1689 Baptist Confession of Faith

Preface to the Second London Baptist Confession

1677

 

To The Judicial and Impartial Reader

Courteous Reader: It is now many years since divers of us (with other sober Christians then living, and walking in the way of the Lord, that we profess) did conceive ourselves to be under a necessity of publishing a Confession, of our Faith, for the information and satisfaction of those that did not thoroughly understand what our principles were, or had entertained prejudices against our profession, by reason of the strange representation of them by some men of note who had taken very wrong measures, and accordingly led others into misapprehension of us and them. And this was first put forth about the year 1643, in the name of seven congregations then gathered in London; since which time divers impressions thereof have been dispersed abroad, and our end proposed in good measure answered, inasmuch as many (and some of those men eminent both for piety and learning) were thereby satisfied that we were no way guilty of those heterodoxies and fundamental errors which had too frequently been charged upon us without ground or occasion given on our part.

And forasmuch as that Confession is not now commonly to be had, and also that many others have since embraced the same truth which is owned therein, it was judged necessary by us to join together in giving a testimony to the world of our firm adhering to those wholesome principles by the publication of this which is now in your hand. And forasmuch as our method and manner of expressing our sentiments in this doth vary from the former (although the substance of this matter is the same), we shall freely impart to you the reason and occasion thereof. One thing that greatly prevailed with us to undertake this work was (not only to give a full account of ourselves to those Christians that differ from us about the subject of baptism, but also) the profit that might from thence arise unto those that have any account of our labors in their instruction and establishment in the great truths of the Gospel, in the clear understanding and steady belief of which our comfortable walking with God, and fruitfulness before him in all our ways, is most nearly concerned; and therefore we did conclude it necessary to express ourselves the more fully and distinctly; and also to fix on such a method as might be most comprehensive of those things we designed to explain our sense and belief of; and finding no defect in this regard in that fixed on by the Assembly, and, after them by those of the congregational way, we did readily conclude it best to retain the same order in our present Confession; and also when we observed that those last mentioned did in their Confessions (for reasons which seemed of weight both to themselves and others) choose not only to express their mind in words concurrent with the former in sense concerning all those articles wherein they were agreed, but also for the most part without any variation of the terms, we did in like manner conclude it best to follow their example in making use of the very same words with them both in these articles (which are very many) wherein our faith and doctrine are the same with theirs; and this we did the more abundantly to manifest our consent with both in all the fundamental articles of the Christian religion, as also with many others whose orthodox Confessions have been published to the world on the behalf of the Protestant in diverse nations and cities. And also to convince all that we have no itch to clog religion with new words, but do readily acquiesce in that form of sound words which hath been, in consent with the Holy Scriptures, used by others before us; hereby declaring, before God, angels, and men, our hearty agreement with them in that wholesome Protestant doctrine which, with so clear evidence of Scriptures, they have asserted. Some things, indeed, are in some places added, some terms omitted, and some few changed; but these alterations are of that nature as that we need not doubt any charge or suspicion of unsoundness in the faith from any of our brethren upon the account of them.

In those things wherein we differ from others we have expressed ourselves with all candor and plainness, that none might entertain jealousy of aught secretly lodged in our breasts that we would not the world should be acquainted with; yet we hope we have also observed those rules of modesty and humility as will render our freedom in this respect inoffensive, even to those whose sentiments are different from ours.

We have also taken care to affix texts of Scripture at the bottom, for the confirmation of each article in our Confession; in which work we have studiously endeavored to select such as are most clear and pertinent for the proof of what is asserted by us; and our earnest desire is that all into whose hands this may come would follow that (never enough commended) example of the noble Bereans, who searched the Scriptures daily that they might find out whether the things preached to them were so or not.

