To those who everywhere in the Low Countries, and particularly in this city, N, adhere to the true doctrine of the gospel, and who now in the time of those called Spiritual (they hate the truth, and very dearly seek to obscure it) are unjustly slandered and persecuted as heretics and rebels: for admonishing the authorities, for teaching the ignorant, and for the protection of upright Christian doctrine.
Printed by the grace and the permission of the Almighty, A.D. 1566.
With the proof of Scripture, we believe the Twelve Articles of Faith, and the four ecumenical councils, that there is one eternal God, Almighty Father, the creator of visible and invisible things; who alone is the judge of all hearts; who needs no one’s counsel, help, nor relief; but governs all Himself, through His strong and prudent hand. Him (who
does not dwell in temples manufactured by human hands, but with the glory of His majesty fills heaven and earth) we serve according to His Word, not as we think fit; knowing that He is a jealous God who does not give His honor to any other, but alone wills to be adored and worshiped.
We confess that the Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, is true God and true man, having a reasonable (and) intelligent soul as well as (a human) body; that He is from all eternity, proceeding out of the Father according to His divinity, and for our salvation (was) born of the virgin Mary, taking on what He was not and remaining who He was, God of God, and our brother, partaking of the flesh and blood of the children, like us in every respect, and in all (things) tempted, yet without sin. We renounce all the teachings of Arians, Marcionites, Valentinians, Manichees, Ebionites, and the like, who deny Christ’s divinity and humanity, claiming that He has an unnatural, omnipresent body, as a spirit, without any understanding of place; and that He, as the sun shining through glass or wood, is everywhere according to His human nature. This is not only against the teaching of the church fathers as Chrysostom, Augustine (Ad Dardanus [Letter 187, in Letters, trans. by W. Parsons, 4:221–55]; De diversis quaestionibus octoginta tribus liber [Eighty-three Different Questions, ed. D. L. Mosher, p. 44]) and others, who witness that Christ’s body according to His humanity cannot be at more than one place, and that it is no body which does not know its place; but this is also contrary to the teaching of the prophets, Christ, and the apostles.
We confess Jesus Christ alone as our mediator, reconciler, satisfaction, righteousness, intercessor, and the way to the Father. (We) seek no help from deceased saints and saintesses, who do not know us and in life taught the contrary. Much less do we adore and honor images, or stone images, which the Scriptures everywhere horribly punish. For no other name under heaven is given to us by which we must be saved than Jesus Christ.
We confess this Christ as our only eternal teacher, whom the voice of the Father commanded us to hear. For the Father is well-pleased with Him alone, whose teaching we may neither detract from nor add to.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the comforter, the living and sanctifying Lord, who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who equally with the Father and the Son is to be worshiped and honored; who is richly poured out over us through Jesus Christ, our Savior; and who bears witness to and assures our spirits that we are children and heirs of God, fellow-heirs with Christ, in whom we call upon the Father in truth with firm belief on account of His merit, and through whom we are heard in all that we pray for with respect to our salvation.
We confess that faith is a gift from God through which we receive the Holy Spirit, by whom we are justified out of grace, and not through our works or merits. This affirms to us the teaching of Habakkuk (2:4), the example of Abraham, and the words of Paul: no man is justified by the works of the Law, but through faith in Jesus Christ. Herewith we do not mean a dead, but a living faith that through love is powerful and active in all good works, which are the witnesses of faith created by God and prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
We confess that there is one catholic Christian church spread throughout the entire world, built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles, of which Christ alone is the cornerstone and head (and not the pope). Christ governs His church by His Holy Spirit, employing thereto people as instruments, to wit, lawfully called ministers who, trustworthily, dispense the pure teaching of Christ’s prophets and apostles (and the church fathers, insofar as the latter agree therewith), and also lawfully administer the sacraments, and preach the forgiveness of sins, (to) all penitent believers in Christ’s name.
