The Scottish Confession of Faith
And these glad tidings of the kingdom shall be preached
through the whole world, for a witness unto all nations,
and then shall the end come. Matthew 24:14
The Estates of Scotland, with the inhabitants of the same,
professing Christ Jesus' holy evangel: to their natural
countrymen, and unto all other realms and nations,
professing the same Lord Jesus with them, wish grace,
mercy, and peace from God the Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, with the spirit of righteous judgment, for
Long have we thirsted, dear brethren, to have notified
unto the world the sum of that doctrine which we profess,
and for the which we have sustained infamy and danger. But
such has been the rage of Satan against us, and against
Christ Jesus' eternal verity lately born amongst us, that
to this day no time has been granted unto us to clear our
consciences, as most gladly we would have done. For how we
have been tossed a whole year past, the most part of
Europe (as we suppose) does understand. But seeing that of
the infinite goodness of our God (who never suffers his
afflicted utterly to be confounded), above expectation, we
have obtained some rest and liberty, we could not but set
forth this brief and plain confession of such doctrine as
is proponed unto us, and as we believe and profess; partly
for satisfaction of our brethren, whose hearts, we doubt
not, have been and yet are wounded by the despiteful
railing of such as yet have not learned to speak well; and
partly for stopping of the mouths of impudent blasphemers,
who boldly damn that which they have neither heard, nor
Not that we judge that the cankered malice of such is able
to be cured by this our simple confession. No, we know
that the sweet savour of the evangel is, and shall be,
death unto the sons of perdition. But we have chief
respect to our weak and infirm brethren, to whom we would
communicate the bottom of our hearts, lest that they be
troubled or carried away by diversity of rumors, which
Satan spreads contrary [against] us, to the defeating of
this our most godly enterprise; protesting that, if any
man will note in this our confession any article or
sentence repugning to God's holy word, that it would
please him of his gentleness, and for Christian charity's
sake, to admonish us of the same in writing; and we, of
our honour and fidelity, do promise unto him satisfaction
from the mouth of God (that is, from his holy scriptures),
or else reformation of that which he shall prove to be
amiss. For God we take to record in our consciences, that
from our hearts we abhor all sects of heresy, and all
teachers of erroneous doctrine; and that, with all
humility, we embrace the purity of Christ's evangel, which
is the only food of our souls; and therefore so precious
unto us, that we are determined to suffer the extremity of
worldly danger, rather than that we will suffer ourselves
to be defrauded of the same. For hereof we are most
certainly persuaded, that whosoever denies Christ Jesus,
or is ashamed of him in presence of men, shall be denied
before the Father, and before his holy angels. And
therefore, by the assistance of the mighty Spirit of the
same our Lord Jesus, we firmly purpose to abide to the
end, in the confession of this our faith, as by articles
Chapter 1: Of God
We confess and acknowledge one only God, to whom only we
must cleave, whom only we must serve, whom only we must
worship, and in whom only we must put our trust: who is
eternal, infinite, immeasurable, incomprehensible,
omnipotent, invisible; one in substance, and yet
distinct in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Ghost; by whom we confess and believe all things
in heaven and in earth, as well visible as invisible, to
have been created, to be retained in their being, and to
be ruled and guided by his inscrutable Providence, to such
end as his eternal wisdom, goodness, and justice has
appointed them, to the manifestation of his own glory.
1. Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:6; Deut. 4:35; Isa. 44:5-6.
2. 1 Tim. 1:17; 1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chron. 6:18; Ps. 139:7-8;
Gen. 17:1; 1 Tim. 6:15-16; Ex. 3:14-15.
3. Matt. 28:19; 1 John 5:7.
4. Gen. 1:1; Heb. 11:3; Acts 17:28; Prov. 16:4.
Chapter 2: Of the Creation of Man
We confess and acknowledge this our God to have created
man (to wit, our first father Adam) to his own image and
similitude, to whom he gave wisdom, lordship, justice,
free will, and clear knowledge of himself; so that in the
whole nature of man there could be noted no
imperfection: from which honour and perfection man and
woman did both fall; the woman being deceived by the
serpent, and man obeying the voice of the woman: both
conspiring against the Sovereign Majesty of God, who in
expressed words had before threatened death, if they
presumed to eat of the forbidden tree.
1. Gen. 1:26-28; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24.
2. Gen. 3:6; 2:17.
Chapter 3: Of Original Sin
By which transgression, commonly called Original Sin, was
the image of God utterly defaced in man; and he and his
posterity of nature became enemies to God, slaves to
Satan, and servants to sin; insomuch that death
everlasting has had, and shall have, power and dominion
over all that have not been, are not, or shall not be
regenerated from above: which regeneration is wrought by
the power of the Holy Ghost, working in the hearts of the
elect of God an assured faith in the promise of God,
revealed to us in his word; by which faith we apprehend
Christ Jesus, with the graces and benefits promised in
1. Ps. 51:5; Rom. 5:10; 7:5; 2 Tim. 2:26; Eph. 2:1-3.
2. Rom. 5:14,21 6:23; John 3:5; Rom. 5:1; Phil. 1:29.
Chapter 4: Of the Revelation of the Promise
For this we constantly believe: that God, after the
fearful and horrible defection of man from his obedience,
did seek Adam again, call upon him, rebuke his sin,
convict him of the same, and in the end made unto him a
most joyful promise: to wit, that the seed of the woman
should break down the serpent's head ≠ that is, he
should destroy the works of the Devil. Which promise, as
it was repeated and made more clear from time to time, so
was it embraced with joy, and most constantly received of
all the faithful, from Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abraham,
from Abraham to David, and so forth to the incarnation of
Christ Jesus: all (we mean the faithful fathers) under the
law did see the joyful days of Christ Jesus, and did
1. Gen. 3:9.
2. Gen. 3:15.
3. Gen. 12:3; 15:5-6; 2 Sam. 7:14; Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Hag.
2:6; John 8:56.