There is one thing more which we sincerely profess and earnestly desire credence in - viz., that contention is most remote from our design in all that we have done in this matter; and we hope that the liberty of an ingenuous unfolding our principles and opening our hearts unto our brethren, with the Scripture grounds of our faith and practice will by none of them be either denied to us, or taken ill from us. Our whole design is accomplished if we may have attained that justice as to be measured in our principles and practice, and the judgment of both by others, according to what we have now published, which the Lord (whose eyes are as a flame of fire) knoweth to be the doctrine which with our hearts we most firmly believe and sincerely endeavor to conform our lives to. And O that, other contentions being laid asleep, the only care and contention of all upon whom the name of our blessed Redeemer is called might for the future be to walk humbly with their God in the exercise of all love and meekness toward each other, to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord, each one endeavoring to have his conversation such as becometh the gospel; and also, suitable to his place and capacity, vigorously to promote in others the practice of true religion and undefiled in the sight of God our Father! And that in this backsliding day we might not spend our breath in fruitless complaints of the evils of others, but may every one begin at home, to reform in the first place our own hearts and ways, and then to quicken all that we may have influence upon to the some work, that if the will of God were so, none might deceive themselves by resting in and trusting to a form of godliness without the power of it, and inward experience of the efficacy of those truths that are professed by them.

And verily there is one spring and cause of the decay of religion in our day which we cannot but touch upon and earnestly urge a redress of, and that is the neglect of the worship of God in families by those to whom the charge and conduct of them is committed. May not the gross ignorance and instability of many, with the profaneness of others, be justly charged upon their parents and masters, who have not trained them up in the way wherein they ought to walk when they were young, but have neglected those frequent and solemn commands which the Lord hath laid upon them, so to catechise and instruct them that their tender years might be seasoned with the knowledge of the truth of God as revealed in the Scriptures; and also by their own omission of prayer and other duties of religion of their families, together with the ill example of their loose conversation, having, inured them first to a neglect and the contempt of all piety and religion? We know this will not excuse the blindness and wickedness of any, but certainly it will fall heavy upon those that have been thus the occasion thereof; they indeed die in their sins, but will not their blood be required of those under whose care they were, who yet permitted them to go on without warning - yea, led them into the paths of destruction? And will not the diligence of Christians with respect to the discharge of these duties in ages past rise up in judgment against and condemn many of those who would be esteemed such now?

We shall conclude with our earnest prayer that the God of all grace will pour out those measures of his Holy Spirit upon us, that the profession of truth may be accompanied with the sound belief and diligent practice of it by us, that his name may in all things be glorified through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 


 

CONFESSION

OF

FAITH

 

 

Put forth by the

ELDERS and BRETHREN

Of many

CONGREGATIONS

OF

Christians

 

(baptized upon Profession of their faith)
in London and the Country.

 

 

With the Heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the
Mouth Confession is made unto Salvation, Rom. 10:10.
Search the Scriptures, John 5:39.

 

CONTENTS

 

CHAPTER   1 OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
CHAPTER   2 OF GOD AND THE HOLY TRINITY
CHAPTER   3 OF GOD'S DECREE
CHAPTER   4 OF CREATION
CHAPTER   5 OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE
CHAPTER   6 OF THE FALL OF MAN, OF SIN AND OF THE PUNISHMENT THEREOF
CHAPTER   7 OF GOD'S COVENANT
CHAPTER   8 OF CHRIST THE MEDIATOR
CHAPTER   9 OF FREE WILL
CHAPTER 10 OF EFFECTUAL CALLING
CHAPTER 11 OF JUSTIFICATION
CHAPTER 12 OF ADOPTION
CHAPTER 13 OF SANCTIFICATION
CHAPTER 14 OF SAVING FAITH
CHAPTER 15 OF REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE AND SALVATION
CHAPTER 16 OF GOOD WORKS
CHAPTER 17 OF THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS
CHAPTER 18 OF THE ASSURANCE OF GRACE AND SALVATION
CHAPTER 19 OF THE LAW OF GOD
CHAPTER 20 OF THE GOSPEL, AND OF THE EXTENT OF THE GRACE THEREOF
CHAPTER 21 OF CHRISTIAN LIBERTY AND LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE
CHAPTER 22 OF RELIGIOUS WORSHIP AND THE SABBATH DAY
CHAPTER 23 OF LAWFUL OATHS AND VOWS
CHAPTER 24 OF THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE
CHAPTER 25 OF MARRIAGE
CHAPTER 26 OF THE CHURCH
CHAPTER 27 OF THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS
CHAPTER 28 OF BAPTISM AND THE LORD'S SUPPER
CHAPTER 29 OF BAPTISM
CHAPTER 30 OF THE LORD'S SUPPER
CHAPTER 31 OF THE STATE OF MAN AFTER DEATH, AND OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
CHAPTER 32 OF THE LAST JUDGEMENT

 

FOREWORD

In England during the 1630's and 1640's Congregationalists and Baptists of Calvinistic persuasion emerged from the Church of England. Their early existence was marked by repeated cycles of persecution at the hands of the established religion of crown and Parliament. The infamous Clarendon Code was adopted in the 1660's to crush all dissent from the official religion of the state. Periods of rigorous application and intervals of relaxation of these coercive acts haunted 1689bk (3797 bytes) Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists
alike.

