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PROLEGOMENA:


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 questions:

                        I.          What the doctrine of the church is

                      II.          What the parts of this doctrine are, with their differences

                    III.          In what the doctrine of the church differs from that of other systems of religion, philosophy, &c.

                   IV.          By what testimonies the truth of the Christian religion, or the doctrine of the church is confirmed

                     V.          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.

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