Chapter 5: The Continuance, Increase, and Preservation of
We most constantly believe that God preserved, instructed,
multiplied, honoured, decored, and from death called to
life his kirk in all ages, from Adam, till the coming of
Christ Jesus in the flesh. For Abraham he called from
his father's country; him he instructed; his seed he
multiplied; the same he marvelously preserved, and more
marvelously delivered from the bondage and tyranny of
Pharaoh; to them he gave his laws, constitutions, and
ceremonies; them he possessed in the land of Canaan;
to them, after Judges and after Saul, he gave David to be
king, to whom he made promise, that of the fruit of his
loins should one sit for ever upon his regal seat. To
this same people, from time to time, he sent prophets to
reduce them to the right way of their God, from the
which often times they declined by idolatry. And albeit
for their stubborn contempt of justice, he was compelled
to give them in the hands of their enemies, as before
was threatened by the mouth of Moses, insomuch that the
holy city was destroyed, the temple burnt with fire,
and the whole land left desolate the space of seventy
years; yet of mercy did he reduce them again to
Jerusalem, where the city and temple were reedified, and
they, against all temptations and assaults of Satan, did
abide till the Messiah came, according to the promise.
1. Ezek. 6:6-14.
2. Gen. 12:1; 13:1.
3. Ex. 1, etc.
4. Josh. 1:3; 23:4.
5. 1 Sam. 10:1; 16:13.
6. 2 Sam. 7:12.
7. 2 Kings 17:13-19.
8. 2 Kings 24:3-4.
9. Deut. 28:36, 48.
10. 2 Kings 25.
11. Dan. 9:2.
12. Jer. 30; Ezra 1, etc.; Hag. 1:14; 2:7-9; Zech. 3:8.
Chapter 6: Of the Incarnation of Christ Jesus
When the fulness of time came, God sent his Son ≠ his
Eternal Wisdom, the substance of his own glory, in this
world ≠ who took the nature of manhood of the substance of
woman: to wit, of a virgin, and that by operation of the
Holy Ghost. And so was born the just seed of David, the
angel of the great counsel of God; the very Messiah
promised, whom we confess and acknowledge Immanuel; very
God and very man, two perfect natures united and joined in
one person. By which our confession we damn the
damnable and pestilent heresies of Arius, Marcion,
Eutyches, Nestorius, and such others as either deny the
eternity of his Godhead, or the verity of his human
nature, either confound them, either yet divide them.
1. Gal. 4:4.
2. Luke 1:31; Matt. 1:18; 2:1; Rom. 1:3; John 1:45; Matt.
3. 1 Tim. 2:5.
Chapter 7: Why It Behoved the Mediator to be Very God and
We acknowledge and confess that this most wondrous
conjunction betwixt the Godhead and the manhood in Christ
Jesus did proceed from the eternal and immutable decree of
God, whence also our salvation springs and depends.
1. Eph. 1:3-6.
Chapter 8: Election
For that same Eternal God and Father, who of mere grace
elected us in Christ Jesus his Son, before the foundation
of the world was laid, appointed him to be our Head,
our Brother, our Pastor, and great Bishop of our
souls. But because that the enmity betwixt the justice
of God and our sins was such that no flesh by itself could
or might have attained unto God, it behoved that the
Son of God should descend unto us, and take himself a body
of our body, flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bones,
and so become the perfect Mediator betwixt God and man;
giving power to so many as believe in him to be the sons
of God, as himself does witness: I pass up to my Father
and unto your Father, to my God, and unto your God. By
which most holy fraternity, whatsoever we have lost in
Adam is restored to us again. And for this cause are we
not afraid to call God our Father, not so much that
[because] he has created us (which we have common with the
reprobate), as for that he has given to us his only
Son to be our brother, and given unto us grace to
acknowledge and embrace him for our only Mediator, as
before is said.
It behoved further the Messiah and Redeemer to be very God
and very Man, because he was to underlie the punishment
due for our transgressions, and to present himself in the
presence of his Father's judgments, as in our person, to
suffer for our transgression and disobedience, by
death, to overcome him that was author of death. But
because the only Godhead could not suffer death,
neither yet could the only manhead overcome the same, he
joined both together in one person, that the imbecility
[weakness] of the one should suffer, and be subject to
death (which we had deserved), and the infinite and
invincible power of the other (to wit, of the Godhead)
should triumph and purchase to us life, liberty, and
perpetual victory. And so we confess, and most
1. Eph. 1:11; Matt. 25:34.
2. Eph. 1:22-23.
3. Heb. 2:7-8, 11-12; Ps. 22:22.
4. Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 2:24; 5:4.
5. Ps. 130:3; 143:2.
6. 1 Tim. 2:5.
7. John 1:12.
8. John 20:17.
9. Rom. 5:17-19.
10. Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5-6.
11. Acts 17:26.
12. Heb. 2:11-12.
13. 1 Pet. 3:18; Isa. 53:8.
14. Acts 2:24.
15. John 1:2.; Acts 20:20; 1 Tim. 3:16; John 3:16
Chapter 9: Christ's Death, Passion, Burial, etc.
[We confess] That our Lord Jesus Christ offered himself a
voluntary sacrifice unto his Father for us; that he
suffered contradiction of sinners; that he was wounded and
plagued for our transgressions; that he, being the
clean and innocent Lamb of God, was damned in the
presence of an earthly judge, that we should be
absolved before the tribunal seat of our God; that he
suffered not only the cruel death of the cross (which was
accursed by the sentence of God), but also that he
suffered for a season the wrath of his Father, which
sinners had deserved. But yet we avow, that he remained
the only and well-beloved and blessed Son of his Father,
even in the midst of his anguish and torment, which he
suffered in body and soul, to make the full satisfaction
for the sins of the people. After the which, we confess
and avow, that there remains no other sacrifice for
sin: which if any affirm, we nothing doubt to avow that
they are blasphemers against Christ's death, and the
everlasting purgation and satisfaction purchased to us by
1. Heb. 10:1-12.
2. Isa. 53:5; Heb. 12:3.
3. John 1:29.
4. Matt.27:11,26; Mark 15; Luke 23.
5. Gal. 3:13.
6. Deut. 21:23.
7. Matt. 26:38-39.
8. 2 Cor. 5:21.