Presbyterians and Congregationalists suffered less than did Baptists under this harassment. No little reason for their relative success in resisting government tyranny was their united front of doctrinal agreement. All Presbyterians stood by their Westminster Confession of 1646. Congregationalists adopted virtually the same articles of faith in the Savoy Confession of 1658. Feeling their substantial unity with paedobaptists suffering under the same cruel injustice, Calvinistic Baptists met to publish their substantial harmony with them in doctrine.

A circular letter was sent to particular Baptist churches in England and Wales asking each assembly to send representatives to a meeting in London in 1677. A confession consciously modeled after the Westminster Confession of Faith was approved and published. It has ever since born the name of the Second London Confession. The First London Confession had been issued by seven Baptist congregations of London in 1644. That first document had been drawn up to distinguish newly organized Calvinistic Baptists from the Arminian Baptists and the Anabaptists. Because this second London Confession was drawn up in dark hours of oppression, it was issued anonymously.

A preface to the original publication of 1677 says in part: "... It is now many years since diverse of us ... did conceive ourselves under a necessity of publishing a Confession of our Faith, for the information and satisfaction of those that did not thoroughly understand what our principles were, or had entertained prejudices against our profession ... This was first put forth about the year 1643, in the name of seven congregations then gathered in
London.. ."

"Forasmuch as this confession is not now commonly to be had; and also that many others have since1 embraced the same truth which is owned therein; it was judged necessary by us to join together in giving a testimony to the world of our firm adhering to those wholesome principles .. ."

"We did conclude it necessary to confess ourselves the more fully and distinctly,... and finding no defect in this regard in that fixed on by the Assembly 2, and after them by those of the Congregational way, we did conclude it best to retain the same order in our present confession ... for the most part without any variation of the terms ... making use of the very same words with them both ... This we did to ... convince all that we have no itch to clog religion with new words, but to readily acquiesce in that form of sound words which hath been used by others before us ... In those things wherein we differ from others, we have expressed ourselves with all candor and plainness ... Contention is most remote from our design in all that we have done in this matter..."

William and Mary assumed England's throne in 1689. On May 24 of that very year the Act of Toleration was enacted. Within two months, seven London pastors called for a general meeting of Baptists from England and Wales. Representatives of one hundred and seven congregations met in London from September third to the twelfth. They adopted the Confession of 1677 with the following endorsement:

 

Preface to the Second London Baptist Confession

1689

 

WE the MINISTERS and MESSENGERS of and concerned for upwards of one hundred baptized congregations in England and Wales (denying Arminianism), being met together in London, from the third of the seventh month to the eleventh of the same, 1689, to consider of some things that might be for the glory of God, and the good of these congregations, have thought meet (for the satisfaction of all other Christians that differ from us in the point of Baptism) to recommend to their perusal the confession of our faith, which confession we own, as containing the doctrine of our faith and practice, and do desire that the members of our churches respectively do furnish themselves therewith,

 

