
freedom, yet under the New Testament they have even a 
larger liberty. Their liberty is enlarged by the fact that 
they are free from the burdensome yoke of the ceremonial 
law, under which the Jewish church was placed. They have 
freer access and approach to God, with greater boldness at a 
throne of grace; and in fuller measure do they receive the 
communications of the free Spirit of God than believers 
under the law of Moses did ordinarily enjoy. The true be- 
lieving Jew had liberty, but the true believer under the 
gospel has a still larger liberty. 

2. Liberty of conscience is the other topic which remains 
for consideration. A number of points are to be noted here 

Firsts The statement here made by the Confession is to the 
effect that God alone is Lord of the conscience, in accord- 
ance with the word of God. This being the case, the con- 
science of the Christian man is free from the doctrines and 
commandments of men, if these be contrary in any way to 
his word, or beside it in matters of faith and worship. It is 
well to note that it is matters of faith and worship that are 
here signalized ; and in regard to these matters the Christian 
conscience is free from the commands of men, and bound 
only by God, as he has revealed his will touching these 
matters in his holy word. In such a case, to believe and 
obey the commands of men out of conscience is to betray 
true liberty of conscience. And, further, to require implicit 
faith in such commands, and an absolute obedience to mere 
huraan authority, unsupported by, or contrary to, the word 
of God, is to destroy both liberty of conscience and sound 



The Presbyterian Standards. 





Secondly, Another aspect of the case is aimed against the 
antinomian heresy, as the previous one is against Bomish 
authority. The statement is, that those who, upon pretence 
of Christian liberty, do practice any sin or cherish any lust, 
do thereby destroy the very end of Christian liberty, which 
is, being delivered out of the hands of their enemies, they 
might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and right- 
eousness before him all the days of their lives. 

Thirdly, The closing paragraph in the Confession raises 
some much-discussed questions. The limitations of Chris- 
tian liberty are briefly indicated. Christian liberty is not 
absolute. It does set men free from the decrees of man, 
both in church and state, if these decrees are not in harmony 
with the word of God. But this liberty is limited on the one 
hand by the authority of God, and on the other by the rights 
and claims of our fellowmen. Absolute obedience is re- 
quired to the former, and the claims of the latter cannot be 
ignored. Hence, Christian liberty does not mean that men 
may do just as they please. Hence, too, obedience to civil 
powers, as they are ordained by God, so long as men are not 
called to disobey God by that obedience, should be given. 
In like manner, when ecclesiastical authority is in harmony 
with the word of God it should be obeyed. And the well- 
being of a man's neighbor must also be considered. Here, 
in mere outline, are the fundamental prirt iples of the rela- 
tions of the church and state, and the divine warrant for 
their administration. Their fuller discussion will come up 
later on. The basis for church discipline also appears at 
this point, but it, too, will be treated at length in a subse- 
quent chapter. 




SnoBTBB Cateohism, — ; Lauoer Catechism, 69 and 82, 83 and 86; 
Confession of Faith, XXI. and XXVI. 

IN this chapter two related subjects are grouped together, 
and what the Standards have to say upon them will now 
be gathered up in an orderly way. The Shorter Catechism 
has nothing directly to say about these subjects, except what 
it states under the fourth commandment concerning the ob- 
servance of the Sabbath and religious worship. The Larger 
Catechism in three questions has some important teaching 
in regard to the communion of saints. It connects its expo- 
sition of this doctrine with what it has to say ubout the in- 
visible church, and the union of believers in and with Christ, 
and Iheir fellowship thereby with one another. The Con- 
fession has a chapter upon the communion of saints, and 
one upon religious worship and the Sabbath-day. But, as 
the Sabbath is treated of in another place, not much need 
be said about it here. The Confession is chiefly followed in 
this exposition. 

I. The Communion of Saints is First Explained. 

The teaching of the Confession is plain and simple on this 
point, but the Larger Catechism is not so easily analyzed, 
because its teaching here is not so well connected. The 
former gives the general basis, and the latter supplies some 
special applications of the doctrine. 

1. The basis of the communion which saints or believers 
enjoy is their mystical union with Christ in their effectual 
calling. They are thus united with Christ their head, by 
the Holy Spirit on the divine side, and by their own faith on 
their part. By reason of this union they have fellowship 
with Christ in his graces, in his sufferings, in his death, in 
17 257 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

his resurrection, and in his glory, so that they are one with 
him all through. He is identified with his people, and car- 
ries them with him, as it were, through every stage of his 
mediatorial career. They have obedience in him, they suffer 
with him, they are crucified together with him, they are raised 
from the dead in him, and in the end they are glorified to- 
gether with him. This union, moreover, is of such a nature 
that the personal individuality of each believer is preserved, 
and they are not partakers of the Godhead of Christ, so as to 
become his equal. They are partakers of the divine nature, 
but not of the divine essence, so that they are not raised to 
the plane of deity. To say that they are is impious and 
blasphemous. In the light of certain theological views, 
founded upon a semi-pantheistic philosophy, this is a very 
valuable statement for the present day. 

2. From the union of believers with Christ and their fel- 
lowship in him, it follows that they are united with one 
another in love, as the partakers of a common spiritual life in 
Christ. They liave fellowship or communion in each other's 
gifts and graces, and are under obligation as brethren in 
Christ to the performance of such duties, private and public, 
as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and 
the outward man. As members of the body of Christ, 
they are to cherish and nourish one another, mindful that if 
one member suffers all suffer, and if one is honored all are 
honored with it. This communion is to be extended, as God 
offereth opportunity, to all those who in every place call 
upon the name of the Lord Jesus. It is very evident that 
the Confession does not teach close communion. By reason 
of the communion of saints they are bound to maintain an 
outward fellowship and communion with each other in the 
worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual ser- 
vices as tend to promote their mutual edification. They are 
also to show their fellowship in a practical way by reUeving 
each other in outward things, according as they have need 

The Communion of Saints, and Keligious TVonsHir. 259 

•e one with 
le, and car- 
itage of his 
, they suffer 
y are raised 
glorified to- 
ch a nature 
} preserved, 
ist, so as to 
rine nature, 
ot raised to 
npious and 
;ical views, 
is is a very 

ad their fel- 
d with one 
ritual life in 
each other's 
brethren in 
and public, 
inward and 
of Christ, 
idful that if 
Dred all are 
ded, as God 
r place call 
evident that 
By reason 
maintain an 
)ther in the 
piritual ser- 
. They are 
by reUeving 
J have need 

and are able. Here, again, one of those wise qualifications 
in which the Standards abound appears. The Confession, 
to guard against a perverted communism, says that the com- 
munion of the saints with one another does not take away 
or infringe the title or property which each man has in his 
goods and possessions. This statement is all-important in 
relation to some modern socialistic theories which try to 
claim the New Testament in their support. 

3. What the Larger Catechism says regarding the com- 
munion of saints may be set down under a separate head. 
It relates chiefly to the union and communion which they 
have in Christ, and it is said to be twofold in its nature. It 
is a communion in grace here, and a communion in glory 
hereafter. As the former, it consists in the fact that all the 
members of the invisible church, being united with Christ, 
partake in the virtue of his mediation, in their justification, 
adoption, and sanctification, together with all else that in 
this life manifests their union with him. As to the latter, 
the communion in glory which believers have in this life, 
immediately after death, at the resurrection, and at the day 
of judgment, have a very full statement. The members of 
<AQ body of Christ, the invisible church, have given to them 
in this life the first-fruits of glory with Christ, and so they 
are in him interested in that glory which he fully possesses. 
As a foretaste of this they enjoy the sense of God's love, 
peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, and hope of 
glory. On the contrary, the sense of God's wrath, horror 
of conscience, and fearful-looking for of judgment, are to the 
wicked in this life the foretastes of the torments which they 
shall endure in the world to come. After death, the saints 
are immediately made perfect in holiness, as to their souls, 
and are received into the highest heavens, where they behold 
the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full re- 
demption of their bodies, which even in death being united 
to Christ and resting in their graves till the resurrection, 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

shall be reunited to their souls at the last day. Thereafter, 
their communion with Christ and with one another shall be 
complete and perpetual in glory. The idea of the church, 
especially of the invisible church, which underlies the com- 
munion of the saints in Christ and with one another, is re- 
served for fuller discussion in its proper place under the 
question of the church of God, which comes up a little 
later on. 

II. Religious Worshij) and the Sabbath-day are Next to he 

For this topic the Confession alone is available, though it 
is interesting to note the fact that some of the command- 
ments, especially the first, second, and fourth, are here in 
sight, and that this is the only place in the Confession where 
the commandments are in view. The importance of the 
fourth commandment is plainly evident from the fact that, in 
addition to all that is said in the Catechism about it, the 
Confession lays almost equal stress upon it in connection with 
what it has to say in regard to the time for public worship. 

1. The duty of the worship of God has both a natural and 
a revealed basis and sanction. The Confession says that the 
light of nature shows that there is a God who has lordship 
and sovereignty over all, and who is good, and does good to 
all. This being the case, the light of nature further indicates 
that this God shovild be feared, loved, praised, called upon 
and trusted in with all the heart, and with all the soul, and 
with all the might. This is natural religion pure and simple, 
which, by reason of sin, has been sorely perverted and sadly 
corrupted. As a matter of fact, this ideal state of natural 
religion could exist only among unfallen sinless beings, such 
as man was prior to the apostasy of the fall. Yet in all these 
discussions, and the light of modern evolutionary theories of 
the origin of the religious nature of man, it is of the utmost 
importance to vindicate the reality of the native, or con- 
natural religious factor in the human constitution. 



shall be 
he com- 
Br, is re- 
ider the 
a little 

S'ext to he 

though it 
B here in 
on where 
;e of the 
ct that, in 
lut it, the 
ction with 
atural and 
^s that the 
s lordship 
les good to 
r indicates 
ailed upon 
3 soul, and 
md simple, 
I and sadly 
of natural 
eings, such 
in all these 
theories of 
the utmost 
ve, or con- 

The Communion of Saints, and Eeliqious Wouship. 261 

2. The Confession indicates very clearly that the true 
mode of worship must be revealed to mankind as they are 
now, so it says that the acceptable way of worshipping the 
true God is instituted by himself, and must be according to 
his revealed will. As limited by what God has made known, 
it is clear that he ought not to be worshipped according to 
the ideas or devices of men, or in accordance with the sug- 
gestions of Satan. Moreover, no visible representation is to 
be used in worship, and throughout he is not to be wor- 
shipped in any other way than is directed in the Scriptures. 

3. As to the object of worship a further remark may be 
made. God alone is the object to be worshipped, but it is 
God in the aspect of the Trinity. The Father, the Son and 
the Holy Ghost are alike to be worshipped, and equally to 
be adored. Nor is the worship due unto the triune God to 
be given to any other. Hence, neither angels, saints, nor 
any other creatures are to be worshipped or reverenced in 
a religious way. This destroy^^ the Romish doctrine and 
practice at one sweeping blow. The Confession adds at this 
point, with great propriety, that since the fall man cannot 
present his worship, adoration and praise without a mediator, 
and this mediator is Christ alone. The intervention of crea- 
ture mediators is entirely excluded by this simple statement. 
This, again, refutes the Romish views at another point. 

4. The parts or elements of worship are next set forth in 
the Confession. It is very interesting to observe that wliat 
the Confession includes in worship is in a large measure 
treated of in connection with the means of grace, as for ex- 
ample prayer and the reading of the Scriptures. There is 
no contradiction in this arrangement, for acts of true worship 
are means of grace, and the means of grace to be real must 
also be acts of worship. The parts of worship are now 

. First, Prayer with thanksgiving is mentioned at the outset 
as a special part of religious worship. God requires this of 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

all men. To be acceptable, prayer must be oflfered in the 
name of the Son, by the help of the Spirit, and in accordance 
with the will of God. This gives the medium, the helper, 
and the rule of prayer. In the name of Christ, by the aid of 
the Spirit, and according to the revealed will of God is prayer 
to be made. Prayer is further to be oflfered with understand- 
ing, and in a spirit of reverence and humility. Moreover, it 
should be marked by fervency, faith, love and perseverance, 
in order to be true religious worship, and so be acceptable 
to God. Prayer may be either silent communion or vocal 
utterance. When vocal the Confession says that it should 
be in a known tongue. 

Prayer is to be made for things lawful, and for all sorts of 
men living, or that shall live hereafter ; but prayer is not to 
be offered for the dead. This, again, is a warning against 
the evil practices of Rome. Nor is prayer to be offered for 
those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the 
sin unto death. This statement must, of course, be taken 
with care, and no hasty judgment acted on as to whether 
any given man has been guilty of this dreadful sin. 

Secondly, The reading of the Scriptures is another import- 
ant part of religious worship. This includes not only the 
public reading, but also the sound preaching, and the con- 
scionable hearing of the word by the people. This reading of 
the Scriptures, and the proper preaching and hearing of the 
word, is to be marked by obedience to God, and with under- 
standing, faith, and reverence. This is regarded as very im- 
portant, and the Presbyterian Church can only be true to her 
Standards and her history when she gives a large place to 
the reading, exposition and preaching of the word in her 
religious services. 

Thirdly, Some other parts of worship need only be men- 
tioned. Praise, in the form of singing of psalms with grace 
in the heart, is to have a place in worship. It is curious to 
note the fact that hymns are not mentioned b^ name at this 

' m 

in the 
3 aid of 
; prayer 
lover, it 
)r vocal 


sorts of 
LS not to 

fered for 
aned the 
be taken 


r import- 
only the 
the con- 
ceading of 
ing of the 
ith under- 
s very im- 
rue to her 
e place to 
3rd in her 

y be men- 
with grace 
curious to 
ime at this 

The Communion of Saints, and Religious Worship. 263 

point ; but doubtless the scriptural terms, " psalms, hymns, 
and spiritual songs," are properly included under the word 
psalms in the Standards. Still, it is well to give the psalms 
in some form a prominent place in the service of praise in 
public worship. The due administration and worthy receiv- 
ing of the sacraments instituted by ( 'irist are also parts of 
worship. Hence, they are to be regarded as important and 
solemn parts of the ordinary religious worship of God. No 
exposition of the sacraments is now made, as they will come 
up later on for full explanation. The fact that they are acts 
of worship is what is now emphabized. As special acts of 
worship several things are noted in the Standards. Religious 
oaths and vows, solemn fastings and special thanksgivings, 
are in their several times and seasons to be used in a holy 
and religious manner. 

5. The place of worship is next expounded, and the teach- 
ing of the Confession is here broad and sensible. No part of 
religious worship now, under the gospel, is either tied unto, 
or made more acceptable by, any place in which it is per- 
formed, or towards which it is directed. God is everywhere 
and may be worshipped at all places in spirit and in truth. 
Hence, in private families domestic worship is to be observed. 
Secret prayer is to be made by each one by himself. In 
both of these cases it ought to be offered daily. Then, also, 
in public assemblies, even in a more solemn way, God is to 
be worshipped; and this public worship is not to be care- 
lessly or wilfully neglected, or forsaken when God by his 
word and providence calleth thereto. Thus, the duty of 
private, domestic, and public worship, in all it8 parts and 
proportions, is to be diligently observed. 

6. Some very important statements are finally made in the 
Confession in regard to the time or occasion of religious 
worship. Here the Sabbath law in its bearing upon religious 
worship is expounded. It is presented in a twofold way; 
first as a law of nature, and then as a law of God. Of course, 

I " 


The Presbyterian Standards. 



I- i 

both arc from God as their author. Each is briefly ex- 

Flrsty The Confession merely assumes the natural basis for 
a time to be set apart for worship. It is taken to be a law oi 
nature that a due proportion of our time be set apart for the 
worship of God. By the law of nature is here meant, that 
upon the constitution of the natural order of which man is 
an important part the Sabbath law is engraved. Even in- 
animate nature has it, and the brute creation more clearly 
exhibits it, in the demand for rest which their welfare re- 
quires. But on man's nature, in the sphere of natural reli- 
gion, this law still more clearly appears. The Confession at 
this point, it is most striking to observe, says nothing much 
about rest, but lays stress upon the fact of worship. This is 
proper at this point. When the Sabbath law is fully ex- 
pou:ided later on, both rest and worship will be seen to enter 
into its demands. But now, when the special time for wor- 
ship is under consideration, it is proper that the religious 
aspects of the holy day should be made prominent. Even 
natural religion points to the Sabbath as a religious insti- 

Secondly^ The Sabbath as the proper season for worship 
is also a matter of revelation. In the Scriptures, by a posi- 
tive, morrJ and perpetual commandment, binding on men in 
all ages, God has particularly appointed one day in seven 
for a Sabbath to be kept holy unto him. From the begin- 
ning of the world to the resurrection of Christ it was the last 
day of the week ; and since his resurrection it was changed 
to the first day. In the Scripture this is often called the 
Lord's day, and it is to be continued to the end of the world 
as the Christian Sabbath. In this way the Confession statea 
briefly the divine authority of the Sabbath law in its relation 
to the worship of God. 

As to the way in which the Sabbath is to be kept in its 
relation to public worship, the Confession has also something 


The Communion of Saints, and Religious Worship. 265 

to say. There must be due preparatiou. The Sabbath is kept 
holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparation of 
their hearts and ordering of their common affairs before- 
hand, ent-^r upon the worship of God. Thus, both the out- 
ward and the inward life have to be prepared lind ordered 
aright. Then the actual observance of the worship properly 
follows. This is twofold. There is to be rest and also wor- 
ship ; but the rest is in order to the worship. In the rest 
there is to be cessation all the day from the works, words, 
and thoughts about worldly employments and recreations 
such as lawful upon other days. This is what is sometimes 
not very correctly called the civil side of the Sabbath. But 
there is also to be worship, for the Confessioii with great 
force asserts that the whole time of the day is to be taken 
up with the public and private exercises of religious worship, 
and in the duties of necessity and mercy. 

It is not necessary to enter upon the many lines of serious 
reflection which very naturally occur to the earnest mind at 
this point. In a closing remark it is emphasized that Pres- 
byterians, by their Standards, are committed to a well- 
defined doctrine of the Sabbath, in its bearing upon religious 
worship. According to this doctrine, the Sabbath is not fully 
kept by simply resting from toil and play. 

Religious worship is to have a place, and the whole day is 
to be spent in worship, public and private, and in doing 
works of necessity and mercy. The merely civil theory of 
the Sabbath may be all that the state should enforce, but this 
is not half of the doctrine of the Sabbath, according to the 
Standards. The rest enjoined is not merely for itself, but 
also in order to engage in worship, and to do deeds of mercy. 
At the present day, the proper scriptural observance of the 
Sabbath is one of the burning questions which rightly en- 
gages the earnest attention of the Christian world. If the 
Sabbath is lost, then religion will surely decline. Perhaps the 
best test of the degree in which a community is thoroughly 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

Christian is to be found in the way in which the Sabbath-day 
is observed. And this rest, to have religious value, must not 
bo merely an enforced civil rest, but a holy rest, and a 
devout worship of hira who is the Lord of the Sabbath. In 
Old Testament times severe national and other calamities 
came upon the Israelites for their neglect or violation of the 
Sabbath ; and, since the Sabbath law is still binding under 
the New Testament dispensation, the same disasters may fall 
upon those who heed not the Sabbath, which is to be kept 
holy unto the Lord. 

It is easy to see that there are influences at work in modern 
civilization in Christian communities which compel serious 
reflection on the part of all who love the institutions of our 
holy religion. The massing of multitudes in large city cen- 
tres, the development of inventions in various industrial ac- 
tivities, the formation of large soulless corporations, and the 
increase of the worldly temper even among Christians, are 
some of the things which are insensibly, but very really, af- 
fecting the practice of Sabbath observance. Surely it shall 
not be that the Presbyterian Church will ever fail to uphold 
the sanctity of the Sabbath. She must be true to her history 
and her Standards, and then she shall be true to God, the 
church, and the nation. 




SnoBTEK Cateohism, 88 00; Lakokk CATKoirisM, 98, 99, and 153-100; 

Confession of Faith, XIX. 

FOR two chapters the discussion has been almost entirely 
upon the ground of the Confession, but this chapter 
carries the exposition over to the Catechisms. It is only 
in an indirect way that the Confession treats of the means 
of grace, for while it discusses, in part, some of the same 
topics, it docs not deal with them in their bearing upon the 
means whereby the Christian life is guided and advanced. The 
Catechisms, however, do this in a direct and formal manner. 

The field now to ae traversed in this exposition is quite 
extensive, so that four or five chapters will be required to 
explain properly what the Standards teach concerning the 
means of grace. It is believed that the exposition now to 
be made will go far to show that the Standards give due 
prominence to the personal and practical sides of the Chris- 
tian life ; and in doing so they unfold one of the most com- 
plete ethical systems, on a purely Christian and scriptural 
basis, that the world has ever seen. It is well to keep this 
fact in mind, for the objection is sometimes made against the 
Standards that they give too much attention to abstract doc- 
trine, and not enough to the practical duties of the Christian 
life. In this connection it may be safely asserted that the 
Standards, taken as a whole, present doctrine and duty in 
their proper proportions, and in their correct relations. 
Sound doctrine is made the basis of correct Hfe, and true 
Christian ethics in life is seen to be the product of a gracious 
experience in the heart. This relation bd;ween doctrine and 
duty, between dogma and life, is one of vital importance. 

The Standards divide the means of grace into three 



The Presbyterian Standards. 


branches. These are known as the word, the sacraments, 
and prayer. Each of these branches must have due atten- 
tion given to it. Speaking in n general way, all divine ordi- 
nances are means of grace, so that in addition to the three 
things just menl/ioned there are others, such as providential 
dealings of blessing or affliction, and the fellowship which 
believers have with each other, which would have to be 
taken into account in a full exposition of the means of grace. 
The Standards suggest this when they state that the outward 
and ordinary means of grace are the ordinances of God, and 
then go on to say, especially the word, sacraments, and 
prayer, and then proceed to give a full exposition of these 
three main branches of these means. This chapter will 
begin the explanations to be made concerning the word of 
God as an important means of grace, and it will set forth 
some general points in relation thereto, so as to prepare the 
way for the exposition of the ten commandments in two sub- 
sequent chapters. 

These means of grace just mentioned are called outward 
and ordinary. This means that the reading and preaching 
of the word, the oV 3rvance of the sacraments, and the exer- 
cise of prayer, are the usual and external means by which 
Christ and the benefits of grace are conveyed to the believer, 
so that his spiritual life is purified and expanded thereby. 
The word outward indicates the relation of these means of 
grace to the believer, and suggests the contrast with the work 
of the Holy Spirit, and the exercise of the believer's faith, 
which may be termed the inward means of grace. The term 
ordinary relates to the fact that by these means in general 
the work of sanctification is usually furthered, and the con- 
trast is here suggested with unusual means of grace which 
are occasional in their nature, as may sometimes be seen in 
the dispensations of providence, or growing out of the inter- 
course of believers with one another. These are temporary 
means of grace^ 

The Means of Grace ; General View ; The Word. 269 

It is worthy of further remark that the term ineans has a 
well-defined signification. As means of grace the word, the 
sacraments, and prayer, are mere ^.hannels through which 
grace is conveyed by divine appointment. In no proper 
sense are they agents, or are they possessed of inherent 
efficiency in themselves. The real agent in sanctification is 
the Holy Spirit. He it is who uses the word, or the sacra- 
ments to the spiritual benefit and growth in grace of be- 
lievers, but these ordinances ar in themselves ineflfectual to 
this end. And on the believer's part the exercise of faith, 
which itself is due to the Spirit's work, is the condition of 
the spiritual efficacy of these means. There is no inherent 
virtue in any of these mec-ns, as will be seen more fully later 
on. The Spirit's work and the office of faith are needed. 

The Catochiems present these means of grace from still 
another point of view. The question is raised as to the 
things which God requires of men that they may escape his 
wrath and curse due to them for their sins. The answer 
is threefold. They must have faith in Christ, repentance 
toward God, and a diligent use of the outward and ordinary 
means whereby Christ gives to them the benefits of his 
mediation, l.^^rom this point of view they are means of sal- 
vation, in the full sense of the term. But, without further 
delay, the general exposition of the word as a means of grace 
must be entered on. 

This is really the third time in the course of these exposi- 
tions that the "Word of God has been up for discussion. The 
first time was in the third chapter, where Holy Scripture ^vas 
considered as the rule of faith and life, and as the only au- 
thoritative source of Christian doctrine. Tlie second time 
vvas in the nineteenth chapter, where the law of God in vari- 
ous aspects and for several uses was expounded. And now, 
in this chapter and the two following ones, the word of God 
is to be viewed as the means used for the expansion of the 
spiritual life of the believer. This supplies, also, the rule of 
Cliristian ethics. 


! 1 ,:fi 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

The duty which God requires of man is obedience to his 
revealed will. The rule which God at first revealed to man 
for his obedience was the moral law. This law was first 
written in man's moral constitution, and is implied in the fact 
that he is a moral agent. It was afterwards more clearly and 
definitely revealed in the Scriptures, wherein the great prin- 
ciples of the divine law and moral government are unfolded. 
This moral law is again summed up in the ten command- 
ments, and it is from this point that the present exposition 
of the Standards takes its departure. But before the com- 
mandments are explained in order, there are several im- 
portant things, based chiefly upon the Larger Catechism, 
which may properly occupy the remainder of this chapter. 

I. The Word and its Use may he First Defined. 

The word of God is, or is contained in, the Scriptures of 
the Old and New Testaments. The Larger Catechism says 
that the Scriptures are the word of God, while the Shorter 
says that the word of God is contained in the Scriptures; 
and this difference of statement has given rise to a good dep ! 
of controversy. The Confession virtually settles the debate 
in favor of the view which makes the word of God and the 
Scriptures virtually identical, when it says, after giving a full 
list of all the books of the Bible, that they are all given by 
inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life. The 
Scriptures, therefore, are the inspired word of God. It is 
called Holy Scripture because it is in written form ; and it is 
profitable in furnishing the man of God unto all good works. 

The summary of the moral law is given in the ten com- 
mandments, four of which announce man's duty to God, and 
six his dutv to his fellowmen. Our Lord, in a matchless 
manner, condensed these ten commands into two. The first 
is to love God with the whole heart, and soul, and mind, and 
strength, d,nd the second is to love our neighbors as our- 
selves. On these two commands, says our Lord, hang all 
tho iaw and the prophets ; in other words, the whole of the 


The Mea^s of Grace ; General View ; The Word. 271 

e to his 
to man 
■v^as first 
the fact 
arly and 
Bat prin- 
he com- 
reral im- 

iptures of 
hism says 
le Shorter 
Scriptures ; 

good dep I 
fche debate 
od and the 
Lving a full 
11 given by 

life. The 
5rod. It is 
I ; and it is 
ood works, 
e ten com- 
God, and 
, matchless 
, The first 
L mind, and 
3rs as cnr- 
d, hang all 
hole of the 

Scriptures. This twofold form of the moral law is all-com- 
prehensive, for if a man love God supremely he will keep 
the first four commands, and if he love his neighbor as him- 
self he will observe the duties laid down in the second table 
of the law. Thus love is seen to be the fulfilling of the law, 
and that if men love God they will keep his commandments. 

The Larger Catechism adds that though all are not allowed 
to read the word publicly to the congregation, yet all sorts 
of people are bound to read it apart by themselves, and with 
their families. The obligation thus rests upon all men, and 
great responsibility is incurred if this private and domestic 
reading of the Scriptures is not attended to. To repudiate 
the obligation does not free any man from the duty. In 
order that the word may be read intelligently by all men, it 
is to be translated out of the original languages in which it 
was written into vhe common tongue of all the peoples of the 
world. This teaching is opposed to the practice of Kome, 
which, to a large extent, discourages the reading of the Scrip- 
cures by the common people. This is one of the strong 
contentions of the Protestant against the Romanist. The 
Scriptures are to be in every man's hand in his own common 
tongue, so that he may read the will of God and be made 
wise unto salvation thereby. 

The preaching of the word in a public manner is only to 
be done by those who are sufficiently gifted, and are duly 
approved and called to the office. This relates to the official 
proclamation of the word, and of the gospel message thereby. 
Those who would discharge this holy service are to have 
suitable gifts, not merely intellectual, but, above all, spiritual; 
and these gifts are to be so expanded and cultivated in the 
knowledge of the Scriptures that they may instruct and edify 
others. The call of God's Spirit and providence must lead 
them to seek and enter the office, and the approval of God's 
people, not merely in their individual capacity, but also in 
their corporate capacity, as constituted into what is called a 

: I 


ii ' 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

church court. Such only are to preach the word. It is 
worth while observing, at this point, that the Standards give 
no favor to preaching by women. Even the comparative 
silence of the Standards upon this subject cannot be adduced 
in favor of this practice ; for at the time when they were 
drawn up the question of women preaching was not even 
raised. Hence, the supposed silence of the Standards upon 
the matter is no argument in its support. 

The last remark to be made under this liead is one which 
has been hinted at already in a general way. The word is 
made effectual to the elect for salvation only by the blessing 
of the Holy Spirit thereon. It is the Spirit alone who makes 
the reading, and especially the preaching, of the v^ord an 
effectual means of grace and salvation. Here, again, as so 
often, the Standards emphasize the necessity and efdcacy of 
the Holy Spirit for all true religious experiences. 

II. The Effects of the Word as Read, Preached, and Made 
Effectual hy the Holy Spirit may he Next Noted. 

To a certain extent what was said In the nineteenth chapter 
is repeated here, in regard to the uses of the word or law of 
Uod to all men, and to the unregenerate and regenerate, re- 
spectively. First, By means of the message of the word, 
made oflfectual oy the Spirit, sinners are enlightened, con- 
vinced and humbled. These are three important factors. 
The mind is enlightened in the knowledge of itself, the con- 
science is convinced of its sinful, guilty state, and the sinner 
himself is humbled in the sight of Gcd, as the message of 
the word comes to him. Next, the result of tlie m*^ssage of 
the word is to drive sinners out of themselves, and d^-aw them 
unto Christ. This is an admirable statement. By means of 
the truth ot God the sinner is led to feel and see that he 
cannot do what is necessary to redeem and save himself, and 
he is aloo led to see that in Christ all that is needful has been 
provided and secured, so that he abandons all efforts to save 
himself, and turns, with penitent heart and ready feot, to the 

; I 



^ord. It is 
Indards give 
' be adduced 
they were 
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The word is 

the blessing 

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The Means of Grace ; General View ; The Word. 273 

Lord Jesus Christ, to find peace by believing on him. The 
third result of the word is that sinners, having been led to 
Christ, are by means of the word conformed to his image, 
and subdued to his will. The nature of the believing sinner 
is made like that of Christ, and his will is brought into har- 
mony with that of his Master. A further result of the word 
is seen in the fact that believers are thereby greatly strength- 
ened against temptations and corruptions. The word be- 
comes a means of defence, even as Jesus found it to be in 
his wilderness temptation. And, finally, the crowning result 
of the word as a means of grace is that believers are built up 
in grace and knowledge, and are established in holiness and 
comfort, through faith unto salvation. They are sanctified 
through the truth, the word of God being that truth. Thus, 
every step in the believer's experience is marked out dis- 
tinctly, under the operation of the Spirit working by and 
with the word in his mind and heart. Here there is convic- 
tion, faith in Christ, likeness to Christ, spiritual defence, and 
complete salvation in the end. 

III. A I'hird Practical Question Relates to the Way in 
which the Word is to he Head, Preached and Heard. 

The Catechisms both speak upon this point, the Larger ex- 
panding the statement of the Shorter considerably. The points 
here are now noted in order. First, There must be high and 
reverent esteem for the Scriptures. This esteem is necessary to 
lead men to give heed to the message which they contain. If 
men have not a high regard for the Scriptures they are not 
likely to pay much heed to what they utter. Then, Secondly^ 
There is to be a firm persuasion that the Scriptures are the 
very word of God, and that he alone can enable us to under- 
stand them. Here there are two related things. On the-one 
hand, the word must be read and heard with the firm con- 
viction that it is a message from God, ana not merely a 
human voice ; and on the other hand, it is to be kept in mind 
that only he who gave the Scriptures by the spirit of inspi- 



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The Presbyterian Standards. 

I I 

■ ! 



' I 


ration can enable men to understand them by the spirit of 
illumination. Thirdly, The reading and preaching of the 
word must be attended to with a sincere desire to know, be- 
lieve, and obey the will of God therein revealed. Hence, all 
idle speculations, or mere literary or philosophic aims, are to 
be set aside, and there should be an earnest desire to find 
out the will of God for present duty, by the reading and the 
preaching of the word of God. It is instructive to note the 
force of the three stages in these results of the word of God. 
There is knowledge of, then faith in, and, last of all, obedi- 
ence to, the will of God. And they are mentioned in their 
proper order, for the end of both knowledge and faith is to 
obey the will of God, and so fulfil the end of our being. 
Fourthly, The word must be diligently heeded, by giving 
attention to the matter and scope of the Scriptures. This 
enjoins an intelligent, thorough and comprehensive study of 
the Scriptures. The importance of this is evident, and need 
not be insisted on. Finally, the word is to be preached and 
heard with meditation, application, self-denial and prayer. 
The Shorter Catechism sums up this point and the preceding 
one by saying that the word must be attended to with dili- 
gence, preparation, and prayer. The Larger Catechism under 
this last head sets down four words of much meaning. There 
is to be meditation of a serious and devout nature, application 
of an earnest and painstaking sort, self-denial, if necessary, 
of time and comfort, and. above all, prayer for that Spirit of 
all grace v/bich alone can make the word effectual unto sal- 
vation. Thus, the word, dwelling in believers in all wisdom 
and spiritual understanding, causes them to grow up in all 
things after the likeness of him who hath called them to 
glory and virtue. 

IV. This Chapter at this Point may Brief y Set Down a few 
things which the Larger Catechism Mentions for the Benefit of 
those who are to he Preachers of the Word. 

There is here given, in answer to a single question, an ex- 



he spirit of 
ling of the 
) know, be- 
Hence, all 
aims, are to 
sire to find 
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to note the 
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at, and need 
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ow up in all 
led them to 

! Down a few 
he Benefit of 

stion, an ex- 

The Means of Grace \ General View ; The Word. 275 

ceedingly complete outline of homiletical advice, to which 
ministers of the gospel will do well to give earnest heed. 
Little more than the headings can be set down here. 

First, The word is to be preached soundly. All those who 
are called to labor in the ministry of the word are to preach 
sound doctrine. The mind of the Spiiit as set forth in tho 
word is to be declared, and cunningly-devised fables are to 
be avoided. And the whole truth, in its proper scriptural 
proportions, is to be preached. Secondly, The word is to bo 
preached diligently. The preacher is to be earnest and 
active in his work. In season, and out of season, he is to 
sow the seed beside all waters, and then leave the result with 
him who sends him to preach. Thirdly, The minister is to 
preach the word plainly. He is to so speak that the people 
can understand the whole counsel of God in the matter of 
duty and salvation. He is not to use enticing words of man's 
wisdom and seek to gain thereby the praise of man, but he 
is to seek to so preach that his words may be in demon- 
stration of the Spirit and with power. He is to be simply a 
herald. Fourthly, The word is to he faithfally preached by 
the minister of the gospel. He is to keep nothing back. He 
is to be faithful to him whose message he bears, faithful to 
those to whom the message is sent, and faithful to himself. 
This fidelity is a very important factor in the case. Fifthly ^ 
The minister must preach the word wisely. He is to have 
the wisdom of the serpent. He will thus seek to adapt the 
message to the condition and needs of the hearers, whether 
warning, rebuke, exhortation, invitation, or consolation. He 
will also seek to adapt the message to the capacities of his 
hearers. The learned and the ignorant, the young and the 
old, will all be thought of and provided for. Sixthly, The 
message of the word is to be declared zealously. The message 
is all-important, and it should be declared with zeal. This 
zeal should be begotten, not of a desire for personal fame, but 
of a fervent love of God, and a tender regard for the souls of 




.1 > 



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■ii I 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

men. This zeal will prompt to great earnestness. ^Seventhly, 
The word is to be preached sincerely. Selfish ends or aims are 
to be laid aside, and the glory of God in the conversion, edifi- 
cation and salvation of the hearers should be the controlling 
motive of the preacher. If thus preached, the word will be 
quick and powerful, and fruitful in the salvation of souls. 
, V. This Chapter may Properly Close with a Brief Statement 
of the Rules which the Larger Catechism Lays Down for the 
Interpretation of the Word. 

These rules are of the utmost importance in their bearing 
upon the exposition of the ten commandments to be made in 
the two following chapters. There are eight rules, as follows : 

1. The perfection of the law of God is to be kept in mind. 
As perfect, it binds in the whole man, and to full conformity, 
forever. The utmost perfection in every duty is required, 
and the least degree of sin is forbidden. 

2. The spirituality of the law is also to be remembered. 
It is a law which reaches to the mind, will, heart, and all the 
other powers of the soul, as well as to words, works, and 
gestures. In the explanation of some of the commandments 
this is a valuable rule. 

3. The relations of the commands in the law are to be kept 
in view. One and the same thing, in divers respects, is re- 
quired and forbidden in several commandments. This must 
be carefully noted in all cases. 

4. When a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbid- 
den, and vice versa. When a promise is annexed, a contrary 
threat is implied, and vice versa. This is a very compre- 
hensive rule- 

5. What God forbids is never to be done. His command 
is always duty, yet every duty is not to be done at all times. 
This rule naturally opens the door for the casuist to enter 
with his subtilties. 

6. Under one sin or duty, all of the same kind are forbid- 
den or commanded, together with all tl)e causes, means. 

The Means of Grace; General View; The Word. 277 

occasions, appearances, and provocations connected there- 
with. This is also a far-reaching rule. 

7. What is forbidden or commanded to ourselves, we are 
to seek that it may be avoided or performed by others, ac- 
cording to the duty of our several places and relations. 

8. In what is commanded to others, we are bound to be 
helpful to them according to our places and callings. We 
are also to take heed not to be partakers with others in what 
is forbidden to them. 

These important rules stated in the Larger Catechism show 
how complete the Standards are on the practical side. Just 
as in the previous section there was much sensible homileti- 
cal advice given to those who preach the word, so here there 
are useful hermeneutical hints in regard to the interpretation 
of the Scriptures. The hints bear partly upon the exposi- 
tion of the doctrines of the gospel and partly upon the dis- 
covery of the whole duty of the Christian man. Let all who 
read th o Scriptures seel^ to follow the hints these rulet* supply. 


t f 




SuoRTEK Catechism, 43-63; Lakoek Catechism, 101-121; Confession of 

Faith, . 

THE exposition of the commandments in order is now to 
be proceeded with, and in this chapter a, brief outline 
of the contents of the first table of the law will be given. 
This table contains four commands, and in these man's duties 
to God are set forth. It is important to note the fact that in 
the decalogue the duties of man to God are mentioned first, 
and that his duties to his fellow men are stated afterwards. 
The order of the facts is the same as in the Lord's prayer, 
which has petitions that terminate upon God before those 
which relate to man are announced. The plan of treatment 
to be followed in this exposition divides the decalogue into 
two tables, with four commands in the one and six in the 
other. Romish theologians combine the first and second 
and divide the tenth, making thus a rather arbitrary arrange- 
ment to serve their own peculiar purposes. 

Both Catechisms call attention to what is known as the 
preface to the commandments. This preface is in these 
words: "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee 
out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." 
The Shorter Catechism says that this teaches us that because 
God is the Lord, and our God and Redeemer, therefore we 
are bound to keep all his commandments. This statement 
the Larger Catechism enlarges considerably. It says that 
this preface manifests God's sovereignty over us, as the 
eternal and immutable Jehovah, and as almighty God. It 
further teaches that God, having his beiwg in and of himself, 
gives being to all his words and works. It indicates, still 

further, the important fact that God is a covenant God, in 


The Means of Grace ; The "Word. 



is now to 
ef outline 
be given, 
in's duties 
act that in 
oned first, 

el's prayer, 

fore those 


ilogue into 
six in the 

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; statement 
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us, as the 
J God. It 
of himself, 
icates, still 
nt God, in 

covenant with Israel, and so with all his people. It hints 
that as he brought Israel out of his bondage in Egypt, so he 
delivers us from our spiritual thraldom. Hence, we are 
bound to take him for our God alone, and to keep all his 
commandments. Thus the preface becomes a solemn intro- 
duction to the very weighty commands which follow. After 
this preface the substance of the several commands, together 
>vdth reasons annexed to some of them, will be taken up in 
their order. 