9. Heb. 9:12; 10:14.
Chapter 10: Resurrection
We undoubtedly believe that, insomuch as it was impossible
that the dolours of death should retain in bondage the
Author of life; that our Lord Jesus Christ crucified,
dead, and buried, who descended into hell, did rise again
for our justification, and destroying him who was the
author of death, brought life again to us that were
subject to death and to the bondage of the same. We
know that his resurrection was confirmed by the testimony
of his very enemies; by the resurrection of the dead,
whose sepulchres did open, and they did arise and appear
to many within the city of Jerusalem. It was also
confirmed by the testimony of angels, and by the senses
and judgments of his apostles, and of others, who had
conversation, and did eat and drink with him after his
1. Acts 2:24.
2. Acts 3:26; Rom. 6:5, 9; 4:25.
3. Heb. 2:14-15.
4. Matt. 28:4.
5. Matt. 27:52-53.
6. Matt. 28:5-6.
7. John 20:27; 21:7,12-13; Luke 24:41-43.
Chapter 11: Ascension
We nothing doubt but that the selfsame body, which was
born of the virgin, was crucified, dead, and buried, and
which did rise again, did ascend into the heavens, for the
accomplishment of all things; where, in our names, and
for our comfort he has received all power in heaven and in
earth, where he sits at the right hand of the Father
inaugurated in his kingdom, Advocate and only Mediator for
us: which glory, honour, and prerogative he alone
amongst the brethren shall possess, till that all his
enemies be made his footstool, as that we undoubtedly
believe they shall be in the final judgment; to the
execution whereof we certainly believe that the same our
Lord Jesus shall visibly return, as that he was seen to
ascend. And then we firmly believe, that the time of
refreshing and restitution of all things shall come,
insomuch that those that from the beginning have suffered
violence, injury, and wrong for righteousness' sake, shall
inherit that blessed immortality promised from the
But contrariwise, the stubborn, disobedient, cruel
oppressors, filthy persons, idolaters, and all sorts of
unfaithful shall be cast in the dungeon of utter darkness,
where their worm shall not die, neither yet their fire
shall be extinguished. The remembrance of which day,
and of the judgment to be executed in the same, is not
only to us a bridle, whereby our carnal lusts are
refrained; but also such inestimable comfort, that neither
may the threatening of worldly princes, neither yet the
fear of temporal death and present danger, move us to
renounce and forsake that blessed society, which we, the
members, have with our Head and only Mediator Christ
Jesus: whom we confess and avow to be the Messiah
promised, the only Head of his kirk, our just Lawgiver,
our only High Priest, Advocate, and Mediator. In which
honours and offices, if man or angel presume to intrude
themselves, we utterly detest and abhor them, as
blasphemous to our Sovereign and Supreme Governor, Christ
1. Mark 16:9; Matt. 28:6; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9.
2. Matt. 28:18.
3. 1 Jn. 2:1; 1 Tim. 2:5.
4. Ps. 110:1; Matt. 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42-43.
5. Acts 1:8.
6. Acts 3:19.
8. Rev. 21:27; Isa. 66:24; Matt. 25:41; Mark 9:44, 46,48;
9. 2 Pet. 3:11; 2 Cor. 5:9-11; Luke 21:27-28; John 14:1,
10. Isa. 7:14; Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:18; Heb. 9:11,15; 10:21;
1 John 2:1; 1 Tim. 2:5.
Chapter 12: Faith in the Holy Ghost
This our faith, and the assurance of the same, proceeds
not from flesh and blood, that is to say, from no natural
powers within us, but is the inspiration of the Holy
Ghost: whom we confess God, equal with the Father and
with the Son; who sanctifies us, and brings us in all
verity by his own operation; without whom we should remain
for ever enemies to God, and ignorant of his Son, Christ
Jesus. For of nature we are so dead, so blind and so
perverse, that neither can we feel when we are pricked,
see the light when it shines, nor assent to the will of
God when it is revealed, unless the Spirit of the Lord
Jesus quicken that which is dead, remove the darkness from
our minds, and bow our stubborn hearts to the obedience of
his blessed will. And so, as we confess that God the
Father created us when we were not; as his Son, our
Lord Jesus redeemed us when we were enemies to him; so
also do we confess that the Holy Ghost does sanctify and
regenerate us, without all respect of any merit proceeding
from us, be it before or be it after our regeneration.
To speak this one thing yet in more plain words: as we
willingly spoil ourselves of all honour and glory of our
own creation and redemption, so do we also of our
regeneration and sanctification; for of ourselves we are
not sufficient to think one good thought; but he who has
begun the good work in us, is only he that continues us in
the same, to the praise and glory of his undeserved
1. Matt. 16:17; John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13.
2. Acts 5:3-4.
3. Col. 2:13; Eph. 2:1; John 9:39; Rev. 3:17; Matt. 17:17;
Mark 9:19; Luke 9:41; John 6:63; Micah 7:8; 1 Kings
4. Ps. 100:3.
5. Rom. 5:10.
6. John 3:5; Titus 3:5; Rom. 5:8.
7. Phil. 3:7.
8. Phil 1:6.
2 Cor. 3:5.
9. Eph. 1:6.
Chapter 13: The Cause of Good Works
So that the cause of good works we confess to be, not our
free will, but the Spirit of the Lord Jesus who, dwelling
in our hearts by true faith, brings forth such good works
as God has prepared for us to walk into. For this we most
boldly affirm, that blasphemy it is to say that Christ
Jesus abides in the hearts of such as in whom there is no
spirit of sanctification. And therefore we fear not to
affirm that murderers, oppressors, cruel persecutors,
adulterers, whoremongers, filthy persons, idolaters,
drunkards, thieves, and all workers of iniquity, have
neither true faith, neither any portion of the spirit of
sanctification, which proceeds from the Lord Jesus, so
long as obstinately they continue in their wickedness.