Hanserd Knollys Pastor Broken Wharf London
William Kiffin Pastor Devonshire-square London
John Harris Pastor Joiner's Hall London
William Collins Pastor Petty France London
Hercules Collins Pastor Wapping London
Robert Steed Pastor Broken Wharf London
Leonard Harrison Pastor Limehouse London
George Barret Pastor Mile End Green London
Isaac Lamb Pastor Pennington-street London
Richard Adams Minister Shad Thames Southwark
Benjamin Keath Pastor Horse-lie-down Southwark
Andrew Gifford Pastor Bristol, Fryars Som. & Glouc.
Thomas Vaux Pastor Broadmead Som. & Glouc.
Thomas Winnel Pastor Taunton Som. & Glouc.
James Hitt Preacher Dalwood Dorset
Richard Tidmarsh Minister Oxford City Osen
William Facey Pastor Reading Berks
Samuel Buttel Minister Plymouth Devon
Christopher Price Minister Abergavenny Monmouth
Daniel Finch Minister Kingsworth Herts
John Ball Minister Tiverton Devon
Edmond White Pastor Evershall Bedford
William Pritchard Pastor Blaenau Monmouth
Paul Fruin Minister Warwick Warwick
Richard Ring Pastor Southampton Hants
John Tompkins Minister Abingdon Berks
Toby Willes Pastor Bridewater Somerset
John Carter Steventon Bedford
James Webb Devizes Wilts.
Richard Sutton Pastor Tring Herts
Robert Knight Pastor Stukeley Bucks
Edward Price Pastor Hereford-City Hereford
William Phipps Pastor Exon Devon
William Hankins Pastor Dimmock Gloucester
Samuel Ewer Pastor Hemstead Herts
Edward Man Pastor Houndsditch London
Charles Archer Pastor Hick-Norton Oxon

Because the title page of the newly subscribed creed bore the title "TheBaptist Confession of Faith adopted by the ministers and messengers of the General Assembly which met in London in 1689" the Second London Confession, originally composed in 1677, has ever since been called "The 1689 Confession".

This became the most popular confession of Calvinistic Baptists in the English speaking world. It enjoyed editions in Britain in 1693, 1699, 1719, 1720, 1791, 1809. In 1855 C. H. Spurgeon issued a new edition. It was only the second year of his ministry at the New Park Street Chapel. Spurgeon wrote, "I have thought it right to reprint in a cheap form this excellent list of doctrines, which were subscribed to by the Baptist Ministers in the year 1689. We need a banner because of the truth; it may be that this small volume may aid the cause of the glorious gospel by testifying plainly what are its leading doctrines ... May the Lord soon restore unto Zion a pure language, and may her watchmen see eye to eye." He addressed these remarks to "all the Household of Faith, who rejoice in the glorious doctrines of Free Grace." Other British editions have appeared in 1958, 1963, 1966, 1970, 1972, 1974.

In the later 1600's Benjamin Keach and another minister of London published the 1689 Confession with two articles added, one on "the laying on of hands" and another''the singing of psalms". When Elias Keach, son of Benjamin, became a Baptist minister in America in 1688, he became a part of the Calvinistic Baptists who formed the Philadelphia Baptist Association in 1707. Through him the Second London Confession with his father's addenda was adopted by the Philadelphia Association. For years the association appealed to the confession, formally adopting it in 1742. The first edition of the "Philadelphia Confession of Faith" was printed by Benjamin Franklin in 1743. Under this name the 1689 confession became the definitive doctrinal statement of Calvinistic Baptists throughout the colonial and early United States periods. Associations in Virginia (1766) Rhode Island (1767), South Carolina (1767), Kentucky (1785), and Tennessee (1788) adopted the confession. It came to be known in America 85 "The Baptist Confession".

Familiarity with the Confession and its doctrines declined in the latter half of the 1 9th and first half of the 20th centuries. But since God has remarkably revived Biblical Calvinism among Baptists in recent days, interest in this historic confession has been renewed.

In this edition care has been taken to be faithful to the original edition of 1677. Changes have been made in spelling and punctuation to suit modern usage.

The words of C. H. Spurgeon are an appropriate conclusion to this introduction:

"This little volume," he wrote, "is not issued as an authoritative rule, or code of faith, whereby you are to be fettered, but as an assistance to you in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteous- ness. Here the younger members of our church will have a body of divinity in small compass, and by means of the Scriptural proofs, will be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in them.

Be not ashamed of your faith; remember it is the ancient gospel of martyrs, confessors, reformers and saints. Above all, it is the truth of God, against which the gates of Hell cannot prevail.

Let your lives adorn your faith, let your example adorn your creed. Above all live in Christ Jesus, and walk in Him, giving credence to no teaching but that which is manifestly approved of Him, and owned by the Holy Spirit. Cleave fast to the Word of God which is here mapped out for you."

The Elders
Grace Baptist Church
Carlisle, Pennsylvania

 

1These early Baptists were conscious that the 1644 Calvinistic Baptist Confession predated the 1646 Presbyterian Confession and the 1658 Congregationalist Confession.

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