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Westminster Confession of Faith:

Selections cited by Barclay in Chapter 18,

"A Short Examination of some of the Scripture-Proofs..."

Note: The text used here is from the 1970 printing by the Publications Committee of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, slightly corrected by comparison with a facsimile of the 1648 edition, published as The Westminster Standards: An Original Facsimile (Audubon, NJ: Old Paths Publications, 1997); apart from matters of spelling, punctuation, and capitalization, all differences found between these two sources are indicated in the notes at the end).

The full text, in two forms, can be found online at a Calvinist website:


Of the Holy Scripture.

I. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable [Rom. 2:14-15; Rom. 1:19-20; Ps. 19:1-3; Rom. 1:32; Rom. 2:1]; yet are they not[1] sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation [1 Cor. 1:21; 1 Cor. 2:13-14]. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church [Heb. 1:1]; and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing [Prov. 22:19-21; Luke 1:3-4; Rom. 15:4; Matt. 4:4,7,10; Isa. 8:19-20]: which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary [2 Tim. 3:15; 2 Pet. 1:19]; those former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people being now ceased [Heb. 1:1-2].

VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of men [2 Tim. 3:15-17; Gal. 1:8-9; 2 Thess. 2:2]. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word [John 6:45; 1 Cor. 2:9-10,12]: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed [1 Cor. 11:13-14; 1 Cor. 14:26,40].


Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day.

VII. As it is of[2] the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him [Exod. 20:8,10-11; Isa. 56:2,4,6-7]: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week [Gen. 2:2-3; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; Acts 20:7], which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's Day [Rev. 1:10], and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath [Exod. 20:8,10; Matt. 5:17-18].


Of the Sacraments.

I. Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace [Rom. 4:11; Gen. 17:7,10], immediately instituted by God [Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 11:23], to represent Christ and His benefits; and to confirm our interest in Him [1 Cor. 10:16; 1 Cor. 11:25-26; Gal. 3:17][3]; as also, to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the Church and the rest of the world [Rom. 15:8; Exod. 12:48; Gen. 34:14]; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to His Word [Rom. 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 10:16,21].

II. There is in every sacrament, a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified: whence it comes to pass, that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other [Gen. 17:10; Matt. 26:27-28; Tit. 3:5].

III. The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them: neither doth the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that doth administer it [Rom. 2:28,29; 1 Pet. 3:21]: but upon the work of the Spirit [Matt. 3:11; 1 Cor. 12:13], and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers [Matt. 26:27-28; Matt. 28:19-20].

IV. There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the Gospel; that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord: neither of which may be dispensed by any, but by a minister of the Word lawfully ordained [Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 11:20,23; 1 Cor. 4:1; Heb. 5:4].


[1] Following the 1997 facsimile. The 1970 printing has "yet they are not."

[2] Following the 1997 facsimile. The 1970 printing omits "of."

[3]Following the 1970 printing. The 1997 facsimile cites Gal. 3:27 here. Probably Gal. 3:17 was intended, since it speaks of a covenant being "confirmed."

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