For how soon that ever the Spirit of the Lord Jesus (which
God's elect children receive by true faith) takes
possession in the heart of any man, so soon does he
regenerate and renew the same man; so that he begins to
hate that which before he loved, and begins to love that
which before he hated. And from thence comes that
continual battle which is betwixt the flesh and the spirit
in God's children; while the flesh and natural man
(according to their own corruption) lust for things
pleasing and delectable unto the self, grudge in
adversity, are lifted up in prosperity, and at every
moment are prone and ready to offend the Majesty of
God. But the Spirit of God, which gives witnessing to
our spirit, that we are the sons of God, makes us to
resist filthy pleasures, and to groan in God's presence
for deliverance from this bondage of corruption; and
finally, to triumph over sin that it reign not in our
This battle have not the carnal men, being destitute of
God's Spirit; but [they] do follow and obey sin with
greediness, and without repentance, even as the devil and
their corrupt lusts do prick them. But the sons of God (as
before is said) do fight against sin, do sob and mourn,
when they perceive themselves tempted to iniquity; and if
they fall, they rise again with earnest and unfeigned
repentance. And these things they do not by their own
power, but the power of the Lord Jesus, without whom they
were able to do nothing.
1. Eph. 2:10; Phil 2:13; John 15:5; Rom. 8:9.
2. Rom. 7:15-25; Gal. 5:17.
3. Rom. 8:16.
4. Rom. 7:24; 8:22.
5. Rom. 6:12.
6. 2 Tim. 2:26.
7. John 15:5.
Chapter 14: What Works are Reputed Good before God
We confess and acknowledge that God has given to man his
holy law, in which not only are forbidden all such works
as displease and offend his godly Majesty, but also are
commanded all such as please him, and as he has promised
to reward. And these works are of two sorts: the one
are done to the honour of God, the other to the profit of
our neighbours; and both have the revealed will of God for
To have one God; to worship and honour him; to call upon
him in all our troubles; to reverence his holy name; to
hear his word; to believe the same; to communicate with
his holy sacraments, are the works of the first table.
To honour father, mother, princes, rulers, and superior
powers; to love them, to support them, yea, to obey their
charges (not repugning to the commandment of God); to save
the lives of innocents; to repress tyranny; to defend the
oppressed; to keep our bodies clean and holy; to live in
sobriety and temperance; to deal justly with all men, both
in word and in deed; and, finally, to repress all appetite
of our neighbour's hurt, are the good works of the
second table, which are most pleasing and acceptable unto
God, as those works that are commanded by himself.
The contrary whereof is sin most odious, which always
displeases him, and provokes him to anger: as, not to call
upon him alone, when we have need; not to hear his word
with reverence; to contemn and despise it; to have or to
worship idols; to maintain and defend idolatry; lightly to
esteem the reverent name of God; to profane, abuse, or
contemn the sacraments of Christ Jesus; to disobey or
resist any that God has placed in authority (while they
pass not over the bounds of their office); to murder,
or to consent thereto; to bear hatred, or to suffer
innocent blood to be shed if we may gainstand it; and,
finally, the transgressing of any other commandment in the
first or second table, we confess and affirm to be sin,
by the which God's anger and displeasure are kindled
against the proud and unthankful world. So that good works
we affirm to be these only that are done in faith, at
God's commandment, who in his law has expressed what be
the things that please him. And evil works, we affirm not
only those that expressedly are done against God's
commandment, but those also that, in matters of
religion and worshipping of God, have no other assurance
but the invention and opinion of man: which God from the
beginning has ever rejected, as by the prophet Isaiah,
and by our master Christ Jesus, we are taught in these
words: In vain do they worship me, teaching the doctrines
and precepts of men.
1. Ex. 20:3, etc.; Deut. 5:6, etc.; 4:8.
2. Luke 10:27-28; Micah 6:8.
3. Eph. 6:1,7; Ezek. 22:1,etc.; 1Cor. 6:19-20; 1 Thess.
4:3-7; Jer. 22:3, etc.; Isa. 50:1, etc.; 1 Thess. 4:6.
4. Rom. 13:2.
5. Ezek. 22:13, etc.
6. 1 John 3:4.
7. Rom. 14:23; Heb. 11:6.
8. 1 Sam. 15:22; 1 Cor. 10:31.
9. 1 John 3:4.
10. Isa. 29:13.
11. Matt. 15:9.; Mark 7:7.
Chapter 15: The Perfection of the Law and Imperfection of
The law of God we confess and acknowledge most just, most
equal, most holy, and most perfect: commanding those
things which, being wrought in perfection, were able to
give life, and able to bring man to eternal felicity.
But our nature is so corrupt, so weak, and so imperfect,
that we are never able to fulfill the works of the law in
perfection. Yea, If we say we have no sin (even after
we are regenerate), we deceive ourselves, and the verity
of God is not into us. And therefore it behoved us to
apprehend Christ Jesus, with his justice and satisfaction,
who is the end and accomplishment of the law, by whom we
are set at this liberty, that the curse and malediction of
the law fall not upon us, albeit we fulfill not the same
in all points. For God the Father, beholding us in the
body of his Son Christ Jesus, accepts our imperfect
obedience, as it were perfect, and covers our works,
which are defiled with many spots, with the justice of
We do not mean that we are set so at liberty, that we owe
no obedience to the law (for that before we have plainly
confessed). But this we affirm, that no man in earth
(Christ Jesus only excepted) has given, gives, or shall
give in work, that obedience to the law which the law
requires. But when we have done all things, we must fall
down and unfeignedly confess, that we are unprofitable
servants. And therefore whosoever boast themselves of
the merits of their own works, or put their trust in the
works of supererogation, boast themselves of that which is
not, and put their trust in damnable idolatry.
