Confession of Faith (1617) - Article XIII
Of regeneration and the new creature, we confess:
Inasmuch as our first parents, Adam and Eve, through their transgression, separated themselves from God, and fell into temporal and eternal death, with all their posterity, and, consequently, lost the image of God, which is righteousness and true holiness; became depraved in their nature, and inclined to sin and wickedness from their youth; so that of all men none can attain unto faith and a godly conversation through the power of their first birth, which has sprung and proceeded from sinful seed; because that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and hence, carnally minded, and the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; therefore, all men, having come of the earth, shall return to dust and earth, and, in part, are also like to the corrupted earth, which of itself does not bring forth good grain, but must thereto be prepared .anew, and sown with good seed. Thus also, all men, when they have passed their youth, and have come to understand and discern good and evil, we perceive, that their carnal hearts and earthly life, being conceived in sin, are inclined to sin, which conceives by its own lust, which awakens sin in them, and allures and moves them to actual sin; and thus they fall from grace, -- to which they had been redeemed through the atonement of Christ--which plunges them into the death of sin.
Hence, God the Lord requires and demands through His word, of all men of understanding, a true reformation and a renewing from these their own actual sins; that is, that through the hearing of the word of God they receive the faith, become regenerated from above, of God, be created anew in the inner mind of the heart, according to the image of God, and circumcised, being translated from the carnal into the spiritual, from unbelief into faith, from that which is earthly-minded and like Adam into that which is heavenly-minded and like Jesus Christ; that they crucify and mortify their earthly members, and feel, prove, and taste that which is heavenly, and not that which is earthly. To this, God promises life, peace, and all heavenly riches; and it is the sanctification in the spirit of the mind, and the appropriation of all the benefits of Christ (which have been lost through our own actual sin), and has the promise of eternal salvation.
And wherever this renewing and conversion of the mind and heart is not found (among all those who know sin have served it), there Christ and the life do not exist; and without this renewing neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, baptism nor Supper, nor any ceremonies, how-ever glorious they may appear, avail anything.
And as man in the beginning is brought forth with pain ,and anguish from the
flesh, so the second, spiritual generation is also called a birth; and it takes
place with godly sorrow over sin, and with the crucifying and mortifying of the
And as men by the fall of Adam were not altogether deprived and divested of all godly virtues and qualities, so as to become like Satan in evil, but through the grace of God have retained many good principles, so the innate sinful nature, affection for, and proneness to sin are not utterly removed by regeneration, but remain until death in the regenerated; so that the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the lust or indwelling sin wars against the law of the new mind, so that the regenerated enter upon a continuous warfare, and must constantly crucify and mortify the lusts of the flesh, tame and bring into subjection their bodies, and abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; and thus fighting, they must keep the victory unto death.
On the other hand, the assertion of those who ascribe regeneration to new-born infants, and say that without this they cannot be saved, is rejected as a grave error. Some of these found regeneration upon infant baptism, maintaining that as soon as they have their children baptized, they are also, through this ceremony of baptism, regenerated. Others build the regeneration of infants on the justification or general redemption of Christ, by which the human race has been reconciled from the fall of Adam and put in a state of grace; saying that children are regenerated as soon as they are conceived by the mother; thus putting regeneration, against all right and probability, before the first birth which is of the flesh. Some can not tell whether infants become partakers of regeneration before, in, or after baptism; from which it is judged that the aforesaid persons treat of regeneration without the holy Scriptures and all true reason, as the blind man of colors; since Almighty God, nowhere in His holy word speaks of the regeneration of infants. And though children are conceived in sin, or born from sinful seed, yet they have never known, served, or practiced sin, from which they might be regenerated, converted, and renewed in their mind and heart; but they have without this been born, and placed by God in so holy and Godpleasing a state, through the atonement of Christ, that no adult person can, through regeneration and the putting off of the sinful body of the flesh, and the renewing of the mind, become more sinless, holy and God-pleasing; 'seeing the innate sinfulness, lust or inclination to sin remains in the most pious, regenerated, adult persons until death (not less then in children, in their infancy), against which they carry on a constant warfare; and besides this, Almighty God, by His word, requires of all men that have served sin, no higher or greater reparation than that they be converted by regeneration, and become like unto children in sin and malice. With what reason, then, can regeneration be applied to children, who have never committed sin, from which they could be regenerated; seeing infancy has already the innocence which is acceptable to God, and has been set as an example before men, after which all the regenerated must labor and strive until death.
Of this heavenly birth from God, and how it is effected through the Spirit and the word of God, read: "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever" (1Peter 1:22, 23; 2:2; James 1:18; 1 Corinthians 4:15; Galatians 4:19; Philemon 10).
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost," etc. (Titus 3:5).
That regeneration is not a vain or hidden thing, but demands a new life and the following of Christ, and that eternal salvation is promised thereupon, read: "Verily, I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28).
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:15, 16).
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12, 13).
To all who have served sin, and have not been regenerated, the kingdom of God is denied. Concerning this, read: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
"Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou nearest the sound thereof but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit" (John 3:3, 5-8).
That the regenerated do not become perfect in this life, but must fight unto death against the flesh, the world, and sin, read: "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after," etc. (Philippians 3:12; 1:30; Colossians 1:29; Revelation 2:10).
" I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (1 Corinthians 9:27).
"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led by the Spirit," etc. (Galatians 5:17, 18; 1 Peter 2:11 ; Romans 7:18, 23; James 3:2).
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