This chapter has the large task of seeking to expound the 
first table with its four important commands. The Cate- 
chisms both agree in saying that the sum of these four com- 
mands, which set forth our duty to God, is that we are to 
love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our 
soul, and with all our strength, and with all oui mind. This 
is virtually our Lord's summary, and is entirely complete. 
In this exposition the plan of the Catechism will be followed 
by stating the commands in order, by setting forth the things 
required and the things forbidden, and by explaining the 
reasons annexed, where there are such. 

I. The First Commandment. 

This command is very brief and to the point : " Thou 
shalt have no other gods before me." This indicates in un- 
mistakable terms what the proper ohject of worship is. It 
is the one living and true God, the triune Jehovah, who is 
the creator of all things and the preserver of all the works of 
his hands, and who is high over all and blessed forevermore. 
He alone is the sole object of worship. 

1. The Duties Required hy this Command. In general, it 
requires us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true 
God, and to worship and glorify him accordingly. The 
Larger Catechism expands this statement by saying that we 
are to think, meditate, remember, highly esteem, honor, 
adore, choose, love, desire, fear, bel'.eve, trust, hope, delight, 
and rejoice in God. Further, we are to be zealous for him. 














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WEBSTrR.N.Y. 14580 

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Canadian Institute for Historical MIcroraproductlons Instltut canadien de microreproductions historlquos 



The Presbyterian Standards. 


call upon him, give him thanks and praise, yield all obedi- 
ence and submission to him in the whole man, be careful to 
please him in all things, and sorry when we in any way offend 
him. We are also to walk humbly with him all our days. 
These are the positive duties here enjoined. 

2. The Sins Forbidden by this Command. In general, we 
are forbidden to deny, or not to worship and glorify the true 
God as God, and the giving the worship and glory to any 
other which are due to him alone. Expanding this state- 
ment under the guidance of the Larger Catechism, atheism, 
or the denial of God in any way, is forbidden. In like 
manner, every form of idolatry, or the having and worship- 
ping of more gods than one, or putting a false god in the 
place of the true God, is condemned. The failure to vouch 
or confess God as our God, or the omission of anything due 
to God, is also forbidden here. Even ignorance of God, for- 
getfulness of his claims, false opinions and unworthy and 
wicked thoughts about him, are to be set aside. So, also, all 
profaneness and hatred of God, as well as self-love and self- 
seeking, are placed under the ban. Further, all inordinate 
setting of mind and heart on other things, and taking them 
off from God, in whole or in part, is to be avoided. Unbe- 
lief, heresy, despair, hardness of heart, pride, carnal security, 
tempting God, carnal delights and joys, blind zeal, luke- 
warmness, deadness of spirit, apostasy from God, all fall 
under the condemnation of the terms of this commandment. 

Specially forbidden here, also, are praying or giving any 
religious worship to saints, angels, or any creature, all com- 
pacts with the devil, or heeding his suggestions, making men 
lords of mind and conscience. So, also, despising God, 
gri'^ving God, grieving his Spirit, discontent under God's 
dispensations, and ascribing the praise of any good we have, 
or can do, to fortune, idols, ourselves, or any other creature 
is absolutely forbidden. 

It is added, by way of further explanation, that the words 


The Means of Grace ; The Word. 


leful to 
I offend 

al, we 
e true 
I to any 
n like 
in the 
ng due 
3d, for- 
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all fall 
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; God, 
e have, 

I words 

"before me," in this command teach us that God, who sees 
and knows all things, takes special notice of, and is much 
displeased with, the sin of having any other gods, or witii 
our giving to any other the honor and service which he alone 
may justly claim. 

II. The Second Commandment. 

This command is much longer in its terms than the first, 
and has some important reasons attached to it. It is as 
follows : " Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, 
or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that 
is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the 
earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve 
them ; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the 
iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and 
fourth generation of them that hate me, and showing mercy 
unto thousands of them that love me and keep my command- 

It will be observed that this command indicates the true 
mode of worship, just as the first pointed out the only object 
of worship. The right manner in which the true God is to 
be properly worshipped is a matter of much importance, for 
many who believe in the one true God err in the mode in 
which they worship him. This command, therefore, is of 
much practical value. 

1. The Duties Required. In general, this command requires 
us to receive, observe, and keep pure and entire, all such re- 
ligious worship and ordinances as God has appointed in his 
word. The Larger Catechism says, further, that particularly 
prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ, the reading, 
preaching, and hearing of the word and the administration 
of the sacraments, are to be regarded as parts of worship. 
Under this command, also, the observance of the government 
and discipline of the church, and the maintenance of the 
ministry thereof, are said to be required by this command. 
Religious fasting, swearing by the name of God, and making 




The Pbesbyterian Standards. 


lawful vows to God, are also to be approved. All false 
modes of worship are to be disapproved, detested, and 
opposed by the requirements of this command. And all 
monuments of idolatry are to be removed as far as possible. 
Here the sphere of foreign missions is open before our eyes. 

2. The /Sins Foi'hiddeii. In a general way, this command 
forbids the worshipping of God by images, or in any other 
way not appointed in his word. The Larger Catechism 
further explains this to include the forbidding of the devis- 
ing, using, or approving in any way, any religious worship 
not instituted by God himself. So, also, the making of any 
repres'^ntations of God, or of any of the persons of the 
Trinity, either in the mind or by any outward image or like- 
ness of any creature whatever, and the worshipping of such 
image as God, or worshipping God by means of it, is con- 
demned. The making of any false deities, and all worship 
or service of them, is forbidden also. Further, all corrup- 
tion of worship of the true God by superstitious devices, all 
human additions to the worship of God, or the omission of 
what is enjoined in the Scriptures by God, whether invented 
by ourselves or received by tradition from others, no matter 
how ancient or widely observed, are condemned by this com- 
mand. Finally, in connection with the mode of worship, all 
simony and sacrilege, all neglect and contempt for the wor- 
ship and ordinances required by God's word, are equally for- 
bidden by the scope of this commandment. 

It will be seen that the exposition given in the Standards, 
both of this command and of the first, is pointed against the 
doctrines of Rome. The first is directed against its idolatry, 
and the second against the use of images, and its unscrip- 
tural additions to religious worship. But the Standards do 
not enter into any controversy upon these questions, so that 
the present explanation need only point out the fact above 
indicated in regard to the attitude of the Standards in rela- 
tion to Ro^e. 


The Means of Grace ; The Word. 


11 false 
d, and 
nd all 
Lir eyes, 
J other 
|e devis- 
of any 
of the 
or like- 
of such 
is con- 
tees, all 
ission of 
3 matter 
lis corn- 
ship, all 
he wor- 
ally for- 

inst the 
ards do 
so that 
t above 
in rela- 

3. 77ie lieasons A ttached to this Command. 

These reasons are found in the latter part of the com- 
mand, and are summed up under three heads in the Cate- 
chisms. First, There is God's sovereignty over us. He is 
our creator, and we are dependent upon him for our being, 
and all our blessings. He is also our moral governor, and 
has a right to require of us whatever is in harmony with the 
conditions of the moral government under which we are 
placed. That we should worship him in the way he ap- 
points, and in no other, naturally follows from this. Secondly, 
God has propriety in us. He has made us with the moral 
nature which we possess; and, having giving it to us, it is 
proper that the return of homage and service which that 
nature can make should be given to him. This divine owner- 
ship of us is a strong reason for the claim which God makes 
upon us for worship. And, Thirdly, God has a zeal for his 
own proper worship. This being the case, all false worship, 
or anything which does not honor the requirements of God, 
as to worship, must be distasteful to him, who will have no 
other to even share the homage which he alone claims ex- 
clusively for himself. And he will surely punish those who 
hate and dishonor him, and richly reward those who love 
and worship and serve him aright. 

III. The Third Commandment. 

This command is a brief one, with a pertinent reason at- 
tached to it, and it is as follows : " Thou shalt not take the 
name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not 
hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." This com- 
mand indicates the suitable spirit or temper in which the 
worship should bo rendered. The name of God, and all that 
is implied therein, is to be hallowed in our hearts. This 
clearly points to the inner spirit which should prompt us to 

1. The DutUs Required ly this Command. 

In general, this command requires the holy and reverent 



The Presbyterian Standards. 


use of God's names, titles, attributes, ordinances, word, and 
works. The Larger Catechism adds some things of import- 
ance, after those above-named from the Shorter Catechism 
are mentioned. The ordinances to be noticed are the word, 
sacraments, prayer, oaths, vows and lots. The works named 
are those by which God makes himself known. All these 
things are to be holily and reverently used in thought and 
meditation, in word and writing. Then, along with these, there 
is to be, on our part, a holy profession, and an answerable 
conversation, which is to be for the glory of God, and the 
good of ourselves and others. Thus, the inner spirit and 
the outer form of worship are to be in harmony. 

2. The Sins Forbidden hy this Command. 

In general, this command forbids all profaning or abusing 
of anything whereby God makes himself known. This com- 
prehensive statement is further explained in the Larger 
Catechism. It forbids the not using God's name as required, 
and also the abuse of that name in an ignorant, vain, irrev- 
erent, profane way, or a superstitious or wicked use of the 
titles, attributes, attributes or works of God. It also forbids 
all blasphemy, perjury, sinful cursing, oaths, vows and lots, 
the violation of lawful oaths and vows, and the fulfilling of 
those which are unlawful. It likewise forbids murmuring at, 
and misapplying of, God's decrees and providences, pervert- 
ing in any way the word of God, holding of false doctrines, 
abusing the name of God to charms, or sinful lusts, or prac- 
tices, reviling or opposing God's truth, grace and ways. 
And, finally, it forbids the profession of religion in hypocrisy, 
the being ashamed of religion, or making one's self ashamed of 
it, by inconsistent walk and conversation, or by backsliding 
from the ways of God. This fully exhibits the false spirit 
in religion which this command condemns in such a forcible 

3. The Reason Annexed to this Command. 

This reason is really a single one, to the effect that, even 

The Means of Grace ; The Word. 


fd, and 



|e word, 


11 these 

;ht and 

}e, there 


and the 

irit and 

liiis corn- 
in, irrev- 
3e of the 
and lots, 
[filling of 
uring at, 


or prac- 
id ways, 
bamed of 
Ise spirit 
t forcible 

iiat, even 

if those who break this command escape punishment from 
men, they will not be allowed to escape the righteous punish- 
ment of God. Because he is the Lord our God his name is 
not to be profaned or abused by us, because if we do so with 
impunity and without penitence, there is in store for us only 
the fearful looking-for of judgment. The authority of God 
as moral ruler assures this result. 

IV. The Fourth Comrnandment. 

This is another of the longer commands, and it is now set 
down at length as follows: "Remember the Sabbath-day to 
keep it holy. Six days slialt thou labor and do all thy work ; 
but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God ; in 
it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy 
daughter, nor thy manservant nor thy maidservant, nor thy 
cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates ; for in six 
days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that 
in them is ; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day and 
hallowed it." 

This command evidently sets forth the mne of worship. 
It enjoins that a suitable season of time shall be set apart for 
the worship of almighty God. Thus, in these four commands 
we have the object, the mode, the spirit, and the time for 
worship all presented by divine authority. 

\. The Dxities Requiredhy this Command. These duties are 
all summed up under three heads. There is to be a holy rest- 
ing and religious worship for the whole day. The duties en- 
joined, in general, are that men shall sanctify and keep holy 
to God all such set times as he has appointed in his word, 
expressly one whole day in seven. This was the seventh 
day from the beginning until the resurrection of Christ, and 
it is to be the first day of the week ever since, and so to con- 
tinue to the end of the world, which is the Christian Sab- 
bath, and in the New Testament is called the Lord's day. 

This holy day is to be kept or sanctified by a holy resting 
all that day, not only from such works as are at other times 



=.. .risaSf 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

sinful, but even from sucli worldly employments and recrea- 
tions as are on other days lawful. In addition, we are to 
make it our delight to spend the hours of the day, except so 
much as may be taken up by works of necessity and mercy, 
in the public and private exercises of the worship of God. 
In order that we may do this aright, we are to prepare our 
hearts and order our business aflfairs beforehand, that we 
may be free that day for its holy duties and privileges. The 
charge of keeping the Sabbath aright lies specially upon the 
governors of families, and other superiors who are bound to 
keep it themselves, and to see that those under their charge 
also keep it. This raises the difficult question as to how far 
the civil magistrate should enact and enforce the Sabbath 
law. It is clear that the Standards announce it to be the 
duty of such authorities to protect the sancti / of the Sab- 
bath-day, but the way and the degree in which this is to be 
done are not prescribed. 

2. The Sins Forhidden hy this Command. In a general 
way, the omission of the duties pertaining to the Sabbath, 
the profaning of the day by idleness, the doing of that which 
is sinful, and all unnecessary thoughts or words or works 
about our worldly employments or recreations, and all care- 
less and negligent performance of the duties of the day are 
condemned. Both work and neglect of worship are for- 
bidden in the case of all men, so that merely resting from 
work or recreation is not the right keeping of the Sabbath, 
if worship be neglected. 

3. The Heasons Annexed to this Comm^and These are four 
in number, as set forth in the exposition of the latter part of 
this command in the Catechisms. First, God allows us six 
days of the week for ourselves, and hence we should be ready 
to give him the seventh which he claims. Secondly^ He chal- 
lenges a special propriety in the seventh day, and his de- 
mand in this case is most reasonable. Thirdly, His own 
example is a strong reason, for he rested the seventh day, 
and, Fourthly, He blessed the Sabbath-day and hallowed it, 

The Means of Grace ; The Word. 


are to 
3ept so 
f God. 
110 our 
liat we 
)on the 
aund to 
how far 
be the 
he Sab- 
is to be 

at which 
)r works 
all care- 
day are 
are for- 
ng from 

are four 
r part of 
ws us six 
be ready 
He chal- 
L his de- 
His own 
;nth day, 
[lowed it, 

so that he who observes it will be blessed. The word " re- 
member," the Larger Catechism says, is worthy of some at- 
tention in this connection in regard to proper Sabbath ob- 

It is to be observed that the Standards do not argue the 
question of the perpetuity of the Sabbath law. They very 
properly assume its perpetual obligation upon all men. 
Nor do they define carefully what are works of necessity 
and mercy, so that each conscience is, to a certain extent, 
left to make its own interpretation, always, however, in har- 
mony with the teaching of the word of God. Whilst the 
Sabbath law, as expounded in the Standards, is very strict, 
it does not prescribe in a minute way the details of its ob- 
servance as the later Jews did. Hence, in no proper sense 
can the teaching of the Standards be called Jewish, or even 
puritanical, in any bad sense. 

As to the perpetual obligation of the Sabbath, it is enough 
to say that it is a law of nature, and hence ever binding ; that 
it existed, and was observed, prior to the formal giving of 
the decalogue at Sinai ; that it is part of a revealed moral 
code, and immutable ; that it has not been revoked by any- 
thing in the New Testament ; that our Lord enforced it by 
word and example; and that the physical, mental, moral, 
and religious needs of mankind demand both the bodily and 
mental rest, as well as the season for worship, which the 
Sabbath law provides. This is one of the commands for 
which Christians of every name need to take a firm and 
faithful stand at the present day. 

This completes the exposition of the first table of the law. 
It gives information in regard to the object, the mode, the 
spirit, and the season for worship. It is evident that, if 
these four commands are carefully observed, they will be 
found to be useful means of grace, building the believer up 
in his most holy faith, through the blessing of God promised 
to accompany these commands when faithfully obeyed. 

I I 








SnoBTER Cateohism, 63-81 ; Larger Cateohism, 132-148 ; Confession op 

Faith, — . 

THIS chapter undertakes to give a brief exposition of the 
second table of the law of God, viewed as a means of 
grace for the believer. This table contains six commands, 
and therein are set forth our duties to our fellowmen in vari- 
ous relations. The exposition here must of necessity be very 
brief, yet it is hoped that it will serve, to some extent, to ex- 
hibit the remarkable system of Christian ethics which the 
Standards inculcate. 

The sum of these six commands is to love our neighbors 
as ourselves, and to do unto others as we wish others to do 
unto us. This, in a twofold form of statement, is our Lord's 
summary of the contents of the second table of the law, and 
as thus stated it is sometimes called the Golden Rule. He 
who rightly regards this rule will surely keep all the six 
commands which make up the second table of the law, and 
he will thereby discharge his duty towards his fellowmen in 
a proper way. The several commands are now to be taken 
up in order, and a very brief exposition of each will be made, 
following quite closely in the order of the Catechisms in 
the explanations made. 

I. The Fifth Commandment. 

This command forms what may be called a connecting 
link between the two tables. It brings us into the family 
circle, and enjoins the duties which children owe to their 
parents, and by implication the duties of parents to their 
children. Thus, after duties to God are laid down, the recip- 
rocal duties of parents and children are set forth, before our 
duties to our fellowmen are exhibited. This command is as 



The Means of Grace ; The Word. 




of the 
sans of 
n vari- 
)e very 

to ex- 
ch tlie 

3 to do 
kW, and 
e. He 
the six 
iw, and 
men in 
3 taken 
e made, 
sms in 

) family 
)0 their 
to their 
le recip- 
[ore our 
ad is as 

follows : " Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days 
may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth 

The Larger Catechism explains, and the Shorter implies, 
that the terms "father and mother" mean not only natural 
parents, but also all superiors in age and gifts, and especially 
such as by the ordinance of God are over us in the place 
of authority, whether in the family, in the church, or in the 
commonwealth. This gives a very broad scope to this com- 
mand. It opens up the way for the exposition of the duties 
which devolve upon the , .en in the sphere of the family, the 
state, and the church. And, further, it is to be kept in mind 
that the duties which men owe to their superiors imply cer- 
tain correlative duties which they owe to them. Hence, 
emerge the relations of superiors, inferiors and equals, with 
their respective duties, as expounded in the Standards. 

1. The Duties Bequired hy this Command. 

In general, it requires men to preserve the honor, and per- 
form the duties, belonging to every one in their several 
places and relations as superiors, inferiors and equals. The 
Larger Catechism explains these manifold duties at great 
length, while the Shorter Catechism merely gives an outline 
of their general scope. Inferiors owe certain duties to supe- 
riors, such as due reverence for them in their heart, word 
and conduct, prayer and thanksgiving for them, imitation of 
their graces, ready obedience to their lawful commands, due 
submission to their corrections, fidelity in the defence of 
their persons and authority, bearing with their infirmities, 
and seeking to be an honor to them and their government. 
This is true of parents, of civil rulers, and of the proper 
officers of the church from those under their care and 

This command also requires certain duties from superiors 
to inferiors. The power which superiors have is from God, 
and it grows out of the relation which they sustain to those 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

tinder them. It is their duty to love, bless, and pray for 
their inferiors ; also to instruct and admonish them, and also 
to commend and reward them when they deserve it. They 
are also to reprove and chastise them when they do ill, and 
at the same time to protect and provide for them all things 
needful for both soul and body. They are also, by grave, 
wise, holy, and exemplary conduct, to procure glory to God, 
and honor to themselves. In this way only can they rightly 
preserve that authority which God has put upon them. This 
is, indeed, a fine code of ethics for all rulers. 

As between equals, it is their duty to regard the dignity 
and worth of each other, in giving honor to go before one 
another, and to rejoice as much in each other's gifts and ad- 
vancements as in their own. This is an exquisite code for 
courtesy in this relation. 

2. The Sins Forhidden hy this Command. 

Speaking generally, this command forbids the neglecting, 
or doing anything against, the honor and duty which belong 
to every one in their several places and relations. The 
Larger Catechism so enlarges this statement that only a 
mere summary of what it says can be given in this exposi- 
tion. The sins of inferiors against superiors are all neglect 
of the duties required, envying their persons or places, hav- 
ing contempt for their counsels and corrections, and such 
profane and scandalous conduct towards them as proves a 
shame to them and their authority. The sins of superiors^ 
besides the neglect of their duties, are all inordinate seeking 
of their own glory, ease, profit, or pleasure, commanding un- 
lawful things, or favoring that which is evil, or discouraging 
that which is good, undue correction, careless exposing of 
them to temptation, or provoking them to anger. Also, all 
dishonoring themselves, or lessening of their proper au- 
thority, is sinful in superiors. The sins in equals consist 
chiefly in neglecting the duties already noted, or being guilty 
of the opposite evil thoughts or deeds. 

The Means of Grace ; The Word. 


3, The liedson Annexed to this Command. 

This reason is simply an express promise of long life and 
prosperity, so far as it shall serve God's glory and their own 
good, to such as keep this commandment. This is a very 
practical promise, which is often seen to be verified among 
men. It is true of families properly regulated, of nations 
rightly governed, and of the church directed according to 
the Scriptures, that they shall be blessed v/ith long life and 
useful service. 

II. The Sixth Commandment. 

" Thou shalt not kill " is the form of this brief but pointed 
command. The one important thing which it emphasizes is 
the sanctity of life, especially of human life. 

1. The Duties Required hy this Command. 

In a general way, this command requires all lawful en- 
deavors to preserve our own life and the life of others. This 
is further explained by the Larger Catechism to include re- 
sistance of all thoughts, subduing all passions, and resisting 
all temptations, which tend to the unjust taking away of the 
life of any. It also requires just defence of life against vio- 
lence, and patient bearing of the hand of God. To the same 
end, a quiet mind, and a cheerful spirit should be cherished, 
and a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labor, and 
recreation ought to be observed. In like manner, the 
thoughts should be kind, and the conduct mild and peace- 
able. The spirit, also, should be forbearing and forgiving, 
and there should be a readiness to help the distressed, and 
to protect the innocent. 

2. The Sins Forbidden hy this Command. 

In general, it forbids the taking away of our own life or the 
life of our neighbor unjustly, or whatsoever tends thereto. 
Hence, the taking away of the life of ourselves or others, 
except in cases of judicial procedure, or lawful war, or neces- 
sary self-defence, are all forbidden by this command. So, 
too, the withdrawing or neglecting the lawful means for the 

I ^ ( 


The Pkesbyterian Standards. 


la . 


preservation of life, sinful anger, desire for revenge, all ex- 
ce!!jai\e passion, and distracting care are forbidden. The 
immoderate use of meat or drink, excessive labor or recrea- 
tion, provoking words, oppression, striking, or whatever else 
tends to the destruction of any one's life, is forbidden by the 
terms of this command. 

Under this head there has been much discussion in regard to 
murder, suicide, capital punishment, self-defence, war, duel- 
ling, and other perplexing topics. Though the Standards do 
not formally discuss any of these questions, yet by the terms 
in which their contents are stated, their teaching upon these 
much-debated points can be pretty well understood. The 
care and compass of the Standards is again evident at this 
juncture. There are many things of '-alue here which bear 
upon personal habits of life, upon social customs, and upon 
the administration of law by the courts, in the teaching of 
the Standards in this connection. 

III. The Seventh Commandment. 

This command is as follows: "Thou shalt not commit 
adultery." It pertains to the relations of the sexes, and en- 
joins chastity, or personal purity. 

1. The Duties Required hy this CoTwmand. 

In a general way, this command requires the preserving of 
our own and our neighbor's chastity in heart, speech, and 
behavior. This implies chastity in body ant. mind, affec- 
tions, words and conduct, and the preservation of it in others. 
It requires us to keep a watch over the eyes and senses, tem- 
perance and keeping chaste company, wearing modest ap- 
parel, marriage under proper conditions, conjugal love and 
fideUty, diligent labor in our callings, avoiding and resisting 
all temptations to the violation of this command. Such are 
some of the main things which this command requires to be 

3. The Sins JFhrhidde?i hy this Command. 

It forbids all unchaste thoughts, words and actions. Be- 


ii E 

The Means of Grace ; The Word. 


all ex- 
er else 
by the 

gard to 
:, duel- 
irds do 
3 terms 
n these 
. The 
at this 
;h bear 
d upon 
hing of 

and eu- 

rving of 
ch, and 
I, aflfec- 
i others, 
les, tjm- 
iest ap- 
ove and 
Juch are 
es to be 

IS. Be- 

sides the neglect of the duties enjoined, adultery, fornication, 
rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts are forbidden. 
Also, all unclean thoughts, corrupt communications, wanton 
looks, and immodest apparel are condemned. The prohibi- 
tion of lawful marriages, tolerating or resorting to stews, 
making vows to celibacy, poligamy or polyandry, unjust 
divorce or desertion, indulging in idleness, drunkenness, un- 
chaste company, lascivious songs, pictures, dancings, stage 
plays, and other temptations to unchastity, are all condemned 
by the scope of this command, as it is expounded in the 

Here, also, there are several questions of vast practical 
moment at the present day which come up for discussion at 
this point, although the Standards do not enlarge upon them. 
The whole painful subject of what is known as the social 
evil, and of the best way to repress or destroy it ; the great 
subject of marriage, and especially of divorce ; and the ques- 
tion of polygamy, especially as it is advocated by the Mor- 
mons, are matters pertinent here upon which much might be 
said. The teaching of the Standards upon all of these subjects 
is clear and strong, and it is scriptural withal. This teach- 
ing deserves to be carefully hee<'ed at the present day. 

IV. The Eighth Cormnandment. 

This command is another very brief one, as follows : " Thou 
shalt not steal." This command raises the great question of 
the origin and nature of property rights. The fact that there 
are such rights is assumed by the Standards, and the con- 
demnation of stealing rests upon this basis. Nothing, there- 
fore, need now be said about the philosophy of these rights. 

1. The Duties Required hy this Command. 

It requires the lawful procuring and furthering of the 
wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others. This 
implies that there must be truth, faithfulness and justice in 
contracts and commerce between man and man, so that every 
man shall receive his due. It demands the restitution to 



The Presbyterian Standards. 








!•■ 1 

rightful owners of goods unlawfully detained, and it requires 
giving or lending freely, according to our ability and the 
necessities of others. There should also be moderation of 
our minds and wills in regard to worldly goods, together 
with industry and economy in our lawful callings, and con- 
cerning our worldly goods or estate; and there should be 
frugality in all our tastes and habits of life. Further, we 
should avoid all unnecessary law suits and suretyships, and 
we should endeavor, by all just and lawful means, to procure, 
preserve and further the wealth and outward estate of others 
as well as our own. Here is the stable basis for all sound 
business transactions. 

2. The Sins Forbidden by this Command. 

It forbids whatever does or may unjustly hinder our own 
or our neighbor's wealth and outward estate. This con- 
demns all such sins as theft, robbery, manstealing, receiving 
stolen goods, dishonest dealing, false weights and measures, 
removing landmarks, injustice in contracts or in matters of 
trust, extortion, usury, bribery, vexatious law suits, engros- 
sing commoditie.'^ to enhance prices, unlawful callings, inordi- 
nate prizing of worldly goods, distracting cares in getting 
and using worldly possessions, envying at the prosperity of 
others, idleness, prodigality, wasteful gaming or gambling, 
and all other ways by which we defraud ourselves of the due 
use and comfort of that estate to which God has given us. 
Such, in part, is the list of sins which are condemned by the 
broad exposition of this command, as it is set forth in the 

Much might be saiu here in regard to this command in its 
bearing upon the ownership of property, especially of pro- 
perty in lands. The relations between labor and capital, and 
the right principles upon which business of all kinds should 
be conducted, might also be considered at length in this con- 
nection. Since this discussion follows the Standards closely, 
it must be content to set forth che general principles which 

The Means op Grace ; The "Word. 


they inculcate, rather than make a detailed application of 
these principles to a multiplicity of cases. 

V. The Ninth Cornmandmeyit. 

This command runs as follows : " Thou shalt not bear false 
witness against thy neighbor." It will be seen at a glance 
that it relates to the right use of speech, or of truthfulness 
in word and act, between man and man. 

1. The Duties Enjoined hy this Comynand. 

This command, in general, requires us to maintain and pro- 
mote truth betv/een man and man, and to preserve our own 
and our neighbor's good name, especially in witness-bearing. 
This teaches that we must always take our stand for the 
truth, and from the heart freely and fully speak the truth, 
and only the truth, in matters of justice and judgment, and 
in all other matters as well. We are to have a charitable 
regard for our neighbors, loving and rejoicing in their good 
name, and sorrowing for their infirmities, and at the same 
time being ready to defend their innocency. "We are to be 
more ready to receive a good report than an evil one, 
and we are to discourage tale-bearers, flatterers and slan- 
derers. "We are also to have a love and a care for our own 
good name, and, if necessary, be ready to defend it. This 
command also requires that all lawful promises be kept, and 
those things which are true, honest, lovely and of good re- 
port are to be practiced. 

2. The Sins Forbidden hy this Command. 

In a general way, it forbids whatever is prejudicial to 
truth, or injurious to our own or our neighbor's good name. 
The Larger Catechism greatly expands this statement. Of 
the long list of sins which it enumerates, only a few can be 
mentioned here, as follows: False testimony or evidence, 
false judgment, pleading an evil cause, overbearing the truth, 
calling good evil and evil good, rewarding the wicked as the 
righteous, forgery, concealing the truth in any way, failure to 
reprove falsehood, speaking the truth to a wrong end, using 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

ambiguous words, lying, slandering, backbiting, talebearing, 
reviling, construing in a false way any words or actions, boast- 
ting, hiding of sins, raising of false rumors, refusing to liear 
a just defence, impairing the credit of any, breaking lawful 
promises, and not hindering what may procure an ill-name to 
ourselves or others. From this partial list of the sins for- 
bidden by this command it is evident that the Standards lay 
great stress upon its important teaching. 

VI. The Tenth Gotnmandment. 

This command is somewhat longer than those just ex- 
pounded, and it is as follows : " Thou shalt not covet thy 
neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, 
nor his manservant nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his 
ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's." It is to be observed 
that this last command passes from the outward to the in- 
ward, from act to thought, just as it may also be noticed that 
the commands, from the sixth onward, pass from the more 
to the less important. Hence, the order is, life, chastity, 
property, truthfulness, and then from these outward acts to 
the inner spirit of which the tenth command speaks. 

1. The Duties Enjoined hy this Command. 

It enjoins full contentment with our own condition, with a 
right and charitable spirit towards our neighbor and all that 
is his. This implies that we should be so contented with 
our own condition, and have such a charitable frame of 
mind towards our neighbor, that all our inward motions, 
thoughts, and affections concerning him shall tend unto the 
furthering of all good pertaining to his welfare. Such is the 
happy, contented, charitable, and unselfish frame of mind 
and disposition of heart to whose precious possession this 
command exhorts us. 

2. The Sins Forbidden hy this Command. 

It forbids all discontent with our estate, and all envying 
and grieving at the good of our neighbor. It condemns all 
inordinate motions and affections towards anything that be- 

The Means op Grace ; The Word. 


longs to our neighbor. It is to be noted that this command 
receives quite brief treatment in the Standards, and it is 
pretty clear that some of its ground was covered in previous 
expositions, especially in those of the eighth and ninth com- 
mands. In general, the virtue of contentment is enjoined, 
and the vice of covetousness is condemned, in the terms of 
this command, and each one is left to make the particular 
applications for himself. 

This completes the exposition of the decalogue as a sum- 
mary of the moral law, which is to be the ethical code for 
the conduct of the Christian ma. ; and, by the blessing of the 
Spirit, it may become a means of grace to him who believes 
in Christ. By this means the prayer of our Lord for his 
disciples, "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is 
truth," will be answered. It goes almost without saying, 
that a good knowledge of, and a careful regard for, the 
ethical contents of the Standards at this point will surely 
build up the believer, alike in the strong and noble virtues, 
and in the gentle and unselfish graces. It would be well if 
men in this age, when the moral law of God is so often dis- 
regarded, should give very careful attention to the deep and 
strong exposition of the moral law which the Standards set 
forth. Under it, in the past, the strongest men and the 
noblest heroes that the world has ever seen have been de- 
veloped. It cannot be regarded as a good sign to observe 
in some places marked decadence from the high moral 
standard here inculcated. Every relationship of life is ex- 
plained, and exhortation to duty, and warning against sin, 
are faithfully given. Nowhere, it may be safely said, is there 
to be found such a guide-book of high moral teaching as is 
contained in the exposition of the ten commandments which 
the Standards unfold. The explanations of this chapter, 
and of the one preceding it, have done but scanty justice to 
the contents of the Standards upon this exceedingly practical 
and important subject. 


! t 



Shoktkk Catkohism, 91-93; Lakgku Catkohism, 161-164; Confession of 

Faith, XXVII. 

WITH this chapter the passage is made to the second 
gre- ^ branch of the means of grace. This leads to 
the consideration of the sacraments, and to very important 
matters in their discussion. This chapter will deal with the 
general doctrine of the sacraments as it is taught in the 
Standards, and two subsequent chapters will deal with bap • 
tism and the Lord's supper, respectively. 

The doctrine of the sacraments was one of the subjects 
about which at the time of the Reformation there was much 
difference of opinion. Not only did the Reformers oppose 
the views and practices of Rome, but they differed widely 
among themselves in regard to the nature and efficacy of the 
sacraments. It was these differences as much as anything 
else which prevented the Reformers from presenting united 
ranks and an unbroken front against Romanism. Because 
of this division of opinion, the power and influence of the 
Reformation was very much weakened, especially upon the 
continent of Europe. 

The debate about the sacraments was long and earnest 
wherever the Reformation arose, and in the Westminster 
Assembly much attention was devoted to this important sub- 
ject. The result is that in the Standards there is the clearest 
and the best statement of the sacraments, especially of the 
Lord's supper, to be found in any creed. They hold well- 
defined consistent ground between the extremes which have 
been held upon this great subject, and they especially exalt 
the spiritual significance of these ordinances. It is well, 
therefore, to understand the doctrine herein set forth, not 





aaiON OF 

3ads to 
'ith the 

in the 
h bap- 

3 much 
' of the 
of the 
on the 

it sub- 
of the 
1 have 
' exalt 
1 well, 
ii, not 


The Means of Grace ; The Sacraments. 


only because it is clear and scriptural, but also for the 
reason that the true catholicity of the Presbyterian Church 
is to be found in her terms of communion. 

It is worth while observing that the Confession and both 
Catechisms set forth with equal fulness, and almost in the 
same terms, the doctrine of the sacraments, alike in their 
general and in their particular aspects. Indeed, there is 
scarcely any topic in the Standards in regard to which there 
is so much completeness of statement, and so much harmony 
of expression in the diflferent parts of the Standards. In 
this case there is no mistake in respect to the doctrine to 
which the Standards are committed. Some general points 
are now to be noted in this chapter. These relate to both 
of the sacraments. 

I. The nature of the sacraments is first explained. The 
word sacrament comes to us through the Latin ; and, strictly 
speaking, this term is not applied to these ordinances in the 
Scriptures. The word denotes that which is pledged as 
sacred, and it is applied specially to the oath or vow of the 
Roman soldier. The word also denotes a sacred secret, and 
hence the Greek word translated mystery is translated by 
the Latin word meaning sacrament. The sacraments, as 
symbols, exhibit the mysterious grace which they signify. 
In unfolding the nature of the sacraments, several important 
particulars are to be carefully noted in an orderly way. 

1. A sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ in 
his church. This is the statemen*^ of the Larger Caiechism, 
and it is nearly the same as that ot the Shorter. The Con- 
fession says that the sacraments are immediately instituted 
by God to represent Christ and his benefits. Both state- 
ments are, of course, true, for both God the Father and God 
the Son concur in the institution of these ordinances. The 
sacraments are holy ordinances, and hence they are to be 
regarded as peculiarly sacred. They are also instituted in 
the church, and for the benefit specially of those who are its 


The Presbyterian Standards. 


members. Unless an ordinance claiming to be a sacrament 
can prove that it was immediately commanded by divine au- 
thority, it cannot be regarded as a sacrament. This is one 
of the tests of a sacrament. 

2. A sacrament signifies, seals, represents, exhibits and 
applies Christ and the benefits of the covenant of grace to 
believers, or those who are included in the scope of the cove- 
nant. This is a very comprehensive statement, setting forth 
the end or design of those ordinances which are sacramental 
in their nature. It will be observed that there are four words 
used in this connection, in the different parts of the Stand- 
ards. A sacrament first signifies the benefits of the media- 
tion of Christ, and thus it expresses, in a concrete symbolic 
manner, by suitable signs, these benefits in such a way as to 
aid our knowledge and faith. Then a sacrament seals these 
benefits of the covenant of grace to believers. The idea 
here is somewhat obscure by reason of the meaning of the 
word used. A seal is a stamp or mark which gives validity 
and effect to any legal document. The sacraments, as seals 
of the covenant of grace, are the divine marks that God will 
make good the contents of the covenant to those who accept 
its terms. Thus, the blessings of redemption are actually 
conveyed, not through any virtue in the sacraments them- 
selves, but by the divine blessing going with them, and mak- 
ing good the benefits they signify to all those who properly 
receive and rely upon them for spiritual grace. Further, the 
sacraments represent Christ and his benefits. According to 
this aspect, the sacraments are divinely-appointed pictures 
which set forth in visible form Christ and his spiritual be le- 
fits. They thus symbolize certain great truths or facts per- 
taining to redemption. Again, the sacraments exhibit the 
benefits of Christ's work on behalf of his people. This word, 
as here used, means almost the same thing as the preceding 
one, with, perhaps, a slightly deeper signification. In this 
deeper sense it has about the same meaning as the term " ad- 

The Mean8 of Grace ; The Sacraments. 



|ine au- 

is one 

minister"; and, hence, it has nearly the same force as is in 
part set forth by the word "seal." And, finally, the word 
a2)ply is used of the sacraments in the Shorter Catechism. 
This term points to the question of the eflScacy of the sacra- 
ments, and it more fully expresses the idea which is set forth 
by the words " exhibit and seal." Here the assurance is 
given that in some way or other, by or through the sacra- 
ments, certain of the benefits of grace and salvation are made 
good to believers who are in covenant with the Lord. It is 
clear, from the varied use of these five terms, that in some 
way grace is actually conveyed to believers by the blessing 
of Christ, in some deeper sense than that it is the truth which 
sanctifies. They are real channels of grace to believers, and 
yet they are not so in a purely mechanical way, as will be 
more fully explained when the question of the efl&cacy of the 
sacraments is expounded. 

3. The sacraments are solemn pledges of our allegiance to 
Christ, and of our separation from the world. These two 
things imply each other, and may well go together. By the 
sacraments we make confession of our interest in, and our 
service of, the Lord; and by this same confession we an- 
nounce our separation from the world by putting a visible 
distinction between those who belong to the church and the 
rest of the world. The sacraments from this point of view 
are solemn engagements to the service of God in Christ, ac- 
cording to his word, and at the same time a formal renounc- 
ing of the world and its ways. 

4. The sacraments serve to strengthen our faith in Christ, 
and to develop all the other Christian graces. In this way 
they confirm our interest in Christ, and in the spiritual wel- 
fare of his kingdom. This point signalizes the fact that the 
sacraments are real means of grace, each in its own relation, 
and serving its own definite end. Our engagement to be 
the Lord's being thereby made, we are obliged to a diligent 
obedience, and the result of this is that the divine life in be- 
lievers is strengthened, and they grow in grace. 






The Presbyterian Standards. 

5. The sacraments are, also, a means of communion among 
believers. This is specially true of the Lord's supper. In 
partaking of this ordinance, believers not only have com- 
munion with Christ, and participation in his benefits, but 
they have also fellowship with each other. When they par- 
take of the same bread and wine they show that they belong 
to the one family of God, and in the ordinance of the supper 
the communion of the saints is exemplified. 

II. The parts or elements of the sacraments is the next 
topic of a general nature to be considered. These parts or 
elements are twofold, and they are as follows : 

1. There is an outward and sensible sign to be used ac- 
cording to Christ's appointment. In baptism the water as 
it is applied is the sign, and in the Lord's supper the bread 
and wine used are the outwai J) and visible signs. This fact 
supplies another mark or test of an ordinance which is sacra- 
mental. These signs, moreover, are in both cases simple 
and entirely suitable. 

2. The other part or factor in the sacraments is the 
spiritual grace signified by the signs. In baptism, as will be 
more fully seen in the next chapter, the grace in question is 
the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy 
Ghost, by which we are united to Christ, and made par- 
takers of his benefits. In the Lord's supper the sufferings 
and death of Christ, together with all that these provide for 
us in regard to salvation and advance in the spiritual life, 
constitute the spiritual grace in this case. The latter is 
Christ's work for us ; the former is the Spirit's work in us. 
Both are necessary to our salvation, and both are set forth 
in tV ^ sacraments. 