1. Lev. 18:5; Gal. 3:12; 1 Tim. 1:8; Rom. 7:12; Ps.
2. Deut. 5:29; Rom. 10:3.
3. 1 Kings 8:46; 2 Chron. 6:36; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:22; 1
4. Rom. 10:4; Gal. 3:13; Deut. 27:26.
5. Phil 2:15.
6. Isa. 64:6.
7. Luke 17:10.
Chapter 16: Of the Kirk
As we believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; so
do we most constantly believe that from the beginning
there has been, now is, and to the end of the world shall
be, a kirk: that is to say, a company and multitude of men
chosen of God, who rightly worship and embrace him, by
true faith in Christ Jesus, who is the only Head of the
same kirk, which also is the body and spouse of Christ
Jesus; which kirk is Catholic ≠ that is, universal ≠
because it contains the elect of all ages, all realms,
nations, and tongues, be they of the Jews, or be they of
the Gentiles; who have communion and society with God the
Father, and with his Son Christ Jesus, through the
sanctification of his Holy Spirit; and therefore it is
called the communion, not of profane persons, but of
saints, who, as citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem,
have the fruition of the most inestimable benefits: to
wit, of one God, one Lord Jesus, one faith, and of one
baptism; out of the which kirk there is neither life,
nor eternal felicity. And therefore we utterly abhor the
blasphemy of them that affirm that men which live
according to equity and justice shall be saved, what
religion that ever they have professed. For as without
Christ Jesus there is neither life nor salvation, so
shall there none be participant thereof, but such as the
Father has given unto his Son Christ Jesus, and those
[that] in time come unto him, avow his doctrine, and
believe into him (we comprehend the children with the
faithful parents). This kirk is invisible, known only
to God, who alone knows whom he has chosen, and
comprehends as well (as said is) the elect that are
departed (commonly called the kirk triumphant), as those
that yet live and fight against sin and Satan as shall
1. Matt. 28:20; Eph. 1:4.
2. Col. 1:18; Eph. 5:23-24, etc.; Rev. 7:9.
3. Eph. 2:19.
4. Eph. 4:5.
5. John 3:36.
6. John 5:24; 6:37; 6:39; 6:65; 17:6.
7. Acts 2:39.
8. 2 Tim. 2:19; John 13:18.
9. Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:20; Heb. 12:4.
Chapter 17: The Immortality of the Souls
The elect departed are in peace and rest from their
labours: not that they sleep and come to a certain
oblivion (as some fantastics do affirm), but that they are
delivered from all fear, all torment, and all temptation,
to which we and all God's elect are subject in this
life, and therefore do bear the name of the kirk
militant: as contrariwise, the reprobate and unfaithful
departed, have anguish, torment, and pain, that cannot be
expressed. So that neither are the one nor the other in
such sleep that they feel not joy or torment, as the
parable of Christ Jesus in the sixteenth [chapter] of
Luke, his words to the thief, and these words of the
souls crying under the altar, O Lord, thou that art
righteous and just, how long shalt thou not revenge our
blood upon them that dwell upon the earth! doth plainly
1. Rev. 14:13.
2. Isa. 25:8; Rev. 7:14-17; 21:4.
3. Rev. 16:10-11; Isa. 66:24; Mark 9:44, 46, 48.
4. Luke 16:23-26.
5. Luke 23:43.
6. Rev. 6:9-10.
Chapter 18: Of the Notes by Which the True Kirk is
Discerned from the False and Who Shall be Judge of the
Because that Satan from the beginning has laboured to deck
his pestilent synagogue with the title of the kirk of God,
and has inflamed the hearts of cruel murderers to
persecute, trouble, and molest the true kirk and members
thereof ≠ as Cain did Abel; Ishmael, Isaac; Esau,
Jacob; and the whole priesthood of the Jews, Christ
Jesus himself, and his apostles after him; it is a
thing most requisite that the true kirk be discerned from
the filthy synagogue, by clear and perfect notes, lest we,
being deceived, receive and embrace to our own
condemnation the one for the other. The notes, signs, and
assured tokens whereby the immaculate spouse of Christ
Jesus is known from that horrible harlot, the kirk
malignant; we affirm are neither antiquity, title usurped,
lineal descent, place appointed, nor multitude of men
approving an error ≠ for Cain in age and title was
preferred to Abel and Seth; Jerusalem had prerogative
above all places of the earth, where also were the
priests lineally descended from Aaron; and greater
multitude followed the scribes, Pharisees, and priests,
than unfeignedly believed and approved Christ Jesus and
his doctrine; and yet, as we suppose, no man (of whole
judgment) will grant that any of the forenamed were the
kirk of God.
The notes, therefore, of the true kirk of God we believe,
confess, and avow to be: first, the true preaching of the
word of God, into the which God has revealed himself to
us, as the writings of the prophets and apostles do
declare; secondly, the right administration of the
sacraments of Christ Jesus, which must be annexed unto the
word and promise of God, to seal and confirm the same in
our hearts; last, ecclesiastical discipline uprightly
ministered, as God's word prescribes, whereby vice is
repressed, and virtue nourished. Wheresoever then these
former notes are seen, and of any time continue (be the
number [of persons] never so few, about two or three)
there, without all doubt, is the true kirk of Christ: who,
according to his promise is in the midst of them: not
that universal [kirk] (of which we have before spoken) but
particular; such as were in Corinth, Galatia,
Ephesus, and other places in which the ministry was
planted by Paul, and were of himself named the kirks of
And such kirks we, the inhabitants of the realm of
Scotland, professors of Christ Jesus, confess ourselves to
have in our cities, towns, and places reformed; for the
doctrine taught in our kirks is contained in the written
word of God: to wit, in the books of the New and Old
Testaments: in those books, we mean, which of the ancient
have been reputed canonical, in the which we affirm that
all things necessary to be believed for the salvation of
mankind are sufficiently expressed. The interpretation
whereof, we confess, neither appertains to private nor
public person, neither yet to any kirk for any preeminence
or prerogative, personal or local, which one has above
another; but appertains to the Spirit of God, by the which
also the scripture was written.
