Table of Contents

Full Text – Westminster Confession of Faith

  1. Chapter 1. Of the Holy Scripture
  2. Chapter 2. Of God, and of the Holy Trinity
  3. Chapter 3. Of God’s Eternal Decree
  4. Chapter 4. Of Creation
  5. Chapter 5. Of Providence
  6. Chapter 6. Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment thereof.
  7. Chapter 7. Of God’s Covenant with Man
  8. Chapter 8. Of Christ the Mediator
  9. Chapter 9. Of Free Will
  10. Chapter 10. Of Effectual Calling
  11. Chapter 11. Of Justification
  12. Chapter 12. Of Adoption
  13. Chapter 13. Of Sanctification
  14. Chapter 14. Of Saving Faith
  15. Chapter 15. Of Repentance unto Life
  16. Chapter 16. Of Good Works
  17. Chapter 17. Of the Perseverance of the Saints
  18. Chapter 18. Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation
  19. Chapter 19. Of the Law of God
  20. Chapter 20. Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience.
  21. Chapter 21. Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath-day
  22. Chapter 22. Of Lawful Oaths and Vows
  23. Chapter 23. Of the Civil Magistrate
  24. Chapter 24. Of Marriage and Divorce
  25. Chapter 25. Of the Church
  26. Chapter 26. Of the Communion of the Saints
  27. Chapter 27. Of the Sacraments
  28. Chapter 28. Of Baptism
  29. Chapter 29. Of the Lord’s Supper
  30. Chapter 30. Of Church Censures
  31. Chapter 31. Of Synods and Councils
  32. Chapter 32. Of the State of Man After Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead.
  33. Chapter 33. Of the Last Judgment

31. Of Synods and Councils

1. For the better government, and further edification of the Church, there ought to be such assemblies as are commonly called synods or councils. (1) 

^ (1) Acts 15:2, 4, 6

2. As magistrates may lawfully call a synod of ministers, and other fit persons, to consult and advise with, about matters of religion; (2)  so, if magistrates be open enemies to the Church, the ministers of Christ of themselves, by virtue of their office, or they, with other fit persons upon delegation from their Churches, may meet together in such assemblies. (3) 

^ (2) Isa. 49:23; I Tim. 2:1, 2; II Chron. 19:8, 9, 10, 11; II Chron. 29, 30 chaps.; Matt. 2:4, 5; Prov. 11:14
^ (3) Acts 15:2, 4, 22, 23, 25

3. It belongs to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of his Church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in His Word. (4) 

^ (4) Acts 15:15, 19, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31; Acts 16:4; Matt. 18:17, 18, 19, 20

4. All synods or councils, since the Apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both. (5) 

^ (5) Eph. 2:20; Acts 17:11; I Cor. 2:5; II Cor. 1:24

5. Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude, nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth; unless by way of humble petition, in cases extraordinary; or by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate. (6) 

^ (6) Luke 12:13, 14; John 18:36

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