It may be added here that the sacraments of the Old 
Testament, which were circumcision and the passover, are, 
in regard to the spiritual things thereby signified and ex- 
hibited, for substance, the same with those of the New. The 
only difference is in regard to the nature of the signs used. 

The Means op Grace ; The Sacraments. 


The covenant is one, the mediator is one, and the spiritual 
grace is one and the same in both dispensations, for the 
church of God is one throughout all ages. 

III. In regard to the number of the sacraments, a few 
words may be set down. As in the Old Testament there 
were only two sacraments, so in the New there are two simi- 
lar ordinances ordained by Christ. These are baptism and 
the Supper of our Lord. This statement tells against the 
Romish view, which maintains that there are seven sacra- 
ments. These are, in addition to baptism and the Lord's 
supper, confirmation, penance, orders, matrimony, and ex- 
treme unction. Romish writers make but little effort to find 
proof of these additional sacraments from Scripture, but they 
rely on tradition and the decrees of the church for their sup- 
port. If, however, we apply the tests of a true sacrament, 
it will be found that every one of these five fail at some 
point, and some of them fail at every point. They cannot 
show that they were appointed by Christ, that they have 
sensible signs and inward grace, and that they represent and 
apply the benefits of Christ's redemption. 

The Standards at this point further teach that the sacra- 
ments are not to be administered by any but a minister of 
the word, lawfully ordained. Sometimes the sacraments are 
called sealing ordiances, and in connection with them only 
an ordained minister is to officiate, while a licentiate or a 
probationer may preach the word. All branches of the 
church are virtually agreed that ordination is necessary to 
qualify for administering the sacraments. This position the 
Standards distinctly take to be the right one. 

IV. The relation between the sign and the grace in the 
sacrament must now be carefully considered. This is one of 
the most difficult points to understand in the doctrine of the 
sacraments, and yet it is of the utmost importance rightly to 
understand the teaching of the Standards upon it. There 
are sensible signs and spiritual grace implied in the sacra- 




The Presbyterian Standards. . 

ments, and between these two factors there is a spiritual re- 
lation, or sacramental union. According to this relation or 
union, there is not only a natural congruity between the sign 
and the grace, but a definite spiritual relation or bond, which 
has been constituted by the divine appointment. By reason 
of this bond it comes to pass that the names and eflfects of 
the one may be applied to the other. Thus it happens that 
the term denoting the ordinance may be taken from either 
one of two things — the sign which is outward, or the grace 
which is inward — in the sacrament. Hence, the term baptism 
may mean water baptism, where the outward sign is applied, 
or the Spirit's baptism, where the inward grace is made 
eflfective. Both of these things are called baptism, and the 
reason of this is that there is a sacramental union between 
them. In the case of the Lord's supper it is substantially 
the same. There is the bread and the wine which are par- 
taken, and this is the outward sign in the case; and then 
there is the actual participation by faith in the benefits of 
Christ's work for our spiritual good, and this is the grace in- 
volved in this sacrament. Both of these things may bo 
termed the Lord's supper, and the reason again for this is 
that there is a sacramental bond of union between the sign 
and the grace, which enables us with a degree of propriety 
to apply the same term to both of the factors in the sacra- 

A failure to keep this distinction properly in mind has led, 
liot only to confusion of thought, but also to very erroneous 
views of the sacraments. On the one hand, some attach the 
whole meaning and value of the sacrament to the sign, and 
the result of this is that a short cut is made to the doctrine 
of baptismal regeneration, or to the literal presence of Christ 
in the supper. Those who take this viow apply all those 
passages of Scripture which speak of the spiritual efficacy 
of the sacraments to the outward and sensible signs, over- 
looking the fact that there is a spiritual relation between the 

The Means of Guace; The Sacraments. 


lal re- 
ion or 
e sign 
Bcts of 
18 that 
, made 
md the 
re par- 
id then 
efits of 
race in- 
nay bo 
' this is 
he sign 
e sacra- 
has led, 
tach the 
ign, and 
)f Christ 
,11 those 
as, over- 
sreen the 

sign and the grace. On the other hand, some attach the 
whole meaning to tlie spiritual side, and so make the sensi- 
ble sign nothing more than the mark or symbol of certain 
truths, and roach the merely figurative or symbolical doctrine 
of the sacraments. It is in t^'is way that the two great his- 
toric views of the sacraments emerge. It is evident that 
€ach is a one-sided view, which results from overlooking the 
distinction between the sign and the grace in the sacrament, 
and the bond between them. The true view lies between 
these (>xtremes, and is admirably set forth in the Standards. 
The reality in the sacraments is the spiritual grace, and yet 
the sensible sign is so bound to this grace that it is more 
than an arbitrary sign of it. It is the divinely-appointed 
channel, by means of which the grace signified is actually 
communicated by the operation of the Spirit. The experi- 
ence of the grace is not entirely dependent upon the sign, 
but the sign may greatly aid the grace in its growth and ex- 
pansion in the soul. The bond which underlies this relation 
of the sign and the grace has been constituted by the fact 
of the divine institution of the sacramental ordinances, and 
by the divine appointment of the signs in question. 

V. The efficacy of the sacraments now requires some 
careful statement. The explanation of this topic will shed 
some further light on the preceding one, and at the same 
time guard against any possible misconstruction of that topic. 
The doctrine of the Standards upon this point is stated in 
both a negative and a positive form. The real question 
raised is as to the way in which the sacraments become 
effectual means of salvation, or the manner in which the 
grace exhibited in the sacraments is actually conferred. The 
sensible signs exhibit a spiritual grace. The question is: 
How is that grace applied or conferred through the signs in 
the sacraments ? 

1. Negatively, there are three remarks to be made at this 
juncture. First, The grace is not conferred by any virtue or 


\ i 


The Presbyterian Standards. 




power in the mere observance of the sacraments, by the use 
of sensible signs. The efficacy is not in the signs in them- 
selves considered. In the water and its application in itself, 
or in the bread and wine and their reception in itself, there 
is no spiritual grace or virtue, for a person may have these 
applied or received and yet obtain not a whit of spiritual 
good. Secondly, Nor does the efficacy of the sacrament de- 
pend on the piety of the person administering it. Of course, 
there is a propriety in the fact that the person administering 
the sacraments should be of consistent life and good char- 
acter, as well as in regular standing in the church ; but the 
measure of the spiritual grace that the person observing the 
sacrament receives is not graduated according to the piety 
of the administrator, or in proportion to the degree of growth 
in grace which he may have attained. And, Thirdly, The 
virtue of the sacraments is not conditioned upon the inten- 
tion of the person who administers the ordinance. This 
statement is aimed specially against the Romish doctrine of 
intention, which is so subtle and mischievous. According to 
this peculiar doctrine, the person administering the sacra- 
ment can, by his intention, give degre j and direction to the 
grace which is actually bestowed and received. This virtu- 
ally puts the whole control of the grace in the hands of the 
administrator, and leaves no condition to be fulfilled by the 
participant save submission to the administrator, and the 
reception of the sensible signs. Throughout, the partaker of 
the sacrament is at the mercy of the intention of the person 
who administers the ordinance. 

2. On the positive side, there are three very important re- 
marks to be made in regard to the efficacy of the sacraments, 
and these deserve the most careful consideration from the 
view-point of the Standards. First, The efficacy of the 
sacraments depends upon the working of the Holy Spirit in 
the person who receives the ordinance. All spiritual grace 
comes from the agency of the Holy Spirit, and so any bless- 



The Means of Grace ; The Sacraments. 


he uae 
1 itself, 
f, there 
ent de- 
d char- 
but the 
ing the 
le piety 
ly, The 
e inten- 
itrine of 
rding to 
) sacra- 
1 to the 
iS virtu- 
3 of the 
L by the 
md the 
taker of 
I person 

tant re- 
'om the 
of the 
Jpirit in 
il grace 
7 bless- 

ing which comes to us or ours has its roots in the effectual 
working of the Spirit in the heart of him who receives the 
ordinance. The real sacramental fact is the spiritual grace 
in the soul ; and, then, because of the sacramental union be- 
tween the sign and the grace, the sign is fitted to be a 
channel of grace only as the Holy Spirit operates in the 
soul through the sensible signs, making them effectual unto 
spiritual ends. Secondly, The blessing of Christ, by whom the 
ordinances are instituted, is said, in the Larger Catechism, 
to be another factor in the efficacy of the sacraments. Christ 
appointed the form of the ordinrnces, and makes them a 
channel of blessing, but they are such only as Christ himself 
blesses them, and makes them effectual to their proper 
spiritual ends. And this blessing is actually obtained as 
the result of the mediatorial work of Christ, and is applied 
by the agency of the Holy Spirit. Thirdly, The word of 
institution has importance also in this connection. This is 
the divine warrant for its observance, and a sure ground for 
the expectation of blessing. This word of institution is 
really twofold. There is, first, the precept, authorizing the 
use of the sensible signs with spiritual ends in view, and 
there is a promise of benefit to worthy receivers. The 
worthy receivers are those who receive the ordinance in 
faith, for themselves or for their children. This is the con- 
dition on our part, and this receptive act of faith might 
almost be set down as a fourth condition of the efficacy of 
the sacraments. 

VI. The Larger Catechism has an instructive comparison 
between baptism and the Lord's supper, and with a brief 
statement of this comparison this chapter will conclude: 
First, Baptism and the supper agree in that the author of 
both is God, the spiritual part of both is Christ and his 
benefits, both are seals of the same covenant, both are to be 
dispensed by ordained ministers only, and both are to be 
continued in the church of Christ until his second coming. 

KHT i 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

Secondly t The two sacraments differ in that baptism is to be 
administered but once, and with water, to be a sign of our 
regeneration and engrafting into Christ, and that even in the 
case of infants ; whereas the Lord's supper is to be adminis- 
tered often, by the bread and wine, to represent Christ, and 
exhibit his benefits to the soul, and to confirm our growth in 
him, and that only to those who are of years and ability to 
examine themselves as to whether they are in the faith or 
not. These contrasts could be wrought out at length, but 
space permits only their statement in this very brief manner. 


HI ! 



Shoktkr Catbohism, 94,95; Larger Catechism, 163-167; Confession op 

Faith, XXVII. 

THE two sacraments are now to be severally explained, 
and in this chapter the ordinance of baptism is to be 
considered. This leads to a subject about which, since the 
Reformation, there has been more controversy than even 
during that great period. The controversy has in recent 
times been chiefly in regard to the proper mode of baptism, 
and in reference to the subjects who should be baptized. 
The two questions, therefore, are : Is immersion of the per- 
son under water necessary to valid baptism? and should 
the children of professed believers be baptized ? It is inter- 
esting to note the fact that at no point in the Standards is 
there any controversy upon the subject, or any discussion of 
a controversial nature upon the questions above stated. In 
giving a strict creed statement, the Standards very properly 
avoid all controversy in their positive statements of the doc- 
trines. The results are given in a clear doctrinal form, as 
that which is to be accepted and believed in each case. 

There is one point in the controversy that has arisen about 
baptism which it may be well to notice at the outset of this 
chapter. This point relates to the actual fact in regard to the 
discussion and vote upon the mode of baptism in the West- 
minster Assembly. The statement is often made, that affusion 
or sprinkling, as against immersion, was made the doctrine of 
the Confession by \ vote of only one. This is not the fact, 
as Mitchell's excellent account of the actual debate, based 
upon the Minutes of the Assembly, clearly shows. The ques- 
tion debated by the Assembly was not affusion, as against 
immersion, but it was as to whether immersion should be 






.. I 




The Presbyterian Standards. 

acknowledged to be a valid mode of baptism at all. At the 
close of tlie debate the result of the vote was that by a ma- 
jority of one it was decided that immersion may be regarded 
as valid baptism, but that baptism is rightly administered by 
pouring or sprinkling, that is, by aflfusion. This is a very 
important fact to remember. 

In setting forth in an orderly manner the doctrine of the 
Standards upon this important subject there are two distinct, 
though closely-related, questions to be considered. The one 
is as to the proper mode, the other is as to the rightful sub- 
jects, of baptism. A single chapter must include the discus- 
sion of both. 

I, The Mode of Baptism. 

In dealing with this question there are also two aspects of 
it to be considered. The one relates to the real nature of 
baptism, and the other to the proper mode for its observance. 
What is baptism, and how should it, be administered ? Here, 
too, a very important distinction noted in the last chapter 
again appears. This is the difference between the applica- 
tion of the sign, and the experience of the grace. Baptism 
with water is one thing, and baptism with the Spirit is 
another thing, though there is, as was seen, a close and inti- 
mate bond between them. The former is the sign applied, 
while the latter is the grace experienced. The question as 
to the nature of baptism relates to the latter, and to the rela- 
tion between the two aspects of baptism just noted. The 
question as to the mode of baptism pertains to the former, 
and to the way in which the sign should be applied. It is 
evident that the former of these questions is far more im- 
portant than the latter ; and it is rightly so regarded in the 
Standards. Moreover, the clear understanding of the nature 
of baptism will go far to decide the question of the proper 
mode. First, then, some things must be said in regard to 
the nature of baptism. 

1. The nature and design of baptism now claims attention. 

, ma- 
3d by 

The Means of Grace ; Baptism. 


Under thip twofold heading several factors made prominent 
in the Standards will be gathered up. 

First, Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, or- 
dained or instituted in his church by Jesus Christ, to be 
continued to the end of time. As a sacrament, it has all the 
qualities described in the preceding chapter. As pertaining 
to the New Testament, it takes the place of circumcision iu 
the Old. It pertains to the church, and it can only be ob- 
served by, or in relation to, the visible church. It is insti- 
tuted therein by Jesus Christ, who is the mediator of the 
covenant of grace, the redeemer of his people, and the head 
of his church. It is to be administered only by a regularly 
ordained ministry, and is to be observed on to the end of 
the world and the consummation of all things. 

Secondly, Baptism is the badge of the solemn admission of 
the baptized person into the visible church, so that those 
who are baptized are thereby admitted into membership 
therein. This aspect of the subject may be viewed in a two- 
fold way. The Spirit's baptism first unites the person to 
Christ, and thereby makes him a member of the invisible 
church, while water baptism is the outward initiatory rite of 
admission into the visible church. The latter is what is 
chiefly under notice in this paragraph. 

It is to be observed, also, that according to this view of 
baptism, it sustains a somewhat different relation to adults 
than it does to infants. In the first case, water baptism is 
simply their solemn admission into the visible church, upon 
their profession of faith in Chirst. But in the second case 
the ground upon which the infant seed of believers are bap- 
tized is the covenant relation of their parents. On this 
ground the birthright privileges of the infant seed of be- 
lievers, through the covenant relation of their parents, is 
recognize 1 by their baptism, and it supplies the faith-ground 
for the administration of baptism to them. In both cases, 
therefore, water baptism may be regarded as the formal initia- 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

I i 

tion into the visible church, just as the Spirit's baptism is 
the condition of admission into the invisible church. 

Thirdly, Baptism is « sign and seal of the covenant of 
grace, and particularly of our engrafting into Christ, of our 
regeneration by his Spirit, and of the remission of sins by 
his blood. This phase of the nature of baptism really raises 
the question of its design or meaning, and water baptism in 
its relation to the Spirit's baptism is the particular point in 
view. In regard to what is meant by baptism being a sign 
and seal of the covenant of grace, reference need only be 
made to what was said in the last chapter upon this point. 
Water baptism is the outward and sensible sign of certain 
spiritual benefits provided for in the covenant ; and it is also 
the seal of the covenant, supplying its divine warrant, and 
constituting it the divine channel by which the grace signified 
by the sign is actually conveyed by the Spirit under the 
proper conditions. The particular thing signified and sealed 
is union with Christ, and all that this union implies. This 
union is described in a twofold way here, as elsewhere, in 
the Standards, and it is really the same thing as that denoted 
by effectual calling, and fully explained in an earlier chapter. 
The two things alluded to are spiritual union with Christ, 
and the renewal of the nature. The phrase "engrafting 
into Christ," used in the Shorter Catechism, very properly 
denotes the first of these things, but it scarcely does justice 
to the second. The Confession and the Larger Catechism 
are much more complete upon this point than the Shorter. 
They speak of regeneration, of the remission of sins, and of 
resurrection unto everlasting life, as all signified by baptism. 
Hence, the Standards, taken in all their parts, teach that 
water baptism signifies and seals our union with Christ, our 
regeneration by the Spirit, the remission of our sins, and our 
being raised to newness of life in Christ. All of these things 
are the result of the Spirit's work in us. Perhaps the briefest 
form in which the truth could be stated here would be to say 

The Means of Grace ; Baptism. 


that water baptism signifies and seals the work of the Holy 
Spirit in us, thereby applying the benefits of Christ to us. 
This is the all-important inward spiritual fact which bap- 
tism by water signifies and seals. The Spirit is the agent 
who unites the soul to Christ, and at the same time regen- 
erates the soul, takes away its sin and gives it a new life, and 
then the application of water signifies and seals these things. 
This may be regarded as one of the most important features 
of this whole subject, and one, moreover, where the statement 
of the Shorter Catechism can scarcely be regarded as com- 
plete. But the teaching of the Confession and the Larger 
Catechism fully supplements this defect, and gives very ade- 
quate instruction upon the subject. 

Fout'thly, Theie are several other facts mentioned in the 
Standaids in regard to the nature of baptism which may be 
set down together, under the general heading of baptism 
being our engagement to be the Lord's. Baptism, as it de- 
notes the inward cleansing of our nature by the washing of 
regeneration, also signifies the outward remission of our sins 
by his blood. In connection with this, our giving up of our- 
selves unto God, through Christ, to walk in newness of life, is 
properly implied. The Larger Catechism, further, makes 
baptism signify our adoption and our resurrection unto life 
everlasting by Jesus Christ. These facts all follow from the 
deeper fact of our union with Christ, and the renewal of our 
nature in connection therewith. Those who are united with 
Christ, regenerated, and justified, are adopted into the house- 
hold of faith, and they also experience a true spiritual resur- 
rection from a death in sin to a life of holiness or newness of 
life. These passages do not mean merely death, burial, and 
resurrection with Christ, but they express facts which are 
involved in our union with Christ, which is effected by the 
agency of the Holy Spirit. Hence, when we are united with 
Christ we are identified with him in all the experiences 
through which he passed. Thus we die with him, we are 





The Presbyterian Standards. 

crucified with him, we are buried with him, we are raised 
up together with him, we Hve with him, and we are finally 
raised with him to the heavenly places. All these are great 
and glorious facts, but they have meaning to us only because 
of our union with Christ, which union is effected for us by 
our engrafting into Christ, which is brought about by the 
great husbandman, the Holy Spirit. The outward formal 
sign or expression of this union and all that it implies is 
baptism with water, and on our part we t^^ireby enter into a 
solemn engagement to be the Lord's only and wholly. In 
this way an outward badgo of distinction is placed upon all 
those who are baptized. They take the oath of allegiance 
to Christ. 

2. The mode or manner of baptism next engages careful 
attention. In general, baptism is a washing with water in 
the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. 
In this very brief statement several things are to be ob- 

First, The formula or divine authority for the ordinance 
is here announced. It is to be administered in the name, 
and by the authority, of the triune Jehovah. This state- 
ment also indicates the element to be used in baptism. It 
is to be water only, without any of the unscriptural additions 
which Rome introduces, such as the use of salt, and the 
anointing with oil. Water is an exceedingly appropriate 
element for the purpose to be served. For, as water is the 
element used in cleansing, so it is a fit sign for spiritual 
cleansing, and as water is an important condition of life, so 
it suitably denotes that newness of life to which we are raised 
by our union with Christ. At this stage baptism is said to 
be a washing with water, without reference to the quantity of 
water to be used, or to the precise manner of its application. 
It is not at this point said that any particular mode is abso- 
lutely necessary to the validity of the washing here described. 
It is not positively asserted that the water must be applied 


The Means of Grace ; Baptism. 



in any definite way, though it does say that the water is to 
be applied to the person, and not the person to the water. 
Later on in the exposition clearer teaching as to the proper 
mode will emerge. 

Secondly, While the Catechisms content themselves with 
this simple statement that baptism is a washing with water, 
the Confession speaks more definitely, and yet in a very 
cautious way, regarding the mode of baptism. It says that 
the dipping of the person under water is not necessary, but 
that baptism is properly administered by pouring or sprink- 
ling water upon the person baptized. This passage does not 
teach absolutely that dipping or immersion is in no circum- 
stances to be regarded as valid baptism, but the statement is 
simply to the effect that it is not necessary, and that baptism 
is properly administered without it. It is very important to 
note this with care in the controversy about the mode of 
baptism. The debate is not so much whether sprinkling or 
immersion is the valid mode of baptism, but whether immer- 
sion is needed to constitute valid baptism. From the posi- 
tion of the Standards it can be argued that it is not necessary, 
and those who attack this position undertake to argue that 
immersion of the whole person in water is necessary to valid 
baptism, and this means that immersion only is baptism. 
Such being the case, those making this attack are bound to 
show under all the proofs adduced, such as those from the 
terms used, from the early church practice, from the history 
of the church, and from the great creedS;, that immersion only 
is the mode, or was alone practised, before they have made 
out their case. Hence, they do not succeed in their attack 
even if they do find immersion under any of their heads of 
proof, for they must show that immersion only existed, or is 
commanded. On the other hand, the position of the Stand- 
ards may be maintained, even though immersion as well as 
affusion was practised, or is the meaning at times of the terms 
used in regard to baptism. As a matter of fact, more than 






The Presbyterian Standards. 

this can be done from the position of the Standards, but it is 
important to understand clearly the logical status of the con- 

TTiirdly, As already noticed, the Standards do not enter 
upon any controversy, and consequently none of the argu- 
ments by which their position is supported are presented. 
It may, however, be of some value to have the mere heads 
of the proofs of the doctrine of the Standards in regard to 
the mode of baptism set down at this point. Only the lead- 
ing proofs are noted in bare outline. 

F'lrst, The words baptize and baptism used in the Scrip- 
tures are not modal words. This means that they are not 
words which in themselves denote the mode in whici^ any- 
thing is done. They simply denote the end, result, or state 
reached, but they do not indicate the means by which this is 
attained. Just as the word hury does not denote whether 
the dead body is put under. the ground, or in a vault, or 
beneath the waters of the sea; so the word haptize, so far 
as the mere word is concerned, does not indicate whether 
baptism is to be by affusion or by immersion. All that it 
signifies is that the result attained by baptism is secured. 
The fact that the translators of our English Bible did not 
really translate the word baptize, but simply Anglicized it, 
fully confirms this view, and means much in this connection. 
The words by their own clear meaning do not prove that im- 
mersion only is valid baptism. 

Secondly, The element is always, according to the Scrip- 
tures, applied to the subject, and never the subject to the 
element. This is the uniform usage of the Scriptures, and 
the Greek prepositions are of the utmost importance in rela- 
tion to this proof. Baptism is always said to be by, or with, 
water, and this very usage confirms the position of the 
Standards. The immersionist reasonings turn things upside 
down at this point, and play havoc with the Greek lan- 

The Means of Grace ; Baptism. 


Thirdly^ The practice of the early churcL and the testi- 
mony of church history support the view of the Standards. 
In the New Testament age, the household baptism, and the 
large number of baptisms, can be better explained from the 
position of the Standards than from any other, and there are 
serious practical difficulties in the immersionist theory in 
every case. In regard to the baptism of the eunuch, it is 
enough to say that it was not the going into the water, nor 
the coming up out of it, that constituted baptism, but what 
was done when they were both in the water, otherwise both 
were baptized, for the language thus applied is precisely the 
same concerning both. 

Fourthly, The fact that the Holy Spirit is always in Scrip- 
ture represented as poured out upon those who receive his 
benefits has great force in determining the proper mode of 
baptism. The uniform usage of both the Old and the New 
Testaments is to the effect that the Spirit comes upon those 
who are the subjects of his operations. Never once is there 
language to be found which can be construed to mean that 
the subject of the Spirit's influences is immersed in the 
Spirit. The very idea is absurd, if not almost profane. This 
must ever stand as a fatal objection to the immersionist 
doctrine and practice, and it can only be made to appear 
even plausible by denying that baptism signifies the Spirit's 
work in us. Such are some of the great lines of reasoning 
by which the doctrine of the Standards can be most abun- 
dantly established. 

II. The Subjects of Baptism. 

The question as to those who ought to be baptized yet re- 
mains. The teaching of the Standards is very plain upon 
this subject. It is stated in both a negative and a positive 
■way. Negatively, it is not to be administered to any who 
are out of the visible church till they profess their faith in 
Christ and their obedience to him. This relates to unbap- 
tized adults, and \>o the infants of those who do not profess 


! ]■ 




1 » 

i ; 

I'- Si! 

.X. '»' 





The Presbyterian Standards. 

faith in Christ. Positively, all those who do profess faith in, 
and obedience to, Christ are to be baptized. This includes 
not only adults making this profession, but also the infants 
of such as are members of the visible church, and so have 
professed faith in Christ. This is true when either one or 
both of the parents are in professed covenant with the Lord 
in the visible church. But some details may now be {^iven 

1. In regard to adult baptism, the Standards teach the 
propriety of this in cases where it was not administered in 
infancy. Hence, adult baptism is taught as clearly in the 
Standards as anywhere else. Of course, in an ideal state of 
the church visible, such baptisms could not be numerous, for 
the majority of the people would be baptized in their infant 
years. Such adult baptisms would be in the case of those 
who come into the church from the world without, whose bap- 
tism is based upon their own profession of faith in Christ. 

2. But the infants of families where one or both of the 
parents are professed members of the visible church are to 
be baptized. The ground for this is the promise of the cove- 
nant, which includes the seed of those who are in covenant 
with the Lord. This is the plain statement of the Standards. 
This teaching of the Standards also forbids the baptism of 
the children of those who do not profess to be in covenant 
with the Lord, and it enjoins the baptism of those whose 
parents are in confessed covenant with God in Christ. The 
duty and privilege of parents in this connection are very im- 

3. The Confession has some very careful words in regard 
to the efficacy of this sacrament. Its teaching runs in two 
directions. The first statement is that grace and salvation 
are not so inseparably annexed to baptism as that no person 
can be regenerated without it, or all who are baptized are 
undoubtedly regenerated and saved. The reference is to 
water baptism, and the teaching of the Standards simply is 
that such baptism is not absolutely essential to salvation. 

i; i 

The Means of Grace ; Baptism. 


What is necessary to salvation is the true baptism of tho 
Spirit, which unites us to Clirist and renews our nature. 
But important as baptism with water is, and close as is tho 
sacramental union between the sign and the grace, yet it is 
not so important that those who are not baptized may not be 
saved in some instances. 

The other statement bears specially upon infant baptism, 
and it is to the eflFuct that the efficacy of baptism is not tied 
to the moment of time at which it is administered. It may 
be delayed ^or a long time in some cases ; still, by the right 
use of this ordinance the grace promised is not only offered, 
but really exhibited and conveyed by the Holy Ghost, to 
those, whethe: of adult years or in infancy, to whom this 
grace belongs, according to his appointed time. This im- 
plies that the benefit is not in the ordinance itself, but in the 
agency of the Holy Ghost, and it depends upon the sovereign 
will and grace of God, who sends the Spirit how and when 
he pleases. Hence, in some cases baptism and union with 
Christ may come almost together, and in other case:^, per- 
haps the majority, it may be after baptism, a longer or a 
shorter time, that union with Christ and the new birth are 
experienced in the case of those baptized in infancy. Still, 
in the end, on the basis of the covenant, both parents and 
children have good reason to expect the grace which the 
sign signifies. 

4. The proofs for infant baptism, though not given in the 
Standards, may very properly be set down at this point in 
the briefest possible outline. 

First, Infants were in the Old Testament connected with 
the visible church, and they received circumcision as the sign 
and seal of their covenant relationship, through their parents. 
As a matter of fact, this is admitted on all hands. 

Secondly y There is no command in the New Testament to 
exclude them from the church under the Christian dispensa- 
tion. If any suqh direction had been given by divine au- 


i t 

* t 





The Presbyterian Standards. 

thority, it would surely have been found in the Scriptures. 
And if any attempt had been made to enforce such a prohi- 
bition upon the Jewish converts, they would have been sure 
to have raised opposition. Of these things there is no hint 
in the Scriptures, nor does the history of the early church 
contain any allusions which imply the exclusion of infants of 
professed Christians from the visible church. Hence, there 
is good ground to conclude that they are still within its pale, 
and have a right to its privileges. 

Thirdly, Infants are capable of salvation, and hence they 
are entitled to baptism. They are capable of salvation, 
otherwise there is no basis for the belief in infant salvation. 
This simply means that the infant seed of believers may be 
united to Christ, and regenerated by the Spirit. If this be 
so, then, surely, they are entitled to receive the sign of this 
saving relation and experience. Hence, to deny infant 
baptism is to compel the denial of infant salvation. 

Fourthly, The New Testament instances of household 
baptisms in all probability included infants and children. 
The language implies this, and the circumstances are largely 
in favor of this view. The New Testament church, as to its 
outward form, seems to have largely grown out of the syna- 
gogue; and the Jews, who were familiar with its laws and 
customs, would naturally bring their children to the thres- 
hold of the Christian church, as they had done to the Jewish 

Fifthly, The testimony of church history is decidedly in 
favor of infant baptism. In t/.e early ages of the church, as 
in missionary regions at the present day, it is to be expected, 
in the nature of the case, that there would be many adult 
baptisms, as large numbers of new converts were brought 
into the church. But the prevalence of adult baptism in 
such cases does not prove that infant baptism was not also 
practiced. Then, all through the history of the church, the 
baptism of infants was in vogue. Moreover, it does not 

The Means of Grace ; Baptism. 



seem to have been regarded as an' innovation, but was ob- 
served as the proper scriptural usage in the case. The de- 
nial of such baptism is the innovation and the heresy. 

5. The improvement of baptism is the closing topic for 
this chapter. Upon this matter the Larger Catechism alone 
speaks directly. The needful and much-neglected duty of 
improving our baptism is to be attended to by us all our life 
long. Baptism is to be administered but once, but it is to 
be improved constantl}^, even unto the end. Especially in 
time of temptation, and when present at the administration 
of it to others, we are to make serious and thankful con- 
sideration of what baptism really is, of the design for which 
Christ instituted it, of the privileges and benefits sealed and 
conferred thereby, and of our solemn vow made by our 
baptism. The result of this will surely be to greatly cheer 
us on in the Christian pathway, and to comfort our hearts 
continually in the service of Christ. 

Then, too, baptism is suited to humble us, as we consider 
our sinful defilement not yet wholly removed, our falling short 
of, or walking contrary to, the grace signified in baptism, and 
our solemn engagements made thereby. This will result, 
under the blessing of God, in our spiritual good, by causing 
us to grow up to the assurance of the pardon of our sins, 
and of the possession of all the other blessings sealed to us 
in our baptism, for we thereby draw strength from the death 
and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are bapt^'zect by 
the operation of the Spirit uniting us to him. Further, sin 
will be mortified and grace will be quickened if we thus im- 
prove our baptism. We shall endeavor to live by faith, and 
to have oiir conversation as becomes the gospel. We will 
also seek to walk in brotherly love with all those who are 
Christ's followers, since we are all baptized into one body by 
the same Spirit. Such are some of the important fruits of 
the improven^ent of our baptism. 

This whole subject of baptism, especially the matter of 


■ 2 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

I i 

infant baptism, deserves very careful study by all Presby- 
terians. There is a tendency on the part of many who bear 
the Presbyterian name to regard it as a matter of but little 
importance whether their children are baptized or not. This 
is a very dangerous tendency, and it should be most care- 
fully avoided by both ministers and people alike, if they 
would be loyal to the scriptural doctrine upon this subject, 
as it is set forth in the Standards, and at the same time be 
true to the best interests of their children whom they love so 

At this point emphasis should be laid upon the importance 
of the family and family worship as well as upon the value 
of religious training in the home. The breaking down of 
family life is one of the dangers to which we are exposed at 
the present day, and earnest attention should be directed to 
these dangers. To guard against them is a service every 
Christian should seek to render alike to the church and the 
nation. Neither the church nor the Sabbath-school can take 
the place of the religious training of children at the home 
circle. Each has its place, and they should all unite in seek- 
ing the same good end. 



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Shoktek Catkohism, 96, 97; Largek CATEonisM, 168-175; Confession 

OF Faith, XXIX. 

THIS chapter carries the discussion forward to the great 
subject of the Lord's supper. And although it is a 
large topic, its explanation must be compassed in a single 
chapter. The doctrine of the supper, or, as it is often called, 
the eucharist, is very carefully stated in the Standards, and 
has its face set firmly against the doctrines and practices of 

The three chief titles applied to this ordinance are signifi- 
cant, and deserve a passing remark. It is called "the Lord's 
supper " by a term which denotes the chief meal of the day, 
and thereby it is presented as the means of rich spiritual 
nourishment. It is sometimes named simply "the sacra- 
ment," implying thereby that it is a means of grace, and a 
solemn pledge on our part to be the Lord's. And it is known 
as "the communion," a term which indicates at once our 
participating in the benefits of grace, Christ's work, and our 
fellowship one with another as his children. In the New 
Testament it is sometimes spoken of as the breaking of 
bread, and in church history it is frequently known as the 

In the exposition of the doctrine of the Standards now to 
be made, a summary of their teaching without argument or 
expansion will be given under four or five heads. At almost 
every point it will be noticed that the doctrine and practice 
of Rome is formally rejected by the views of the Standards. 

I. The Nature of the Lord's Supper. 

There are several important particulars here which call for 




The Presbyterian Standards. 





careful remark, in order to present clearly the well-defined 
doctrine of the Standards, which was forged in the fierce fires 
of prolonged controversy. 

1. The Lord's supper is a sacrament of the New Testa- 
ment, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wiae, 
according to Christ's appointment, his death is showed forth. 
The Confession describes this point in a slightly different 
way from that just quoted from the Catechisms. It says that 
our Lord, in the night wherein he was betrayed, instituted the 
sacrament of his body and blood, and called it the Lord's 
supper, to be observed in his church unto the end of the 
world, for a perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of him- 
self in his death. It was thus instituted by Christ to take 
the place in the New Testament of the passover in the Old. 
It is a sacramental ordinance to be observed in the church 
till the end. It stands related in some important way to 
Christ's penal sufferings and sacrificial death, as the mediator 
of the covenant of grace. It thus exhibits the sacrifice of 

2. The elements to be used, according to divine appoint- 
ment, are bread and wine. These are the outward elements 
in this sacrament, to be duly set apart to the uses ordained 
by Christ. They are evidently most suitable for this purpose, 
and have such relation to Christ crucified, as that truly, yet 
sacramentally only, they are sometimes called by the names 
of the things they represent, to-wit, the body and blood of 
Christ. In both substance and nature the bread and wine 
remain only bread and wine, as they were before the prayer 
of consecration was offered. Thus, the Romish doctrine of 
transubstantiation is formally rejected in this connection. 
This doctrine maintains that by the prayer of consecration 
which the priest offers a change is effected in the bread and 
wine, by means of which it is transmuted into the substance 
of Christ's body and blood. The Standards allege that this 
doctrine is repugnant to Scripture, reason, and common 

The Means of Grace ; The Lord's Supper. 325 

e fires 


I forth, 
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ited the 

Lord's - 
1 of the 
of him- 
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the Old. 
3 church 

way to 
orifice of 


truly, yet 
he names 

blood of 

and wine 
jhe prayer 
loctrine of 
bread and 

e that this 
d common 

sense; that it overthrows the true nature of the sacrament; 
and that it becomes the cause of many superstitions and even 
gross idolatries. But this point comes up again, so that 
nothing more iieed be added at this stage. 

It is worth while noting here that the Standards do not 
define in any way what kind of bread and wine is to be used 
in the supper. Here the flexibility and common sense of 
their teaching are illustrated. The common bread of the 
time, and the wine of ordinary use may be properly used. 
It is not necessary to have unleavened bread or unfermented 
wine. The controversy about these details is not counte- 
nanced by the Standards. This controversy is not only use ■ 
less, but may be harmful, since it tends to unduly exalt the 
externals of the ordinance, and thus leads to ritualism. 
The suitableness of these elements is evident at a glance. 
Bread as the staff of life nourishes, and wine is a means 
of refreshment. In both cases the benefits which come 
to us through our interest in Christ's sufi'erings and death 
are fittingly symbolized by the emblems of this ordi- 

3. The words of institution are also worthy of. some notice. 
The officiating minister is to bless or consecrate the bread 
and wine, thereby setting it apart from a common to a sacred 
use. Then he is to take these elements and break the bread, 
and take the wine and give it to those who are present at the 
table. In doing so he is to say : " Take, eat ; this is my body 
broken for you, this do in remembrance of me ; " and of the 
Avine he is to say : " This cup is the New Testament i my 
blood which is shed for you." Here, also, the Standards 
enjoin, against the Romish practice, that the minister is to 
commuQicate along with the people, and also to give both 
the bread and the wine to the communicants. Rome gives 
to the people the bread only, and that in the form of a thin 
wafer, which is put upon the tongue of the communicant by 
the officiating priest, who himself only takes the wine of the 





The Presbyterian Standards. 

sacrament. Against Kome the true doctrine is set forth in 
the Standards. 

4. The Confession distinctly asserts that the sacrament of 
the Lord's supper is not a repetition of the sacrifice which 
Christ made to the justice of the Father. In no sense is it a 
sacrifice made for the remission of the sins of the quick or 
the dead. From the present point of view, this sacrament is 
only a commemoration of that one offering of Christ as a 
sacrifice of himself by himself upon the cross. This offering 
is the only true sacrifice, offered once for all, and a spiritual 
oblation of all possible praise to God. Hence, the only true 
sacrifice and oblation which takes away sin is that which 
Christ made upon the cross, and which needs no lepetition 
nor addition. From this it plainly follows that what is called 
the Komish sacrifice of the mass is most abominable and in- 
jurious to Christ's one only sacrifice, the alone propitiation 
for the sins of all the elect. In this bold language the ordi- 
nance of the mass, so dishonoring to Christ, is rejected utterly. 
In like manner, the Confession says that private masses, or 
receiving this sacrament by a priest or any other alone, and 
also the denial of the wine to the people, are contrary to the 
nature of the ordinance. And, further, the worshipping of 
the elements, the lifting of them up in what is called the eleva- 
tion of the host, and the retaining of any portions of the 
bread and wine for any pretended religious use, are all incon- 
sistent with the true nature of the sacrament as instituted by 
Christ. Here, once more, Romish doctrine and superstitious 
practice are decidedly rejected. Careful attention to these 
four points will give a clear view of the nature of the Lord's 

II. The End or Design of the Lord's Supper. 

In some respects this is the most difficult point to explain 
in connection with the doctrine of the supper. In a general 
way, the Lord's supper is said, in the Standards, to be an 
ordinance showing forth the death of Christ, a remembrance 

The Means of Grace ; The Lord's Supper. 327 

of the sacrifice of Christ till he comes. But this is a general 
statement, and by no means the whole doctrine of the Stand- 
ards upon this point. It is to be kept in mind, too, that the 
relation between the sign and the grace signified, and the 
nature of the sacrificial bond between them, again appears. 
Several particulars are noted in order. 

1. The Lord's supper shows forth and commemorates the 
sufferings and death of Christ in the church and to the world 
until he comes again. It is thus a memorial service, looking 
back to his sufferings and death as a sacrifice upon the cross 
for our sins. It is also a prophetic ordinance, looking for- 
ward to, and reminding us of, his coming a second time 
without sin unto salvation. 

2. The Lord's supper is designed to signify and seal the 
benefits of Christ and the covenant of grace to believers. 
Previous explanation of the sacraments in general have 
shown what is meant by this. All the blessings which flow 
from the death of Christ for us are set forth in the supper; 
and by the blessing of Christ through the Spirit to the 
worthy recipient he obtains, by means of this sacrament, and 
has sealed to him thereby, the blessings exhibited to him in the 
ordinance to his spiritual nourishment and growth in grace. 