When controversy then happens, for the right understanding
of any place or sentence of scripture, or for the
reformation of any abuse within the kirk of God, we ought
not so much to look what men before us have said or done,
as unto that which the Holy Ghost uniformly speaks within
the body of the scriptures, and unto that which Christ
Jesus himself did, and commanded to be done. For this
is a thing universally granted, that the Spirit of God
(which is the Spirit of unity) is in nothing contrary unto
himself. If then the interpretation, determination, or
sentence of any doctor, kirk, or council, repugn to the
plain word of God written in any other place of scripture,
it is a thing most certain, that there is not the true
understanding and meaning of the Holy Ghost, supposing
that councils, realms, and nations have approved and
received the same. For we dare not receive and admit any
interpretation which directly repugns to any principal
point of our faith, or to any other plain text of
scripture, or yet unto the rule of charity.
1. Gen. 4:8.
2. Gen. 21:9.
3. Gen. 27:41.
4. Matt. 23:34; John 15:18-20,24; 11:47,53; Acts 4:1-3;
5. Gen. 4:1.
6. Ps. 48:2-3; Matt. 5:35.
7. John 12:42.
8. Eph. 2:20; Acts 2:42; John 10:27; 18:37; 1 Cor. 1:13;
Matt. 18:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; 1 Cor. 11:24-26; Rom. 4:11.
9. Matt. 18:15-18; 1 Cor. 5:4-5.
10. Matt. 18:19-20.
11. 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:2.
12. Gal. 1:2.
13. Eph. 1:1; Acts 16:9-10; 18:1, etc.; 20:17, etc.
14. John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16-17.
15. 2 Pet. 1:20-21.
16. John 5:39.
17. Eph. 4:3-4.
Chapter 19: The Authority of the Scriptures
As we believe and confess the scriptures of God sufficient
to instruct and make the man of God perfect, so do we
affirm and avow the authority of the same to be of God,
and neither to depend on men nor angels. We affirm,
therefore, that such as allege the scripture to have no
authority, but that which is received from the kirk, to be
blasphemous against God, and injurious to the true kirk,
which always hears and obeys the voice of her own Spouse
and Pastor, but takes not upon her to be mistress over the
1. 1 Tim. 3:16-17.
2. John 10:27.
Chapter 20: Of General Councils, of Their Power,
Authority, and Causes of Their Convention
As we do not rashly damn that which godly men, assembled
together in general councils, lawfully gathered, have
proponed unto us; so without just examination dare we not
receive whatsoever is obtruded unto men under the name of
general councils. For plain it is, as they were men, so
have some of them manifestly erred, and that in matters of
great weight and importance. So far then as the council
proves the determination and commandment that it gives by
the plain word of God, so far do we reverence and embrace
the same. But if men, under the name of a council, pretend
to forge unto us new articles of our faith, or to make
constitutions repugning to the word of God, then utterly
we must refuse the same as the doctrine of devils, which
draws our souls from the voice of our only God to follow
the doctrines and constitutions of men.
The cause, then, why general councils convened, was
neither to make any perpetual law (which God before had
not made), nor yet to forge new articles of our belief,
neither to give the word of God authority ≠ much less to
make that to be his word, or yet the true interpretation
of the same, which was not before by his holy will
expressed in his word. But the cause of councils (we
mean of such as merit the name of councils), was partly
for confutation of heresies, and for giving public
confession of their faith to the posterity following:
which both they did by the authority of God's written
word, and not by any opinion or prerogative that they
could not err, by reason of their general assembly. And
this we judge to have been the chief cause of general
councils. The other was for good policy and order to be
constituted and observed in the kirk, in which (as in the
house of God) it becomes all things to be done decently
and into order. Not that we think that any policy, and
one order in ceremonies can be appointed for all ages,
times, and places: for as ceremonies (such as men have
devised) are but temporal, so may and ought they to be
changed, when they rather foster superstition than that
they edify the kirk using the same.
1. Gal. 2:11-14.
2. 1 Tim. 4:1-3; Col. 2:18-23.
3. Acts 15:1, etc.
4. 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:2.
5. 1 Cor. 14:40.
Chapter 21: Of the Sacraments
As the fathers under the law (besides the verity of the
sacrifices) had two chief sacraments ≠ to wit,
circumcision and the Passover, the despisers and
contemners whereof were not reputed for God's people ≠
so do we acknowledge and confess that we now, in the time
of the evangel, have two sacraments only, instituted by
the Lord Jesus, and commanded to be used of all those that
will be reputed members of his body: to wit, baptism and
the supper, or table of the Lord Jesus, called the
communion of his body and blood. And these sacraments
(as well of the Old as of the New Testament) were
instituted of God, not only to make a visible difference
betwixt his people, and those that were without his
league; but also to exercise the faith of his children
and, by participation of the same sacraments, to seal in
their hearts the assurance of his promise, and of that
most blessed conjunction, union, and society, which the
elect have with their head, Christ Jesus.
And thus we utterly damn the vanity of those that affirm
sacraments to be nothing else but naked and bare signs.