We confess that we have one faithful high priest, Jesus Christ, who has an eternal priesthood and the administration of the true tabernacle, who once for all gave a sacrifice when He offered Himself on the wood of the cross, and in His blood established eternal salvation; for the priestly sacrifices could never remove sins. He has eternally sanctified with a sacrifice those to be sanctified so that no sacrifice for sin remains, save this blood of Jesus Christ, which cleanses us from all sin. Through these witnesses of the Holy Scriptures and a hundred more, which one may provide here, we say the pope’s Mass, which he claims to be an offering for the living and the dead, is false, and an impure sacrifice of bread according to Malachi (Mal. 1:7). So, through them Christ’s Supper and His sacrifice on the cross once accomplished, are in large measure abridged, and thus Christ’s blood is trampled upon. This proves that (the Mass) is only a human invention, which Gregory, who also instituted the Introit, Kyrie eleison, and the Canon, began to build in A.D. 594. Gelasius instituted the collects, hymns, tracts; and Sergio, A.D. 694, offertories, incense, and such like. Remnants of Pelagianism and scholasticism accounted for vigils, funeral services, and prayers read at set times, and such like. Likewise against the honor of Jesus Christ through the above inventions, they also claim purgatory’s reality, which was begun in A.D. 400, through people falsely embellished, and only confirmed in A.D. 1000. For through Christ (only), we have forgiveness and remission of our sins.
We confess that Christ, to seal His righteousness and grace, as well as the exercise of our faith, instituted two sacraments in place of circumcision and the Passover lambs, holy baptism and the Lord’s Supper; these are not, we say, bare signs, but venerable mysteries, in which the things signified are truly offered to and received by believers.
In baptism, which came in place of circumcision, water is a sign; but the meaning is incorporation in Christ and acceptance as children of God. This we call a washing of regeneration, for it indicates (to) all believers that they are washed clean and pure through Christ’s poured out blood, as well as that through the Holy Spirit they are born anew (not through external works). The minister baptizes according to the words of Christ (Matt. 28:19). We neither add to nor subtract from Christ’s ceremony, rejecting all human inventions, which are added thereto above God’s Word; to wit, exorcisms, litanies, salt, anointing, candles, and such like ceremonies.
We do not withhold baptism from infants, seeing that they are included in God’s covenant and also because the early church since the time of the apostles and for 400 years thereafter baptized (them) with reference to the Scriptures. To this practice also Origen (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Books 1–5, ed. T. P. Scheck, p. 367), Chrysostom, Augustine (Against Julian, ed. M. A. Schumacher, 112f.), and Cyprian (“Letter 64 , To Fidus,” Ante–Nicene Fathers, 5:353–54) witnessed.
We confess that Christ instituted in place of the Passover lamb His holy Lord’s Supper, which He Himself named the testament of His blood, and which is also called a thanksgiving. In this Lord’s Supper, we follow the manner that we received from the Lord. Bread and wine, which herein are the signs, are broken by the minister and distributed. Herein is signified communion in the true life and blood of Jesus Christ; which nourishes believers as a true food of the soul for eternal life; remembering and proclaiming through this the Lord’s death until He returns from heaven.
We say that the cup is unjustly withheld from the laity. For such is contrary to the institution and the words of Christ: Drink of it, all of you! Also Paul commanded four times: As of the cup, so of the bread. And all ancient teachers witness that the words of Christ and of Paul in the first five hundred years were followed. Also this custom was and remained with the Greeks, but was forbidden us in the 13th Session at Constance A.D. 1415.
We reject (this) with Paul’s words where he speaks of the communion of the life and the blood of Christ, etc. (We are) supported by many ancient teachers of the Sentences, all misunderstanding the Lord’s Supper; specifically that which (came) in the year 800 from Pope Hildebrand, and in the year 1202 embellished by Innocent, to wit, that bread did not remain bread, but was essentially changed into the body of Christ. (We reject) as well any other opinion in conflict with the ascension of Christ.
We consider as an abominable idolatry the embellished carrying about of God, which, as instituted in A.D. 1264 by Honorius, is done with the boxed bread. (This was) further built up by Peter Lombard, Hugo, Bonaventura, and Thomas Aquinus: (each) saying, that this is the right of the god of fortresses concerning which Daniel prophesied (Dan. 11:38), but whom our fathers did not know. Embellished with gold, silver, and precious stones, (this carrying about of the bread) robs God of His glory and abuses Christ’s Supper. For He does not say: Lock up the bread and adore it, but take, eat, and part it among yourselves! And: Do this in remembrance of me! Thus falsely instituted by people, this discounts Christ’s words, contrary to all Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.