At this point it may be well to explain the teaching of the 
Standards in regard to the way in which Christ is present in 
the elements of the supper. The body and blood of Christ 
are not corporally present in, with, or under the bread and, 
wine in the supper. This is really the Lutheran view, which 
is rejected by the Standards here, just as the Romish doc- 
trine was stated and rejected in the preceding section. Yet 
the body and blood of Christ, that is, his sufferings and 
death, are spiritually present to the faith of the worthy re- 
ceiver, no less truly and really than the outward elements are 
present to the senses. This seems an admirable statement. 
It rejects the real presence which Rome asserts, it sets aside 
the mystical view which Lutheranism favors, it is not con- 


■■ 1 ^' 













f ' 1 

^ f 

",' f 

•i> ' 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

tent with a mere symbolic view, such as Zwingle maintained, 
but it ascribes a spiritual presence of Christ crucified in the 
ordinance, and that presence has reality, not because of the 
ordinance itself considered, but only where faith is present. 
It is to this faith only that the spiritual presence of Christ in 
the supper has reality, and that only as Christ grants bless- 
ing by his Spirit. It is a spiritual presence, therefore, and 
not a real, or a mystical, or a symbolical presence which is 
the true doctrine of the Standards upon this important topic 
of great controversy. 

3. The sacrament of the supper is designed to express the 
beUever's thankfulness, and to be a constant and repeated 
pledge of his engagement to be the Lord's. By this sacra- 
ment believers testify and renew their gratitude to God for 
all his wonderful mercy and grace towards them, in the gift 
of the salvation which is in Christ. In this respect there 
will be spiritual nourishment. Then, too. every time be- 
lievers partake of this ordinance they renew their vows of 
loyalty to Christ, and repeat their promise to discharge faith- 
fully all the duties which they owe to It is their oath 
of allegience to the Captain of their salvation. 

4. The sacrament of the Lord's supper is a means of com- 
munion with Christ, and of fellowship between believers. 
These two points may be grouped together. In regard to 
the first, believers are made partakers of the flesh and blood 
of Christ, with all his benefits, in the Lord's supper. It 
thus is a pledge of their communion with Christ, and by 
means thereof they have their union and communion with 
him confirmed. The great underlying fact here is the union 
of believers with Christ. Upon this their communion with 
him rests securely. From this fact the second follows. Be- 
cause believers are in union with Christ, and one in him, 
they have fellowship with each other. They are members of 
Christ's mystical body, so that their mutual love and fellow- 
ship are thereby assured. Thus, the Lord's supper is at 


The Means op Grace ; The Lord's Supper. 


once a pledge of the spiritual kiusbip of believers, and a 
means of fostering brotherly love and spiritual communion 
among them. This leads to the question of the efficacy of the 
Lord's supper, and the discussion may now pass to that topic. 

III. The Efficacy of the LorcVs Supper. 

Like the question of the design of the supper, that of its 
efficacy is equally important, and just about as difficult 
rightly to understand. To a certain extent, these questions 
imply each other. They also raise again the much-debated 
question of the mode in which Christ is present in the sacra- 
ment so as to render it a means of spiritual nourishment 
and growth in grace. As this latter point has been already 
discussed, little more need be said upon it. It will suffice to 
say, that the mode in which Christ is taken to be present in 
the elements will largely determine the view held as to the 
efficacy of the supper. If the Romish view of the real 
presence be held, then the efficacy of the sacrament will be 
entirely mechanical. If the Lutheran idea of the mystical 
presence be taken, then the efficacy of the supper will be 
magical in its nature. If the purely symbolic view of 
Zwingle be adopted, then its efficacy will be precisely the 
same as that of any other saving truth. But, when the true 
spiritual conception of the presence of Christ in the supper 
is held, we are in a position rightly to understand the efficacy 
of this sacrament. Christ and his spiritual benefits are spirit- 
ually present to the faith of him who rightly receives the 
ordinance. From this position the efficacy of the sacrament 
of the supper can be intelligently understood. 

1. Negatively, the efficacy is not exercised or experienced 
in a carnal or corporal way. This follows, of course, from 
the fact that the presence of Christ in the elements is not 
carnal or corporal. Hence, the worthy partaker of the sup- 
per does not feed upon the body and blood of Christ after a 
corporal or carnal manner; that is, not literally. This nega- 
tive position needs nothing more than this brief statement. 






i ^ 

t ' 

V -1 


i 'i I 

1^ ' II 


H 1 

j I 

H i 

H ii 





The Presbyterian Standards. 

2. Positively, the efficacy of the Lord's supper is spiritual 
in its nature. The Confession and the Catechisms agree 
upon tliis point, and two facts are emphasized therein. 
Firsty That the benefit of this sacrament comes in a purely 
spiritual way, and is itself spiritual in its nature. Secondly^ 
That the faith of the recipient has a very important place in 
the efficiency which the sacrament exerts for spiritual ends 
in the soul. The Shorter Catechism emphasizes the second 
point when it says that by faith we are made partakers of 
the body and blood of Christ, with all his benefits, to our 
spiritual nourishment and growth in grace. The Larger 
Catechism combines the two points above named when it 
says that the partakers of the Lord's supper do inwardly, by 
faith really, yet not carnally, but rather spiritually, receive 
and feed upon Christ crucified, with all his benefits. The 
benefit is gracious and spiritual, and it comes in a spiritual 
way, since the Holy Spirit in the ordinance alone gives it its 
efficacy. And just as the outward elements, bread and wine, 
are present to the senses, so Christ and his benefits are 
present to the inward faith of the receiver of the supper. 
Hence, there are really three things which unite to give 
efficacy to the ordinance. These are the blessing of Christ, 
the agency of the Spirit, and the faith of the believer. It 
is only when these three things are present that the true 
spiritual efficacy of the supper is exercised, and when this 
simple ordinance is thus observed it becomes a precious and 
an efficacious means of grace to the believer. Christ, with 
all he is, and gives, is participated in, in a spiritual way, 
with blessed spiritual results to the believer. 

IV. The Conditions of Blessing on Our Part in the Sup- 

To a certain extent, this subject has been considered in 
what has been said about the place of faith in the efficacy of 
the supper. But the Standards have some additional things 
of value to say upon this point, and these are now gathered 


The Means of Grace ; The Lord's SurrER. 



up under a brief paragraph. This raises the question of 
what is necessary on our part in order to the worthy receiv- 
ing of the Lord's supper. A warning is also uttered against 
coming to the Lord's supper unworthily, and bringing con- 
demnation upon ourselves. There must, therefore, be suit- 
able preparation and self-examination in reference to this 
matter. Perhaps the very best outline of preparation is that 
indicated in the Shorter Catechism. This is now followed, 
adding what the Confession and the Larger Catechism also 

1. There must be knowledge to discern the Lord's body. 
This implies that they who come to the supper must be in 
Christ themselves by grace and faith, and that they have a 
conviction of their sin and need. But, specially, they must 
have a spiritual understanding of the ordinance which en- 
ables them to perceive the body and blood of Christ in their 
true meaning, as signifying and sealing Christ and his bene- 
fits to them. Ignorant men, therefore, are not to be ad- 
mitted to the ordinance. If such do come they can receive 
no spiritual good, and may bring judgment upon themselves 
by doing so. 

2. There must be faith to feed upon Christ. It is this 
faith which on our part conditions the blessing. This point 
needs no expansion after what has been said in other parts 
of this chapter. 

3. Repentance, sincere and true, is another necessary con- 
dition of blessing. This is closely connected with faith, and 
is very important. As we look to Christ's body, broken for 
our sins, we should have the broken heart for these sins; 
and as we behold his blood poured forth we should be bowed 
down with penitence for our sins, which caused bis blood to 
be shed. Wicked men, therefore, who are impenitent have 
no place, and can get no blessing at the supper of the Lord. 

4. There must be love to Christ and for one another in our 
hearts. Specially should we have ardent love to him who so 





The Presbyterian Standards. 



t :.' 


loved lis as to die for us. This, also, implies a positive 
hatred of all that is sinful and wrong in his sight. 

5. There must be a gracious and holy resolve for a new 
and a better obedience in life. The supper being a pledge of 
our loyalty to Christ, calls for a sincere purpose to render 
that obedience which he requires. 

6. The Larger Catechism adds an important condition, to 
the effect that we should cherish a charitable and forgiving 
spirit towards all men, and especially towards those who 
may have done us any wrong. It is evident that this has 
valuable practical applications. 

He who regards these conditions and fulfils them with 
earnest desires after Christ, and reviving these graces in his 
heart, and with serious meditation comes to the Lord's supper, 
will render acceptable service, and receive abundant bless- 
ing in turn. 

The Larger Catechism raises two additional questions here. 
J^rst, May any one who doubts his interest in Christ come to 
the Lord's supper? Secondly, Should any one who desires 
to come be kept back? The answer to the first is given in 
harmony with the teaching of the Standards in regard to the 
matter of assurance. It has already been seen that, while 
the assurance of faith and salvation is the privilege of the 
believer, yet such assurance is not of the essence of faith. 
Hence, any one who doubts his interest in Christ, and his 
preparation for the supper of the Lord, if he truly feels his 
need of Christ, and desires to be found in him, and to depart 
from all iniquity, and who is also anxious to have his doubts 
removed, such an one ought to be found at the Lord's supper, 
so that thereby he may have his faith strengthened, and his 
doubts removed. The answer to the second question is to 
the effect that the ignorant and the scandalous, even if they 
do make profession of faith, and desire to come to the supper, 
ought to be kept from that ordinance by the proper discipline 
which Christ has given to his church, till they receive in- 


The Means op Grace ; The Lord's Supper. 333 

struction and manifest reforraation. The well-balanced wis- 
dom of the Standards is evident here. 

V. The Proper Duties At and After the Lord's Supper. 

Here the Larger Catechism alone must be our guide. 
What it says is exceedingly practical and searching. 

1. The duties to be observed at the time of the supper are 
noted first. We are to have a spirit of holy reverence and 
attention, as we wait upon God in the ordinance. We are to 
diligently observe the sacramental elements, the bread and 
the wine, and the actions of breaking, pouring, giving, and 
receiving these elements. We are also to seek to discern the 
Lord's body, and with affection to meditate upon his suflfer- 
ings and death. We should further seek to stir into lively 
exercise all the Christian graces, having deep sorrow for sin, 
and earnest hungering after Christ. We are also to feed 
upon him by faith, trust in his merits, receive his fulness, 
rejoice in his love, give thanks for his grace, renew our 
covenant with God, and stir up our love to our brethren. 
Such are the duties to be observed at the time of the obser- 
vance of the supper. 

2. The duties to be observed after we have received the 
supper are next mentioned. Here there is a most admirable 
outline of exhortation, and careful attention to it on our part 
will give the ordinance blessed significance in relation to the 
practical conduct of life. We are to consider, first of all, how 
we behaved at the supper, and how much blessing we ob- 
tained at the time. Then, if we have found quickening and 
comfort, we are to bless God for it, and pray for its con- 
tinuance. Then, we are to watch against any relapse, and 
be faithful in keeping our vows, and at the same time be 
diligent in looking forward to the return of the ordinance. 
On the other hand, if no present benefit is experienced, we 
should carefully review our preparation for, and behavior at, 
the supper. Then, if on doing this, we can find no fault, but 
realize that our consciences are approved before God, we are 



The Presbyterian Standards. 


to patiently wait for the fruit to appear in due time. But if 
there has been failure in preparation for, or in the observance 
of, the ordinance, then we are to be humbled before God, 
and attend upon the Lord's supper with more diligence after- 

This completes the discussion of the Lord's supper, and 
concludes the exposition of the sacraments as the second 
branch of the means of grace. It is evident, from what has 
been said at several points, that the sacraments are a very im- 
portant section of Christian doctrine, and that they, rightly 
improved, must constitute a very important means of grace 
to build up the spiritual life of the believer. In some re- 
spects, the supper brings Christ nearer to us, and draws us 
into closer fellowship with him and with one another than 
any other ordinance or means of grace. Believers should 
always cherish a high and a reverent esteem for the Lord's 

t '. 



Shorter Catkcitism, 98-107; Larger Cateoihsm, 178-196; Confession of 

Faith, XXI., 3, 4. 

PRAYER is the third and last branch of the means of 
grace specially mentioned in the Standards, and it is a 
Tery important practical matter. In the Confession there is 
no formal discussion or statement of the doctrine of prayer. 
Only two brief sections in the chapter on religious worship 
are devoted to it, and there the nature and duty of prayer 
are simply assumed without formal exposition. In the Cate- 
chisms, however, large space is devoted to the explanation 
of prayer as a means of grace. In the Shorter Catechism 
ten questions, and in the Larger no fewer than eighteen, are 
devoted to this subject. In these questions the general 
doctrine of prayer is stated in a formal way, and then the 
Lord's prayer is expounded at length as the rule of prayer. 
The result is, that in the Standards there is the most com- 
plete statement of the doctrine of prayer to be found in any 
of the great creeds. In the exposition of this chapter the 
Catechisms will be followed quite closely, and their state- 
ments will be condensed wherever the limits of a single 
chapter upon a great subject make it necessary. 

It is proper to add that no discussion of the reality of 
prayer, or of the objections which are made against the 
efficacy of prayer, will be entered on. As just mentioned, 
the Standards simply assume that prayer is a precious leaHty, 
and that it has a real and powerful efficacy. This is pre- 
cisely the same position that the Scriptures take in regard to 
this matter, so that the Standards follow a very good example 
in this, as they do in regard to the existence of God, the 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

religious nature of man, and the reality of divine revela- 
tion. This plan will be followed in the explanations of this 

I. The Nature of Prayer will he Defined at the Outset. 
Both Catechisms define prayer, the definition of the Shorter 

being briefer than that of the Larger. Combining the two, a 
very excellent definition of prayer is secured, and it is as 
follows : Prayer is an oflfering up of our desires unto God, 
for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, by the 
help of the Spirit, with confession of our sins, and thankful 
acknowledgL^ant of all his mercies. At a glance, it will be 
seen that this is an exceedingly complete description of the 
matter of prayer, and it needs but little explanation, for 
every part of it is simple and clear. It rightly signalizes 
the place which the desires of the heart have in true prayer, 
and thus indicates that prayer need not be audible. It may 
be the silent converse and communion of the soul with God. 
The presentation of our desires to God, silently or vocally, is 
prayer. We are also to pray always with submission to the 
will of God, and be ever ready to say, Thy will, O God, be 
done! And all acceptable prayer is to be offered up through 
the mediation of Christ, and by the aid of the Holy Spirit. 
Then, in addition to the offering up of our desires to God, 
the confession of sin and the giving of thanks are to have a 
place in prayer as very important factors. In what will be 
said under subsequent topics some of these points will be 
enlarged on, so that nothing more need now be added in 
regard to them. 

II. The Personal Ohject to Whom Prayer is to he Offered is 
Next Considered. 

The Larger Catechism says that we are to pray to God 
alone, and to none other. Hence, prayer to many gods is 
forbidden, as also prayer to saints and angels in any way. 
This Catechism also suggests the reasons which properly 
lead us to pray to God alone. He only is able to search our 


The Means of Grace ; Prayer. 



hearts and know what we really desire, and he knows best 
whether we really need the things which we desire. Then, 
God only can hear and answer prayer, for he is the Creator, 
and all other objects of prayer must be creatures and of 
finite ability. And, again, since God alone can pardon ovir 
sins and fulfil our desires, he alone should be prayed to for 
all these things. Then, too, since God only is to be believed 
in and worshipped as God, and since prayer is a part of 
worship, to God alone should prayer be made. 

III. The Medium of Prayer is an Important Facioi in it^ 
How are We to Come to God in Prayer ? 

This for sinful man is an all-important inquiry, for while 
a sinless creature might come directly into the presence of 
the Creator, yet a sinful creature cannot so come. Hence, 
the Larger Catechism, with the utmost propriety, and in ac- 
cordance with the Scriptures, says that the sinfulness of 
man and his distance from God is so great by reason thereof 
that he can have no access into the divine presence without 
a mediator. And, since there is none in heaven or earth fit 
for or appointed to that glorious work but Christ alone, we 
are to pray in his name only, and in no other. In the name 
of, and for the sake of, Christ must all our prayers be offered 
at the throne of grace, which is the footstool of God. To 
thus pray in the name of Christ is in accordance* with his 
command, and in confidence in his promises to ask for 
mercy for his sake. This is to be rightly done, not merely 
by the formal mention of his name, but by finding our en- 
couragement to pray, and also by obtaining our boldness, 
strength, and hope of acceptance in prayer, from Christ and 
his mediation. He is to be our way to the Father in prayer, 
and the Father's way to us with the answer. The mediation 
of Christ, and especially the intercessory work at the Father's 
right Ijtand, gives us access to God and confidence in prayer 
when we come, assured that we have such an advocate with 
the Father. 



The Presbyterian Standards. 


I ! 

IV. The Agent Who Aids us in Prayer is the Next Topic 
in Connection vnth Prayer. 

Because of our sinfulness we are not only far away from 
God and in need of a mediator, but our hearts are not natur- 
ally disposed, or, as a matter of fact, qualified, for the exer- 
cise of prayer. In this case we need a helper within us, as 
well as an advocate for us. The Holy Spirit is revealed and 
offered as that helper. Since we know not how to pray as 
we ought, the Holy Spirit helps our infirmities. In doing 
so, he enables us to understand for what and for whom we 
ought to pray. He also instructs us as to how prayer should 
be offered, so that having a proper frame of mind we may 
be enabled to pray with the understanding. This the Spirit 
does by working in, and quickening in our hearts those ap- 
prehensions, affections, and graces which are required for 
the right performance of the duty of prayer. It is added, 
that this quickening of the Spirit is not in all persons, nor 
at all times in the same measure, for God sends the Spirit 
through the Son as he pleases. The Spirit is thus the advo- 
cate within us who helps our infirmities and teaches us how 
to pray and what to pray for as we ought. Hence, with an 
advocate in heaven and one on earth, we may have confi- 
dence in prayer, and ability to draw near to God in the full 
assurance of faith. 

V. The Next Question Relates to what it is our Duty and 
Privilege to Pray for. 

This is a wide subject, and includes both the persons and 
the things for which we ought to offer our prayers. The 
Standards assume that we are to pray for both temporal and 
spiritual things, so that the view of those who forbid prayer 
for anything but spiritual blessings is to be set . side. As to 
the persons for whom we are to pray, the Larger Catechism 
tells us, first of all, that we are to pray for the whole|phurch 
of Christ upon earth. This expresses the broad catholic 
spirit which breathes all through the Standards. Then we 

The Means of Grace ; Prayer. 


/ Topic 

ij from 
b natur- 
e exer- 
Q us, as 
led and 
pray as 
1 doing 
bom we 

ye may 
3 Spirit 
ose ap- 
Ired for 

ms, nor 
3 Spirit 
e advo- 
us how 
with an 
3 confi- 
the full 

dy and 

tns and 
. The 
ral and 

As to 

len we 

are to pray for magistrates, which includes all who hold civil 
authority, and who exercise rule or execute law in the state. 
Yy''e are also to pray for ministers of the gospel everywhere, 
that their lives may be holy, and their labors blessed. We 
are next to pray for ourselves and our brethren in the flesh ; 
and we are to make supplication before God on behalf of our 
brethren in the Lord, that God would in his mercy bless and 
save them. And we are not to forget to pray for our enemies, 
and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter in 
the world. Hence, our petitions are not to be restrained, but 
are to extend far and wide. For the church universal and 
for its officers and members, for nations and earthly rulers, 
for ourselves and our brethren, for our enemies and for men 
yet unborn, and then for all sorts of men, even the outcast 
and neglected of the human race, we are to pray, and give 
them a place in our supplications and intercessions. Then, 
with curious caution, the Standards tell us that we are not to 
pray for the dead, as Kome would have us do ; nor are our 
prayers to be offered for those who are known to have sinned 
the sin unto death. This is the same remark as was ex- 
plained some time ago from the Confession in another chap- 
ter, where religious worship is described. In making this 
statement, the Scriptures are followed closely. But we should 
not hastily conclude that any particular person has committed 
that awful sin for which there is no place of pardon here or 

VI. The Proper Spirit or Temper of Prayer Pe^'ires a few 
Words of Explanation. 

This raises the question : How should we pray ? In what 
frame of mind, and what should be our disposition of heart 
when we pray? Here reverence is set down first, for the 
Larger Catechism says that we should pray with an awful 
apprehension of the majesty of God. We are to remember 
that God is in heaven and that we are upon the earth. We 
should also have a deep sense of our own unworthiness, 


The Presbyterian Standards. 



mindful that God is perfectly holy, and that we are sinful in 
his sight. In like manner, we are to be sensible of our 
necessities, and, above all, of the need of the pardon of our 
sins, and so come with penitent, thankful and enlarged hearts 
to his footstool. Our approach to God in prayer is also to 
be marked by understanding our need ; by faith in Christ, 
and in the promises which are sure in him; by sincerity, 
knowing that if we regard iniquity in our hearts God will not 
hear us ; by fervency, showing that we are in earnest in our 
desires ; by love to God for all his love to us ; and by perse- 
verance, which will lead to a patient importunity. And, 
finally, we are to wait on God in prayer with humble sub- 
mission to his will, resigned to leave the answer to his holy 
and gracious purpose, as he deems best to give or withhold, 
to bless or restrain the blessing. 

VII. The Parts or Elements of Prayer are now to he Ex- 

These, though not formally expressed in the Standards, 
are, nevertheless, implied, and may now be set down in a 
sentence or two, before the Lord's prayer as the rule to 
guide us in prayer is explained at some length. 

Adoration stands first, whereby we praise and magnify God 
and his majesty, for what he is and does in creation, provi- 
dence, and grace. Next in order, we may set down confes- 
sion of sin, for we are sinful in the sight of God, and our 
sins must be removed before we can come acceptably to 
God. Then follows thanksgiving, for it is fitting that we 
should render grateful thanks for past mercies before we beg 
for their continuance or renewal. Then come petitions of 
all sorts for ourselves and others, as already described. And, 
lastly, stands intercession, or special pleading for any defi- 
nite cases or causes. These are the main elements of prayer. 
Of course, we may not find it necessary to include all these 
factors at any one time in our prayers, still, in offering public, 
domestic, or private prayer, it may be well to keep this gen- 

The Means of Gkace ; Prayer. 


inful in 
of out 
of our 
[ hearts 
also to 
mil not 
; in our 
' perse- 
le sub- 
lis holy 

he Ex- 

7n in a 
rule to 

ify God 
, provi- 
md our 
ably to 
ihat we 
we beg 
ions of 
i. And, 
ay defi- 

11 these 

lis gen- 

eral outline in view. It will give order to our prayers, and 
save us from confusion and repetition. In almost every case 
adoration, confession, and giving of thanks should have a 

VIII. The Rule or Pattern of Prayer is the Last Topic to 
he Explained from the Standards. 

Much importance is evidently attached to this topic in the 
Catechisms, and the remainder of this chapter must be de- 
voted to its exposition in only brief outline. The Larger 
Catechism says that the whole word of God is of use in 
directing us in the duty of praying ; but the special rule of 
direction is that form of prayer which our Lord taught his 
disciples, and which is commonly called the Lord's prayer. 
This prayer is to be used, not only for directing us in prayer, 
but as a pattern according to which we are to make other 
prayers. There is here sketched only a general outline. At 
the same time, it is added that this prayer may be used as a 
prayer, so long as it is done with understanding, faith, rever- 
ence, and the other graces necessary to the right perform- 
ance of the duty of prayer. This is an important statement, 
not only in regard to this prayer, but in respect to all prayer, 
and it contains a warning and an exhortation of great moment 
in regard to the use of liturgies, or the reading of prayers in 
public or private worship. 

In making an analysis of the Lord's prayer, there are three 
parts to be considered. These are the preface, the petitions, 
and the conclusion. The first and the last are briefly con- 
sidered, while the second is explained at length in the 
Standards. Each is now expounded in a simple way. 

1. The preface requires only a few lines. It is, " Our 
Father which art in heaven." This teaches us that when we 
pray we are to draw near to God with confidence in his 
fatherly goodness, and our interest in that goodness. We 
are also taught to come with reverence, and with all other 
suitable, childlike dispositions and heavenly aflfections. In 

. J.; 

■ V- 


' .1 1 



The Presbyterian Standards. 


this way we are to come with the true filial spirit, and say, 
Abba, Father; and at the same time we are to seek to cher- 
ish due apprehensions of his sovereign power, his transcen- 
dent majesty, and his gracious condescension. We are also 
exhorted to pray with and for others when we are taught to 
say. Our Father. This preface thus forms a suitable pre- 
lude to this remarkable prayer. 

2. The petitions are now to be considered in order. 
These petitions are six in number. The Shorter Catechism 
gives a brief exposition of each, which the Larger expands 
considerably. In the present exposition an attempt will be 
made to combine these, and to oflfer some comments as the 
explanation proceeds. 

The first petition is, "Hallowed be thy name." This 
teaches us to pray that God would enable us and others to 
glorify him in all that whereby he makes himself known, 
and that he would dispose all things for his glory. Here we 
confess our inability and our indisposition of ourselves to 
honor God aright, and we ask for grace to enable us to 
know and highly esteem him, and all those things by which 
he makes himself known to us, and to glorify him in thought, 
word, and deed. We are also taught here to pray that God 
would destroy atheism, idolatry, and everything which dis- 
honors him, and that he would dispose all things for his own 

The second petition is, "Thy kingdom come." By this 
petition we pray that Satan's kingdom may be destroyed, 
and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves 
brought into it and kept in it, and the kingdom of glory 
hastened. Here we acknowledge that we are all by nature 
under the dominion of sin and Satan, and we pray for de- 
liverance, that the gospel may be spread throughout the 
world, that the Jews may be called into the kingdom, and 
that the fulness of the Gentiles may be brought in. We 
likewise here pray that the church may be kept pure in all 


The Means op Grace ; Prayer. 


respects, and that the rulers of the earth may not oppose the 
gospel. We also pray that by the ordinances of the church 
sinners tnay be converted and saints be confirmed, that Christ 
may rule in the hearts of men here, and that the time of his 
second coming may be hastened. 

The third petition is, *• Thy will be done on earth, as it is 
in heaven." This teaches us to pray that God would, by his 
grace, make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to 
his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven. Hero we 
also confess our proneness to rebel against God's word and 
providence, and we pray that God would take away our 
blindness and perverseness, and make us, with humility and 
cheerfulness, to do, and submit to, the will of God in all 

The fourth petition is, " Give us this day our daily bread." 
Here we pray that God would, of his free gift, grant us a com- 
petent portion of the things of this life, and that we may 
enjoy his blessing with them. Here, too, we confess that 
we deserve none of these outward blessings of this life, and 
are prone to use them unlawfully, and we pray for ourselves 
and others that, waiting on God's providence in the use of 
lawful means, we may receive a competent portion of God's 
temporal gifts, and be contented in the lawful use of the same. 

The fifth petition is, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive 
our debtors." Here we pray that God would, for Christ's 
sake, freely pardon our sins, and that we may be able from 
the heart to forgive others. Here we also confess that we 
are guilty sinners before God, and hopeless debtors to the 
divine justice, and we pray that, through the satisfaction of 
Christ applied by faith, God would pardon and acquit us, 
and continue to do so, filling us with peace and joy, and 
prompting and enabling us to forgive our fellowmen. 

The sixth petition is, "Lead us not into temptation, but 
deliver us from evil," or, as some would translate, " from the 
evil one." Here we pray that God would either keep us from 



I i 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

being tempted to sin, or support us when we are tempted. 
Here we also confess our own weakness and proneness to go 
astray, and we pray that God would so subdue and restrain 
us, and order all things about us, that we may be saved from 
temptation, or so succored in it that we do not fall into sin, 
or if we do happen to fall, that we may speedily repent, and 
be recovered and restored. 

3. The conclusion remains for a word or two. It is as 
follows : " For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the 
gl( y, forever. Amen." This teaches us to ascribe all praise 
and glory to God alone, in our prayers and adoration before 
him, who is King of kings, and whose kingdom is an ever- 
lasting kingdom. The word Amen, with which the prayer 
closes, expresses cur solemn assurance that we earnestly de- 
sire to be heard, and our willingness to submit to the divine 
will in the answer, whatever it may be, to our prayers. 

Such is an imperfect outline of the subject of prayer as a 
means of grace. The order of the petitions is worthy of 
notice. Petitions which relate to God come first, next those 
which pertain to his kingdom, and laLt those which refer to 
ourselves. The Larger Catechism expounds confession and 
petition in each of the parts of the Lord's prayer, and has a 
very detailed exposition of the whole prayer. 


ess to go 
i restrain 
ved from 
into sin, 
)Gnt, and 

It is as 
, and the 
ill praise 
•n before 
an ever- 
e prayer 
Bstly de- 
le divine 

lyer as a 
orthy of 
xt those 

refer to 
ion and 
id has a 



Shorter CAXEonisM, 

; Larger Catech IBM, 62-65; Confession of 

Faith, XXV. and XXX. 

WITH this chapter the passage is made from matters 
of doctrine and duty to questions concerning the 
polity and discipline of the church. For two or three chap- 
ters these questions will engage attention. In this chapter 
two related topics, which the Confession treats in separate 
chapters, and in diflferent connections, are grouped together, 
and briefly explained. 

The Shorter Catechism has nothing whatever to say in re- 
gard to the church, or its form of government. This is, per- 
haps, a serious defect in it, so far as instruction in the prin- 
ciples of church polity is concerned, especially from the 
Presbyterian point of view. The Larger Catechiom defines 
the visible and invisible aspects of the church in a simple, 
clear way. It does this immediately after it has set forth the 
work of Christ, and before it unfolds the benefits of redemp- 
tion. The Confession devotes a whole chapter to the church, 
and in others deals with the form and powers of the govern- 
ment of the church in a somewhat general way. 

As was hinted in a previous chapter, the Standards speak 
with much less precision in regard to questions of church 
government than they do in reference to matters of doctrine 
and ethics. It is important to remember this in relation to 
Presbyterianism. The reason of this difference is mainly to 
be found in the fact that in the Westminster Assembly there 
was little difference of view in matters of doctrine, while in 
regard to questions of polity there was great diversity of 
opinion. All held more or less definitely the Calvinistic or 
Beformed system of doctrine, but they did by no means agree 







1 ^ 




The Pkesdyterian Standakds. 

as to tho form of churcli government which the Scriptures 
taught, and as to the proper functions of the church of Christ, 
and its rehition to the civil magistrate. In the Assembly there 
were Episcopalians of various types, some being high church- 
men and some Erastians. There was also a number of very 
influential Independents. The Presbyterians were also theie, 
and while they argued very strongly for their views of the 
true polity of the church, as they understood it, it was not 
till the close of the Assembly almost, when numbers had left, 
that they were able to carry, to a certain extent, their views 
in the Assembly. But, after all, it is not well-defined Pres- 
byterian polity that is set forth in the Standards. The gen- 
eral principles are there, but the details are not unfolded. 
This is, perhaps, just as well, for it leaves each branch of the 
Presbyterian family to work out the details in such a way as 
bests suits its special circumstances in harmony with the 
word of God. The Standards undoubtedly contain the 
fundamental principles of the Presbyterian system, and the 
only proper development of these principles is generic Pres- 
byterianism, as it is hoped will be clearly seen in this expo- 

At this stage it may be well to observe that nearly every 
branch of Presbyterianism has drawn up a Form of Govern- 
ment, in which that particular form of polity is set forth more 
definitely, and in its full scriptural form and proportions. In 
the exposition to be given in this, and one or two other chap- 
ters, some of the contents of these forms of government and 
discipline will be incorporated, so as to make the discussion 
more complete. In doing this, however, care will be taken 
to keep these two factors so far separate that the reader will 
easily perceive what each, and especially the Standards, 

I. The C/iurch is First Considered. 

In regard to the church, what the Confession and the 
Larger Catechism have to say about it will be set down first, 


The Chuugh and Hku Censuues. 


and then in mere outline a sketch of tlie main factors or 
elements in tiie generic Presbyterian form of church polity 
and discipline which grows out of it will be given. At 
every point brevity is enforced, by reason of the limits of 
this exposition. 

1. The invisible church, as it is called, ought to be first 
explained. This is the most profound view of the church of 
Christ which the Standards present. It is called invisible 
partly because we cannot tell absolutely in this life who are 
members of it, and partly because we do not find all the 
members of it on the earth at any given period of the history 
of tlie church. The Larger Catechism defines the invisible 
church to be the whole number of the elect, that have been, 
are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ the head. 
This terse and comprehensive statement the Confession some- 
what expands. It adds that the invisible church is catholic 
or universal, and that it is the spouse of Christ, and that it is 
his body, the fulness of him that fiUeth all in all. The term 
catholic means universal, and has no reference to the Church 
' of Bome. Membership in this invisible phase of the church 
is in accordance with the purpose of God's electing love and 
grace, but it is only actually realized in the case of each in- 
dividual through union with Christ the head. Only those 
who are united to Christ in effectual calling, and are truly 
regenerated by the Spirit, are members of this body. If they 
are in adult years when they become members, their personal 
faith will also exist, but the fundamental condition of mem- 
bership for all, infants or adults, in this phase of the church 
is union with Christ. It is evident, also, that only those who 
are niembers of the invisible church are, or can be saved, so 
that the number of those finally saved shall agree with the 
great company of those who are members of that aspect of 
the church, just as the members of the invisible church 
agree with the innumerable company of those included in 
God's purpose of electing grace. And all the members of 




The Presbyterian Standards. 




the invisible church, by reason of their union with Christ, 
enjoy communion with him here, and in glory with him 
hereafter. They also have fellowship with each other 
through the communion of saints. 

2. The visible church is also to be explained. This is the 
aspect of the church which comes up chiefly for discussion 
in church polity. This phase of the church is doubtless 
called visible because its condition of membership, which is 
profession of faith in Christ its head, is open for observation, 
and because its members can be seen upon the earth at any 
given period. It is sometimes called the church militant 
since it is engaged in conflict and struggle from age to age 
in the world. The church triumphant will be finally found 
in heaven, when the church visible and militant has won all 
its victories on the earth, and the church invisible will also 
be complete in the heavenly state. 

The Larger Catechism defines the visible church to be 
" a society made up of such as in all ages and places of the 
world do profess the true religion, and of their children." 
This is an admirable definition, and one cannot but wish 
that this definition, as well as that of the invisible church, 
had been given a place in the Shorter Catechism. The Con- 
fession says that the visible church is also catholic or uni- 
versal under the gospel. This means that the visible church, 
now under the gospel age, is not confined to a single nation 
as it was in the Jewish dispensation, but includes all those 
throughout the world that profess the true religion, together 
with their children. 

The conditions of membership in the visible church are 
credible profession of faith in Christ, and a life of obedience 
consistent with that profession. It is not absolutely neces- 
sary to be a member of this aspect of the church in order to 
be saved, and there may be some who are members of it 
who shall be finally among the lost. Still, for many urgent 
reasons, it is most necessary that all who are united with 

The Church and Her Censures. 



Christ, and are thus members of the invisible church, should 
profess his name before men by becoming members of the 
visible church. 

From the definitions given of these two aspects of the 
church of Christ, it is not to be concluded that there are two 
distinct churches, the one visible and the other invisible. 
They are simply two different aspects or phases of the one 
body of Christ. The one views it from its inward side of 
regeneration and union with Christ, and the other regards it 
from its outward aspect of profession of faith in Christ, and 
union in a soci<^ty. The former is the invisible church, 
and the latter is the visible. 

The visible church is under God's special care, and is pro- 
tected and preserved in all ages in spite of its foes. All its 
members enjoy the communion of saints, and the ordinary 
means of grace. This implies the offer of grace and salva- 
tion to all its members, through the ministry of the gospel, 
testifying that whosoever believes in him shall be saved, and 
that none who will come unto him shall be rejected. The 
visible church thus becomes the instrument upon the earth | 
by raeans of which the knowledge of the way of life and sal- ' 
vation is given to the world, and the gospel message brought 
to men, even to the end of the world. 

This visible church is, by the Confession, said to be the 
same as the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, and is the \ 
house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary 
possibility of salvation. The force of the ordinary must be 
carefully noted here. It seems to emphasize the importance 
of membership in the visible church, and yet it is not to be 
held that such membership is absolutely essential to salva- 
tion. This is very carefully stated, and should be held 

3. The gifts of Christ to the visible church are to be con- . 
sidered at this stage. To the universal visible church, which 
God has instituted in the world, Christ has granted certain 


The Presbyterian Standards. 


very important gifts. These are the gospel ministry for the 
' preaching of the word, the oracles of God contained in the 
sacred Scriptures, the ordinances of his house, especially the 
sacraments and public worship. The purpose or end of 
these gifts is to gather sinners into the kingdom, and to 
make the saints meet for glory, on to the end of the world. 
Then it is added, with great propriety, that Christ does, by 
his own presence and Spirit in the church, make these gifts 
effectual to the salvation of those who are appointed there- 
unto. This brief paragraph will be expanded later on in 
another connection. 

This phase of the church universal has been sometimes 
more, sometimes less, visible; and the particular churches 
into which the universal visible church may be divided and 
of which they are members, are more or less pure according 
as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, the 
ordinances administered, and public worship performed more 
or less purely in them. Here there are three valuable tests 
of the purity of any branch of the church of Christ. The 
preaching of a pure gospel, the observance of the ordinances 
in their simplicity, and the spirituality of the worship in the 
church are the tests. The importance of these tests is evi- 

The Confession further acknowledges that the purest 
churches undt heaven are subject to both mixture and 
error. Some have so degenerated as to become no churches 
of Christ at all, but synagogues of Satan. The name of the 
Romish church is not here mentioned, but there is little 
doubt that the reference is to that corrupt body. But in 
spite of this, the statement is added that there shall always 
be a church on the earth, to worship God according to his 
will. Tliio church is founded upon the Rock of Ages, it is 
inhabited by the Spirit of power and grace, and the gates of 
hell shall not prevail against it. 

4. The head of the church is another important topic here to 

The Church and Her Censures. 


be understood. This doctrine is briefly but clearly stated in 
the Confession. It says that the Lord Jesus Christ is the 
alone head of the church. This statement brings us within 
sight of the kingly office of Christ, already expounded. He 
is the head of the church invisible, and all his people in 
union with him are members of his body. He is also king 
and head of the visible church, which is really the visible 
exponent of the invisible church in any given age. His law 
is supreme, and his will is law in all spiritual matters for the 
members of the visible church. 

This implies two important things : Firsts It teaches that \ 
no mere man in any ecclesiastical position or office ought to 
assume to be the head of the church ; and, hence, that the 
pope cannot rightly claim to be its head. The Confession 
adds that the pope may properly be identified with the anti- 
Christ of the ^^criptures, who is that man of sin and son of 
perdition that exalts himself in the church against Christ, 
and even calls himself God. Secondly, It teaches that in no 
sense can any earthly civil ruler, as such, presume to be the 
church's head, or to exercise rule or authority therein. The 
headship of Christ over his church i& not temporal, but 
entirely spiritual. Hence, no man dare take the place which 
belongs to Christ alone. This raises the question of the 
relation between the church and the state, to be treated more 
fully later on. 

The question of the officers of the visible church is re- 
served for the next chapter, when the courts of the church 
and other kindred topics are to be explained. A few things, 
however, may be set down here in regard to the matter of 
the call to such office and ordination in that connection. 
Ordination, of course, presupposes a call to office in the 
church. This call is of God, by his Spirit and providence. 
This call implies three things: First, There is the inward 
testimony of the conscience of the man himself. Secondly, 
There is the manifest approbation of God's people exercising 



The Presbyterian Standards. 



their right of election. And, Thirdly, There is the concur- 
rence of the church court, according to the word of God. 
Ordination follows ; and it is the authoritative admission of 
one duly called to an office in the church of God, accom- 
panied with prayer and the laying on of hands, to which it is 
proper to add the giving of the right hand of fellowship. 
Ruling elders and deacons are ordained by sessions, and 
teaching elders and ministers are ordained by presbyteries. 
Synods and the General Assembly do not ordain. 

II. The Censures of the Church is the Other Main Topic for 
this Chapter. 

It relates to the matter of government and discipline 
chiefly. This is a topic upon which the Confession alone 
speaks. Its teaching is now to be set forth. In doing so, 
it will appear that it is with this chapter that the contents 
of the rules of discipline are to be connected. Into these 
matters this discussion cannot enter, but must content itself 
with a brief presentation of the general principles laid down 
in the Confession upon this practical matter. 

1. The Confession first asserts that the Lord Jesus, as the 
king and head of his church, has therein appointed a govern- 
ment in the hands of church officers, distinct fi ,m the civil 
magistrate. The former part of this chapter has made plain 
the meaning of this statement. The last brief clause of it is 
of very great importance, for it asserts the clear distinction 
between the government of Jesus Christ in the church, which 
is his spiritual kingdom, and the government of the civil 
magistrate in the state. The two spheres are distinct, though 
they sustain intimate relations with each other. This will be 
seen more fully in the next chapter, when the question of the 
civil magistrate and his functions in relation to the church 
are discussed. 

