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The Countess of Huntingdon's ConnexionA Sect in Action in Eighteenth-Century England$

Alan Harding

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198263692

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2004

DOI: 10.1093/0198263694.001.0001

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(p.378) ANNEX C: THE ARTICLES OF THE COUNTESS OF HUNTINGDON'S CONNEXION*

(p.378) ANNEX C: THE ARTICLES OF THE COUNTESS OF HUNTINGDON'S CONNEXION*

WE BELIEVE

Source:
The Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion
Publisher:
Oxford University Press

I. OF GOD

That there is but one living and true GOD, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in the unity of the Godhead there are three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity, the FATHER, the SON, and the HOLY GHOST.

II. OF THE SCRIPTURES

That it pleased God at sundry times and in divers manners to declare his will, and the same should be committed unto writing, which is therefore called the Holy Scripture; which containeth all things necessary to salvation. The authority whereof doth not depend upon the testimony of man, but wholly upon God its author; and our assurance of the infallible truth thereof is from the inward work of the HOLY GHOST, bearing witness with the work in our hearts.

III. OF CREATION

It pleased God, for the manifestation of his glory, in the beginning to create the world and all things therein; and having made man, male and female, after his own image, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, he gave them a command not to (p.379) eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, with a power to fulfil it, yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change.

IV. OF THE FALL OF MAN FROM ORIGINAL RIGHTEOUSNESS

Our first parents being seduced by the subtilty and temptations of Satan, sinned in eating the forbidden fruit, whereby they fell from their original righteousness, and became wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body. And being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same corrupted nature conveyed to all posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation.

V. OF ORIGINAL SIN

Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam, as the Pelagians do vainly talk, but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is as far as possible gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated, yet without dominion; and although there is no condemnation to them that are in CHRIST JESUS, yet sin in them is evil as much as in others, and as such receives Divine fatherly chastisement.

VI. OF PREDESTINATION AND ELECTION

Although the whole world is thus become guilty before God, it hath pleased him to predestinate some unto everlasting life. Predestination therefore to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secrets to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore they which are endued with so (p.380) excellent a benefit of God, are called according to God's purpose by his Spirit working in due season; they through grace obey the call; they are justified freely; they are made sons of God by adoption; they bear the image of Christ; they walk religiously in good works; and at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.

VII. OF CHRIST THE MEDIATOR

It pleased God, in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the LORD JESUS, his only begotten‐Son, to be the Mediator between God and Man, the Prophet, Priest, and King, the Head and Saviour of his Church, unto whom he did from all eternity give a people to be his seed, and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified. He therefore being very and eternal God, of one substance, and equal with the FATHER, did, when the fulness of time was come, take upon him man's nature, yet without sin, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary; so that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the Manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion or confusion; which person is very God and very Man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and Man. This office of Mediator and surety he did most willingly undertake; which, that he might discharge, he was made under the Law, and did perfectly fulfil it by an obedience unto death; by which perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself on the Cross, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, he hath fully satisfied divine justice, and purchased not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of Heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given him. To all of whom he doth, in his own time, and in his own way, certainly and effectually apply his purchased redemption; making intercession for them; and revealing unto them, through the Word and by his Spirit, the mysteries of salvation; effectually enabling them to believe unto obedience; and governing their hearts by the same Word and Spirit, and overcoming all their enemies by his Almighty power.

VII. OF THE HOLY GHOST

The Holy Ghost is the third person in the adorable Godhead, distinct from the Father and the Son; yet of one substance, glory, and majesty with them, very and eternal God, whose office in the (p.381) Church is manifold. It is he who illuminates the understanding to discern spiritual things, and guides us into all truth, so that without his teaching, we shall never be effectually convinced of sin, nor be brought to the saving knowledge of God in Christ. And his teaching, whether it be by certain means which he ordinarily makes use of, or without means, is attended with an evidence peculiar and proper to itself, therefore styled the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. By which Divine power he not only enlightens the understanding, but gives a new turn or bias to the will and affections, moving and acting upon our hearts, and by his secret energetic influence effecting those things which we could never attain or accomplish by our own strength. Nor is his guidance less necessary in our lives and all our transactions. Without his assistance we know not what to pray for, or how to pray aright. He confirms us in all grace, and he is the author of all holiness. It is he that assures us of our personal interest in Christ, and that sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts. He seals believers unto the day of redemption, and is himself the earnest of their future inheritance. He administers comfort to us in our temporal and spiritual distresses, by applying to our minds seasonable promises of God in Christ Jesus, which are yea and amen; and by receiving the things of Christ, and showing them unto us. Thus he encourageth and refresheth us with a sense of the favour of God; fills us with joy unspeakable, and full of glory; and is to abide with the Church forever.

IX. OF FREE WILL

The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn or prepare himself by his own natural strength and good works to faith and calling upon God; wherefore we have no power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will.

X. OF JUSTIFICATION

We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort. And this (p.382) is done by pardoning our sins, and by accounting our persons as righteous by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto us, which is received and rested upon by faith, which faith we have not of ourselves, but it is the gift of God.

XI. OF SANCTIFICATION AND GOOD WORKS

They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, by his word and spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness; and without which no man shall see the Lord. Works which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, though they cannot put away our sins, nor endure the severity of God's judgement, yet are pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith; insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.

XII. OF WORKS BEFORE JUSTIFICATION

Works done before the grace of Christ, and the inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, neither do they make man meet to receive grace; yea, rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.

XIII. OF THE CHURCH

The Catholic, or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect that have been, are, or shall be, gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof, and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. The visible Church consists of all those throughout the world who profess the true religion, together with their children. To which visible (p.383) Church Christ hath given the ministry and ordinances of the Gospel, for the gathering and perfecting the saints in this life, to the end of the world; and doth by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.

There is no other Head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ; nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense thereof, but is that Antichrist, the man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God.

XIV. OF BAPTISM

Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptised into the visible Church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, to be continued in the Church until the end of the world; which is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person, in the name of the FATHER, SON and HOLY GHOST. This sacrament ought to be administered but once to any person; and we also hold, that infants may and ought to be baptised, in virtue of one or both believing parents, because the spiritual privilege of a right unto and a participation of the initial seal of the covenant was granted by God to the infant seed of Abraham, which grant must remain forever, without the Lord's own express revoking or abrogation of it, which can never be proved from Scripture that he has done. Again, they that have the thing signified have a right to the sign of it; but children are capable of the grace signified in Baptism, and some of them (we trust) are partakers of it—namely, such as die in their infancy; therefore, they may and ought to be baptised. For these and other reasons, we believe and maintain the lawfulness and expediency of infant baptism.

XV. OF THE LORD'S SUPPER

The supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather it is a sacrament of the body and blood of CHRIST, and of our redemption thereby, called the LORD'S SUPPER, to be observed in his Church to the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance of (p.384) the sacrifice of himself in his death; the sealing all benefits thereof to true believers; their spiritual nourishment and growth in him; their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him; and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him and with each other as members of his mystical body. Insomuch, that to such as rightly and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ; and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ; though in substance and nature they still remain bread and wine as they were before. Those, therefore, that are void of faith, though they do carnally and visibly eat the bread and drink the wine of the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, yet are in nowise partakers of Christ, but rather to their condemnation do eat and drink the sign or sacrament of so great a blessing.