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WORKS OF ARMINIUS - ON THE HEAD AND THE MARKS OF THE CHURCH
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ON THE HEAD AND THE MARKS OF THE CHURCH
I. Though the head and the body be of one nature, and though, according to nature, they properly constitute one subsistence, yet he who, according to nature, is the head of the church, cannot have communion of nature with her, for she is his creature.
II. But it has been the good pleasure of God, who is both the head of the church according to nature, and her creator, to bestow on his church his Son Jesus Christ, made man, as her head, by whom, likewise, it has been his will to create his church -- that is, a new creature, that the union between the church and her head might be closer, and the communication more free and confiding.
III. But a three-fold relation exists between the church and her head:
(3.) That the head can infuse the virtue of his own perfection into her, and she can receive it from him according to the order of preordination and subordination fitly corresponding with it according to the difference of both.
IV. But these three things belong to Christ alone; nay, not one of the three agrees with any person or thing except with Christ. Wherefore, he, only, is the head of the church, to whom she immediately coheres according to her internal and real essence.
V. But no one can, according to this relation, be vicar or substitute to him; neither the apostle Peter, nor any Roman pontiff; nay, Christ can have no one among men as his vicar, according to the external administration of the church; and, what is still more, he cannot have a universal minister, which term is less than that of vicar.
VI. Yet we do not deny that those persons who are constituted by this head as his ministers, perform such functions as belong to the head; because it has been his pleasure to gather his church to himself, and to govern it by human means.
VII. But, according to her internal essence, this church is known to no one except to her head. She is likewise made known to others by signs and indications which have their origin from her true internal essence itself, if they be real, and not counterfeit and deceptive in their appearance.
VIII. These signs are, the profession of the true faith, and the institution or conducting of the life according to the direction and the instigation of the Spirit -- a matter that belongs to external acts, about which, alone, a judgment can be formed by mankind.
IX. We say that these are the marks of a church which outwardly conducts herself with propriety. But it may come to pass, that a mere profession of faith may obtain in this church through the public preaching and hearing of the word, through the administration and use of the sacraments, and through prayers and Thanksgivings; and yet in her whole life she may degenerate from the profession; and, lastly, she may in her deeds deny Christ, whom she professes to know in word, in which case, she does not cease to be a church as long as it is the pleasure of God and Christ to bear with her ill manners, and not to send her a bill of divorcement.
X. But it has happened that in her profession itself, she begins to intermix falsehoods with truth, and to worship, at the same time, Jehovah and Baal. Then, indeed, her condition is very bad, and "nigh to destruction," and all those who adhere to her are commanded to desert her, so far, at least, as not to become partakers of her abominations, and to contaminate themselves with the pollutions of her idolatry; nay, they are commanded to accuse their mother of being a harlot, and of having violated the marriage compact with her husband.
XI. In such a defection as this, those who desert her are not the cause of the dissension, but she who is justly deserted, because she first declined from God and Christ, to whom all believers, and each of them in particular, must adhere by an inseparable connection.
XIII. The marks of the church of which the papists boast -- antiquity, universality, duration, amplitude, the uninterrupted succession of teachers, and agreement in doctrine-have been invented beyond those which we have laid down, because they are accommodated to the present state of the church of Rome.