2. To the officers of the church, into whose hands the gov- 
/ ernment of the church is entrusted, Christ has committed 

the keys of the kingdom of heaven. By this power is to be 

The Church and Her Censures. 


understood the whole matter of government and discipline in 
the church. By virtue of this power the proper officers of 
the church have power respectively to retain and remit sins, 
to shut that kingdom against the impenitent, both by word 
in preaching and by censures in discipline, and to open it 
unto penitent sinners by the ministry of the word of the 
gospel and by absolution from censures, as occasion may re- 
quire. This power of the keys is a very important one in 
the kingdom of heaven. Its proper use does not imply the 
doctrine of absolution, as Rome teaches and practices it. It 
is simply the divinely delegated power of government and 
discipline in the church. The statement " retain and remit 
sins," taken from Scripture, does not mean that the officers 
of the church can actually, as God alone can, pardon or re- 
fuse to pardon sins; but it denotes that these officers have 
power to admit or exclude persons from the visible church. 
Those whom they admit are thereby pronounced worthy of 
the place and privileges of those whose sins are pardoned, 
and those who are not admitted are merely judged not to be 
worthy of this place and privilege. Then, if those who are 
members of the church do not conduct themselves in pro- 
priety with their profession, the officers of the church have 
power to discipline and censure, as may be expedient, the 
erring members. This is the gist of what is meant by the 
power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven. 

3. The uses or ends of the power of church censures are 
next explained in the Confession. First, They are necessary 
for reclaiming and gaining erring brethren. In this respect 
church censures are unlike civil punishments, whose main 
end is penal rather than reformatory. Secondly, They are 
useful in deterring others from like offences, and thus are 
helpful to them in hhis respect. Thirdly, They also help to 
keep the church pure, by purging out the leaven which might 
infect the whole lump. Fourthly, These church censures 
serve to vindicate the honor of Christ, and the holy profes- 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

sion of the gospel. If men were allowed to profess to be the 
servants of Christ, and yet to disregard his law and bring 
shame upon the Christian profession, then the great name of 
Christ would be hopelessly dishonored. Finally^ These cen- 
sures prevent the wrath of God from coming upon the church. 
By reason of sin, and especially by profaning in any way the 
seals of the covenant exhibited in the sacrament by notorious 
oflfenders, the just wrath and displeasure of God might, in- 
deed, fall upon the church. To save from this, the faithful 
use of the censures of the church is of much value. 

For the attainment of these important ends aright, the 
officers of the church are to proceed in a wise and careful 
manner, seeking always to graduate the censure in propor- 
tion to the gravity of the offence. The lowest form of cen- 
sure is admonition, by which the offender is simply rebuked, 
exhorted, and warned, but not excluded from the privileges 
of church membership. The form of censure next in severity 
is suspension from the sacrament of the Lord's supper for a 
season. This does not sever the offender from the member- 
ship of the church, but it deprives him of the privilege of 
taking the sacrament of the supper till the suspension ex- 
pires, or until repentance is made and restoration is granted. 
The third and most severe form of censure is excommunica- 
tion from the church. This form of censure severs the 
offender entirely from the membership of the church, and 
by means of it he is cast out, and can only be restored after 
proper repentance, and renewal of his faith in Christ. These 
three forms of censure are to be graduated with conscien- 
tious care by the officers of the church, according to the 
nature of the offence and the demerit of the offender. 

This chapter in the Confession is really the basis of the 
rules of discipline, according to which the power of the keys 
of the kingdom of heaven implied in these censures is to be 
administered. If the offender is not satisfied with the sen- 
tence of any lower court he can appeal to a higher, and so 


The Church and Her Censures. 


be the 
id bring 
name of 
3se cen- 
way the 
ight, in- 

^ht, the 
of cen- 
3r for a 
lege of 
ion ex- 
ars the 
h, and 
d after 
to the 

from the session which has original jurisdiction in the case 
of members of the church, and from the presbytery which 
has jurisdiction over ministers, up to the synod and on to 
the General Assembly the case may go, in the interests of 
the offender, the purity of the church, and the honor of 

This complete organization and gradation of courts is one 
of the features of the Presbyterian system which must ever 
commend it to thoughtful and practical minds. It secures 
corporate unity, orderly procedure, individual freedom, and 
justice to all sacred interests. Moreover, it provides for the 
harmonious balance and consistent operation of all these 
factors in such a way as to make Presbyterianism the sym- 
bol of law and liberty, of order and organization, wherever it 
is found true to its divine genius and faithful to its common- 
sense principles. 

of the 
le keys 
s to be 
ae sen- 
and so 



Shorter Catechism, 

•; Larger Catkohism, 
Faith, XXXI. 

Confession of 

IN this chapter 8ome further explanations must be made 
in regard to the government of the church. In the 
preceding chapter the subject specially considered was the 
government of a particular church, after the idea of the 
church itself had been explained. In this chapter the gov- 
ernment and discipline of the church is to be explained at 
some length. This leads to the question of the synods or 
councils of the church. In other words, the courts of the 
church are to be explained in an orderly way. 

It is to be observed that the statements of the Standards 
upon this subject are of a somewhat general nature. The 
word synod means simply an assembly or convocation of 
persons in the interests of the church, and the word council 
indicates a deliberation or conference of those persons who 
are interested in the welfare of the body of Christ. But 
neither of these terms settles the question of the proper form 
which the government of the church should assume. Whether 
these synods and councils are to be Presbyterian, Episcopal, 
or Independent in their nature is not definitely decided by the 
use of these terms. At the same time, it is not to be forgotten 
that the corporate idea of the church which runs through 
the Confession cannot well be harmonized with the system of 
Independency, and the teaching of the Confession in regard 
to the officers of the church is not capable of being recon- 
ciled with the Episcopal system. The principles of the 
Confession are Presbyterian, but the details of the system 
are not wrought c fc with fulness of particulars. The idea of 
the church is essentially Presbyterian, and the teaching 



e made 
In the 
vas the 
of the 
he gov- 
ined at 
Qods or 
\ of the 

9. The 
ition of 
ms who 
}t. But 
)er form 
i by the 
stem of 
of the 
idea of 

Church Synods and Councils. 


elders, ruling elders, and deacons are evidently officers of 
the Presbyterian system. 

After what the Confession has to say upon the subject of 
synods and councils has been sketched, some explanations 
will b'^ added in regard to the particular form which these 
synods and councils assume in the Presbyterian system, espe- 
cially as represented by the church courts of generic Presby- 
terianism. The teaching of the Confession will be first set 
forth, and after that some things contained in the Form of 
Gov 3rnment will be added to make the exposition the more 

I. The Doctrine of the Standards. 

The Confession is to be our sole guide in the explanations 
now to be made, as the Catechisms are silent upon these 
topics of ecclesiology. Several points are to be noted in 

1. The Confession first indicates the end or purpose of 
synods or councils in the church. It says that for the better 
government and further edification of the church there ought 
to be such assemblies as are commonly called synods or 
councils. The idea here expressed evidently is that the 
government of single congregations separately by their office- 
bearers is not all that is needed to secure the best edification 
of the church. In addition, it is necessary and wise for the 
officers of the separate societies of Christians to meet together, 
and to confer and devise concerning those things which may 
be for the welfare of the whole company of societies in any 

The Confession distinctly announces that the overseers 
and other rulers of the particular churches, by virtue of their 
office, and by reason of the power which Christ has given 
them for edification, and not for destruction, ought to ap- 
point such assemblies, and to convene together in them as 
often as they shall judge it expedient for the good of the 
church. This important teaching lodges in the officers of 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

the church, the elders or bish^-^'' overseers of particular so- 
cietios or churches, power . • such synods or councils, 

and to deliberate and concKi A\ such matters as may be 
properly considered for the edification of the whole chuioh 
in any given section. This principle of corporate action be- 
tween the officers of the several particular churches in an 
assembly thus convened is clearly inconsistent with the In- 
dependent theory of church government, and is in entire 
harmony with the Presbyterian system. Indeed, it is one of 
the fundafmental principles of Presbyterianism. 

2. The functions of such assemblies are next stated in the 
Confession. These are stated at some length, and had better 
be set down in order in this exposition with some care, as 
they embody principles of prime importance in regard to the 
government and discipline of the church.' 

First, It belongs to these synods and councils, minis- 
terially, to determine controversies of faith and cases of con- 
science. In exercising this function, the officers of the church 
act in a ministerial capacity. This simply means that as the 
ministers of Christ, who are in no sense priests, they are to 
declare and apply the will of Christ, as given in his word, the 

' By tho "adopting act" of 1739, the Synod of the Presbyterian Church 
In North America expressly asserted that in regard to the civil magistrate 
and his relation to the church, it did not receive tho passages relating to 
this point in the Confession in any such sense as to suppose that the civil 
magistrate has a controlling power over synods with respect to the exercise 
of their ministerial authority, or power to persecute any for their religion, 
or in any sense contrary to tho Protestant succession to the throne in Great 

The original form of the section in the Confession upon which this para- 
graph is founded was as follows : "As the magistrate may lawfully call a 
synod of ministers and other fit persons to consult and advise with about 
matters of religion, so, if magistrates be open enemies to the church, the 
ministers of Christ of themselves, by virtue of their office, or they with other 
fit persons upon delegation from their churches, may meet together in such 
assemblies." The revised form upon which the exposition is based does 
not allow the civil magistrate the power to call together ecclesia.8tical 

liar 80- 
may be 
tion be- 
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tbe In- 
1 entire 
3 one of 

i in tbe 
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care, as 
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, minis- 
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it as tbe 
y are to 
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B in Great 

this para- 
ully call a 
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lurch, the 
vith other 
er in such 
ased does 

Church Synods and Councils. 



Holy Scriptures being tbe rule in tbe case. Tbis simple 
statement cuts at tbe very root of all bierarcbical pretensions 
and prelatic assumptions. In exercising tbis function, synods 
and councils may form doctrinal creeds or confessions of 
faitb, and tbev may also draw up a form of government for 
tbe cburcb. In botb of tbese matters, bowever, tbey are not 
to legislate as tbey please, but simply to expound and put in 
an orderly form wbat is contained in tbe sacred Scriptures. 
In like manner, wben controversies arise in regard to doc- 
trines of faitb and cases of conscience as to matters of duty, / 
tbese councils are to decide upon tbem, for tbe purity and 
edification of tbe wbole body. 

Secondly, Tbese synods and councils are to set down rules 
and directions for tbe better ordering of tbe public worsbip of 
God, and tbe government of tbe cburcb. Tbese two im- 
portant matters are to be attended to by tbese councils, to 
tbe end tbat tbere may be some order and general uniformity 
among tbe particular cburcbes. Here, again, tbe rule by 
wbicb tbe councils are to be guided in botb cases above 
mentioned is tbe Holy Scriptures. The worsbip of God is 
to be in spirit and in trutb, according to the word of God, 
and not will-worship, after tbe devices of men. 

Thirdly, Tbese councils of the church are to receive com- 
plaints in cases of maladministration, and they are to de- 
termine the same in an authoritative way. This clearly 
implies a very important principle of Presbyterianism. It 
involves the right to appeal from a lower to a higher court. 
In the case of a member of the church who has been tried 
for some offence by tbe session of the particular church, if 
tbat member feels that justice has not been done him, be 
may appeal to the presbytery, and from the presbytery to 
tbe synod, and from the synod tp the General Assembly, 
which is the court of last resort, and whose decisions are 
final in every case. Tbe decisions of these courts, especially 
of tbe highest to which the appeal can be made, if they ar^ 



The Presbyterian Standards. 



consonant with the word of God, are to be received with 
reverence and submission for two reasons : I^irst, for their 
agreement with the word; and, Secondly, for the power 
whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God, ap- 
pointed thereunto in his word. Here the direct teaching of 
the word, and the fact that the court is clothed with au- 
thority by the same word, unite to enforce the decisions of 
the church court, which is in harmony with the word of God. 

The fallibility of such councils is distinctly confessed in 
the Standards. The Confession asserts that all synods or 
councils since the apostles' times, whether general or par- 
ticular, may err and many have erred. This being the case, 
the decisions of these synods are not to be made the rule of 
faith or practice, but they are merely to be used as a help in 
both. This is a very brief statement. It was important 
when it was first drawn up, and it is quite as important at 
the present day, especially against the claim of infallibility 
made by the Romish church, and by the pope as its _ead. 
Since the apostles' day, when inspiration ceased, no council 
of the officers of the church has had given to it the gift of 
inspiration. Not enjoying this gift, it cannot claim to be in- 

The church and her councils may enjoy, in a large mea- 
sure, the indwelling and guidance of the Holy Spirit of 
promise, but he does not give absolute infallibility. Hence, 
the decisions of these councils may not always be in har- 
mony with the Scriptures. This being the case, the decisions 
of such councils cannot be regarded as having the same au- 
thority as the word of God itself. Hence, the Romish church 
greatly errs in claiming infallibility, and in putting the deci- 
sions of the church above the word of Scripture. These 
decisions are merely to be regarded as useful guides both in 
matters of faith and practice, but in no case can they bind 
the consciences and conduct of men as do the teachings of 
the Holy Scripture. This view is in entire harmony with 

Church Synods and Councils. 


ed with 
or their 
» power 
}od, ap- 
3hing of 
dth aii- 
sions of 
of God. 
)ssed in 
nods or 
or par- 
be case, 
I rule of 

help in 
rtant at 
bs -ead. 

> gift of 
3 be in- 

;e mea- 
pirit of 
in har- 
<me au- 
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both in 
3y bind 
lings of 
ay with 

the doctrine of the Scripture already set forth in one of the 
early chapters of this discussion. 

4. The last section in the Confession deals with a very 
difficult and perplexing question. This question has refer- 
ence to the sphere of the action of the church, and its rela- 
tion to the commonwealth within whoso bounds it may be 
situated. The doctrine of the Standards is in itself quite 
clear, but when the attempt is made to apply this doctrine to 
particular cases, and at special junctures, very grave diffi- 
culties are almost sure to arise. The statement of the Con- ^ 
fession is to the e£fect that synods and councils are to handle 
and conclude nothing but that which is ecclesiastical. This 
means that they must deal only with what is distinctly 
spiritual or religious in its nature, and pertains to the welfare 
and work of the church of Christ. This is the great doctrine 
of the spirituality of the church asserted from one point of 
view. This doctrine will be explained more fully when the 
question of the civil magistrate is discussed in the next 

But the Confession goes on to say, further, that the councils 
of the church are not to meddle with civil affairs which con- 
cern the commonwealth. This teaches that, as a church court, 
no synod or council of the church should, as such, take any 
part in the affairs of civil government. They are not called / 
on, as courts of the church of Jesus Christ, to take part in 
what is called the ordinary political affairs of the country. 
Of course, this does not mean that the members and officers 
of the church, as citizens, are not to take part in those public 
matters which belong to the duties of citizenship, or belong 
to the welfare of the country of which they are citizens. It 
is the undoubted duty of Christian people to exercise their 
civil rights, and discharge their duties as citizens. But it 
does not follow that any court of the church, as such, has 
any right to handle matters of a purely civil nature. It is 
quite right for the members and officers of the church to 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

have their opinions upon any of the public questions which 
are debated in the country, and which, it may be, divido the 
political parties of the day, and no one ought to find fault 
with them for voting in accordance with their opinions. But 
a church court, as such, has, according to the teaching of the 
Cotifession, no right to deliberate and conclude any of those 
matters which are purely civil in their nature and belong 
entirely to the state, as, for example, the trade policy of the 
country, or the financial theory of the nation. 

This statement seems very plain and simple, yet In it 
application practical difficulties constantly arise. These 
difficulties appear in connection with certain questions which 
are partly civil and partly religious in their nature. Such 
questions as education, marriage, the Sabbath, and temper- 
ance are illustrations of what is here meant. The first raises 
the question of religion in the public schools of the land, 
the second suggests the question about the sanctity of the 
marriage relation and its welfare for the state, the third has 
to do with one of the commandments, and the last relates 
to a great moral reform movement. The question here, 
How far should the church seek to bring her moral force in 
a corporate way to bear upon any legislation which may be 
proposed in regard to any of these topics, is a very serious 
practical question. It is evident that the church court should 
bo exceedingly slow to meddle with those things on the civil 
side. The best thing is for the same members and officers 
of the church to act as citizens, and to seek thereby to bring 
their moral influence to bear upon the legislation in such a 
way as to secure the passage by the civil authorites of such 
laws as are for the welfare of the commonwealth. It is evi- 
dent that there are practical difficulties here, and that much 
caution is needed. Christian citizens should not hand the 
affairs of the country over to those who are no*: Christians, 
but church courts should not deal with purely civil matters. 
The Christian, as a member of the church, acts in one sphere, 

DS which 
ivido the 
ind fault 
QS. But 
ag of the 
of those 
I belong 
y of the 

3t in it 
IS which 
. Such 
3t raises 
ae land, 
' of the 
lird has 

orce in 
luav be 
le civil 
) bring 
such a 
f such 

is evi- 

ul the 




Church Synods and Councils. 


and as a citizen he acts iu another. In both he has duties, 
rights, privileges, and responsibilities, and he should be true 
and faithful in both relations. 

The last clause in this section of the Confession introduces 
a peculiar qualification of the position just stated. The ad- 
mission is made that the only way iu which the church court 
may deal at all with civil matters is by way of humble peti- 
tion in cases extraordinary, or by way of advice for satisfac- 
tion of conscience. And, then, the church court is only to do 
this when invited by the civil magistrate, who ia to take the 
initiative in the matter, especially in the latter case. 

Here, then, are two ways in which the spiritual ofl&cers of 
the church may approach the civil magistrate in connection 
with the affairs of state. They may come to him by hum- 
ble petition and they may give advice. The former action 
is taken on motion of the church court itself, and only in 
cases of extraordinary gravity and moment. The latter ac- 
tion is to be taken only when the civil authorities require the 
advice at the hands of the church. In the one case the 
representatives of Christ act, and the representatives of 
Caesar are to respond; in the other case the servants of 
CsBsar act, and the representatives of Christ are to respond. 

The real difficulty here is twofold : First, It is not easy to 
decide what are extraordinary cases justifying petition; and 
then where is the arbiter who is to decide upon such cases. 
Secondly, In the divided state of Christendom in any land 
especially in a country .here' there is no state caurch, the 
real difficulty is as to which branch of the church should the 
state look for the advice of which the Confession speaks. 
Theoretically, the principles laid down in this chapter of the 
Confession throughout are safe and sound; and in spite of 
the difficulties which attend their practical application, the 
utmost care should be taken to work ''.3m out and apply 
them as fully as possible in harmony with the word of God, 
and in the light of the varied and ever-varying conditions of 


The Presbyterian Standards. 


the church and state in any given country. In this way 
many a conflict will be avoided. 

II. The Presbyterian Idea of tne Government of the Church 
will now he briefly Outlined. 

Upon the basis of the important principles laid down in 
the Confession regarding the church and its polity, the Pres- 
byterian system can be very properly explained. In general, 
Presbyterianism may be described as ecclesiastical repub- 
licanism, or representative church government. It essen- 
tially consists in government of the members of the church 
visible by Jesus Christ, its king and head, through the repre- 
sentatives whom they choose for that purpose, and to whom 
the people delegate the power which Christ has lodged in 
them as his body. Hence, Presbyterianism is representa- 
tive or republican church government, in which the people, 
under Christ, govern themselves through the representatives 
they choose to be over them. The main elements of thia 
system of church rule may be summed up under several par- 

1. The idea of the church ccmes first. This has already, 
from the Confession, been quite fully explained. Another 
definition of the church visible is given in the Form of Gov- 
ernment, and may be here set down. The visible church has 
for its members all those persons in every nation, together 
with their children, who make profession of the holy religion 
of Christ, and of submission to his laws. The fact that all 
the definitions given in the Standards include the children of 
the members of the visible church is worthy of notice, and 

» it i>} in harmony with the teaching set forth in the chapter 
on baptism, where the relation of the infant seed of the mem- 
bers of the church to the church was carefully explained. 

2. The members of the church may next be defined. The 
- question of who are to be members of the visible church has 

been partly defined by what has just been said in the i^revious 
paragraph. All adults, male and female, who profess tlio 

Church Synods and Councils. 


ihis way 

3 Church 

down in 
he Pres- 
1 repub- 
i essen- 
3 church 
le repre- 
to whom 
)dged in 
) people, 
s of thitt 
eral par- 

of Gov-' 
urch has 

; that all 
ildren of 
;ice, and 

he mem- 
d. The 
Lirch has 
ifess tlio 


true religion by professing faith in Christ, and promising 
obedience to the laws of Christ, are members of the church. 
In addition, as hinted above, the children of such persons are 
to be regarded as born in covenant relation to the visible 
church, and are entitled to pastoral care and oversight, as 
well as having a right to the privileges of the church. This 
was the relation of children in the Old Testament age, and the 
teaching of the Standards is to the effect that they have the 
same relation to the visible church under the gospel. 

3. The officers of the church are to be described. Bearing 
in mind the important fact that Christ is the head of the 
church, it is to be observed that he has ordained that cer- 
tain officers shall be chosen to teach, rule, and guide the 
members of the church. According to the Presbyterian 
polity, the ordinary and perpetual officers in the church are 
teaching elders, ruling elders, and deacons. The teaching 
elder is the minister of the word, and his special duty is to 
preach the gospel and administer the sacraments, and also to 
rule in the house of God. The ruling elder is to serve in the 
office of government alone in the church. The special func- 
tion of the deacon is to distribute the oflferings of the faithful 
to the poor, and for pious uses. The teaching and ruling 
elders are both included under the New Testament bishop or 
presbyter, so that there are not distinct grades in the ofnce 
of the gospel ministry. This is important in relation to all 
prelatic views in regard to the officers of the church. 

4. The courts of the church require some explanation at 
this stag«. Froir this point of view, Presbyterianism is a 
form of government by means of courts in gradation, one 
above the other in regular order, all of which may be re- 
garded as presbyteries, being made up of teaching and ruling 
elders. These courts are the church session, which is over a 
particular congregation; the presbytery, which is over a 
number of church sessions in a given district; the synod, 
which is over a group of presbyteries in a wider area ; and 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

I f 


«i i 

the General Assembly, which is over the wLole church which 
may be in fellowship in a certain locality or country for the 
time being. Each of these courts has its jurisdiction, which 
is prescribed by the constitution of the church itself. These 
courts may now be briefly described in order. 

Firsty The session is made up of a minister and ruling 
elders. Generally, it requires a minister and two ruling elders 
to make a session, but in certain cases one elder is considered 
sufficient. The session has general oversight of the affairs 
of the particular church whose members elected them as their 
spiritual representative =?. They order the worship of the 
sanctuary, they receive and dismiss members, they deal with 
the erring members, and, in general, govern the church and 
administer its spiritual alfairs. 

Secondly y The presbytery is composed of a minister and a 
ruling elder from each church or pastoral charge. This is 
the typical court of the Presbyterian system, and by many is 
regarded as the unit of the system. The presbytery licenses 
preachers, ordains ministers, settles them in charges, and 
looses them from the pastoral care of churches. It also has 
the care of all the churches within its bounds, and takes 
special care of weak churches and of mission work within its 
bounds. It also deals with cases of heresy or improper con- 
duct on the part of ministers, and guards the doctrinal purity 
of the teaching of the officers of the church. It also elects 
commissioners to the General Assembly, and in some cases 
to the synod, and, in general, it has charge of the welfare of 
the churches within its limits. 

Thirdly, The synod is generally constituted in the same 
way as the presbytery, by one minister and one ruling elder 
from each pastoral charge. In some cases where the mem- 
bership of the synod is large, the presbyteries elect certain 
representatives to make up the membership of the synod. 
The jurisdiction of the synod varies greatly in the different 
branches of Presbyterianism. It deals with appeal cases 

li which 

' for the 

1, which 


i ruling 
g elders 
3 affairs 
as their 
• of the 
eal with 
rch and 

3r and a 
This is 
many is 
es, and 
so has 
hin its 
her con- 
e cases 
fare of 

g elder 



Church Synods and Councils. 



from presbyteries, it often has ihe oversight of colleges and 
theological seminaries, and it takes general charge of the 
work of the church in the presbyteries within its bounds. 

Fourthly^ The General Assembly, in most cases, is the 
supreme court in the Presbyterian Church, although some 
branches of that church make the synod the highest court 
and have no General Assembly at all. The General Assembly 
is formed by an equal number of teaching and ruling elders 
elected by presbyteries according to a prescribed proportion, 
which is sometimes larger and sometimes smaller. The As- 
sembly hears and issues finally all cases of appeal or com- 
plaint, it in some cases has charge of educational institutions, 
it conducts Home and Foreign Mission work, it raises the 
means necessary to carry on the great general schemes of 
Christian activity in which the church is engaged, and makes 
recommendations to the court below in regard to certain 
matters. Each court reviews the records of the proceedings 
of the court below it, and in this way oversight is regularly 
exercised. Such is a mere outline of the gradation of courts 
in the Presbyterian Church. 

It only remains to be added that the jurisdiction of 
these courts is only ministerial and declarative, and it relates 
to three things : First, The doctrines or precepts of Christ. 
Secondly, The order of the church. And, Thirdly, The exer- 
cise of discipline. All these courts are essentially one in 
their nature, constituted of the same elements, possessed in- 
herently of the same kinds of rights and powers, and differ- 
ing only as the constitution of the church may provide, when 
it prescribes the sphere of action and jurisdiction of each 
court. At this point the explanation of the Presbyterian 
form of church government must conclude, although many 
other things ought to be said about it. Enough has been 
said to give a general idea of that system whose deep and 
abiding principles are so fully exhibited in the Confession. 



II i : 

I Mi 




Shouteu Catecuism, 70-72; Larger Catechism, 137-139; Confession of 

Faith, XXII., XXIII., XXIV. 

THREE important topics are grouped together for expla- 
nation in this chapter. Of these topics, the Cate- 
chisms have little or nothing to say, but the Confession 
devotes a separate chapter to each one of them. Two of 
these, marriage and the civil magistrate, are of greater im- 
portance, while the third is of lesser moment. They are 
now taken up and expounded in the order in which they are 
stated in the Confession. 

I. Laioful Oaths and Vows. 

Here, then, are two closely-related topics, which also re- 
semble each other in various respects. The oath is made 
between man and man, as the parties, with God called on as 
witness in the case. The vow is by man alone making a 
solemn promise to God, so that God and man are the parties 
in the case. Each of these topics requires a few words of 
explanation, following the Confession quite closely through- 

1. Lawful oaths are to be first explained. The language 
here used implies that there are unlawful oaths. The refer- 
ence here is doubtless to profane swearing, and a light and 
trivial appeal to God in the ordinary converse of life. This 
is a violation of the third command, as has already been seen. 
But the Standards teach that there is also a proper way in 
which men may make a solemn appeal to God to attest the 
truth of any utterance they make. Several points are to be 
noted here. 

First, The nature of a lawful oath is to be considered. At 
the outset, it is to be remembered that such an oath is a part 


Lawful Oaths J Civil Magistrate ; Marriage. 369 


E88I0S OF 

r expla- 
e Cate- 
Two of 
ater im- 
?hey are 
they are 

also re- 
is made 
ed on as 
naking a 
words of 

he refer- 
ght and 
sen seen. 
X way in 
ttest the 
are to be 



jred. At 
is a part 

of religious worship. This is evident from the fact that God 
is solemnly acknowledged, and invoked to attest the truth of 
what is asserted. It is an act of adoration and of homage, 
with confession of God's right over us. The lawful oath 
thus regarded is an act of worship, whereby, on just occa- 
sion, the person swearing or making oath solemnly calls God 
to witness what he testifies or promises, and at the same 
time invokes God to judge him according to the truth or false- 
hood of what he swears. The usual circumstances which 
aflford the just occasion for the use of lawful oaths are found 
in a court of justice, when strong assurance of truth and 
certainty is desired. In such cases the oath does two things, : 
First, It binds with a fresh obligation the person swearing, 
who, by the natural law of truthfulness, is bound to tell the 
truth, or to assert only what is in accordance with truth and 
fact. And, Secondly^ The oath calls upon God to judge and 
condemn him should he fail to speak in accordance with the 
truth in any evidence which lie may be called to give in 
any way. By the obligation of natural morality every man 
is bound to speak the truth at all times, so that he is not free 
to be false when he is not under oath. But the oath lays 
upon him a double obligation to have respect unto the truth 
in what is spoken of or testified to. 

Secondly, The name in which oaths are to be made is to be 
next explained. The Confession says that the only name by 
which men ought to swear is that of God. Hence, oaths are 
not to be made to false gods or idols. From this it is clear 
that neither an atheist nor an idolater can make oath with 
any meaning or propriety. There can be no meaning in a 
man calling upon God to witness to the truth of what he says 
if he does not believe that there is a God ; and if a man call 
on gods that are not true gods, then he swears in vain. It is 
evident that when the name of God is used it should be with 
all holy reverence and fear. Hence it is a grievous sin to be 
abhorred, to swear vainly or rashly by the glorious and dread- 



is t-> 
' 'III 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

ful namo of God. To dare to make oath by any other name 
or thing is equally sinful. At the same time, the Confession 
adds that, in matters of great moment, an oath is warranted 
by the word of God; and this is the case under the New 
Testament as well as under the Old. Hence, a lawful oath, 
being imposed by lawful authority in matters of great weight, 
ought to be taken. The proper authority to impose an oath 
must be some lawfully-constituted authority in the church or 
in the state. Usually it is imposed by the proper civil 
officer in the civil sphere, and in connection with testimony 
in a court of law. 

Thirdly, The effect or result of lawful oaths is to be con- 
sidered. The first result indicated is that the person who 
takes an oath is to seriously consider the nature and import 
of so solemn an act, and in connection therewith to avouch 
nothing but what he is fully persuaded is the truth. In addi- 
tion to the natural obligation to tell the truth, chere is the 
self-imposed obligation which the taking of the oath implies. 
In this connection the Confession tells us that the^^e are cer- 
tain limitations to the things concerning which we may swear. 
No man ought to bind himself by an oath to anything but 
what is good and just, or what he honestly believes to be ro. 
Nor ought he to make oath to do what he is unable or doA^ 
not intend to perform. Inability indicates the limit of duty 
in the matter of making an oath, and a lack of intention to 
do what the oath implies is profane and hypocritical. The 
Confession adds that it is a sin to refuse an oath touching 
anything that is good and just, if it be imposed by lawful au- 
thority. Some persons, like the Quakers, refuse, on con- 
scientious grounds, to make oath at all ; yet even in their 
case, in the declaration to speak the truth which they make, 
the substance of what the oath implies is to be found. 

Fourthly, An oath is to be taken in the plain and common - 
sense use of the words employed. No equivocation nor any 
mental reservation can be allowed. This teaching is pointed 

Lawful Oaths ; Civil Magistrate ; Marriage. 371 

)tlier name 
r the New 
Lwful oath, 
■eat weight, 
)se an oath 
B church or 
roper civil 
I testimony 

i to be con- 
Derson who 
and import 
li to avouch 
h. In addi- 
chere is the 
ath implies. 
eT'e are cer- 
may swear, 
aything but 
es to be r,o. 
ible or do^s 
imit of duty 
intention to 
itical. The 
;h touching 
lawful au- 
36, on con- 
en in their 
they make, 

id common- 
on nor any 
g is pointed 


against the doctrine of intentioji, held by Romanists, and con- 
demns it utterly. The ordinary meaning of the words em- 
ployed is to express what it is intended to be uttered ; and in 
all the asseverations of men nothing is to be kept back se- 
cretly in the mind of the person making the oath. As to the 
mode in which the oath ought to be administered, nothing 
definite is said in the Confession, so that no particular mode 
is prescribed. Those who administer it are, in a measure, 
left to their own discretion in this matter. The use of the 
Bible, and the raising of the right hand prevail. Kissing the 
book is not necessary, so far as the Confessional teaching is 
concerned, and there are not a few serious practical objec- 
tions to this practice in making oath. It ought, therefore, to 
be abolished everywhere. 

Fifthly^ It is added that no oath can oblige a man to sin. 
But in anything noo sinful, the oath being once taken binds 
to its performance, even though it be to a man's personal 
injury in various respects ; nor, further, is an oath to be vio- 
lated, although made to heretics or infidels. Here, again, 
the Romish doctrine is rejected. Rome teaches that oaths 
need not be respected if made with those whom she regards 
as infidels. On this ground an attempt is made to justify 
many of the evil deeds of deception and cruelty of which 
Rome has been guilty ; but it is vain to make this attempt to 
justify these things, and the teaching of the Confession 
clearly is, that when an oath is made in a lawful way regard- 
ing things just and good, whether to a heretic or an infidel, 
the oath must be performed. Such is the teaching of the 
Confession regarding lawful oaths. 

2. Lawful vows remain for brief explanation. The rela- 
tion of the vow to the oath has been explained. The vow 
might almost be called a promissory oath. It ought to be 
made with the same religious care, and performed with like 
faithfulness as tho oath. 

First, Like the oath, it is to be made to God alone, and 




;|- I 

I ! 


not to any creature nor to a false god. In the vow God is 
the party to whom the promise is made ; in the oath he is 
merely a witness. As to its nature, further, a vow, to have 
any value, must be. made voluntarily. It must also be made 
out of faith and with a conscience of duty. It may be made 
for a twofold reason : either as an evidence of thankfulness 
for past mercies, or as an earnest for obtaining what we de- 
sire. By making the vow we do not create the duty, but 
rather bind ourselves to the performance of necessary duties, 
or to other things, so long as they may fitly conduce to our 
necessary duties. 

Secondly, The things which men may vow are to be named. 
No man has any right to vow anything forbidden in the word 
of God. This is perfectly plain. If he did so vow, his vow 
would itself be sin, and his fulfilment of it would also be sin. 
Nor may any man vow anything which would hinder him in 
the discharge of any duty commanded in the word of God. 
Further, a man should not vow what it is not in his power 
to do, or for the performance of which God has not given 
him any promise or ability to the doing thereof. In this 
connection, the Confession formally condemns popish mo- 
nastical vows of perpetual single life, of professed poverty, 
and of regular obedience to a superior. These are not higher 
degrees of perfection in the Christian life. They are super- 
stitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian should en-> 
tangle himself. The wisdom of the teaching of the Confes- 
sion upon this point is evident ; for, not only is the Romish 
doctrine and practice without any support from Scripture, 
but it is also opposed to reason and common sense, as well 
as condemned by the practical results which so often flow 
from it in the lives of those who make these vows. Such is 
the teaching concerning lawful vows. 

II. The Civil Magistrate. 

The chapter in the Confession which treats of this subject 
is a very important one, as has been already seen in other 

Lawful Oaths ; Civil Magistrate ; Marriage. 373 

>w God is 
oath lie is 
V, to have 

be made 
y be made 
hat we de- 
duty, but 

lary duties, 
luce to our 

, be named, 
in the word, 
3W, his vow 
also be sin. 
nder him in 
)rd of God. 

1 his power 
s not given 
of. In this 

Dopish mo- 
led poverty, 
e not higher 
Y are super- 
should en- 
the Confes- 
the Bomish 
Buse, as well 
often flow 
Ivs. Such is 

this subject 
een in other 



connections. The nature and functions of civil government, 
and the relation of that government to the church or king- 
dom of Christ, are questions of great moment and much 
difficulty. The various points touched on in the Confession 
are to be taken up in order and briefly explained. 

1. Civil government, as well as ecclesiastical, is an ordi- 
nance of God. This the Confession plainly emphasizes, and 
it should never be forgotten by civil rulers. God, the su- 
preme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained the 
civil magistrates to be under him over the people, for his 
own glory and the public good. This plainly teaches that 
the origin of civil government is not to be found merely in 
some primitive social compact, or voluntary association of in- 
dividuals, but that it owes its origin to the ordination of God, 
who is the supreme moral ruler of all men. The fact that 
God has given to man a moral nature, and placed him in 
moral relations to himself, lays the foundation for this divine 
ordination of civil government. This means that God's moral 
government over men forms the basis of civil government as 
God's ordinance among men. The Standards do not teach 
that any particular form of civil government, as, for example, 
a monarchy or a republic, is divinely ordained. They simply 
teach that the powers that be are ordained of God, and that 
the special form of the government in any community is to 
be determined by the circumstances and conditions of the 
people from time to time. 

The end or purpose of civil government is also to be stated 
here. It is twofold : First, It is for the glory of God. This 
means that God as King of kings ordains the institutions of 
civil government in order that thereby his name may be 
honored among men. This is, indeed, a noble conception of 
civil government, which princes and rulers will do well to 
remember. Secondly, It is for the public good of the com- 
monwealth. It is intended to secure order and the exercise 
of the liberty of the individual, in harmony with that meas- 




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The Pkesbyterian Standards. 

ure of restraint upon that libeity which the general good 
requires. The great principles of the divine government, as 
unfolded in the Scriptures, if regarded by nations in the 
conduct of their civil affairs, will attain both of these ends. 
The glory of God and the good of the people will thereby be 
permanently secured. 

The Confession adds, that in order to render the civil gov- 
ernment effective for these ends, God has armed the civil 
magistrate with the power of the sword. The purpose of 
this is to defend and encourage those that are good, and to 
restrain and punish evil-doers. The power of the sword is 
the power to inflict civil pains and penalties, such as the 
church is not entitled to inflict. Hence, civil government is 
entitled to make proper laws, to institute those agencies 
necessary for the execution of these laws, and to inflict such 
punishments as may be just upon offenders. Thus the church 
has the power of the keys, and the state has the power of 
the sword. Neither has the right to exercise the power of 
the other. The state has the right, not by mere arbitrary 
assumption, nor as the result of a social compact, but by the 
ordination of God, to inflict such penalties as the violation of 
the laws of the civil magistrate may incur. This is the true 
foundation, not only of civil government, but also of the 
punishment of offenders under it. 

2. The Confession next says that it is lawful for Christians 
to accept and execute the office of a magistrate when called 
thereunto. This wisely guards against an extreme inference 
from the doctrine of the separation of church and state 
which the Standards teach. That inference is to the effect 
that Christians should take no part at all in the affairs of 
state. They should not hold office, nor should they even 
vote at elections, especiall} if the government does not form- 
ally recognize God and the headship of Christ over the na- 
tions. But the Standards recognize that a man, while a 
Christian and a member of the church, is also a citizen and 

Lawful Oaths ; Civil Magistrate ; Marriage. 375 

aeral good 
rnment, as 
ous in the 
;hese ends, 
thereby be 

e civil gov- 
}d the civil 
purpose of 
ood, and to 
he sword is 
mch as the 
vernment is 
se agencies 
» inflict such 
8 the church 
be power of 
;he power of 
)re arbitrary 
t, but by the 
) violation of 
is is the true 
also of the 

3r Christians 
when called 
me inference 
h and state 
to the effect 
;he affairs of 
d they even 
)es not form- 
over the na- 
lan, while a 
a citizen and 


a member of the commonwealth. This being the case, he 
has a standing in both church and state, and he may hold 
office and exercise rule in both, as well as be a subject of both. 

In discharging their duty as rulers, Christian magistrates 
ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, ac- 
cording to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth. A 
truly Christian magistrate, enacting and applying righteous 
laws, will surely secure the very highest type of civil govern- 
ment. It is added that even such magistrates may lawfully, 
even under the New Testament, wage war upon just and 
necessary occasions. This raises the perplexing question of 
the justice of war; and the answer, given with caution, is to 
the effect that upon certain occasions just and necessary war 
may be entered on. As to what constitutes a just and neces- 
sary occasion, it is not easy to give a definite answer. As- 
suming the righteousness of the law of self-defence in the 
individual, it may be justly concluded that defensive war, 
when the life and security of the nation are in danger, is 
legitimate ; and this is, doubtless, the meaning of the Stand- 
ards at this point. In most wars there is probably some 
blame on both sides ; and wars for the mere acquisition of 
territory, for personal fame, or for national glory cannot be 
justified from the position of the Standards or the teaching 
of Scripture. One of the happy results of the advance of 
Christian civilization is that war is becoming less frequent, 
and that many disputes between nations are now settled by 
arbitration which in past ages would have been settled by an 
appeal to the sword. 

3. In relation to the church and her ordinances the Confes- 
sion asserts that the civil magistrate may not assume to himself 
the administration of the word and sacraments.' This means 
that the state has not the right to appoint or control those who 

•The original text of the passage in the Confession upon which this 
paragraph is based was revised and changed in 1789 A. D. , in connection 
with the formation of the first General Assembly in the United States. 