No, we assuredly believe that by baptism we are engrafted
in Christ Jesus, to be made partakers of his justice, by
the which our sins are covered and remitted; and also,
that in the supper, rightly used, Christ Jesus is so
joined with us, that he becomes the very nourishment and
food of our souls. Not that we imagine any
transubstantiation of bread into Christ's natural body,
and of wine in his natural blood (as the Papists have
perniciously taught and damnably believed); but this union
and conjunction which we have with the body and blood of
Christ Jesus, in the right use of the sacraments, is
wrought by operation of the Holy Ghost, who by true faith
carries us above all things that are visible, carnal, and
earthly, and makes us to feed upon the body and blood of
Christ Jesus, which was once broken and shed for us, which
now is in heaven, and appears in the presence of his
Father for us. And yet, notwithstanding the far
distance of place which is betwixt his body now glorified
in the heaven, and us now mortal in this earth, yet we
most assuredly believe that the bread that we break is the
communion of Christ's body, and the cup which we bless is
the communion of his blood. So that we confess, and
undoubtedly believe, that the faithful, in the right use
of the Lord's table, do so eat the body and drink the
blood of the Lord Jesus, that he remains in them and they
in him: yea, that they are so made flesh of his flesh, and
bone of his bones, that as the Eternal Godhead has
given to the flesh of Christ Jesus (which of its own
condition and nature was mortal and corruptible) life
and immortality, so does Christ Jesus' flesh and blood
eaten and drunken by us, give to us the same prerogatives.
Which, albeit we confess are neither given unto us at that
only time, neither yet by the proper power and virtue of
the sacrament only; yet we affirm that the faithful, in
the right use of the Lord's table, have such conjunction
with Christ Jesus, as the natural man cannot apprehend.
Yea, and further we affirm, that albeit the faithful,
oppressed by negligence, and manly infirmity, do not
profit so much as they would in the very instant action of
the supper, yet shall it after bring fruit forth, as
lively seed sown in good ground. For the Holy Spirit
(which can never be divided from the right institution of
the Lord Jesus) will not frustrate the faithful of the
fruit of that mystical action; but all this, we say, comes
by true faith, which apprehends Christ Jesus, who only
makes this sacrament effectual unto us. And, therefore,
whosoever slanders us, as that we affirm or believe
sacraments to be only naked and bare signs, do injury unto
us, and speak against the manifest truth.
But this liberally and frankly we must confess, that we
make a distinction betwixt Christ Jesus, in his natural
substance, and betwixt the elements in the sacramental
signs; so that we will neither worship the signs in place
of that which is signified by them; neither yet do we
despise and interpret them as unprofitable and vain; but
do use them with all reverence, examining ourselves
diligently before that so we do, because we are assured by
the mouth of the apostle, That such as eat of that bread,
and drink of that cup, unworthily, are guilty of the body
and of the blood of the Lord Jesus.
1. Gen. 17:10-11; Ex. 23:3,etc.; Gen. 17:14; Num. 9:13.
2. Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15-16; Matt. 26:26-28; Mark
14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26.
3. 1 Cor. 10:16; Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:27.
4. Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:11; 3:21.
5. 1 Cor. 10:16.
6. Eph. 5:30.
7. Matt. 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46; John 19:30.
8. John 6:51; 6:53-58.
9. 1 Cor. 11:27-29.
Chapter 22: Of the Right Administration of the Sacraments
That sacraments be rightly ministered, we judge two things
requisite: the one, that they be ministered by lawful
ministers, whom we affirm to be only they that are
appointed to the preaching of the word, or into whose
mouths God has put some sermon of exhortation, they being
men lawfully chosen thereto by some kirk. The other, that
they be ministered in such elements, and in such sort, as
God has appointed; else, we affirm that they cease to be
right sacraments of Christ Jesus.
And therefore it is that we flee the society of the
Papistical kirk, in participation of their sacraments:
first, because their ministers are no ministers of Christ
Jesus; yea (which is more horrible) they suffer women,
whom the Holy Ghost will not suffer to teach in the
congregation, to baptize. And, secondly, because they have
so adulterated both the one sacrament and the other with
their own inventions, that no part of Christ's action
abides in the original purity: for oil, salt, spittle, and
suchlike in baptism, are but men's inventions. Adoration,
veneration, bearing through streets and towns, and keeping
of bread in boxes or buists [chests], are profanation of
Christ's sacraments, and no use of the same. For Christ
Jesus said, Take, eat, etc. Do ye this in remembrance of
me. By which words and charge he sanctified bread and
wine, to be the sacrament of his body and blood, to the
end that the one should be eaten, and that all should
drink of the other; and not that they should be kept to be
worshipped, and honoured as God, as the blind Papists have
done heretofore, who also committed sacrilege, stealing
from the people the one part of the sacrament: to wit, the
Moreover, that the sacraments be rightly used, it is
required that the end and cause why the sacraments were
instituted be understood and observed, as well of the
minister, as the receivers. For if the opinion be changed
in the receiver, the right use ceases: which is most
evident by the rejection of the sacrifices; as also if the
teacher plainly teaches false doctrine, which were odious
and abominable before God (albeit they were his own
ordinances), because that wicked men use them to another
end than God has ordained. The same affirm we of the
sacraments in the Papistical kirk, in which we affirm the
whole action of the Lord Jesus to be adulterated, as well
in the external form, as in the end and opinion. What
Christ Jesus did, and commanded to be done, is evident by
the evangelists, and by Saint Paul. What the priest does
at his altar we need not rehearse. The end and cause of
Christ's institution, and why the selfsame should be used,
is expressed in these words: Do this in remembrance of me.
As oft as ye shall eat of this bread and drink of this
cup, ye shall show forth, that is, extol, preach, magnify,
and praise, the Lord's death till he come. But to what
end, and in what opinion, the priests say their Mass, let
the words of the same, their own doctors and writings
witness: to wit, that they, as mediators betwixt Christ
and his kirk, do offer unto God the Father a sacrifice
propitiatory for the sins of the quick and the dead. Which
doctrine, as blasphemous to Christ Jesus, and making
derogation to the sufficiency of his only sacrifice, once
offered for purgation of all those that shall be
sanctified, we utterly abhor, detest, and renounce.
1. Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24.
2. 1 Cor. 11:24-26.
