Helvetic Confessions

Helvetic Confessions the later Confessions of faith of the Reformed churches of Switzerland. SEE BASLE, CONFESSIONS OF.

I. The Confessio Helvetica prior (the second Confession of Basle) was framed by a convention of delegates from Baslq, Zurich, Berne, Schaffhausen, Mülhausen, St. Gall, and Biel, which began its sessions at Basle Jan, 30, 1536. Among the eminent theologians who took part in it were Megander of Berne, Granaeus and Myconius of Basle, Leo Judae and Bullinger of Zurich. During their sessions, Bucer and Capito, who were striving earnestly to unite the Lutheran and Reformed churches, arrived in Basle, and seem to have exercised a decided influence in the formation of the Confession, though they had no vote in the Convention. The Confession was drawn up by Bullinger, Myconius, and Grynaeus, in Latin, and translated into German by Leo Juda (Augusti, Lib. Symb. Reform. p. 626). In March, 1536, it was adopted as the standard of doctrine. It consists of twenty-seven short articles: 1-5 of Scripture and Tradition; 6:of God; 7, 8:of Man, the Fall, and Original Sin; 9:of Free Will; 10-13, the Person and Work of Christ as Savior; 14-19, the Church and Ministry; 20- 24, the Sacraments; 26, Civil Government; 27, Marriage. The Latin title of the Confession is Ecclesiarum ver Helfetiam Confessio fidei summaria et generalis, composita Basilece, A.D. 1536. It is Calvinistic and (moderately) Zwinglian in doctrine. The Confession, in both German and Latin, is given in Niemeyer, Collectio Confesssionum, p. 105-122.

II. Confessio Helvetica Posterior, the second Helvetic Confession, A.D. 1566. The first Confession above mentioned, though generally received, did not give universal satisfaction in Switzerland, especially as it was believed that the Lutheran influence had been allowed to operate in its formation. Bullinger undertook to revise it, and, at the request of the elector Palatine. Frederick III, he finished the work, with the aid of Beza and Gualter, and handed over the Confession, thus prepared, to the elector, who printed it in German, and adopted it (A.D. 1565, as the Reformed standard in his territory. The elector also made use of it to vindicate the Reformed doctrines against the Lutherans at the Diet of Augsburg, January 1566. The attention of the Swiss churches was called to this revised- Confession as a standard under which they could all agree. By the year 1578 the Confession had received the sanction of the Swiss cantons, and had also been approved by the Reformed churches of Poland, Hungary, Scotland, and France (the latter receiving it in Beza's translation). It adopts Calvin's doctrine on the Lord's Supper, but "presents the Augustinian doctrine of election in a mild form, far behind Calvin" (Gieseler, Church History, ed. H. B. Smith, 4:422). No Reformed Confession has been more widely diffused. The title of the Confession is Confessio et Expositio Brevis et Simplex sincerae Religionis Christianae. It consists of thirty chapters: chaps. 1 and 2 treat of the Scriptures, Tradition, etc.; 3, of God and the Trinity; 4 and 5, of Idols or Images of God, Christ, and the Saints, and of the Worship of God through Christ, the sole Mediator; 6, of Providence; 7, of the Creation of all Things, of Angels, Devils, Man; 8, of Sin and the Fall of Man; 9, of Free Will. The condition of man after the fall is thus stated: Non sublatus est quidenm homini intellectus, non erepta ei voluntas, et prorsus in lapidernt vel truncum est commutatus (The intellect of man was not taken away by the fall, nor was he robbed of will, and changed into a stock or stone). Art. x treats of Predestination and Election. The second paragraph runs thus: Ergo non sine medio, licet non propter ullum meritum nostrum, sed in Christo et propter Christum, nos elegit Deus, ut qui jam in Christo insiti per fidem, illi ipsi etiam sint electi, reprobi vero, qui sunt extra Christum, seculndum illud Apostoli, 2Co 13:5 (Therefore, not without a medium, though not on account of any- merit of ours, but in Christ, and on account of Christ, God elected us; so that they who are engrafted in Christ by faith are the elect, while the reprobate are those who are out of Christ, according to the apostle, in 2Co 13:5). This chapter has been the subject of much controversy, both Calvinists and Arminians finding their own doctrine in it. Chap. 11 treats of Christ as God-man, the only Savior; 12 and 13, of the Law and the Gospel; 14-16, of Repentance and of Justification by Faith; 17-22, of the Church, the Ministry, the Sacraments; 23 and 24:of Assemblies, Worship, Feasts, and Fasts; 25-29, Catechism, Rites, Ceremonies, etc.; 30, of the Civil Magistracy. This Confession is given in Latin in the Sylloye Confession-um (Oxon. 1827, 8vo); by Niemeyer, Collectio Confessionum, p. 462 sq.; by Augusti, Corpus Librorum Symbolicorum, p. 1-102. A tercentenary edition, edited by Dr. E. Bohl, was published at Vienna, 1865

(120 pp. 8vo). See Gieseler, Church History, 1. c.; Shedd, History of Doctrines, 2, 469; Hagenbach, History of Doctrines, § 221; Fritzsche, Conf. Hel. Posterior, Zurich, 1839; Augusti, Allg. christl. Symbolik, 1861, p. 158.

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