WITH REFERENCE TO THE CATECHISM OF THE
CHRISTIAN RELIGION WHICH WAS PREPARED FOR, AND TAUGHT IN THE SCHOOLS AND
CHURCHES OF THE PALATINATE.
THESE PROLEGOMENA are partly general, such as
treat of the entire doctrine of the Church: and partly special, such as have
respect merely to the Catechism.
The general prolegomena,
concerning the doctrine of the church, may be included in the following
What the doctrine of the church is
What the parts of this doctrine are, with their
In what the doctrine of the church differs from that
of other systems of religion, philosophy, &c.
By what testimonies the truth of the Christian
religion, or the doctrine of the church is confirmed
How manifold the method of teaching and learning the
doctrine of the church is
I. WHAT IS THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH?
The doctrine of the church is the entire and uncorrupted doctrine of the law
and gospel concerning the true God, together with his will, works, and worship;
divinely revealed, and comprehended in the writings of the prophets and
apostles, and confirmed by many miracles and divine testimonies; through which
the Holy Spirit works effectually in the hearts of the elect, and gathers from
the whole human race an everlasting church, in which God is glorified, both in
this, and in the life to come.
This doctrine is the chief and most expressive mark of the true church, which
God designs to be visible in the world, and to be separated from the rest of
mankind, according to these declarations of scripture: You keep yourselves from
idols." "Come out from among them, and be ye separate." "If there come any unto
you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your houses, neither bid
him God speed." "Be ye holy, touch no unclean thing, ye that bear the vessels of
the Lord. Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and
that ye receive not of her plagues." (1 John 5:21, 2 Cor. 6:17, 2 John 10.Isa.
52:11. Rev. 18:4.)
God wills that his church be separate and distinct from the world, for the
following considerations: First on account of his own glory; for, He himself
will not be joined with idols and devils, so he will not have his truth
confounded with falsehood, and his church with her enemies, the children of the
devil; but will have them carefully distinguished and separated. It would he
reproachful to God to suppose that he would have and acknowledge as his
children, such as persecute him; yea, it would be blasphemy to make God the
author of false doctrine, and the defender of the wicked; for "what concord has
Christ with Beliel." (2 Cor. 6:14.) Secondly, on account of the consolation and
salvation of his people; for it is necessary that the church should be visible
in the world, that the elect, scattered abroad among the whole human race, may
know with what society they ought to unite themselves, and that, being gathered
into the church, they may enjoy this sure comfort, that they are members of that
family in which God delights, and which has the promises of everlasting life.
For it is the "will of God that all those who are to be saved, should be
gathered into the church in this life. Out of the church there is no salvation.
How the church may be known, and what are the marks by which it may be
distinguished from the various sects, will be shown when we come to speak
regularly upon the subject of the church. We may, however, here say, that there
are three marks by which the church is known: Purity of doctrine the proper use
of the sacraments, and obedience to God according to all the parts of this
doctrine, whether of faith or practice. And if it be here objected, that great
vices have often made their appearance in the church, we would reply that these
are not defended and adhered to by the church, as by the various sects. Yea, the
church is the first to censure and condemn them. Hence, if there are faults in
the church, these are disapproved of and removed. As long as this state of
things lasts, so long the church remains.