ARTICLE XII. — OF REPENTANCE (AFTER BACKSLIDING).
Concerning repentance they teach, that those who have relapsed into sin after baptism, may at any time obtain pardon, when they repent. But repentance properly consists of two parts. The one is contrition, or being struck with terrors of conscience, on account of acknowledged sin. The other is faith, which is produced by the gospel; which believes that pardon for sin is bestowed for Christ’s sake; which tranquilizes the conscience, and liberates it from fear. Such repentance must be succeeded by good works as its fruits.
ARTICLE XIII. — OF THE USE OF THE SACRAMENTS.
Concerning the use of the sacraments our churches teach, that they were instituted not only as marks of a Christian profession amongst men; but rather as signs and evidences of the divine disposition towards us, tendered for the purpose of exciting and confirming the faith of those who use them. Hence the sacraments ought to be received with faith in the promises which are exhibited and proposed by them.
They therefore condemn the opinion of those who maintain, that the sacraments produce justification in their recipients as a matter of course, [Note 3] who do not teach that faith is necessary, in the reception of the sacraments, to the remission of sins.
ARTICLE XIV. — OF CHURCH ORDERS, (OR THE MINISTRY.)
Concerning church orders they teach, that no person ought publicly to teach “or preach,” [Note 4] in the church, or to administer the sacraments, without a regular call.
ARTICLE XV. — OF RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES.
Concerning ecclesiastical ceremonies they teach, that those ceremonies ought to be observed, which can be attended to without sin, and which promote peace and good order in the church, such as certain holy-days, festivals, &c. Concerning matters of this kind, however, men are cautioned, lest their consciences be burdened, as though such observances were necessary to salvation. They are also admonished that human traditionary observances, instituted with a view to appease God, and to merit his favor, and make satisfaction for sins, are contrary to the gospel and the doctrine of faith “in Christ.” [Note 5] Wherefore vows and traditionary observances concerning meats, days, &c., instituted to merit grace and make satisfaction for sins, are useless, and contrary to the gospel.
ARTICLE XVI. — OF POLITICAL AFFAIRS.
In regard to political affairs our churches teach that legitimate political enactments are good works of God; that it is lawful for Christians to hold civil offices, to pronounce judgment, and decide cases according to existing laws; to inflict just punishment, wage just wars, and serve in them; to make lawful contracts; hold property; to make oath when required by the magistrate, to marry, and to be married.
Hence Christians ought necessarily to yield obedience to their civil officers and laws; unless they should command something sinful; in which case it is a duty to obey God rather than man. Acts v. 29.