The Presbyterian Standards. 



are to be the relierioiis or snirHnfil Iftnclers and 'raidcs of the 
people, nor to interfere in public worship nor with the ad- 
ministration of the sacraments. These functions belong only 
to the spiritual officers of the church. And, further, the civil 
magistrate is not to exercise the power of the keys of the 
kingdom of heaven, or in the least to interfere in matters of 
faith. Here the spheres of the church and of the state are 
again expressed. The civil magistrate has no power to 
admit members into the church nor to apply religious tests ; 
nor can he administer discipline and shut people out of the 
church. He dare not carry the power of the sword into the 
church, and inflict temporal penalties upon its members. 
The neglect to regard this in the past has led to many a 
bloody and shameful persecution. 

Then follows a statement in the Confession which has been 
often misapplied, especially by those who are in favor of 
some close relation between church and state. The state- 
ment referred to is that civil magistrates as nursing fathers 
ought to protect the church of our common Lord without 
giving preference to any denomination of Christians above 
the rest. This statement has been taken by some to mean 
that the state as a nursing father should, out of her gifts, 
support the church in the nation. But this is not the mean- 
ing of the passage quoted. It evidently means simply that 
the state should protect all Christians, irrespective of their 

The original text of the Confession prior to this change read as follows : 
* ' The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the 
word and sacrramenta, or the power of the keys of the Icingdom of heaven ; 
yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order that unity and peace 
be preserved in the church ; that the truth of God be kept pure and entire ; 
that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, all corruptions and abuses 
in worship and discipline prevented or reformed, and all ordinances of God 
duly settled, administered and observed. For the better effecting whereof, 
he hath power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that 
whatsoever is transacted at them be according to the mind of God." It 
will be seen at a glauce how very important this revision of the Confes- 
sion is. 

Lawful Oaths ; Civil Maqistrave; Marriage. 377 

lides of the 
ith the ad- 
oelong only 
er, the civil 
keys of the 
1 matters of 
le state are 
D power to 
gious tests ; 
) out of the 
ord into the 
3 members, 
to many a 

ch has been 
in favor of 

The state- 
sing fathers 
3rd without 
tians above 
ne to mean 
)f her gifts, 
t the mean- 
simply that 

ve of their 

id as follows : 
stration of the 
)m of heaven ; 
nity and peace 
ro and entire ; 
ms and abuses 
nances of God 
3ting whereof, 
) provide that 
of God." It 
)f the Confes- 

denomination, in the enjoyment of all their civil and religious 
rights and privileges. That this is the true view is evident 
from what the Confession further says upon this subject as 
to the manner in which the civil magistrate should discharge 
his duty. It should be in such a way that all ecclesiastical 
persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned 
liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions 
without violence or danger. This is, indeed, the Magna 
Charta of religious liberty for ail men, under any form of 
civil government whatever. 

To make all mistakes impossible in regard to this matter 
the Confession adds, that as Jesus Christ has appointed a 
regular government in the church, no law of any common- 
wealth should interfere with, let, or hinder the due exercise 
thereof among the members of any denomination of Chris- 
tians, according to their own profession and belief. Ii is the 
duty, therefore, of civil magistrates to protect the person and 
good name of all their people, in such an effects il manner, 
as that no person be suffered, either upon pretence of religion 
or infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse or injury 
to any person whatsoever ; and, further, it is the duty of the 
civil magistrate to take order that all religious and ecclesias- 
tical assemblies shall be held without molestation or dis- 
turbance. Thus, according to the doctrine of the Standards, 
the state has no right to interfere in the matters which the 
government and discipline of the church cover, yet, at the 
same time, the state is bound to protect all classes of her 
citizens in the enjoyment of their rights and privileges. It 
is not to be wondered that those who drew up the excellent 
statement of the Confession upon this topic should have re- 
sisted, as they did, all attempts of the civil arm to introduce 
the power of the sword into the church ; p.nd that they werq 
willing to suffer and die for the crown rights of their spiritual 
king, Jesus Christ, and to resist unto blood all attempts to 
coerce them in matters of religion. 


The Presbyterian Standards. 


4. The last point noted in the Confession has reference to 
the duties of the peoplo towards the civil magistrate. Four 
things are to be set down here : Firsts The people are to 
pray for their rulers. The position which civil rulers hold 
is a difficult one, and their duties are often perplexing. 
They need divine guidance, so that we should pray God to 
bless and guide them in all things. Secondly, The people 
are to honor the persons of their ruiers. They deserve to 
hare respect shown them, especially on account of the posi- 
tion they hold, and they should be held in high esteem for 
their official status. Thirdly, Men are to pay tribute and 
other dues. This means that all just dues and taxes neces- 
sary for the expenses of the government are to be cheerfully 
paid by the people who enjoy the protection of the civil 
magistrate. Fourthly, Obedience is to be rendered to the 
civil magistrate for conscience' sake. This teaches that citi- 
zens should be good, loyal subjects of the government under 
which they live. For conscience' sake, even when the laws 
may not have the entire approval of the citizens, they ought, 
nevertheless, to obey, at least up to a certain point. 

But a serious difficulty arises in this connection. The 
Standards, in speaking of these dutien of citizens, evidently 
assume that the civil magistrate, even if not a Christian, is 
yet just, and has regard to the rights and liberties of the peo- 
ple. But cases may arise where the civil magistrate, either 
on civil or religious grounds, acts in an unjust manner, and 
even oppresses the people. In such a case, when every 
other means to secure relief has been exhausted, and when 
the civil magistrate, being very corrupt, commands what is 
contrary to the will and authority of God, resistance by arms 
on the part of the people may be just. In such a case the 
civil magistrate has really forfeited the end for which civil 
government is instituted ; and so, when the people are not 
able to mend the government, they may virtually end it. 
This affords the ground, and the only ground, upon which 


Lawful Oaths j Civil Magistrate; Marriage. 379 

; reference to 
jtrate. Four 
Deople are to 
1 rulers hold 

pray God to 

The people 
ly deserve to 
; of the posi- 
b esteem for 

tribute and 

taxes neces- 

be cheerfully 

of the civil 
iered to the 
hes that citi- 
nment under 
len the laws 
, they ought, 

action. The 
ns, evidently 
Christian, is 
s of the peo- 
strate, either 
manner, and 
when every 
d, and when 
mds what is 
mce by arms 
h a case the 
• which civil 
3})le are not 

ally end it. 

upon which 


the right of revolution may be justified in certain cases, in 
harmony with the teaching of the Standards. This doctrine 
also destroys the supposed divine righi uf kings, as it was 
taught and acted on in Britain years ago, to the great injury 
of both religious and national life. The ordination by God 
of the powers that be does not justify the doctrine of the 
divine right of kings and rulers, without any regard to the 
welfare of the people under their authority. 

The Confession adds, so that nothing may be left out, that 
infidelity or difference in religion does not make void the 
just and legal authority of the magistrate, nor free the people 
from their obedience to him. Hence, Christian subjects are 
not justified in rebelling against infidel rulers, unless the 
conditions stated in the previous paragraph arise; so that 
ecclesiastical persons are not exempted from obedience even 
in such a case. Still less has the pope any power or juris- 
diction over them in their dominions, or over any of their 
people. Least of all has the pope power to deprive any of 
their people of their dominions or lives, if he shall judge 
them as heretics, or upon any other pretence whatever. 
This is a very valuable statement. The pope claims over 
the people of his church an authority which is above that of 
the civil magistrate in that land. The Confession plainly 
rejects this, and refuses the pope any such authority. His 
followers in any land are simply entitled to the same protec- 
tion at the hand of the civil magistrate as any other class of 
the citizens. The aggression of the Romish hierarchy in 
several respects in this country needs to be carefully re- 
garded. To allow it to dominate is to pay the price for reli- 
gious liberty. 

III. Ma7'riage and Divorce. 
• This is the third topic for this chapter, and it has already 
been directly alluded to under the seventh command. It is 
now to be considered in the light of the chapter in the Con- 
fession which formally treats of it. 


The FttEwBiTEKiAN Standards. 


1. The nature of marriage is first stated. It is the union 
for life between one man and one woman, according to God's 
ordinance. Therefore it is not lawful for any man to have 
more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than 
one husband, at the same time. Thus polygamy and poly- 
andry are condemned. 

2. The purpose or end of marriage is next explained. In 
the Confession four important ends are said to be served by 
the marriage relation : First, Thereby husband and wife 
are made mutually helpful to each other. Each has certain 
duties to perform, and in their performance husband and 
wife, by reason of their union in the married state, may be of 
much help and service to each other. Secondly, Marriage 
perpetuates the race of mankind by legitimate issue. This 
was the divine command given to the race at first in Eden, 
and the marriage of one man and one woman best serves this 
important end. Thirdly, By means of marriage the church 
is provided with a holy seed. This is in harmony with what 
was seen to be the teaching of the Standards concerning 
baptism, and the place and privilege of the children of be- 
lievers in the visible church. The children of parents who 
are in covenant with the Lord are born within the covenant, 
and are federally holy or set apart as the Lord's, and are to 
be trained up accordingly. Fourthly , Marriage serves to 
prevent uncleanness. Delay in marriage or neglect of it 
tends to vice in this respect, and suitable marriage is the 
proper preventative. 

3. The question of what persons should marry is next 
answered by the Confession. It is lawful for all persons to 
marry who are able, with good judgment, to give their con- 
sent. At the same time, it is the duty of Christians to marry 
only in the Lord. Therefore, such as profess the true re- 
formed religion are not to marry with infidels, papists, or 
other idolaters ; nor should such as are godly marry those 
who are notoriously wicked in their lives or maintain damna- 

c is the union 
ding to God's 
man to have 
re more than 
ay and poly- 

cplained. In 
be served by 
md and wife 
1 has certain 
busband and 
ite, may be of 
Uy, Marriage 
issue. This 
first in Eden J 
ist serves this 
;e the church 
my with what 
s concerning 
lildren of be- 
parents who 
;he covenant, 
s, and are to 
-ge serves to 
neglect of it 
,rriage is the 

larry is next 
,11 persons to 
ve their con- 
ans to marry 

the true re- 
}, papists, or 

marry those 
itain damna- 


Lawful Oaths •, Civil Magistrate j Marriage. 3B1 

ble heresies. This is scriptural and wise teaching. The 
marriages here condemned, if contracted, are sure to bring 
discomfort, perhaps misery, upon the persons themselves, 
certainly evil upon the families. Still, if husband or wife is 
converted after marriage, that is not a good reason for sepa- 
ration, for the unbelieving partner may still be sanctified by 
the believing one ; but, as a rule, to marry a rake or a rascal 
to reform him is like playing with fire or trifling with dyna- 

4. Another important question here is the degrees of rela- 
tionship within which marriage should be contracted. The 
Confession speaks at length regarding this question, and its 
teaching has been much debated and variously understood. 
The general position of the Confession is, that what is for- 
bidden by the word of God is unlawful in regard to the law- 
fulness of marriage between those related to each other. 
Then there are two sets of relationships to be considered 
here : J^irst, Those which are based on blood relation or con- 
sanguity; and. Secondly, those that are the result of mar- 
riage or affinity. The chief topic of debate here has arisen 
in regard to the question of the lawfulness of the marriage 
of a man with the sister of his former wife, deceased. Those 
who argue against the lawfulness of such marriages say that 
a man ought not to marry any of his wife's kin who are by 
affinity related to him in the same degree as those of his own 
kin who are related to him by consanguity, whom he ought 
not to marry. Thus it is argued that since a man may not 
marry his own sister, so he ought not to marry his wife's 
sister. This seems an easy way of settling the debate if the 
basis upon which it is settled can be made good. Those 
who argue in favor of the lawfulness of such marriages deny 
the soundness of the analogy between the degrees of affinity 
and consanguinity, and are content to take the cases that are 
forbidden in the Scriptures and the cases similar thereto in 
the line of consanguinity. On this basis, in recent years, 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

if I 


many branches of the Presbyterian family have amended or 
annulled this passage in the Confession, so far as it relates 
to the marriage of a man with the sister of his deceased 
•wife. By those who take this view such marriages are no 
longer regarded as incestuous ; but all marriages between 
persons who are related in degrees forbidden in Scripture 
are incestuous, and can never be made lawful, either by civil 
enactment or by the consent of the parties to live together as 
husband and wife. This is an important practical matter at 
the present day. 

5. The only grounds of divorce are set down very clearly 
in the Confession. Adultery or fornication committed after 
promise of marriage, and detected before marriage, gives 
good ground for the innocent party to dissolve the contract. 
In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the in- 
nocent party to sue out a divorce, and after the divorce has 
been obtained, to marry another, just as if the offending 
party were dead. It is not stated that the guilty party may 
marry again lawfully, and the civil law in not a few coun- 
tries forbids the guilty party from contracting another 
marriage during the lifetime of the one who had been sin- 
ned against. 

In addition to adultery and fornication, such wilful deser- 
tion as can in no way be remedied by church or civil magis- 
trate is also held to be sufficient cause for dissolving the 
marriage bond. But even in such cases an orderly legal 
course ought to be pursued, and parties are not to act at 
their own discretion in the matter. For no other causes or 
reasons is divorce to be allowed, according to the teaching 
of the Standards. 

There is much need of teaching at the present day upon 
this practical matter, and a warning voice ought to be lifted 
Tip in Christian lands in connection with the alarming rate 
at which divorces are increasing in number, and in regard to 
the trivial grounds upon which they are often granted. The 

Lawful Oaths ; Civil Magistrate ; Makriage. 383 

9 amended or 
r as it relates 
his deceased 
riages are no 
ages between 
in Scripture 
3ither by civil 
ve together as 
Lcal matter at 

result of easy and frequent divorces will doubtless be ruinous 
to domestic, social and national prosperity. The marriage 
state is the foundation of the home, and the homo is ahke 
the shrine and the citadel of the nation. If the home life is 
to be held secure, divorce, for other than scriptural reasons, 
must be forever denied. 

I very clearly 
admitted after 
arriage, gives 
the contract, 
ful for the in- 
3 divorce has 
i;he oflfending 
ty party may 
a few coun- 
ting another 
lad been sin- 
wilful deser- 
r civil magis- 
issolving the 
orderly legal 
Qot to act at 
ler causes or 
the teaching 

nt day upon 
it to be lifted 
ilarming rate 
I in regard to 
ranted. The 





Shorter Catbohism, 87—; Larger Cate«iii8m, 84-86; Confession op 

Faith, XXXIII., 1. 

FROM the difficult questions of church government, and 
the perplexing problem of the relations between the 
church and the state, this chapter carries the exposition 
forward to the momentous things which pertain to the church 
and the world in the future, as revealed in the sacred Scrip- 
tures and stated in various ways in the Standards. Upon 
these questions the Shorter Catechism has comparatively 
little to say. It speaks only of the death and resurrection 
of the righteous, and makes no definite statement in regard 
to the wicked. The statement of the Larger Catechism is 
more complete, and it speaks concerning both the righteous 
and the wicked. The Confession, although quite brief in 
what it has to say, is at the same time quite comprehensive 
in its teaching upon the great matters involved. 

It is proper to remark at the outset, that at the time the 
Standards were drawn up the great questions in eschatology 
were not clearly raised and fully discussed except as between 
Romanism and Protestantism. This, in part, accounts for the 
somewhat inadequate treatment which the whole subject re- 
ceives in the Standards. Since that time new and important 
phases of these questions have emerged, especially in regard 
to the nature and duration of future punishment, and the 
second advent of Christ; and even at the present day this 
department of Christian doctrine has not yet attained to that 
definite and complete form which has been reached in most 
of the other departments of it. There is room and need for 
special attention being given to questions in eschatology. 

In this exposition two chapters will be devoted to what 


■n»_ . . . ._ i»r.._ rN.- ._ 


Confession op 

the Standards teach concerning the final things of the churcli 
and the world. At some points the exposition may enlarge 
a little upon what the Standards say, by making such in- 
ferences as may render the whole explanation more complete 
and adequate for the present day. This chapter will deal 
with the two closely-related topics of death and the middle 
state. The former need not detain us long, but the latter 
needs more extended discussion. 

I. Death. 

The Larger Catechism says that death being threatened 
as the wages of sin, it is appointed unto men once to die, for 
that all have sinned. It also adds that the righteous shall 
be delivered from death itself at the last day, and even 
though they suffer temporal or physical death, they are de- 
livered from the sting and curse of it. The Confession, in 
the brief statement which it gives of the nature of death, 
exhibits three things. These are now noted in order, with 
some brief comments. 

1. Death, physical, implies separation of the connection 
between the soul and body, which subsists during the pre- 
sent earthly state of existence. Man, as already explained, 
consists of two distinct factors. The body is material and 
the soul is spiritual. During this life these two factors are 
bound together in such a way as to make up man's complete 
personality. At death the bond which holds them together 
is severed. But there is mystery here, for just as it is im- 
possible to say precisely how they are joined in life, or how 
the body and soul are actually related to each other, so it is 
not possible to state definitely what death implies as an 
actual experience. But we can be sure of the fact that for ?. 
time soul and body are separated by means of death. 

2. Death implies the departure of the soul or spiritual 
element in man's person, not only from the body, but also 
its going to the abode of disembodied spirits. It becomes a 
disembodied spirit by reason of death, and it seems that such 





The Presbyterian Standards. 

a spirit cannot tarry in this sublunary sphere. Hence, it 
wings its way, guided, it may be, by the angels, to the domain 
of spirits, where in a disembodied condition it maintains a 
purely spiritual career during the intermediate state, which 
is to be spoken of later on in this chapter. In this way the 
second factor involved in death is made plain. 

3. The last factor in death relates to the body and its 
destiny. The body after death sees corruption and returns 
to dust. As the soul returns to God who gave it, so the 
body returns to the dust whence it came. Hence, death 
implies, not only the disembodied existence of the spirit of 
man to which God has given an immortal existence, but also 
the dissolution of the body to its simple elements. In this 
connection the Shorter Catechism, speaking of the righteous, 
says that the bodies of believers are in some way united to 
Christ, as they rest in their graves awaiting the resurrection. 
This union, of course, is not a material or mechanical one, 
but is an important result of the mystical union which the 
believer sustains to Christ. Indeed, it is a factor in that 
union which relates to both natures of the person of the 
believer. Just as the bond between soul and body is not so 
absolutely broken by the article of death that the resurrec- 
tion of the body cannot take place, so the union which the 
body of the believer has with Christ is never so broken even 
by death as to be incapable of restoration. The germ of 
resurrection remains, and bond of union abides. In the 
case of tho wicked it is to he observed that no such relation 
to Christ is asserted in regard to oheir bodies, and conse- 
auently they abide under spiritual and eternal death, while 
their bodies are raised by the power of Christ, and not by 
virtue of their union with him. It need only be added here 
that death fixes destiny in the case of both the righteous and 
the wicked. 

In these three particulars physical death only has been 
described. Before leaving this dark and painful subject, it 


Death and the Middle State. 


may be well to repeat what was virtually said when discus- 
sing the results of the sin and fall of the race in Adam. 
Death in its deepest sense is the loss of spiritual life by the 
soul, as well as the physical death of the body, as above 
described. Death thus viewed is the penalty of sin, ard in 
its most general view it denotes separation. Physical death 
is separation of soul and body. Spiritual death is the sepa- 
ration of the soul from God, and the effect of this upon the 
moral and spiritual nature of man. Then, when this spiritual 
death becomes a fixed state, it is eternal death or permanent 
separation of the soul from God. Physical death happens to 
all men, but is different in the case of the righteous and of 
the wicked. In the case of the latter its sting and horror 
remains, but in the case of the former it is removed. The 
wicked die twice, and remain under the power of the second 
death. The righteous die but once, and are made alive for- 
evermore. The wicked remain forever under the penalty 
of death, while the righteous are freed forever from 
that penalty. Other aspects of this topic will emerge in 
the next chapter, where the resurrection is explained at 

II. The Middle State. 

This is a subject about which in recent times there has 
been a great deal of discussion, and not a little idle specula- 
tion. The question as to the location and condition of the 
righteous and wicked, respectively, has been much debated 
in recent times, and the inquiry as to whether there is or 
shall be any opportunity to hear the gospel, and so to be 
saved, during the interval between death and the resurrec- 
tion, has been distinctly raised and learnedly discussed. 
Into these discussions it is not necessary to enter in a formal 
way, but it will be well to keep them in mind in the exposi- 
tion of what the Standards say upon this point. The period 
of time which now comes before us is that which elapses be- 
tween death and the resurrection, and the real debate has 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

''eference to the abode and experiences of the righteous and 
wicked, respectively, in that abode. 

1. The souls of both the righteous and the wicked are 
neither dead nor sleeping during that period. They are 
conscious and active. The Confession says that the souls of 
men, both righteous and wicked, do after death return im- 
mediately to God who gave them. Hence, the doctrine of 
the sleep of the soul, or of its semi-conscious state during the 
period in question, has no favor whatever in the Standards. 
As the body may not be necessary to consciousness and 
mental activity, so the soul may be both conscious and active 
in its disembodied middle state. 

2. The condition of the righteous and of the wicked differs 
in certain importanfj respects during that period. There are 
several things in tha teaching of the Standards which should 
be noted with soma care. 

First, In the case of the righteous, their souls are, at 
death, made perfect in holiness and do immediately pass 
into glory. The Larger Catechism says that God, out of his 
love, frees them perfectly from sin and misery, and makes 
them capable of further communion with Christ in glory, 
upon which they enter. This communion with Christ in 
glory is further defined as something which they enjoy im- 
mediately after death, and it consists in their souls being 
made perfect in holiness, being received into the highest 
heavens, and there beholding the face of God in light and 
glory. The Confession uses almost the same language when 
it says that the souls of the righteous, being at death made 
perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, 
where they behold the face of God in light and glory. Both 
the Larger Catechism and the Confession make the significant 
remark that the disembodied spirits of the redeemed are ia. 
the highest hCviTens, waiting for the full redemption of their 
bodies. The reference in this remark is no doubt to tho 
resurrection of their bodies and the reunion of their souls 

Death and the Middle State. 


ighteous and 

) wicked are 
. They are 
t the souls of 
;h return im- 
e doctrine of 
ite during the 
lie Standards, 
jiousness and 
)U8 and active 

wicked differs 
,d. There are 
, which should 

souls are, at 
[nediately pass 
>od, out of his 
ry, and makes 
hrist in glory, 
;vith Christ in 
;hey enjoy im- 
ir souls being 
,o the highest 
d in light and 
language when 
at death made 
ghest heavens, 
d glory. Both 
the significant 
edeemed are in 
caption of their 
doubt to the 
of their souls 

and bodies so as to fit them for still higher degrees of felicity 
and glory. In this careful way the Standards state the case 
of the righteous. 

Secondly^ In regard to the wicked, the teaching is that the 
oouls of the wicked after death and their return to God who 
gave them are cast into hell, where they remain in torment 
and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day. 
The Larger Catechism adds a very important remark regard- 
ing the bodies of the wicked during this period. It says, 
that just as the bodies of the righteous continue even in death 
to be in union with Christ, as they rest in their graves till at 
the last day they shall be again united to their souls, so the 
bodies of the wicked are kept in their graves, as in their 
prisons, until the resurrection and judgment of the great day. 
This statement is noteworthy, because it is the only remark 
which the Standards directly make in regard to the bodies 
of the wicked during that mysterious? interval between death 
and the resurrection. In the case of the righteous and wicked, 
therefore, the teaching of the Standards is clear and definite 
in regard to both their souls and bodies. Both classes, in 
respect to their souls, are in their final state and abode, 
but they are not fully fitted for final felicity on the one hand, 
or prepared for the deepest experience of their final doom on 
the other. The state in which both are is properly called a 
middle state, and it is also an incomplete condition, so far as 
capacity for final felicity and future punishment is concerned. 
Before completeness is reached, body and soul must be re- 
united in the person. Hence, the resurrection must inter- 
vene to secure this, so that by the reunion of soul and body 
the endowment of the person may be completed, so far as 
capacity for joy or pain is concerned. 

Thirdly y The Confession suggests a very interesting in- 
quiry when it adds, that besides these two places above de- 
scribed, for the abode of the souls of men separated from 
their bodies, the Scriptures acknowledge none. This state- 


The Presbyterian Standards. 


ment is opposed to the Romish doctrine at this point, and it 
also eflfectually meets some modern theories upon this sub- 
ject. The doctrine of the Standards cleariy is, that the souls 
of men after death do not go to a temporary abode for dis- 
embodied spirits, but they go to the place, heaven or hell, 
where they are forever to have their dwelling-place. The 
difference in their condition prior to and after the resurrec- 
tion and judgment is not that they inhabit different places 
in these two periods of their career, but it consists in their 
capacity, and especially in regard to the relations of the soul 
and body. Prior to the resurrection, the disembodied souls 
are in heaven and hell respectively. Then at the resurrec- 
tion these souls come forth from their respective places, are 
reunited with their bodies, and then after judgment they 
return to their respective abodes, to remain there forever. 

This doctrine is opposed to that of Rome in several re- 
spects. It denies entirely that there are more than two 
localities. The Standards do not tell us precisely where 
heaven and hell are, but their teaching does not admit that 
there are so many places in the middle state as the Romish 
theologians assert. There is no limhus infantum, which is 
the supposed place where unbaptized infants who die in in- 
fancy go, and where they continue in a quiescent state, 
neither of happiness nor of suffering. Nor was there ever 
such a place as the limhus patrum, which was the supposed 
abode of the Old Testament saints in a disembodied state, 
who lived and died before Christ came, and to whom Christ 
went and declared the gospel during the period when his 
body lay in the grave and his spirit was free. They say that 
in this sense Christ went and preached to the spirits in 
prison. He went then to the saints of all the ages prior to 
Christ's advent, and set them free by declaring to them his 
triumph over Satan. Still less can there be any such place 
&h purgatory pertaining to the middle state, wherein certain 
souls, who when they died were not quite ready for heaven, 


Death and the Middle State. 


point, and it 
)on this sub- 
hat the souls 
bode for dis- 
laven or hell, 
;-place. The 
the resurrec- 
Bferent places 
isists in their 
ns of the soul 
ibodied souls 
the resurrec- 
ve places, are 
idgment they 
ire forever. 
in several re- 
ore than two 
ecisely where 
lot admit that 
,s the Romish 
turn, which is 
Rrho die in in- 
iescent state, 
as there ever 
the supposed 
ibodied state, 
whom Christ 
iod when his 
They say that 
the spirits in 
ages prior to 
g to them his 
ny such place 
lerein certain 
y for heaven, 

are purified for their habitation by purgatorial fires of some 
sort. The Scriptures know of no such place; nor do the 
Standards. Hence, the Romish perversions are to be set 
aside entirely. There are no such classes of persons in the 
middle state, and no such places. Heaven and hell are the 
only places. 

Nor do the Standards favor the view held by some modern 
theologians, that the disembodied spirits of both the right- 
eous and the wicked go to a common abode, which is tem- 
porary, and in which they abide only till the resurrer^^ion. 
Here both classes are supposed to be together in the region 
of departed spirits during the middle state. After the resur- 
rection and judgment these completed persons, with soul and 
body reunited, enter heaven and hell for the first time, accord- 
ing as their award at the day of judgment determines. This 
general theory has no favor at all in the Standards. The 
souls of the righteous do immediately pass into glory, and 
are received into the highest heavens. The souls of the 
wicked are cast into hell, where they remain for the judgment 
day. The former are in heaven and the latter are in hell in 
a disembodied state. The resurrection reunites these souls 
and bodies, the judgment publicly announces their destiny 
respectively, and they re-enter the abodes whence they came 
for judgment, and remain forever therein. 

In closing this chapter it may be added that in the middle 
state there is no sanctification of the soul in the disembodied 
state, in the sense that some remnants of sin which have been 
carried forward by the redeemed into the middle state are 
purged away. There may be advance in knowledge of 
divine realities and growth in the positive experiences of the 
divine life in their souls, but there shall be no experience of 
sanctification in the sense of dying unto sin, for that was all 
removed at death. Death thus fixes destiny, and, to a certain 
extent, the general moral state of every person. Such is the 
teaching of the Standards. 




Shorter Catkohism, 38; Larger CATEcnisM, 87-90; Confession of 

Faith, XXXII. , XXXIII. 

THE two concluding topics of the Standards which call 
for exposition are now reached. They very properly 
stand at the close of the outlin of Christian doctrine, since 
they mark the close of the history of the human race and of the 
church in the world, and lead on to the consideration of the 
eternal destiny of men in a future state of existence. The 
Shorter Catechism has a brief statement upon these two topics, 
in which it states the fact of the resurrection without explain- 
ing it, and in which it asserts the fact of the general judg- 
ment and the eternal felicity of the redeemed in glory. The 
Larger Catechism and the Confession give much more ex- 
tended statements upon these subjects. In this chapter the 
meaning of these statements will be opened up in an orderly 
way. There are two separate topics to be considered. 

I. The Resurrection of the Dead. 

Upon this subject the teaching of the Standards, in general, 
is to the effect that at the last day there shall be a general 
resurrection both of the just and the unjust. This great 
event shall take place at the end of the world, and at the 
completion of the history of the church upon the earth. 
This resurrection shall be general in its nature, including as 
its subjects all the dead, small and great, good and bad. 
When the trump of God shall sound, all in their graves shall 
come forth, and those in the sea shall appear in the resur- 
rection. It is clear that the doctrine of the Standards does 
not favor two resurrections, as is held by some. All men, 
according to their teaching, are to be raised at the same 
time, and both just and unjust are to come forth to the issues 


The Resurrection and General Judgment. 



Confession of 

Is which call 
letj properly 
octrine, since 
ace and of the 
oration of the 
istence. The 
)se two topics, 
hout explain- 
general judg- 
1 glory. The 
uch more ex- 
s chapter the 
in an orderly 

s, in general, 

be a general 

This great 

, and at the 

in the earth. 

including as 

>od and bad. 

r graves shall 

in the resur- 

andards does 

e. All men, 

at the same 

to the issues 

of the judgment day. It is proper to remark, that when the 
Standards were drawn up premillennial ideas did not much 
prevail, and the notion of two resurrections in the pre- 
millennial sense had not definitely arisen. In the general 
statement of the Standards the following particulars are 

1. Those who are alive when the resurrection occurs shall 
not die, but shall be changed. This change will be some 
sort of transmutation, by means of which the bodies of those 
then alive shall be so changed as to fit them for their eternal 
abode. The change which Enoch and Elijah experienced 
illustrates this in a measure, and the modification which the 
body of cur Lord underwent prior to or at the time of his 
ascension was, no doubt, a somewhat similar one. Thus in 
a moment, by divine power, the living shall be changed, and 
made to assume those qualities of body which the spiritual 
conditions of the future state of existence shall require. 
This change shall be experienced by all then living on the 
earth, whether good or bad, whether righteous or wicked. 

2. All the dead shall be raised with the self-same bodies, 
and none other. The Larger Catechism says that the self- 
same bodies of the dead which are laid in the grave, being 
then again united to their souls forever, shall be raised up 
by the power of Christ. Both of these statements teach that 
all that is necessary to preserve bodily identity is preserved 
in the resurrection body. In some well-defined sense, it 
shall be the same body which in this life was inhabited h^ 
the soul, and was the instrument of all its activities, that 
shall be raised up at the last day. This sets aside the idea 
that an entirely new body is to be created, or that in no 
sense is there to be any relation between the body that is 
laid in the grave and the resurrection body. It is the same 
body that dies and is buried which is reanimated and raised. 
tTust as truly as Jesus had the identical body after the resur- 
rection and ascension which he had before, so shall all the 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

1 ■ 





I !i 

dead possess the same body after the resurrection which 
they had in this earthly life, however much it may be 
changed to fit it for its eternal home. The main thing to 
hold fast here is the fact that there is identity in some real 
sense between the present body and that which shall be ours 
by the resurrection. 

3. The fact of the resurrection further implies that the 
soul and body shall be reunited. Death severs the bond be- 
tween them, and leads to the dissolution of the body. The 
resurrection not only reanimates the body, but it also reunites 
the reanimated body to the disembodied soul. By this 
means the person is again made complete, and the basis of 
responsibility is fully preserved. Just when and how this 
union is effected we are not told, and may not be able to say 
definitely. Whether the body shall be reanimated by having 
its physical life restored to it prior to its reunion with the 
soul, or whether the presence of the soul itself in the lifeless 
gathered elements of the body shall be the cause of the reani- 
mation of the body, we do not venture to assert. The sim- 
ple fact is before us that the body and soul are reunited, the 
identity of the body is not destroyed, and the personal 
identity of those raised up is entirely preserved amid all the 
changes which take place. 

4. In regard to the just, the Confession says that they 
shall be raised by the Spirit of Christ unto honor, and be 
made conformable to his own glorious body. The Larger 
Catechism, to a certain extent, expands this statement when 
it says that the bodies of the just are raised by the Spirit of 
Christ, and by virtue of his resurrection as their head, in 
power, spiritual and incorruptible, and made like unto his 
glorious body. Herein there are several things to be ob- 
served. The agency by which the resurrection of the just is 
effected is the Spirit of Christ. His Spirit dwelling in the 
just not only saves the soul, but is the agent by which the 
resurrection of their bodies is effected. The Larger Cate- 


The Resuuuection and General Judgment. 


cliism signalizes a very importaut matter wlien it says tliat 
the resurrection of the just is also due to the virtue of the 
resurrection of Christ, their head. Through their union 
with Christ, as has been already stated, believers are joined 
to him both as to their bodies and their souls. Hence, their 
bodies, after death, are still united to Christ as they lie in 
their graves. At the resurrection that union supplies an im- 
portant factor in eflfecting the resurrection of the just. And, 
finally, the resurrection of the just is to be a glorious one. 
It is unto honor, and in power. It is to be a spiritual and 
incorruptible estate in heaven. Such is the glorious hope 
which the believer has of life and immortality by the 

5. In the case of the unjust or finally impenitent, the 
Standards set forth in a very brief way the bearing of the 
resurrection. The Confession simply says that the bodies of 
the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dis- 
honor. The Larger Catechism, after stating, in general, that 
all the dead shall be raised by the power of Christ, and the 
just specially by his Spirit, adds that the bodies of the 
wicked shall be raised up in dishonor by him as an ofiended 
judge. Here it is asserted that Christ, by his power, and not 
by his Spirit, shall raise the bodies of the wicked. There is 
no bond of union between Christ and the unjust or unbeliev- 
ing, as thereby the divine power may effect their resurrection. 
And as their resurrection is not a benefit of redemption, the 
unjust are raised up by Christ acting in the capacity of the 
judge of the quick and the dead, and their resurrection is 
consequently judicial in its nature, and in order to judgment, 
as will presently appear. This doctrine, it may be added, is 
inconsistent with the views of those who teach that the 
wicked shall not be raised at all, or, if raised, shall be anni- 
hilated as a punishment for their sins. Hence, the wicked 
are raised up by Christ unto dishonor, to be finally judged 
by him. 





i i 






The Presbyterian Standards. 

6. An important and difficult question yet remains. It is 
one upon which the Standards speak in a somewhat indirect 
way, but it is one about which a good deal is said in writings 
upon this subject. This question relates to the precise na- 
ture of the resurrection body. It has already been shown 
that the resurrection body shall in some real sense be the 
same as the present body. It will be the self-same body, 
and none other. The question as to the sense in which it is 
the same at once arises. If there be identity between the 
body that now is and the body that shall be, the question is 
as to that in which the identity consists. In regard to this 
inquiry a few remarks are made, inasmuch as a number of 
objections are lodged against the whole doctrine of the resur- 
rection of the body at this particular point. 

I^irsty Negatively, this identity does not necessarily imply 
identity or sameness of the material elements or atoms of 
which the body may be composed. Objections to the doc- 
trine assume that the fact of the resurrection requires this 
identity, ^ut the Standards do not so teach, nor does the 
Scripture so state. Personal identity may be continued 
and personal responsibility be preserved, without absolute 
preservation of the material particles of the body. This is 
true even in this present life, as the body undergoes change 
from youth to maturity, and from maturity to old age. The 
Confession gives the key to the solution of the problem when 
it says that the body which is raised as the self-same body 
shall possess different qualities from those which it now has. 
It shall doubtless be endowed by the agency which raises it 
up with all those qualities which it needs for its eternal 
destiny and abode. Those qualities are stated in the Scrip- 
tures, and are such as hese: It shall be incorruptible, it 
shall be glorious, it shall be clad with power, and it shall be 
made a spiritual body. With such qualities it is fit for a 
spiritual state and place, and yet it can be properly called 
the self-same body, and none other. Personal identity and 

' II 

The Resurrection and General Judgment. 


mains. It is 
what indirect 
id in writings 
e precise na- 
j been shown 
sense be the 
f-same body, 
in which it is 

between the 
ae question is 
regard to this 

a number of 
) of the resur- 

jssarily imply 
} or atoms of 
s to the doc- 
requires this 
nor does the 
be continued 
liout absolute 
ody. This is 
jrgoes change 
3ld age. The 
problem when 
ilf-same body 
;h it now has. 
i^hich raises it 
or its eternal 
in the Scrip - 
3orruptible, it 
nd it shall be 
it is fit for a 
roperly called 
1 identity and 

responsibility are carried up to the judgment, and on to 
eternity. Another passage bearing upon this point tells us 
that Christ shall change our vile body that it may be fash- 
ioned like unto his glorious body. Hence, what Christ's 
body became after the ascension and glorification, ours shall 
become by the change which the resurrection effects. Another 
passage indicates that we shall, in some respects, be like the 
angels of heaven. 

Both Scripture and the Standards speak of the case of the 
just almost entirely at this point, but it is a proper inference 
to make that the bodies of the unjust shall also be changed, 
and yet their personal identity be entirely preserved. They 
shall have given to them by divine power those qualities 
necessary for their eternal abode in darkness and dishonor. 
This dark aspect of the subject need not detain us. 

II. The Final Judgment. 

This last solemn event is not alluded to at any length in 
the Shorter Catechism, but both the Larger Catechism and 
the Confession speak at length and clearly upon it. The 
Shorter Catechism simply says that there shall be a general 
judgment, when believers shall be openly acknowledged and 
acquitted, and made perfectly blessed in the enjoyment of 
God to all eternity. Concerning the place and destiny of the 
wicked in the judgment, this Catechism is silent. Only by 
way of inference can there be any statement made from the 
basis of this Catechism. The doctrine, therefore, must be 
drawn from the Larger Catechism and the Confession. The 
following remarks may supply a general summary of the 
teaching of the Standards upon the great subject of the last 
general judgment. 

1. The judgment is to be general and is to come immedi- 
ately after the resurrection. It relates to angels, specially 
the apostate angels, to all men, good and bad, small and 
great. Christ is to be the judge at that great day. Before 
him, gathered it would seem by the angels, shall be assem- 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

p ill 



' U\\ 


- i\ '!t -1 

' i' 

■ '■ 

1 j' 

i i .\ 

1 ' "^ 



Pi I! 

bled men of every nation, tongue, and clime. The good and 
the bad shall be gathered at the world's last grand assize ; 
and in regard to the judgment process, they shall be judged 
out of the records of heaven and according to the deeds done 
in the body. Just as there is one resurrection, so there shall 
be one judgment also. This is inconsistent with the pre- 
millennial idea of the judgment. The Standards teach that 
there shall be one general, final judgment, and that all men, 
just and unjust, are to be present at it. The world is to be 
judged in righteousness by Jesus Christ, to whom all power 
and judgment has been committed by the Father. The 
parties to be judged are apostate angels, and all the mem- 
bers of the human race who have ever lived upon the earth. 
They are all to appear before the tribunal of Christ at that 
great and notable day. 