3. Heb. 9:27-28; 10:14.
Chapter 23: To Whom the Sacraments Appertain
We confess and acknowledge that baptism appertains as well
to the infants of the faithful, as unto those that be of
age and discretion. And so we damn the error of the
Anabaptists, who deny baptism to appertain to children
before that they have faith and understanding. But the
supper of the Lord we confess to appertain to such only as
be of the household of faith, and can try and examine
themselves, as well in their faith, as in their duty
towards their neighbors. Such as eat and drink at that
holy table without faith, or being at dissension and
division with their brethren, do eat unworthily: and
therefore it is, that in our kirks our ministers take
public and particular examination of the knowledge and
conversation of such as are to be admitted to the table of
the Lord Jesus.
1. Col. 2:11-12; Rom. 4:11; Gen. 17:10; Matt. 28:19.
2. 1 Cor. 11:28-29.
Chapter 24: Of the Civil Magistrate
We confess and acknowledge empires, kingdoms, dominions,
and cities to be distinguished and ordained by God: the
powers and authorities in the same (be it of emperors in
their empires, of kings in their realms, dukes and princes
in their dominions, or of other magistrates in free
cities) to be God's holy ordinance, ordained for
manifestation of his own glory, and for the singular
profit and commodity of mankind. So that whosoever goes
about to take away or to confound the whole state of civil
policies, now long established; we affirm the same men not
only to be enemies to mankind, but also wickedly to fight
against God's expressed will.
We further confess and acknowledge, that such persons as
are placed in authority are to be loved, honoured, feared,
and held in most reverent estimation because they are
the lieutenants of God, in whose sessions God himself does
sit and judge (yea even the judges and princes
themselves), to whom by God is given the sword, to the
praise and defense of good men, and to revenge and punish
all open malefactors. Moreover, to kings, princes,
rulers, and magistrates, we affirm that chiefly and most
principally the conservation and purgation of the religion
appertains; so that not only they are appointed for civil
policy, but also for maintenance of the true religion, and
for suppressing of idolatry and superstition whatsoever:
as in David, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah,
and others, highly commended for their zeal in that case,
may be espied.
And therefore we confess and avow, that such as resist the
supreme power (doing that thing which appertains to his
charge), do resist God's ordinance, and therefore cannot
be guiltless. And further, we affirm that whosoever denies
unto them their aid, counsel and comfort, while the
princes and rulers vigilantly travail in the execution of
their office, that the same men deny their help, support
and counsel to God, who, by the presence of his
lieutenant, craves it of them.
1. Rom. 13:1; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:13-14.
2. Rom. 13:2.
3. Rom. 13:7; 1 Pet. 2:17.
4. Ps. 82:1.
5. 1 Pet. 2:14.
6. 1 Chron. 22-26.
7. 2 Chron. 17:6, etc.; 19:8, etc.;
8. 2 Chron. 29-31.
9. 2 Chron. 34-35.
Chapter 25: The Gifts Freely Given to the Kirk
Albeit that the word of God truly preached, and the
sacraments rightly ministered, and discipline executed
according to the word of God, be the certain and
infallible signs of the true kirk; yet do we not so mean
that every particular person joined with such a company be
an elect member of Christ Jesus. For we acknowledge and
confess, that darnel, cockle, and chaff may be sown, grow,
and in great abundance lie in the midst of the wheat: that
is, the reprobate may be joined in the society of the
elect, and may externally use with them the benefits of
the word and sacraments; but such being but temporal
professors in mouth, but not in heart, do fall back and
continue not to the end; and therefore have they no
fruit of Christ's death, resurrection, nor ascension.
But such as with heart unfeignedly believe, and with mouth
boldly confess the Lord Jesus (as before we have said)
shall most assuredly receive these gifts: first, in
this life, remission of sins, and that by only faith in
Christ's blood, insomuch that, albeit sin remains and
continually abides in these our mortal bodies, yet is it
not imputed unto us, but is remitted and covered with
Christ's justice. Secondly, in the general judgment
there shall be given to every man and woman resurrection
of the flesh; for the sea shall give her dead, the
earth those that therein be enclosed; yea, the Eternal,
our God, shall stretch out his hand upon the dust, and the
dead shall arise incorruptible, and that in the
substance of the selfsame flesh that every man now
bears, to receive according to their works, glory or
punishment. For such as now delight in vanity, cruelty,
filthiness, superstition, or idolatry, shall be adjudged
to the fire unquenchable, in which they shall be tormented
for ever, as well in their own bodies, as in their souls,
which now they give to serve the devil in all abomination.
But such as continue in well doing to the end, boldly
professing the Lord Jesus, we constantly believe that they
shall receive glory, honour, and immortality, to reign for
ever in life everlasting with Christ Jesus, to whose
glorified body all his elect shall be made like, when
he shall appear again to judgment, and shall render up the
kingdom to God his Father, who then shall be, and ever
shall remain all in all things, God blessed for ever:
to whom, with the Son, and with the Holy Ghost, be all
honour and glory, now and ever. Amen.
Arise, O Lord, and let thy enemies be confounded: Let
them flee from thy presence that hate thy godly name: Give
thy servants strength to speak thy word in boldness; and
let all nations cleave to thy true knowledge.
So be it.
1. Matt. 13:24, etc.
2. Matt. 13:20-21.
3. Rom. 10:9,13.
4. Rom. 7.
2 Cor. 5:21.
5. John 5:28-29.
6. Rev. 20:13.
7. Job 19:25-27.
8. Matt. 25:31-46.
9. Rev. 14:10; Rom. 2:6-10.
10. Phil. 3:21.
11. 1 Cor. 15:24,28.
12. Num. 10:35; Ps. 68:1; Acts 4:29.
Drawn up in 1560 by
and five other Scottish Reformers, this fervently
evangelical document was the official confession of faith
of the Scottish Church until superceded by the equally
sound but more comprehensive