We confess that God instituted holy matrimony in Paradise. All saints from the Old Testament, and for the most part in the New, were married. Christ blessed this ordinance with His presence. This state is left to every man to choose. Paul allowed bishops and pastors to do the same.
We reject all multiplicity of wives with the word of Christ: two shall become one flesh, etc. Every man shall have his own housewife.
We say with Paul that believers are not forbidden any kind of food eaten with thanksgiving. For what enters by mouth does not defile souls. Also, Christ’s kingdom does not consist of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Through these then, using our Christian liberty, (we) always moderate it according to love and the building up of our neighbors, in order that all vexations may be shunned.
We also acknowledge as good to keep, a fasting with moderation, as well as alms days, according to the need and as the occasion arises. We follow therewith the admonition of John (2:16) and the apostles (Acts 14:23) without seeking therein any superstition or merit, according to Augustine’s words (“Tractate 17, On the Gospel of John,” Nicene and Post–Nicene Fathers, Series 1, 7:111–16; de salu. do. ca. 37. Ser. 172).
For the maintenance of His churches (in which are also deacons who care for the poor), Christ has instituted a Christian punishment or ban, through which rotten members are cut off from the congregation: to wit, those who always continue in an unrepentant life and will not listen to any admonition. For this ban, the ordinances of the Lord, that is, the authority of the keys, must be used. At the same time, to any one who confesses his sin with fitting regret must be proclaimed the loosing of sin in the name of Jesus Christ, and (that one) again received as a living member.
This we confess as good, but not the confessional, which has been cast out here; which has been disputed over eighty years, which has often from time to time been reaffirmed by new teachers, and which was last confirmed by Innocent A.D. 1200.
In sum, we believe all that is included in the Twelve Articles of our Faith. Also (we believe) that our flesh shall be resurrected through Christ, who is the conqueror of the devil, hell, and death. That we shall be covered with our flesh and behold our Savior in the imperishable kingdom, where eternal life is prepared for all believers in Christ, and (shall see) all such fruit which no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived; also according to
God’s sentence, (we believe in) the lake of fire (for) unbelievers in which their worm never dies.
Honored lords! whom we acknowledge as ours from God (by) instituted authority and to whom we desire to be submissive in all that you command, which does not contradict Christ’s words. We pray, in His name, that with mature understanding you will acknowledge these articles of our faith (as) composed out of love (which we are also prepared to defend in public when tyranny ceases). Test all the words according to the righteous touchstone of the Scriptures; and what does not concur therewith, that you regard as condemned (as we do). Out of that which is upright, learn to rearrange your life. No longer shed innocent blood. Be now warned, and desist from judging according to the will of those who hate the truth, nor according to various ungodly placards, for they shall not excuse you before the judgment seat of Christ. Doing this you shall fulfill the office of a Christian government.
Moreover, we pray that all those who still stray from the way of the Lord through blind leaders may study our confession and not reject it because it does not agree with the Roman Church (and through all the old evil usage, it shall at first sound strange); but (we) fervently pray that the Lord will enlighten with His Holy Spirit what they are not yet able to understand, strengthen their faith, and give the knowledge of His truth. We will likewise pray (to) the Lord from the heart that after taking pity on our lands (as Germany, France, England, Scotland, Poland, Sweden, Oostland, Switzerland, and East Frisia, altogether grant the unopposed proclamation of the gospel), He may in time also have mercy on us, and open (the) door through His word in order that henceforth the Word may richly dwell among us; and that after a prescribed time, we may praise and adore Him with united hearts, that with one body, one Spirit, one faith, one baptism, one Father of us all may be worshiped in His Son, Jesus Christ, with whom He lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, one God, triune in eternity. To Him be glory, praise, splendor, thanksgiving, and honor! Amen.
(Translated by T. Hoogsteen)