2. The day of judgment has had its time set by God, yet 
he hath not made the exact time known to men. The fact is 
frequently asserted in the Scriptures, but the precise time of 
its occurrence is never stated. This is, for good reasons, 
kept hidden from men. It comes after the resurrection, and 
at no great interval of time from it. The day and the hour 
of the judgment no man knoweth, that all may watch and 
pray and be ready for the appearance of the Lord when he 
comes the second time without sin, unto salvation, to judge 
the quick and the dead at his appearing. This is evidently 
a wise provision. It tends to deter men from sin, and it 
aflfords consolation to the godly in their adversity. It stirs 
up men to shake off carnal security, and it leads them to be 
sober and watchful, for they know not at what hour the Lord 
may come. They may thereby be the better prepared for his 

At this stage the topic of the second advent of Christ natu- 
rally comes before us. In regard to this great event, the 
Standards simply assume that it shall take place in connec- 
tion with the resurrection and with a view to the filial judg- 

The Resurrection and Generai. Judoment. 


he good and 
rand assize; 
ill be judged 
B deeds done 
[o there shall 
ritli the pre- 
Is teach that 
that all men, 
<rorld is to be 
om all power 
Father. The 
all the mem- 
)on the earth. 
Christ at that 

t by God, yet 
. The fact is 
recise time of 
rood reasons, 
arrection, and 
and the hour 
ly watch and 
Lord when he 
ion, to judge 
is is evidently 
a sin, and it 
•sity. It stirs 
ds them to be 
lour the Lord 
epared for his 

f Christ natu- 
)at event, the 
ce in connec- 
he filial judg- 

ment. Ho comes the second time without or apart from sin 
to judge the living and the dead at his second advent in the 
world. Hence, the Standards do not favor the premillennial 
view that Christ shall come personally at the beginning of 
the millennium, and reign in person over his people on the 
earth for a thousand years before the general judgment now 
under notice shall come to pass. Moreover, the Standards 
never mention the millennium at all at any place in their 
doctrinal statements. The reason for this was chiefly the 
fact that the question was not really raised at that time, nor 
regarded of much doctrinal importance. It is only of late 
years that the premillennial theory of the second advent of 
Christ has become quite prominent, and is held by many 
good men. We cannot enter into the whole merits of the 
base here, and content ourselves with simply pointing out the 
fact that the Standards are not favorable in any way to pre- 
millennialism. At the same time, since many good, earnest 
men hold it, we shall not use hard words against it, however 
clear our own convictions may be that the premillennial 
theory is, if not unscriptural, at least extra-confessional. 

3. The purpose of the judgment process next calls for 
some explanation. All men are to appear before the judg- 
ment seat of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, 
words and deeds, and also to receive their award according 
to what they have done in the body, whether good or bad. 
As they are assembled on that solemn occasion, all things will 
be naked and open before the eyes of him with whom we 
have to do. Our thoughts, our words, and our acts will all 
be inspected and pronounced upon. The underlying ques- 
tion will be in regard to our interest in Christ as our Re- 
deemer, and whether or nc our names are written in the 
Lamb's book of life. Our interest in Christ will be the 
ground of our acquittal and reward, but our deeds of loving 
service to Christ and his people will be the measure of our 
reward. The wicked, in like manner, will be condemned be- 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

cause they are not in union with Christ, and the degree of 
their punishment will be the measure of guilt which they 
have incurred by their profane and wicked deeds. 

A further result of the judgment day and its highest end 
will be the manifestation of the glory of God. It will secure 
this in a twofold way. On the other hand, the glory of the 
mercy and grace of God is manifested in the eternal salva- 
tion of his people. They, in their salvation, are for the 
praise of his glorious grace. And on the other hand, the 
glory of his justice is manifested in the damnation of the 
reprobate, who remain wicked and disobedient to the end. 
Their wickedness and disobedience is the ground of their 
condemnation, and in their condemnation they but receive 
the due reward of their deeds, to the praise of God's glorious 

The glory of God's mercy in the case of the righteous 
appears in the fact that they go into everlasting life, and 
there receive that fulness of joy and refreshing which comes 
from the presence of the Lord. The glory of heaven and 
the praises of the redeemed through all the ages, as they 
sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, will continually mani- 
fest the glory of the mercy and grace of almighty God ; ai d 
the glory of God's justice in the case of the wicked appears 
in the fact that since they did not know God, nor obey the 
gospel of Jesus Christ, they are cast into eternal torments, 
and are punished with everlasting destruction from the pre- 
sence of the Lord and the glory of his power. They did not 
seek to know God nor retain him in their thoughts, nor did 
they obey the gospel invitation, hence their condemnation is 
in accordance with the eternal justice of God, and it vindi- 
cates that justice in a very impressive manner. 

4. The general results of the judgment remain to be briefly 
explained. To a certain extent, some of these results are in- 
volved in what is stated in the preceding section ; but in the 
Larger Catechism, especially, the results of the judgment upon 

The Resurrection and General Judgment. 


e degree of 
which they 

highest end 
t will secure 
glory of the 
ternal salva- 

are for the 
er hand, the 
ation of the 

to the end. 
und of their 
y but receive 
rod's glorious 

the righteous 
ting life, and 
which comes 
f heaven and 
ages, as they 
inually mani- 
ity God ; aid 
icked appears 
, nor obey the 
mal torments, 
from the pre- 
They did not 
ights, nor did 
ndemnation is 
, and it vindi- 

in to be briefly 
results are in- 
on ; but in the 
udgment upon 

the parties who are judged are fully stated. It is interesting 
to note that the order in which the case of the wicked and 
that of the righteous is taken up in the Catechism is diflierent 
from the order of treatment usually followed in the treatises 
on theology. Usually they deal with the case of the right- 
eous first, as the Scriptures generally do, and conclude with 
a statement about the final doom of the wicked. The Larger 
Catechism reverses this order, and so it deals with the case 
of the wicked first, and concludes by reference to the glori- 
ous destiny of the righteous. This order is pleasant to 
think on, for it leads our thoughts last of all up to heaven, 
after they have been for a time at the gates of hell. More- 
over, this order is justified by the text which says: And 
these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the 
righteous into life eternal. This is the order of the Cate- 
chism, while the Confession foUows the other order. For 
many reasons, the order of the Catechism is to be preferred. 
First, In the case of the wicked, a few things are to be set 
down. At the day of judgment the wicked shall be set at 
Christ's left hand. The evidence of their guilt shall be ad- 
duced. Upon the presentation of clear evidence in the case, 
and upon the full conviction of their own consciences, there 
shall be pronounced against them the fearful but just sen- 
tence of condemnation. In the justice of this sentence, both 
the outwurd fact of guilt and its inward evidence shall agree. 
After sentence is pronounced it shall be executed, and as the 
result of this the wicked shall be cast out from the favorable 
presence of God, and be separated from the fellowship and 
glory of Christ, and of his saints and the holy angels. And 
not only so, but they Rhall be cast into hell, and there pun- 
ished with unspeakable torments in soul and body, with the 
devil and his angels forever. This is strong language, but 
not more so than the expressions of Scripture, even of our 
Lord himself, upon this subject. They are banished from 
God's favorable presence, but they are not beyond his judi- 


The Presbyterian Standards. 



fcial control. They are separated from the saints and angels 
forever, and they are in the company of the devil and his 
angels for eternity. And, to crown all, they suflfer sore tor- 
ments, in which the whole person suffers'continually. There 
may be no literal fire, but that which such fire symbolizes in 
the way of punishment shall be endured. 

It is well to add that the duration of this punishment is 
assumed by the Standards to be eternal. No care is taken 
to argue the matter, but the same language which is used in 
the Scriptures to denote endlessness is set down in the 
Standards ; and the eternal duration of the punishment, and 
the impossibility of deliverance from it, are simply assumed 
in the Scriptures and the Standards. No place is allowed 
for any kind of second probation, and no hint is given that 
the infliction of the penalty shall end. In recent years the 
doctrine of the endlessness of future punishment has been 
called in question in various quarters, and much controversy 
has been indulged in regarding it, so that a few additional 
sentences may with propriety be devoted to it here : First, 
The Greek terms here used in the Scriptures are the only 
ones in that language to denote endlessness. Secondly, There 
are no passages of Scripture to show that men will hear the 
gospel after death, which fixes destiny. Thirdly, There is no 
promise made in the Scriptures that man shall have the aid 
of the Holy Spirit beyond the grave. Fourthly, The circum- 
stances and influences around the soul which dies impenitent 
cannot be so favorable to repentance as in this life. Fifthly, 
The force of habit and long continuance in sin must make 
the heart harder. Sixthly, Mere punishment hardens the 
soul wlien grace is not present to sanctify the suffering. 
Seventhly, The immortality of the soul implies eternal pun- 
ishment, unless there is some way to get rid of sin after death. 
Eighthly, Endless sinning implies endless punishment, unless 
it can be shown that wicked men cease to sin after death. 
Ninthly, The reasons which take away the ground for endless 

The Kesurrection and General Judgment. 


ts and angels 
devil and his 
iffer sore tor- 
lually. There 
symbolizes in 

punishment is 
care is taken 
lich is used in 
; down in the 
inishment, and 
imply assumed 
lace is allowed 
it is given that 
acent years the 
ment has been 
ich controversy 
, few additional 
it here : First, 
3S are the only 
Secondly, There 
en will hear the 
dly, There is no 
all have the aid 
Uy, The circum- 
dies impenitent 
is life. Fifthly, 
sin must make 
ant hardens the 
the suffering, 
ies eternal pun- 
if sin after death, 
nishment, unless 
sin after death, 
■ound for endless 

punishment would also remove the ground for endless felicity 
in heaven. Abolish hell, and heaven is obliterated. Reve- 
lation is clear in regard to the perpetuity of both, and this 
means that both states are fixed, and that the experiences of 
the citizens of both abodes are perpetual. 

Secondly, The case of the righteoiis needs only brief re- 
mark. At the day of judgment, the righteous, being caught 
up to Christ in the clouds, shall be set on his right hand, and 
there be openly acknowledged and acquitted. At death their 
happy destiny was fixed, but they were not qualified for full 
felicity till the resurrection reunited soul and body. Thus 
qualified for full felicity, they appear at the judgment, and 
are found on the right hand of Christ the judge, where their 
sure title to heaven and their fit character for it are made 
manifest before men and angels. Then, further, they are 
associated with Christ in some way in judging apostate 
angels and reprobate men. What the precise nature of this 
office shall be we are not clearly told. Some would interpret 
it in harmony with premillennial views of Christ's second 
advent, and it is about the only passage in the Standards 
which may be so understood. Yet it is better to take this 
passage in the light of other clear passages which are op- 
posed to premillennial theories. 

Then, after the judgment process is over, and their acquit- 
tal and reward announced, the righteous shall be received 
into heaven, where they shaU be fully freed from all sin and 
misery. They shall also be filled with inconceivable joys. 
They shall in like manner be made perfectly holy and happy, 
in body and soul, in the company of innumerable saints and 
angels. But the crowning element in their joj shall consist 
in the immediate vision and fruition of God the Father, of 
the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, to all eternity. 
This is the perfect and full communion which the members 
of the invisible church enjoy with Christ in glory at the 
resurrection and day of judgment. 

I : 



The Presbyterian Standards. 

This completes the splendid inventory of the blessed ex- 
periences of the redeemed in heaven. Acquittal by Christ 
before all men and angels ; association with him in judging 
apostate men and angels ; introduction into heaven itself and 
all its glory ; fellowship with saints and holy angels there ; 
and, above all, an immediate vision of the triune Jehovah to 
all eternity, make up the category of felicity and glory which 
the redeemed enjoy at and after the judgment. 

The locality of heaven is not stated, nor is the place where 
hell is to be found named. Here the Standards exhibit their 
usual reserve and caution. Where Christ and the redeemed 
are is heaven ; where the devil and his angels are is hell. 
The main thing is that, through the mercy of God in Christ 
Jesus, we should prepare for heaven by seeking union with 
Christ, which faith in him implies ; and then, being thus 
united with him, we may be sure that he will carry us up to 
his Father's presence with exceeding joy, and present us 
faultless before his throne, and at the same time introduce 
us into the experience of those things which eye hath not 
seen and ear hath not heard, nor hath entered into the heart 
of man to conceive, but which are reserved for all those who 
love his appearing, and who are kept by the power of God 
through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed at the last 

B blessed ex- 
tal by Christ 
m in judging 
ven itself and 
angels there; 
e Jehovah to 
d glory which 

le place where 
3 exhibit their 
the redeemed 
Is are is heU. 
God in Christ 
ng union with 
^n, being thus 
carry us up to 
nd present us 
time introduce 
I eye hath not 
L into the heart 
r all those who 
power of God 
laled at the last 



THE proposed exposition of the Presbyterian Standards 
has been completed. A closing chapter may be de- 
voted to some remarks based upon this exposition. Some 
general features of the contents of the Standards as a whole 
may be signalized now, in i more intelligent way than was 
possible prior to the exposition. A very brief summary of 
these contents may be first given. 

At the outset, a chapter was devoted to a brief history of 
the creeds of the Christian church, and another to the nature 
and uses of religious creeds. Then the topics were taken up 
according to the general order of the Shorter Catechism, and 
the contents of the Larger Catechism and Confession of 
Faith were carefully woven into the discussion throughout. 
In addition, some topics set forth in the Confession alone 
were also explained, so as to make the exposition complete. 
Then the several topics of Christian doctrine were unfolded 
in an orderly way. The doctrine of Holy Scripture came 
naturally first, then God and his attributes followed, together 
with an explanation of the Trinity. The decrees and their 
execution came next in order, to be followed by the outline 
of the covenant of works, and man's failure and fall in that 
covenant relation, together with an exposition of original sin. 
Then the covenant of grace came into view, and this led to 
an exposition of the person and work of the mediator of that 
covenant, under the three official relations of prophet, priest, 
and king, together with an outline of his humiliation and ex- 
altation. This led to the nature an^l free agency of man, 
and to the important matter of eflfeciual calling, and union 
with Christ. Then came the benefits of Christ in justifica- 
tion, adoption, and sanctification, together with faith and 



t I 




: :i .1 i; , 





The Presbyterian Standards. 

repentance. This was followed, very properly, by some ex- 
planation of good works, perseverance, and assurance. Next 
came the law of God and Christian liberty, lo be followed by 
the communion of saints and religious worship. The means 
of grace was the topic next explained, and this led to an ex- 
position of the ten commandments, and of the sacraments of 
baptism and the Lord's supper at some length. After this a 
variety of topics, expounded chiefly in the Larger Catechism 
and Confession, were explained in regard to the church, her 
censures, her synods and councils, and her relation to the 
state. The exposition concluded with some explanations of 
death, the intermediate state, the resurrection of the dead, 
and the final judgment. 

The first general remark to be made is the obvious one 
that the Standards, taken as a whole, are exceedingly com- 
prehensive in their scope. They set forth with great fulness 
the teaching of the Scriptures in regard to the three great 
departments of the Christian religion. Firsts A very com- 
prehensive statement of the doctrines of the Scriptures is 
given. These relate to God and his plan and its execution, to 
man and his fallen moral state, to Christ and his redeeming 
work, and to the results of that work both for this life and 
for that which is to come. Secondly, A very complete and 
detailed code of morals or Christian ethics is unfolded. The 
Scriptures are thereby regarded not only as a rule of faith, 
setting forth the doctrines to be believed, but also as a rule of 
life, unfolding the principles or laws which are to guide men 
in all they think and say and do. The summary of this 
rule is the ten commandments, and therein man's di*cy to 
God and to his fellowmen is explained with much care, both 
on the positive and negative sides. And, Thirdly, The gen- 
eral principles of the government, discipline, and worship of 
the church are exhibited. This department of religious truth 
is not so fully wrought out in the Standards as the other two, 
yet many important matters in harmony with the Presby- 

Summary and Conclusions. 


terian system are propounded and enforced. The discussion 
of the sacraments is unusually complete, and is one of the 
great excellencies of the Standards in comparison with other 
creeds. In this way it appears that doctrine, etl^' 's, and 
polity are all embraced in the Standards. Matters of faith, 
duty, and worship are all explained. 

In the second place, the Standards constitute a definite 
creed with a catholic spirit. That there is definiteness about 
the creed is evident from the exposition made. Some have 
found fault with the clear-cut form in which the doctrines 
are expressed, and with the minute way in which the rules 
for the conduct of life are set forth. Some have even been 
displeased with the general way in which matters of polity, 
especially in regard to the relations between church and 
state, are defined in the Standards. It is freely admitted 
that the doctrines are definite, that the ethical system is 
strict, and that the doctrine of the church is lofty and pure ; 
but these features may be justly claimed to be excellencies 
rather than defects, so long as it can be shown that they are 
founded on and agreeable to the word of God, as we believe 
them to be. 

Then, on the other hand, it is equally evident that the 
spirit of the Standards is of the broadest and most charita- 
ble nature. They give lofty views of God ; they present 
honest descriptions of sin ; they unfold a fuU, free gospel ; 
they outline a high ideal of life and destiny ; they exhibit a 
very exalted conception of the church of Christ ; and yet all 
through there breathes the spirit of true freedom and a large 
liberty. The doctrine of the invisible church, and of the 
oneness of all who are members of that phase of the church 
which is the body of Christ, lays the basis for the commu- 
nion of saints, and of the standing of all these members in 
Christ, no matter by what name they may be known. He 
that is true to the spirit of the Standards may have strong 
convictions in matters of religion, but he can never be a 

j^:' ■ 


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The Presbyterian Standards. 

bigot, or persecute, for religion's sake, any true believer in 
Christ. The doctrine of the sacraments, especially of the 
Lord's supper, and the conditions of its observance, exhibits 
the same catholicity. All who love the Lord Jesus Christ, 
and who trust and obey him, are made welcome at the 
Lord's table. He that is true to the teaching and spirit of 
the Standards in this connection can never be an advocate 
of close communion, nor exhibit towards his brethren in 
Christ the temper of the Pharisee. Such is the catholic 
spirit of the Standards. 

A third general remark is to the effect that *;he application 
of the contents of the Standards to individual, domestic and 
national life produces the highest and most beneficent re- 
sults. The individual man who is consciously a freeman in 
Christ, and who enjoys the liberty wherewith Christ makes 
his people free, can never be a coward or a slave ; and he 
whose life is framed according to the ethical rules of the 
Standards will be found glorifying God in his body, soul and 
spirit as his reasonable service. 

In the case of the home, he that follows the teaching of 
the Standards in regard to the duties of the domestic circle, 
whether it be those of parents or those of children, will find 
that the home life is properly regulated. Hence it is that 
wherever this teaching has prevailed, and regulated domestic 
life, that life is seen at its very best. Nowhere is the home 
so sacred and its life so pure as in those communities in 
which the doctrines of the Standards have been believed, and 
their ethical teaching observed in the family circle. History 
and observation abundantly confirm this position. 

In regard to national life, the same thing is true on a 
larger scale. The teaching of the Standards in regard to 
civil government balances in a fitting manner the largest de- 
gree of individual liberty, and the necessary measure of con- 
trol requisite for free yet stable national life and action. 
The form of church polity which the Standards exhibit has 

Summary and Conclusions. 


is exhibit has 

the same balanced structure, so that religious and national 
life, each in its own sphere, has the same stable adjustment. 
Those whose spirit is tempered by the teaching of the Stand- 
ards cannot long be the subjects of oppression, nor will 
they, if in the place of authority and power, be the instru- 
ments of tyranny. History abundantly confirms this on both 
sides. Presbyterians, as a matter of fact, have always been 
the friends of freedom and the foes of oppression. Again 
and again they have fought the world's battle for religious 
freedom and civil liberty. This is the result not merely of 
the doctrines and ethics of the system which the Standards 
unfold, but also of the clear manner in which the provinces 
of church and state are marked out. The sphere of each is 
plainly prescribed, and the true basis of the nature and ends 
of civil government is laid down, so that neither is allowed 
to usurp the functions or invade the sphere of the other. 
Hence it is that those branches of the church which have 
been moulded by the true reformed doctrine contained in the 
Standards, and which have been permeated with its spirit, 
have led the van in the world's onward progress in intelli- 
gence, morality and self-government. They have been the 
pioneers in all that goes to lift up mankind to its divine 
ideal, and to supply it with a lofty motive io live for the 
glory of God and the welfare of men the world over. 

In the fourth place, a few things may be properly said 
now in regard to the general type of doctrine which the 
Standards exhibit. Speaking generally, it may be described 
as typical Calvinism, using the term Calvinism in its histori- 
cal rather than in its personal sense. The type of doctrine 
in the Standards is neither high Calvinism nor low Calvinism. 
It is generic, consistent, well-balanced Calvinism. Therein 
there is no special effort to reconcile seeming contradictions^ 
which lie in the nature of things, but the utmost care is 
taken to exhibit in proper proportions the complete teaching 
of the Scriptures, alike in regard to the human and divine 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

factors which enter into the system. This is what is meant 
by consistent, well-balanced Calvinism. 

In regard to the doctrine of election, which is the divine 
sovereignty operative in the sphere of man's redemption, the 
doctrine of the Standards is sublapsarian rather than supra- 
lapsarian. Men are not, in the order of thought, elected and 
then created, but viewed as already created and fallen, and 
then elected or passed by. The order of the facts in the 
Catechisms entirely confirms this view, while the Confession, 
though it states the whole doctrine of the decrees in a single 
chapter before it sets forth the doctrine of creation, is not 
supralapsarian in its type of doctrine. As a creed statement 
it simply states the whole doctrine of the decrees in a single 
chapter, but does not thereby intend to adopt the supra- 
lapsarian order of the various factors. 

In reference to the matter of our race relation to Adam 
and his sin and fall, the Standards are not absolutely com- 
mitted to any one of several theories in regard to the facts. 
The fact that sin, guilt, and misery have come upon the whole 
race by reason of its connection with our first parents and 
their apostasy is plainly asserted, yet the Standards may 
be harmonized with either of several theories in regard to 
the fact. While we are clearly of the opinion that what is 
termed the immediate imputation theory is most consistent 
with the contents of the Standards, and especially with the 
covenant principle upon which they are constructed, yet we 
would be far from maintaining that the theory of mediate 
imputation, of generic unity, or of concurrence is to be re- 
garded as heresy. 

So, in like manner, broad middle ground is taken in the 
Standards in regard to the atonement. The fact that the 
suflferings and death of Christ are sacrificial and vicarious, 
and a satisfaction to the divine justice, is emphasized in 
various ways in different parts of the Standards, but they are 
not absolutely committed to any single theory in regard to 

Summary and Conclusions. 


hat is meant 

that important scriptural fact. This being the case, there is 
some room for diversity of opinion in regard to the precise 
nature of the atonement, as a sacrifice for sin, and as a pro- 
pitiation to the divine justice and an expiation for human 
guilt. In regard to the design or extent of the atonement, 
the doctrine of the Standards is more definite. So far as the 
efficacy of the death of Christ and the application of its 
benefits are concerned, the Standards always confine these to 
the elect. For them alone Christ efficaciously died and made 
full satisfction. Still, even here, there is nothing to hinder 
the view that, in addition to the sure benefits of salvation 
secured to the elect by the death of Christ, there are also 
benefits of various kinds which come even to the non-elect, 
whose final condemnation is, nevertheless, grounded upon 
their wilful sin and continued impenitence. 

So, also, in regard to the doctrines of grace in the re- 
covery of the sinner, the Standards assert constantly the 
necessity and efficacy of sovereign grace to renew and recover 
the sinner. Yet, at the same time, the mode in which the 
Standards describe the operation of that grace shows clearly 
that it works in no mere mechanical way, but in entire har- 
mony with the mental and moral powers of man. This grace 
operates so as to make men both able and willing to receive 
and obey the gospel. Here, too, the Standards take middle 
ground between historically extreme opinions. In regard to 
perseverance and assurance, the same statement is true. 
Careful middle ground is held in all these important matters 
of doctrine and experience. 

In regard to the much-debated question of the second 
advent of Christ, while we understand the Standards to teach 
the postmillennial view in a general way, and that the 
framers of the Standards intended to teach this view, still 
we admit that, from the way in which the Standards state 
their doctrine, premillennial views may not be condemned as 
seriously contra-confessional. The debate concerning this 


The Presbyterian Standards. 







- - --- 



topic was not really broached in the Westminster Assembly 
in a formal way, so that the Standards are content to teach 
in a positive way the po'-.tmillennial view, and to remain 
silent in regard to the premillennial doctrine. Premillen- 
nialism is extra-confessional rather than contra-confessional. 
At the same time, we are constrained to add that in our own 
judgment the teaching of the Standards is more in harmony 
with the Scripture than premillennialism is. Many good 
men hold the latter doctrine. Some Scriptures seem to teach 
or favor it, but many other Scriptures teach the opposite 
doctrine, and we believe the doctrine of the Standards best 
exhibits the teaching of the whole Scripture upon this point. 

In regard to ethics, some may be inclined to regard the 
teachings of the Standards as Puritan in their nature and 
requirements. Yet it may be successfully maintained that 
the Standards hold a consistent middle position between 
legalism and license. The experience of the great ethical 
principles set forth in the Standards, and the operations of 
the spirit of Christian liberty which they inculcate, secure 
this well-balanced result in life. The legitimate scope of the 
freedom of the Christian man, and the clear statement of the 
will of Christ set forth in the Standards, together conduce to 
this end. The spirit of ready obedience to the will of Christ 
as the rule of life and conversation is generated, so that a 
free and vigorous Christian life and experience is the result. 

The polity of the Standards is generic Calvinism, for Cal- 
vinism is a polity as well as a doctrinal system. The polity 
is broad and comprehensive in its nature, securing stable 
government, and the liberty of the people in their balanced 
and harmonious relations. 

In the fifth place, it is interesting to make inquiry in re- 
gard to the constructive principle of the Standards. In the 
interests of theology this is an important inquiry. The sub- 
jects treated of in the Standards are not formaUy classified 
into heads or divisions. The Catechisms have an implicit 

Summary and Conclusions. 


classification of the topics into two general divisions. The 
one relates to what man is to believe concerning God, and 
the other pertains to the duty which God requires of man. 
The Confession has no formal classific:ition at all, but in its 
statement goes on through doctrine, duty, worship, and 
polity, chapter by chapter, without any division of topics. 

TI * quiry now raised may be considered from a twofold 
point of view : First, A general view of the principle upon 
which the entire Standards are constructed may be taken. 
Here what may be termed the theocentric principle rules. 
Everything is from God, is subject to God, and is for the 
glory of God. The absolute sovereignty of God in creation, 
in providence, and in grace, is the fu damental idea of the 
Standards. He is sovereign in the sphere of natural or 
physical government, and in the realm of moral government, 
as well as in the domain of his spiritual redemptive govern- 
ment. Thus the sovereignty of God, rightly regarded and ap- 
plied, is the root idea of the generic Calvinism of the Stand- 
ards, and it supplies their constructive principle. The first 
question in the Catechisms strikes the key-note, and the entire 
contents of the Standards are in harmony with this view. 
God is the ruler of nature, and he is the Lord of the head, 
the heart, the conscience, and the life of all men. He is also 
King of kings and Lord of lords, as well as the king and 
head of his church. The theocentric principle is the con- 
structive principle of the Standards as a whole, and it gives 
great majesty and remarkable completeness to the doctrines, 
ethics, and polity which they contain. 

Secondly, A narrower or special view of the constructive 
principle of the Standards may be taken. This raises the 
question of the central principle of the redemptive scheme 
which they unfold. In general, this is the Christo centric 
idea or principle. Redemption centres in, and flows from, 
Christ. The incarnation is in order to redemption, and 
Christ is the sum and substance of redemption. If the ques- 




The Presbyterian Standards. 

tion be further raised as to what particular form of the 
Christo centric scheme the Standards exhibit, the answer is 
to the effect that they set forth the federal or covenant idea, 
in its general broad outlines. The federal principle in its 
general outline, rather than in definite detail, is adopted in 
the Standards. Both the Adamic and the Christie relations 
are construed in the Standards under the federal principle. 
Adam was the natural root and the federal or representative 
head of the race, and his failure in that covenant relation 
brought guilt and depravity upon the whole human race. 
And Christ, the second Adam, is the federal or representa- 
tive head of his elect people, and by his obedience, death, 
and intercession he obtains for them, and applies to them, 
all the redemptive benefits which are secured for his seed 
by the provisions of the covenant of grace. This, in general, 
is the federal principle. It is applied in the Standards alike 
to the first Adam and to Christ, the second Adam. Both 
hold covenant relations, and both represent and act for others. 
The first Adam acted for the race, the second for the cove- 
nant seed. This twofold covenant idea is that according 
to which the Standards construct their redemptive scheme. 
It explains the facts of sin in which the race is involved 
through Adam, and it accounts for the facts of redemption 
which come through Jesus Christ, the mediator of the cove- 
nant. The Standards, therefore, while Christo centric in re- 
gard to their redemptive scheme, at the same time represent 
what may be termed the generic federal phase of that 
scheme. Whatever theologians come finally to tt.'nk of this 
scheme, one thing may be safely said, and that is, that there 
has not yet been presented any other scheme which is more 
entirely scriptural, which is more consistent and comprehen- 
sive, and which more adequately accounts for all the facts of 
sin and redemption, than that type of the federal theology 
represented by the Standards. 

In the sixth place, it is proper to emphasize the ethical 

Summary and Conclusions. 


form of the 
lie answer is 
)veTiant idea, 
nciple in its 
a adopted in 
stic relations 
ral principle. 
nant relation 
human race, 
r representa- 
lience, death, 
)lie8 to them, 

for his seed 
lis, in general, 
landards alike 
A.dam. Both 
act for others. 

for the cove- 
[lat according 
ptive scheme. 
!e is involved 
of redemption 
>r of the cove- 
• centric in re- 
time represent 
ihase of that 
tt.'nk of this 
t is, that there 
which is more 
id comprehen- 

all the facts of 
deral theology 

ize the ethical 

system of the Standards, especially as it is found in the 
Catechisms. In most treatises on theology so much promi- 
nence is given to doctrine that the ethical side of religion 
is often left in the background. Indeed, the whole de- 
partment of Christian ethics is often relegated to a different 
department altogether, and receives treatment apaii from 
theology. The Standards do not so regard this topic, nor 
do they so treat it, but they deal with the practical as well as 
with the doctrinal side of religion. This is a very important 
matter, and it deserves careful consideration at the hands of 
those who are drawing up treatises on theology. Then, too, 
it is evident that no attempt to formulate a code of Chris- 
tian ethics apart from the ten commandments, especially as 
interpreted by Christ, can succeed. The Standards in this 
connection deserve high commendation. The manner in 
which the ten commands are expounded in the Standards 
is fitted to develop strong and sturdy Christian character, 
wherein virtue and righteousness shall be the ruling princi- 
ples. Moreover, the ethical system therein unfolded fits 
men to fulfil their duties in all the relations of life in the 
very best way, whether it be in the home, in the state, or in 
the church. The importance of teaching children these 
things, and of expounding them from the pulpit, and en- 
forcing them in sU legitimate ways, is evident in this connec- 
tion. Even theological instruction given to young ministers 
should not overlook the importance of this branch in its 

In the seventh place, a remark in regard to the finality of 
the Standards ought to be made in this connection. Highly 
as they are to be admired and regarded, and valuable and 
useful as they are as a matter of fact, still the position 
should not be dogmatically taken that they are a finality. 
They contain the most complete and scriptural outline of 
Christian doctrine to be found in any of the great creeds ; 
and we are inclined to think that none of our modern theo- 

-i I 





m.L'. , ^ 


The Presbyterian Standards. 

logians have made any notable or valuable additions to tho 
system of the Standards, yet no one should hold that they 
are perfect in form and contents. Tt may even be confessed 
that the more one studies the Standards the more one will 
admire their logical consistency and scriptural completeness, 
and the more one will marvel at the insight of the men who 
framed them into Holy Scripture, and into the philosophical 
soundness of the principles which underlie the doctrinal sys- 
tem ; yet at the same time it may be held that the Standards, 
being the productions of the hands of godly and learned 
men, who were illuminated by the Spirit, though not 
inspired, cannot be regarded as infallible. They are the 
product of an assembly or council of the church, and, as the 
Standards themselves say, such councils are liable to err; 
so that the Standards, even by their own claim, are not to 
be regarded as perfect or necessarily final. And while the 
Holy Spirit does dwell in the church, and io promised to 
keep and lead it aright, yet this promise does not mean that 
the church is inspired. If the church may not claim inspi- 
ration and infallibility, then the Standards, being the product 
of the church, cannot be infallible. 

The Standards, therefore, are not to be placed on a par 
with the Scriptures, much less are they to be put above the 
inspired word of God. They are not necessarily a finality, 
as the word of God is a finality. The Standards express for 
the time being the general outline of divine truth, which the 
church, taught by the Holy Ghost, finds in the Scriptures. 
The Spirit may lead into new views of the truths of God's 
word and of their relations and connections, and he may 
enable the church more fully to understand the mind of the 
Lord as revealed in the Scriptures. When this result has 
been clearly reached, the time may have come for the re- 
vision of the Standards, either by omission, addition, or 
change. But, in the meantime, till that stage is actually 
reached, the Standards constitute for the church the definite 

Summary and Conclusions. 


itions to the 
Id that they 
be confessed 
ore one will 
the men who 
loctrinal sys- 
le Standards, 
and learned 
though not 
?hey are the 
ti, and, as the 
liable to err; 
m, are not to 
.nd while the 
\ promised to 
Qot mean that 
t claim inspi- 
ig the product 

iced on a par 
put above the 
,rily a finality, 
ds express for 
ith, which the 
he Scriptures, 
uths of God's 
and he may 
le mind of the 
his result has 
ne for the re- 
addition, or 
,ge is actually 
ch the definite 

doctrinal system under which it lives and does its work, as 
its interpretation of the teaching of Holy Scripture. But this 
does not hinder the church from holding the door open, or 
at least unlocked, for new light to shine in from the lamp of 
revelation, and if such light comes, the Standards may be 
modified in order more fully to express the contents of 
Scripture. That the time is now at hand for such a revision 
or readjustment can scarcely be maintained. But to assert 
that such a time shall never come may not be wise. What, 
in our judgment, is much needed in many quarters is a more 
diligent study of the contents of the Standards, and a careful 
observation, in the light of the Scripture proofs, of the scrip- 
tural and comprehensive nature of the Catechisms and Con- 
fession alik3. If such study and observation be made, the 
result will, in all probability, be that the supposed need for 
revision will be very much less sensibly felt than it was 
prior tliereto. The simple point contended for here is, that 
all creeds and confessions are fallible ; that Holy Scripture 
alone is the supreme rule of faith and life; that the Holy 
Spirit who first gave the Scriptures dwells in the church; 
that the Spirit may lead the church in the future, as he has 
in the past, into new and larger views of the truth contained 
in the Scriptures ; and that these new and larger views may, 
if deemed necessary, be incorporated by the church in a 
creed statement. The Scripture, as the supreme rule, is 
complete, infallible, and final, and can in no way be added 
to, but the church may, in coming ages, be led into a fuller 
knowledge of the will of God and the mind of the Spirit 
therein contained. This is virtually the view the Standards 
themselves take, when they confess that synods and councils 
of the church may err, and have erred. 

In the last place, the expression of an opinion may be 

ventured in regard to the bearing of the Standards upon the 

question of a closer union among the various branches of the 

church of Christ. The opinion ventured is to the effect that 










The Presbytf 'IAN Standards. 

if the various branches of Protestantism are ever to be 
brought together, it must be on the broad middle ground 
represented by the general teaching which the Standards 
exhibit in regard to doctrine, worship, ethics and polity. 
This may seem a bold and foolhardy assertion of an ill- 
grounded opinion, but we are inclined to think that a good 
case can be made out for it. A few hints may suggest the 
line of reasoning in its support. 

In the matter of doctrine, history shows that the choice 
has always been between extremes, the one honoring God, 
and the other exalting man. As to the Trinity, it has been 
between definite Trinitarianism and Socinianism. As to 
Christ's person and work, it has been between Calvinism and 
Arminianism. As to man, it has been between Augustin- 
ianism and Pelagianism. And so with all the doctrines of 
grace, the choice lies between a purely natural theory and a 
supernatural one. Now, consistent generic Calvinism has 
always honored God, and held fast by a true scriptural super- 
naturalism, and if ever the churches are to come together 
without loss of scriptural doctrine and spiritual force, they 
must take their stand on this doctrinal basis. In our judg- 
ment this ground cannot be deserted, even if the price should 
be a divided Protestantism. In such a case union might be 
weakness, and not strength. Doctrinal union on the basis of 
generic Calvinism would be immense gain of strength. 

In regard to polity, perhaps a still better case can be made 
out for the essential principles of the Presbyterian system as 
the common meeting-place for all branches of Protestantism. 
The Standards clearly hold a middle position in this sphere, 
between Episcopacy, with its orders in the ministry, and In- 
dependency, with its denial of the corporate idea of the visi- 
ble church. The Standards undoubtedly hold the middle 
ground here ; and, so far as the unification of Protestantism 
is concerned on the side of polity, the principles of the Stand- 
ards, call them Presbyterian, or by any other name, supply 

Summary and Conclusion. 


ever to be 
ddle ground 
e Standards 

and polity, 
in oi an ill- 

that a good 
r suggest the 

it the choice 
Dnoring God, 
jr, it has been 
ism. As to 
Calvinism and 
len Augustin- 
3 doctrines of 
I theory and a 
Calvinism has 
:iptural super- 
come together 
lal force, they 
In our judg- 
le price should 
.nion might be 
Dn the basis of 
\Q can be made 
irian system as 
iu this sphere, 
nistry, and In- 
iea of the visi- 
»ld the middle 
s of the Stand- 
name, supply 




the middle meeting-place. Presbyterianism, as a spiritual 
republic, avoids the dangers of hierarchical pretension which 
arise from the prelatic system, and it avoids the dangers of 
separatism and isolation which are sure to flow from Inde- 
pendency. Other features in Presbyterian polity iieed not 
be dwelt on at length. 

In the sphere of ethics, too, the same claim can bo made 
good, that the position of the Standards in regard to life and 
conduct is a safe middle one. They hold the balance be- 
tween asceticism and epicureanism, between legalism and 
license. They set forth principles of action rather than 
minute prohibitions for the direction of the conduct of the 
Christian man, and yet the statement of these principles is 
such as to render loose living impossible. The men who 
have made a mark upon their age for moral good have 
nearly always been men whose lives were under the do- 
minion of the redemptive and ethical system contained in the 
generic Calvinism of the Standards. This is another valid 
plea for unity among Protestants on the ethical basis of the 
Westminster Standards. 

And, finally, in regard to worship and discipline, a good 
case may also be made out for union upon the basis of 
the Standards. Simplicity and spirituality of worship are 
emphasized in the Standards, and they present a scheme of 
discipline in outline which secures the purity of the church 
wherever it is administered. The evils of ritualism are 
avoided on the one hand, and everything is done decently 
and in order on the other. Spirituality of worship and the 
preaching of pure scriptural doctrine in all its fulness is what 
men need, both for this life and for that which is to come. 
This position the Standards hold, and so supply another plea 
for the unity of Protestantism on the basis they provide. 
Thus outlined, this plea is left to speak further for itself. 

The exposition of the Standards is now complete, together 
with the inferences made in this concluding chapter. It is 


The Pbesbyteria^ Standards. 



hoped that in no respect has injustice been done to their 
contents, and that the word and Spirit of God have not been 
dishonored. If an increased interest in, knowledge of, and 
devotion to, the system of divine and saving truth exhibited 
in the Standards is produced by these pages of simple ex- 
position, their aim will have been attained. 

Two hundred and fifty years have passed away since the 
"Westminster Assembly met and did its noble work. During 
these years the world has seen wonderful changes, and the 
human race has, in various ways, made remarkable progress. 
Civil liberty has in many lands been planted on a sure foun- 
dation, intellectual activity has gained much splendid renown, 
commercial energy has conquered many an unexplored re- 
gion, and missionary zeal has reached out to the ends of the 
earth. How much of all this is due to the silent and salu- 
tary operation of the Reformed doctrine, polity and ethics 
can scarcely be estimated. The verdict of history tells the 
splendid story. And to-day, the world over, there are many 
millions of people who accept the system of Reformed doc- 
trine and Presbyterian polity of which the Standards are 
such a complete exposition. Generic Calvinism is not dying 
out, nor shall it be allowed to die. Its noble history, often 
bathed in tears and baptized with blood ; its deep philosophy 
of the facts of nature, of providence, and of grace ; and its 
absolute submission to the will of God as made known in the 
Scriptures, guarantee its vitality and efficiency till time shall 
be no more, and grace be fully crowned in glory. 

one to their 
ave not been 
edge of, and 
th exhibited 
if simple ex- 


vray since the 
Drk. During 
iges, and the 
ible progress, 
L a sure foun- 
mdid renown, 
nexplored re- 
le ends of the 
ent and salu- 
ty and ethics 
3tory tells the 
aere are many 
Reformed doc- 
Standards are 
n is not dying 
history, often 
ep philosophy 
grace; and its 
) known in the 
till time shall 



Ability— Ability and freewill, 170; 
ability and liberty, 174; natara,' 
and moral ability, 175; ability in 
Innocence, 182; in fallen state, 
182; under grace, 183; in glory, 
183; to do good works, 236. 

Adam, natural root and federal head 
of the race, 95 ; proof of his head- 
ship, 95; his covenant relation, 

Acceptance, perfect obedience ne- 
cessary to, 96; justification secures 
it, 204; good works have accept- 
ance as fruits of faith, 238. 

Administration, of the covenant of 
grace, 121, 122; men truly saved 
under both dispensations of its, 
123; in various dispensations, 120; 
one in all dispensations, 120. 

Admonition, a form of censure, 354. 

Adopting Act, note on, 358. 

Adoption, the Standards give a sep- 
arate place to it, 212; reasons for 
this, 213; God's gracious act, 214; 
makes believers God's children, 
214 ; gives the rights and privileges 
of such children, 315. 

Adoration, a part of prayer, 340. 

Adultery, condemned, 293, 382. 

Advent, time of Christ's second, 
166; not premillennial, 398. 

Advice, in cases of conscience, 363. 

Andrea, reference to, 20. 

Angels, related to the purpose of 
God, 71 ; created by him, 79 ; not 
a race, 79. 

Anointed. Christ as Saviour, 134; 
by the Holy Ghost, 135. 

Appeal, power of, 354. 

Application, of the benefits of the 
work of Christ, 189, seq. 

Ahminian, view of man's freedom, 
180 ; error In regard to good works, 
237 ; heresy rejected, 256. 

Abminiub, reference to, 22. 

Articles, of Smalcald, 20; the sixty- 
seven, 21; of the Church of Eng- 
land or Anglican, 23; the thirty- 
nine, 23; of Edward, 23; of Eliza- 
beth, 24 ; Irish, 24 ; of Reformed 
Episcopal Church, 24; of religion 
of the Methodist Church, 24. 

Assembly, General, a court of the 
church, 367. 

Assurance, of God's love, 222; of 
grace and salvation, 241 ; grounds 
of it, 242; not of the essence of 
faith, 243; may be shaken, 243. 

Atonement, term not used in the 
Standards, 148; Christ's work of, 
149, seq.; basis of intercession, 153; 
doctrine In the Standards, 410. 

Attributes, of God, explained, 56, 

Authority, of Holy Scripture, 47; 
rests not In church, as Rome says, 
47 ; on God alone, 47 ; of God and 
Christian liberty, 256; of church 
courts, 360. 

Backsliding, believer may for a sea- 
son, 241. 

Baptism, explained, 309, seq.; it mode 
and subjects, 309; of the Spirit 
and with water, 310; its nature 
and design, 310, 311 ; a sacrament, 
311 ; admits to visible church, 311 ; 
sign and seal of the covenant of 
grace, 312; a pledge to be the 
Lord's, 313; its mode, 314; its 
formula, 314; immersion not ne- 
cessary for it, 315 ; arguments for 
this view, 316; the subjects of, 
317, 318; by the Spirit, neces- 
sary to salvation, 318; grace not 
tied to t ho time of, 319 ; reasons 
for Infant, 319, 320; improvement 
of, 321 ; impoi-tance of infant bap- 
tism, 322. 

Baptists, and the Standards, 27. 



Wm ! 




Benefits, of Christ's work, 140; ap- 
plied to believers, 154: justiflca- 
tion a, 199; adoption a, 212 ; sanc- 
tification a, 216; additional, 221 ; 
at death and the resurrection, 222. 

Body, separated from the soul at 
death, 885; of believers in vmion 
with Christ, 389. 

BuoEK, reference to, 21, 22. 

BuLLiNGEK, reference to, 23. 

Calling, effectual, 187; its nature, 
189 ; outward and inward, 190; its 
agent, 190; its subjects, 190; is 
gracious, 190; factors in it, 192; 
effectual in thie case of the elect, 
193 ; others may be outwardly 
called, 193. 

Calvin, reference to, 21. 

Calvinism, its view of the freedom 
of man, 180, 181 ; of Standards is 
sublapsarian, 410 ; not dying out, 

Canons, of Trent, 18. 

Capital, punishment, 292; and 
labor, 294. 

Capito, reference to, 22. 

Catkohisms, Russian, 17 ; of Platon 
and Philaret, 18; Roman, 18; of 
Canisius and Belarmine, 18 ; Luth- 
eran, 19; Heidelberg, 22; Wal- 
densian,23; Bohemian, 23; Church 
of England, 23; Wesley's, 24; 
Early Scottish, 25; Shorter, the 
basis of this discussion, 40 ; Larger 
(and Confession) woven In, 40. 

Censures, of the church, 345, 352. 

Cekemonial, laws of Moses de- 
scribed, 250. 

Certainty, theory of moral, 177. 

Chemnitz, reference to, 20. 

Children, believers are God's, by 
adoption, 214. 

Christ, the Mediator of the cove- 
nant of grace, 115 ; represents his 
people, 115; obedience of, the 
condition of the covenant of grace, 
117; brings deliverance from sin 
and misery, 118; procures the 
Holy Spirit, 119 ; person of, 124 ; 
fulfilled all law, 137 ; qualified for 
his worlc, 137; obeyed the pre- 
cept, and suffered the penalty of 
the law, 138; his work valid be- 
fore as well as after the inearna- 
'tion, 139; Mediator in both na- 

Chrlst — 
tures, 140; made an offering for 
sin, 149; renders full obedience, 
150; his intercession, 152: sub- 
dues and rules his people, 156; 
defends them, restrains their ene- 
mies, and orders all things for 
their good, 157; takes vengeance 
on their enemies, 158: humilia- 
tion and exaltation, 159, 168 ; his 
cross in relation to Christian 
ethics, 211 ; the medium in prayer, 
337 ; and civil government, 877. 

Christian Libep.ty, and the law of 
God, 245; and liberty of con- 
science, 253 ; explained, 253 ; pur- 
chased by Christ, 253 ; its nature, 
253, 254; limitations of it. 256. 

Christooentrio, the redemption of 
the Standards is, 413. 

Churoh, may revise her creed, 33; 
revelation made to the, 141 ; is to 
hold forth the light of revelation, 
142 ; and her censures. 345 ; form 
of government of, 340 ; the invisi- 
ble, 347 ; the visible, 348 ; condi- 
tions of membership in, 348 ; its 
purpose in the world, 349 ; Christ's 
gifts to the, 349; mixed with 
error, 350; the head of it, 350; 
officers in it, 351 ; censures, 352 ; 
its government and discitli" e, 
352; government different from 
civil, 352; power of the keys in, 
353; courtsof the, 355-357; Pres- 
byterian form of, 355-364; Synods 
and councils of, 356 ; and state, 363. 

Civilization, its influence on Sab- 
bath observance, 266. 

Commandments, a summary of the 
moral law, 253; of men, 255 ; pre- 
face to the ton, 278; the first, 279, 
280; the second, 281-283; the 
third, 283, 284; the fourth, 285- 
287; the fifth, 288-290; the sixth, 
291, 292; the seventh, 392, 293; 
the eighth, 293, 394; the ninth, 
295 ; the tenth, 296, 297. 

Commonwealth, its relation to the 
church, 861, 362; may confer with 
the church in two ways, 363. 

Communion, of saints and religious 
worship, 257; its basis, 257; be- 
lievers are in, 258; leads to help- 
fulness, 258 ; of grace and glory, 
259 ; not communism^ 259. 



an offering for 
full obedience, 
Ion, 152: sub- 
8 people, 156; 
-ains their ene- 
all things for 
ftkes vengeance 

158: humilia- 
a, 159, 168 ; hia 

to Christian 
tidium in prayer, 
ernment, 377. 
and the law of 
liberty of con- 
ftined, 253; pur- 
253 ; its nature, 
ms of it. 256. 
3 redemption of 

i her creed, 33; 
the, 141 ; is to 
;ht of revelation, 
lures. 345; form 
, 346; the invisi- 
Ible, 348; condi- 
ship in, 348; its 
rid, 349; Christ's 
9; mixed with 
head of it, 350; 
censures, 352; 

and discivii' e. 
different from 

of the keys in, 
8,355-357; Pres- 
355-364: Synods 
i6; and state, 363. 
ofluence on Sab- 

summary of the 
of men, 255 ; pre- 
78; the first, 279, 
d, 281-283; the 

the fourth, 285- 
18-290 ; the sixth, 
sventh, 292, 293; 

294; the ninth, 
596, 297. 
ts relation to the 

may confer with 
o ways, 363. 
ints and religious 
ts basis, 257: be- 
58; leads to help- 
grace and glory, 

uism, 259. 

Compact, In connection with the 
covenant of works. 94. 

CoMi'LKTKNKsti, of Scripture, 49. 

CoNDEMNATio::, every sin brings into, 

Condescension, of God in covenant 
of works, 89-93. 

CoNDiTioNb, of escape from the wrath 
of God, 269 ; of Justification, 205, 

Confession, of sin implied in repent- 
ance, 230; to be made to God only, 
233; iu relation to our fellowmen, 
233 ; part of prayer, 340. 

Confessions, the Oxlhodox, 17; 
Augsberg, 19 ; of Basle, 21 ; First 
Helvetic, 21; Second Helvetic, 22; 
the Westminster, 24; Westminster 
changed by Presbyterian churches 
in America, 27. 

Conflict, results from the experi- 
ence of sanctlfloation, 221. 

Conscience, believers have peace of, 
154, 222 ; God alone is Lord of the, 
255; cases of, 358, 365. 

Contingent, theory of liberty, 176. 

Conviction, of sin an element In re- 
pontance, 230. 

Corruption, of the whole nature of 
man, 105. 

Councils, Chalcedon, 15 : Toledo, 16 ; 
Ephesus, 17; Vatican, 19. 

Courts, jurisdiction of the church, 

Covenant, the national, 24; solemn 
league and, 24; of works or life, 
89-93 ; gracious, 89-95 ; man's origi- 
nal state prior to the covenant of 
works, 89; implies promises upon 
certain conditions, 93; gave man 
an opportunity to secure his stand- 
ing before God, 93; God's conde- 
scension In the, 94 ; the nature of 
that of works, 94; Its condition, 
95 ; Its sanctions, 96 ; Its result had 
It been kept, 97; Its failure, 97; 
that of grace explained, 113; its 
two phases of redemption and of 
grace, 113; also gracious, 114; Its 
benefits, debt to Christ, grace to 
believer, 118; substance the same 
in all dispensations, 121 ; two great 
dispensations, 122 ; a ground of as- 
surance, 240. 

Creation, described, 76; primary 
and secondary, 76; the things cre- 

Creation — 
ated. 77; of man distinct from that 
of brute, 78; nature of the activity 
in. 80; creature ex nihilo, 80; of 
world in six days, 80; coniiectiHl 
with agency of the Father, the Son, 
and the Holy Ghost, 81 ; reHults 
of, all good, 81 ; evil not in it at 
first, 81. 

Creeds, the formation of, 13; An- 
cient, 14; Apostles, 15; Nlcene, 
15: Athanasian, 16; Greek, 17; 
Roman, 18; Reformation. 19; Cal- 
vinistlc, 21; Swiss, 21; nature of, 
28; relation to the Scriptures, 30; 
written and unwritten, 31 ; perma- 
nency of, 32 ; revision of, 32 ; uses 
of, 34; subscription to, 35; heresy 
and, 36; secure unity, 37; for In- 
struction, 38 ; Presbyterian, definite 
with a catholic spirit, 407. 

Critics, textual, 32; higher, 32. 

Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 
reference to, 27. 

Days, of creation, 80. 

Deacons, oflBlcers In the church, 365. 

Death, the penal result of sin, 109; 
is separation, 109; sanctiflcation 
complete at, 220 ; and middle state, 
384; explained, 385. 

Decalogue, the inner spirit of the, 
296; an estimate of its ethical 
system, 297. 

Decrees, are God's eternal purpose 
or plan, 64; term explained, 65; 
foreknowledge, foreordination, pre- 
destine lion, election and prtitorl- 
tlon, 06, 67; the nature of the, 68, 
69; do not destroy the freedom 
and responsibility of man, 70; es- 
tablish second causes, 70; their 
chief end is the glory of God, 70; 
their bearing on men and ang<'l8, 71. 

Degrees, of guilt, 170, 184; of rela- 
tionship for marriage, 381. 

Depravity, connected with sin, 103; 
inherited, 103. 

Development, as natural not enough 
to explain the facts of creation, 81. 

Diet, of Augsberg, 21. 

Directory, for worship, 25. 

Discipline, Methodist book of, 24. 

Dispensations, of the covenant of 
grace, 120-122; men truly saved 
under both, 123. 




DivouoE, quostion disoussed, 298; 

jjrounds of, 882; warning in regard 

to, 888. 
Dominion, by man over the (creatures, 

Dust, man's body from It, 78. 

EooLAMPADius, reference to, 21. 

Effkuoy, of the sacraments, 304- 
807; of baptism, 312; of the Lord's 
supper, 821). 

Elders, are officers in the church, 

Election, explained, 66, 71-75. 

Elector of Saxony, reference to, 20. 

Elizabeth, queen, reference to, 28. 

Enlightenment, an element in ef- 
fectual calling, 191. 

Episoopios, reference to, 22. 

Erastians, reference to, 26. 

Estate, man's original, 89. 

Ethics, Christian, and the cross of 
Christ. 212; of the Stjindards, 418. 

Eucharist, a name for the Lord's 
supper, 323. 

Evidences, their place, 47; the his- 
torical, 48; the internal, in the 
Scriptures, 48; the spiritual evi- 
dence in religious experience, 48. 

Evil, tree of the knowledge of good 
and, 90; the social evil, 298. 

Exaltation, of Christ, 164-168. 

Excommunication, a form of church 
censure, 854. 

Expiation. Christ's work makes, 152. 

Extent, of the atonement, 150. 

Faith, the human condition of justi- 
fication, 207; its relation to re- 
pentance, 223; is one of the condi- 
tions of escape from wrath, 224; 
saving explained, 224; Catechism 
answer, 225 ; further description of 
it, 226, 227; the condition of sal- 
vation on man's part, 228 ; Implies 
effectual calling and regeneration, 
225; has degrees, 228; necessary 
to the value of the Lord's supper, 

Fall, its possibility, 98; its source, 
99 : permitted by God, 99 ; implies 
temptation of Satan, 99; process 
of the, 99; result of the, 99, 100; 
Bin came in by it, 100; guilt in- 

• cxirred thereby, 100; the covenant 
of works failed through the, 100. 

Falling away, believers shall not 
tlnally fall away, 209, 389. 

Fasts, are an element in worship, 265. 

Federal, Adam the head of the races 
95, 102; Christ the head of his 
people, 115, 116; principle is that 
of the Standards, 116; type of 
theology in the Standards, 414. 

Finality, the Standards not neces- 
Barily a, 415. 

Foreknowledge, of God, 66. 

Fokeordination, term explained, 
66; applied to the case of the 
finally lost, 71. 

Forgiveness, an element in justifica- 
tion, 204. 

Form of Concord, reference to, 20. 

Form of Government, in the church, 
846, 852, 364. 

Frederick IL, reference to, 23. 

Freedom, man's moral, 169; state- 
ment of, 170; explanation of, 171 ; 
of the will or of the man, 178-175; 
a question of philosophy and of 
theology, 176; philosophical theo- 
ries of, 176; theological theories 
of, 179; Pelagian view of, 179; 
Arminian idea of, 180; the Cal- 
vinist doctrine, 180; of access to 
God, 254; believers have, 255; 
Presbyterianisra is the friend of» 

Gifts, of Christ to the church, 349. 

Glory of God, the end of creation, 
74 ; the end of redemption, 400. 

God, his being and attributes, 52; 
his existence assumed, not proved, 
52; his nature described, 52; his 
essence mysterious, 53 ; one living 
and true, 53 ; his spirituality, 54 ; 
his personality, 54; his self -exis- 
tence, 55 ; as absolute, 55 ; as infi- 
nite, 55; his dominion over the 
creatures, 55; his attributes ex- 
plained, 56-58; subsists in three 
persons, 59 ; not the author of sin, 
70 ; permits and controls sin, 70. 

Good Works, what they are, 234; 
their relation to sanetiflcation, 234 ; 
their rule is God'e word, 234 ; the 
fruits of faith, 335 ; ability to do 
them of the Holy Spirit, 236 ; be- 
lievers to be diligent in, 236; do 
not merit pardon, 237; accepted 
only through Christ, 238. 



int in justiflca- 

GosPKL, tho sinner has to do with its 
offer only, 75 ; and the law in har- 
mony, 302. 

Government, a branch of God's 
providence, 88; its nature, 83; 
restet on God's foreknowledge and 
•will, 84; its end is the gloiy of 
God, 84; God uses means in it, 
but is not bound thereby, 85 ; reve- 
lation, tho miracle, and prayer, all 
have a place in it, 85; has relation 
to sin, 8(1; has relation to his 
church and people, 86; paternal 
discipline under it, 86 ; has relation 
to sinful men, 87; hardening un- 
der it, 87 ; has relation to the an- 
gels, 81 ; in the church, 352, 858. 

Grace, covenant of, 118; in fore- 
ground of the covenant, 122; in 
effectual calling, 190; in justifica- 
tion, 203; in adoption, 214; in 
sanctiflcation, 217 ; faith a saving, 
225; is emphasized in the Stand- 
ards, 411. 

Graces, their sure production under 
the experience of the gospel, 209. 

Gracious, the covenant of works is, 
89, 94 ; the application of the bene- 
fits of Christ's redemption are, 
199, 212, 216. 

Gradation, of church courts, 855. 

Guilt, man, as sinful, is In a condi- 
tion of, 108; degrees of, 170, 184; 
defined, 184. 

Hardening, under the providence of 
God may take place, 87. 

Heathen, salvation of the, 196-198 ; 
light of nature not enough to save 
the, 197; natural religiou inade- 
quate, 198. 

Heaven, the abode of the saved, 
388, 390, 403. 

Heirs, believers, as sons of God, are, 

Hell, place where the wicked are to 
abide, 389, 390, 403. 

Henry VIII. , reference to, 23. 

Hfpesy, in connection with creeds, 
'6; trial for, and revision of the 
creed, _86. 

Holiness, the inward result of sanc- 
tiflcation, 216, 219. 

Holy Scripture, confession and 
texts of, 26 ; and religious creeds, 
80; the doctrine of, 40- the rule to 

Holy SonirTTTRR— 
guide man in attaining the end of 
his being, 43; tho nature of, 43; 
kept pure and authenti(! in all ages 
by God's providence, 47 ; authority 
of, 47; Komish doctrine of, 47; 
(!omplet<3 as the rule of faith aiul 
life, 49 ; nothing to bo added to or 
takiMi from, 49 ; Holy Spirit needed 
to Interpret, 49; settles all contro- 
vereios In religion, 50; to be pub- 
licly read and proachod, 262, 273 : 
a means of grace, 268, 269 ; rules 
for interpreting, 276, 277. 

lltMiLiATioN, of Christ, 159, 103. 

Idiots, salvation of, 195. 

Idolatry, rejected by Standards, 280. 

Image, man made in God's, 78; God's, 
explained, 78; and likeness, 78; 
lost by the fall, 105; sanctiflca- 
tion restores, 219; God not to be 
worshipped by an, 282. 

Imputation, of the guilt of the sin of 
Adam, 111; immediate or medi- 
ate, 111 ; of the righteousness, 207. 

Inability, man's moral, 181. 

Incarnation, of Christ, 128. 

Independent, reference to, 26. 

Infallibility, the pope has not, 
351 ; the church has not, 360. 

Infants, salvation of, 194; the bap- 
tism of, 311, 318, seq. 

Infidel, rulers to be obeyed so far, 

Injury, men may forgive an, but 
God only can forgive the sin in the 
case, 233. 

Inspiration, pertains to the canoni- 
cal Scriptures, 45; not fully de- 
flned in the Standards, 46 ; makes 
the Holy Spirit the divine author 
of the Holy Scriptures through the 
free active powers of certain men, 
46; supernatural, dynamical, plen- 
ary, and verbal, 46. 

Intention, Romish doctrine of, re- 
jected, 870. 

Intercession, of Christ, 133, 240; a 
part of prayer, 340. 

Intermediate State, reference to, 

Interpretation, of the Scriptures, 
50; the Scripture itself its own 
infallible rule of, 50. 

Invisible, phase of the church, 347. 




<l ll 




Joy, In tho Holy Ghost, 222. 

JnoioiAi., JiiHtitlcatlon Is, 202. 

JiiDOK, Christ is to bo tho, 167, 889, 

JuDOMKNT, Christ at tho, 167; tho 
procoHs of tho, 168; after tho ro- 
8urro(!tion, 897; tho day of, notnv 
voalod by God, 398; tho [nirposo 
of tho, 899; final awards of tho, 
899 ; tho Roneral rosult of tho, 400 ; 
of tho wiokod, 401 ; of the right- 
eous, 403. 

JusTioK, satisfied by Christ, 188. 

JusTiKiOATioN, doscribod in general, 
199; order of topics, 199; Shorter 
Catechism, 200; uatuKi of, 210; 
is to declare just, 201 ; God's act, 
202; gracious and judicial, 202; 
not of works, 208; tho mode of, 
207; results of, 208; virtual and 
actual, 208. 

Keys, tho power of the keys in tho 

church, 852, 858. 
Kingdom, Christ rules in his, 156. 

Law, man under God's, 82, 92; re- 
quires obedience of man, 92; man's 
standing under, 92; in foreground 
in Old Testament, 122; Christ ful- 
filled all, 137; of God and Chris- 
tian liberty, 245 ; of God in relar- 
tion to moral government, 245; 
positive and moral, distinguished, 
246; moral, two sorts, 246; civil 
and judicial, 246; moral, implies 
two things, 246 ; man's relation to 
moral, in jirecovenaut state, 247; 
his relation to moral, under cove- 
nant of works, 247; his relation 
after the fall, 248; ceremonial, 
250 ; uses of the, 250 ; and gospel 
in harmony, 252; moral summed 
up in the ten commandments, 253 ; 
first table of the, 278; second 
table of the, 288. 

Liberty, to eat the tree of life. 90; 
forbidden the tree of knowledge, 
90; manhas, 173, 174; and ability 
distinguished, 174; natural and 
moral, 175; theory of contingent, 
177; limitations of Christian, 256. 

Life, the tree of, 90. 

Light of Nature, explained, 43; 
leaves men without excuse, 43; 
but not sufiicient to lead sinful 

Light of Nature— 
men to life and salvation, 48; to 
bi3 tho guide In some circumstances 
of government and worship in tho 
church, 49. 

LiMHUH, no patrumoT infantum, 890. 

Limitations, of Christian liberty, 256. 

Lord's Huim'ER, described, 828, seq.; 
names of tho, 823; nature of, 828; 
sacrament of the New Testament, 
828; broad and wine in tho, 824; 
and tho death of Christ, 324, 827; 
tho sensible signs in the, 824; kind 
of bread and wine for tho, 325; 
tho words of institution in tho, 325 ; 
tho broad and wine both to bo 
given to the people, 825 ; is not a 
repetition of the sacrifice of Christ, 
326 ; tho design of the, 826 ; tho 
presence of Christ in the, 327; 
a pledge of tho believer's loyalty 
to Christ, 328; the efficacy of the, 
829, 881; the Romish view, 829; 
the agency of the Holy Spirit In 
the, 329; may tho doubter oomo 
to the, 332; duties at and after 
tho, 338; the importance of the, 

Love, of God in the covenant of 
grace, 114; of God in relation to 
adoption, 213; assurance of God's, 
221; electing, 240; to God and 
man, 270. 

Magistrate, civil, and the Sabbath, 
28G; civil, an ordinance of God, 
878; tho end of the civil, 373; 
power of tho civil, 374 ; the Chris- 
tian may be a, 874, 375 ; must not 
ad.niinister the word or sacraments, 
375; duties of the people to the, 
378 ; the right of resisting the, 378. 

Man, his nature, 41; a religious be-< 
Ing, 41 ; made immortal, 41 ; his 
chief end is to glorify God, and 
enjoy him forever, 42 ; his activity 
not to be self-centered, 42 ; the end 
of his being is happiness in holi- 
ness, 42; distinct from the brute 
in creation, 78; from the dust, 78; 
made in the image of God, 78; has 
dominion over tho creatures, 79; 
under the covenant of works, 79; 
had mental, moral and religious 
nature at first, 91 ; had God's law 
on his heart, 91; not a primitive 




savage, 91 ; had convorwi with 
God, 91; WHH liable to full, U2 ; 
under tho moral government of 
God, 92; tho raeo of, related to 
Adam, 102. 

Makuiaok, In Eden, 90; the relation 
diseviHsed, 298; and divorce, 879; 
nature of, 380; ItH purpose, 880; 
between whom Is it to be, 880, 881. 

Mahh, the Homish doctrine rejected, 
820, 829. 

Matkuiamsm, rejected by the Stand- 
ards, 81. 

Means, of gracio, 267, seq,; three 
branches of, 208 ; outward and in- 
ward, 208; term defined, 269; the 
Holy Spirit the agent through the, 
269 ; of grace necessary to esoa])e 
the wrath of God, 2()9. 

Mkdiatok, of the covenant of works, 
95; of tho covenant of grace, 118- 
115; must bo God, 130; must be 
man, 181 ; called Jesus, 184; called 
Christ, 134; general statement of 
his work, 137; ollioes of, 141. 

Melanothon, reference to, 20. 

Merit, good works not the ground 
of, 238; of Christ the ground of 
tho sinner's salvation, 206. 

Methodist Chuuoh, the articles of 
the, 24. 

Middle State, described in general, 
887 ; soul do(>8 not sleep in the, 
888; no sanctitlcatiou in the, 888, 
391 ; the body during the, 389 ; no 
special places other than heaven 
and hell in, 890; no common 
place for good and bad, 391. 

MiNisTEKS, are to preach the word, 
271 ; advice to, 275. 

MiSEKY, the result of man's sin, 107. 

Monotheism, taught in the Stand- 
ards, 58. 

Moral, evil abnormal, 81 ; law and 
govermnent, 245-248. 

Mormons, the polygamy of, rejected, 

MuEDKK, condemned, 292. 

Nature, the light of, 48; the cor- 
ruption of man's, 105 ; transgres- 
sions flow from sinful, lOG; divine, 
of Christ, 126 ; human, of Christ, 
126 ; how human, assumed by 
Christ, 128; how the two natures 


related in Christ, 138; thj union 
of tho two myst<>riouHand abiding, 
129; the human, sustained and ad- 
vanced the divine, 180. 
Nkoksmity, theory of metthanleal, 
177; woik»s()f, 265. 

Oaths, false, forbidden, 295; lawful, 
described, 368. 869. 

Obedienok, to God's law required, 
254, soi}. ; new, In relation to re- 
pentance, 231 ; and the Lord's 
supper, 832. 

Office, those of Christ, 136; the 
prophetic, 186; hi the Catechism, 
136; the priestly, 148 154; t'w 
kingly, 155-158. 

Officers, of the church, 351, 852; 
of tho church named, 365. 

Original, man's, 89 ; circumstances 
of man's, 90 ; sin, 102 ; righteous- 
n»;8s, 78. 

Pantheism, rejected by tho Stand- 
ards, 81. 

Paradise, that in Eden, 90. 

Pardon, an element in justlfl<!ation, 

Parents, and children, 288, 289; 
and infant baptism, 318, seq. 

Parliament, English, and the West- 
minster Assembly, 27., material, not neciossaiy 
to personal identity in resurrection 
body, 39. 

Parties, to the covenant of works, 
94 ; to that of grace, 115. 

Peace, w"th God, from justification, 
209 ; of conscience, 222. 

Pelagian, view of man's freedom, 

Penalty, of sin is death, 109; 
Christ suffered the, 138. 

Penitence, an element In true re- 
pentance, 230. 

Petition, a part of prayer, 340; 
humble, 868. 

Perseverance, to the end, 222; of 
the saints, 239 ; grounds of, 240. 

Person, of Christ, 124; Christ unites 
three oIUcjos in one, 125 ; two na- 
tures in his, 125 ; the theanthroplc, 
125 ; of tho Mediator must bo one, 

Personality, of God, 54. 




■ I 




Pledge, of the covenant of works, 

P0LYTHKI8M, rejected by the Stand- 
ards, 53. 

Poi'F, not to be the head of the 
church, 351. 

PosTEKiTT, related to Adam, 102; 
relation of Adam to his, 110. 

PoSTMILLENNIALISM, alluded to, 106. 

Praise, an element of worship, 262. 

Pbayek, an element in worship, 
261 ; jnedium of, 262; for the dead 
to be no, 262; defined, 336; God 
to be addressed, 336 ; things to 
pray for, 338; the spirit of, 339; 
parts of, 340; the rule of, 341: 
the Lord's, 341 ; its preface, 341 ; 
its petitions, 342, 343 ; conclusion 
of, 344. 

PitEAoniNG, the duty of the minister, 
271 ; by women not allowed, 272. 

Peeoept, Christ obeyed the, 138. 

Predestination, explained, 66, 71 ; 
applied to the saved, 71 ; is choos- 
ing in Christ to holiness and life, 
71 ; not arbitrary, 72 ; grounded 
in grace, 72 ; in the purpose of 
God fixes the number of the saved, 
73 ; a high mystery to be handled 
with care, 75 ; the sinner has no- 
thing to do with It, 75 ; gives cora- 
fc h to the believer, 75. 

Preface, to the ten commandments, 

Premillknnialism, alluded to, 166; 
Christ's second ad ent not, 398 ; is 
extra confessional, »11. 

Presbytery, a court of the church, 

Preservation, a branch of provi- 
dence, 83 ; not continuous creation, 
82; relates to all things, 82; re- 
lates to each kind of things ac- 
cording to its nature and laws, 

Preterition, term explained, 67. 

Priest, Christ acts as a, 147; Con- 
fession on Christ's work as a, 147 ; 
office of a stated, 148. 

Process, of the fall of our first pa- 
rents, 99; of the judgm«mt, 408, 

Promise, made to our first parents, 
79. 120; connect<id with the cove- 
nant of works, 94. 

Property, Christ has all those of 
man, 127, right of, 294. 

Prophet, Christ the, of thr covenant 
of grace, 141 ; speaks to the 
church, 141 ; is taught by the Holy 
Spirit, 143; acta medjatwly or im- 
mediately, 143, 144: extent of the 
work of the, 144: periods of its 
exercise by Christ, 145; he speaks 
from God to man, 141. 

Propitiation, Christ's work makes, 

Providence, doctrine stated, 83; its 
two branches, 82; not continuous 
creation, 82; extends to all God'a 
creatures and all their actions, 83 ; 
angels are under it, 87. 

Prudence, Christian, 49. 

Punishment, is incurred by sin for 
the present and the future, 109; 
future, discussed, 110,402; capital, 

Purgatory, alluded to, 390. 

Puritans, reference to the, 25. 

Purpose, eternal, of God, 63. 

Reformation, the sacramentarian 
controversy at the time of the, 298. 

Reformed Episcopal Church, change 
of articles by the, — . 

Regenerate, remains of sin in the, 
112; use of moral law for the, 252. 

Regeneration, described, 187; Con- 
fession emphasizes, 188; term not 
used in Catechisms, 188. 

Remonstrants, reference to, 22. 

Renewal, sanctiflcation is inward 
spiritual, 316. 

Repentance, unto life, 339 ; coupled 
with faith, 339; is toward God, 
339 ; is wrought by the word and 
Spirit of God, 239; its particulars, 
230 333. 

Reprobation, the term not used in 
the Standards in connection with 
the doctrine of the decrees, 67. 

Resur motion, of the dead, 393 : who 
are raised, 393; the nature of the 
resurrection body, 393-396. 

Reunion, the Presbyterian Standards 
and the branches of the church, 418. 

Revelation, explained, 44; makes 
known the will of God, 45 ; is made 
to the church, 45, 141 ; is commit-- 
ted to writing, 45. 

Revision, of the Standards discussed, 

Revolution, the right of, 3'''8. 



45 ; ho speaks 

lards discussed, 

RmnTKOtraNEss, original, 78; Romish 
view of, 91 ; original, lost, 105 ; that 
of Christ the ground of justiftca- 
tion, 207; sanctification produces 
personal, 219. 

Rule of Faith and Life, the Holy 
Scriptures only, 43-49. 

Rules, for interpreting the word of 
God, 276, 277. 

Sabbath, in Eden, 90; and worship, 
260 ; how to be kept, 265 ; prepara- 
tion for, 265 ; implies rest and wor- 
ship, 265 ; its observance enforced, 
285, 286; its perpetuity, 287; rea- 
sons for its perpetuity, 287. 

Saokaments, general description of 
the, 298; controversy about, 298; 
teaching of Standards about, 299; 
the nature of the, 399 ; the purpose 
of the, 800; sensible signs in the, 
302 ; the inward grace, 801 ; their 
number, 303; Romish view, 303; 
to be administered by an ordained 
minister, 308; the relation of the 
sign and grace in the, 303 : same 
term applied to the sign and grace, 
304; views as to the efficacy of the, 
304 ; the teaching of the Standards 
as to the efficacy of the, 305, 306; 
of the Lord's supper and baptism 
compared, 807. 

Saouifiok, Christ saves as a, 138 ; 
he offered himself a, 138 ; that of 
Christ was penal and vicarious, 

Saints, shall persevere, be preserved, 
and not finally fall away, 239. 

Salvation, God's purpose provides 
for the means as well as the end 
of, 74 ; relates to the elect, the re- 
deemed, the called, the believing, 
74 ; its end is the glory of God, 74 ; 
under both dispensations, 128; of 
infants, idiots, and incapables, 195. 

Sano'i ifcation, described in general, 
216, seq., its nature, 216; its rela- 
tion to justification, 216: is God's 
gracious work, 217; its condition, 
217; its nature in particular, 218, 
positive and negative aspects, 219; 
over imperfect in this life, 220; 
complete at death, 220; causes a 
conllict in the soul, 221 ; la a 
growth, 221, gives assurance of 
victory, 221. 

Satan, tempted our first parents, 99. 

Satisfaction, Christ made it, 188. 

Savage, man at first not a priuuoval 
savage, 78, 91. 

Seoukity, believers have it in Christ, 

Selneohek, reference to, 20. 

Sepakation, is the central idea of 
death, 109. 

Session, a court of the church, 366. 

Sin, God not the author of, 70 ; does 
not destroy the freedom of man, 
70; its nature, 103; brings guilt, 
103; its guilt is imputable, 103; 
original, 102-104; all men in. 104; 
brings misery, 106; incurs Goa'a 
wrath and curse, 107; puts men in 
bondage, 107 ; death flows from 
it, 108; some sins more heinous 
than others, 185, 186; the sense of 
it in true repentance, 229 ; repent- 
ance to be for all, 232 ; God alone 
forgives, and he only for Christ's 
sake, 233. 

Sons, believers are sons of God by 
adoption, 215. 

Soul, of man described, 78 ; of Christ, 
127; of man does not sleep be- 
tween death and the resurrection, 

Source, of the fall of man, 99. 

Sovereignty, of Gc J the fundamen- 
tal fact in the decrees, 67 ; of God 
in relation to worship, 288. 

Spirit, the Holy Spirit is the infalli- 
ble judge in mattcirs of religion as 
ho speaks in the Scriptures, 51 ; is 
the exegete and apologete, 51 ; ho 
applies the work of Christ in the 
experience of the believer, 120 ; is 
the agent in regeneration, and ef- 
fectual calling, 188-190; is agent 
in sanctification, 218; gives ability 
to do good works, 236 ; his indwell- 
ing, 240; agent in V)les8ing the 
means of grace, 269 ; in the Lord's 
supper, 830. 

Spirituality, of God, 54. 

Standards, not, dtrictly speaking, 
Christo-centric, 124; give a proper 
place to doctrine and ethics in their 
system, 211; are comprehensive, 
406; are definite, yet catholic in 
spirit, 402; commended, 408. 

State, and tho church, 373, seq., 
middle, 887, 388. 





1 1 




i 1 1 




SunscRiPTioN, to creeds by the office 
bearers in the church, 3o : relation 
of the member of the Presbyterian 
Church to, 35. 

Substance, Christ partook of that of 
Mary, 128. 

Suicide, reference to, 293. 

Sui'EHEKooATioN, works of , impossi- 
ble, 237. 

Susi'ENsioN, a form of church cen- 
sure, 354. 

S WE A KING, false, condemned, 295. 

Swoun, the power of, in civil govern- 
ment, 374. 

Symbol, a name for a creed, 30. 

Synods, of Doit, 22; and councils of 
the church, 350 ; are church courts, 
357; their purpose, 357; their 
functions, 358; they make rules 
for worship and government, 359 ; 
their authority, 360; their deci- 
sions not infallible, 360 ; have the 
Holy Spirit to guide them, 360; de- 
scribed, 366. 

Tables, the two, of the law, 279. 

Temptation, of our first parents, 99. 

Testament, and covenant compared, 

Thanksgiving, an element of wor- 
ship, 261 ; a part of prayer, 340. 

Theft, forbidden, 294. 

Theocentkic, the principle of the 
Standards, 413. 

Theses, reference to, 21. 

Tkansgkkhsion, actual, flows from 
sinful nature, 106. 

Tkanslations, of the Scriptures to 
be made for the people, 50. 

Tree, of knowledge of good and evil, 
90; of life the pledg« of the cove- 
nant of works, 96 ; of knowledge, 
its conditions, 96. 

Tkinity, of the Godhead stated, 59 ; 
three distinct yet related persons 
in one essence, 59; each person 
has a peculiar personal property, 
60; the first has paternity, the 
second has sonship, and the tliird 
has procession, 60, 61 ; proofs of 
the Trinity, 61, 62; each person 
has its own mode of subsistence 
and activity, 63. 

Tbitheism, excluded by the Stand- 
ards, 53. 

TwissE, reference to, 26. 

Unfermented, wine not necessary 

in the Lord's supper, 325. 
Union, of two natures in the person 

of Christ, 125. 
Unleavened, bread not necessary in 

the Lord's supper, 325. 
Unregenkkate, works of the, 238; 

such men may deceive themselves, 

241 ; use of the law of God for the, 

Ursinxjs, reference to, 23. 
Usher, reference to, 24. 

Vengeance, Christ takes it upon his 

enemies, 158. 
VioAKious, the work of Christ is, 

Visible, a phase of the church, 

Volition, man free in it, 174. 
Vows, lawful, described, 370: Romish 

doctrine of, rejected, 370; to bo 

made to God alone, 372. 

War, subject discussed, 292. 

Wesley, reference to John, 24. 

Westminster Abbey, reference to, 

Westminster Assembly, reference 
to, 24, 25; its work approved by 
the Scottish Assembly, 27; and 
baptism, 309; and premillennial- 
ism, 412. 

Will, of man described, 171, 172; 
its relation to the other faculties, 
172; its freedom, 173; not deter- 
mined by any kind of necessity, 
173; man needs more than a mere 
change of will, 175. 

Witness, of the Holy Spirit by and 
with the word, 48 ; of the Spirit in 
believers, 242. 

Women, are not to act as preachers 
of the word, 272. 

Word of God, as the rule of faith, 
43 ; the gospel call is by the, 193 ; 
a means of sanctiflcatioii, 218; the 
rule of good works, 234 ; a revela^ 
tion of tlio law of God, 246; a 
means of grace, 268, 269; the use 
of the, 270; what it is, 270; sum- 
mary of, in ten commandments, 
270 ; to be publicly read, 271 ; Pro- 
testant practice in regard to the, 
271 ; made effectual only by the 
Holy Spirit, 272; the effects of, 



WonD OF God — 

272; how it is to be preached, and 
heard, 273; the attitude of the 
hearer of the, 274; advice to min- 
isters about preaching the, 275; 
rules for interpreting the, 276, 

Works, the covenant of, 89; good, 
234; of supererogation, 273. 

World, product of divine creation, 
77; made in six days, 80; had a 
beginning, 81. 

Worship, directory for, 2.') ; religious, 
259; and the Sabbath-day, 200, 
263; the duty of, 260; the true 
mode of, 261, 281; the proper 
object is God alone, 261, 279; 
images not to be used in, 261; 
the parts of, 261 ; special acts of, 
are oaths, vows, and fasts, 263 ; the 
place of, 203 ; the time for, 263, 
264, 285; the spirit of, 283. 

ZwiNGLB, reference to, 21. 


,ct as preachers