Nassau Confession:

Christ’s Majesty and Glory

Further, in regard to the majesty of the Lord Christ, our belief and confession is this: We apprehend and hold that He, according to the divine nature, is in all things equal to the Father in substance and essential properties, and is of one splendor, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

But in respect of the human nature, [He] is and remains a creature, and never becomes like God in substance or in properties or operation.

Notwithstanding, this human nature of Christ, in addition to its ever-enduring, essential properties, possesses a peculiarly wonderful, sublime, and great glory surpassing all rational creatures, and this is so both before and after glorification.

Inasmuch as the eternal and only-begotten Son of God has assumed and taken this human nature to Himself, indivisibly and indestructibly uniting it to His divine nature in one person, such glory occurs in no angel, nor among the saints belonging to the human race, nor will it occur in any angel or saint in eternity,

And precisely on this account alone is it properly said of this son of Mary, that the man Christ is the eternal, omnipotent, infinite, omnipresent, and omniscient Son of God; and that this person who is the Son of God and the son of Mary is to be worshiped and invoked by all rational creatures, angels, and men.

Not that this manhood of Christ in itself possesses these properties which pertain solely to eternal and actual deity; nor has the divine honor of invocation. Neither is it that only the divine nature of Christ (apart from the flesh) is now after the incarnation to be worshiped. Rather, the Son of God in the flesh (that is, in the human nature which He has assumed) is to be called upon with one and the same worship [latria], not with any divided but with one invocation, as a single person who is at the same time man and God, as the Council of Ephesus has quite excellently and well pronounced. The ancient teachers employ the likeness (however faint it be) of a king who receives homage in his purple and crown, not that such honor pertains to the purple clothing and to the crown in themselves, nor that the king shows himself to his suqjects uncovered and apart from the purple and the crown, but that the king makes himself known in purple and with the crown.

On the contrary; Nestorius was rightly condemned by the ancient teachers as being someone who worships man [anthropolatra], that is, as being someone who assigns invocation to the manhood of Christ in and for itself, and thereby has divided and dissolved the person of Christ.

The Son of God has accomplished the entire work of the redemption of mankind in this human nature which He has assumed, and has made that manhood to participate in His conquests, victories, and triumphs. On account of Christ’s death and sufferings, which in His human nature He has taken upon Himself, He is the sole and alone sin offering, the sufficient payment and ransom price for the sin of the whole world, and His flesh is a life-giving flesh which gives life to the world. Christ is in this nature placed at the right hand of His heavenly Father, and must be apprehended according to both natures as the one redeemer, king, high priest, and savior. Regarding the majesty and honor which pertain to the sublimity of the person and office of Christ, this human nature of Christ possesses in and for itself its high and glorious privilege above other men. All other men, from Adam and Eve on, were born naturally by the cohabitation of man and wife, and are begotten in sins. While they live here upon earth, they must carry the sinful nature. But the man Christ is through the Holy Spirit conceived and born the offspring of a virgin, apart from the seed of man, and is alone holy and without sin from His mother’s womb.

Though Christ, in respect of this human nature, grew in age, in wisdom, and in favor with God and man, yet it is quite proper to say that He in respect of His manhood has received the fullness of the Holy Spirit, while other saints have it only somewhat and in a limited measure. But particularly after the resurrection and ascension is this human nature of Christ quite splendidly glorified, and adorned with immortality, great light and wisdom, with ineffable and incomprehensible power, energy; righteousness, joy; life, and what can only be attributed to sublimely fine privileges and excellencies, far higher than all creatures,

But these privileges and excellencies of the human nature in Christ (which it has received in and for itself, and which the ancient teachers spoke of as habitual grace [Gratiam habitualem] or the grace of singular prerogative [Gratiam singularis praerogativae], possessed at all times before and after glorification) must be distinguished from the eternal, infinite, and essential properties of the divine nature, which God has not poured out on any creature.

And thereby the eternal and infinite deity of Christ is recognized as distinct from His manhood, and the essence and properties of creatures are not mingled together with those of the Creator.

It is well known to the learned how assiduously the ancient teachers have distinguished the varying degrees of the majesty of Christ, which they have called the grace of union [gratiam unionis], the glory of office [gloriam officii], and habitual grace [gratiam habitualem]

“The Nassau (DillenburgeJ1 Synod) Confession (1578)” in, Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, ed., James T. Dennison, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012), 3: 465-468.

[Note: The language of “price” here is critical. In the later limited satisfaction doctrine, the “price” of redemption was not only laid down exclusively for the elect, therefore the sufficiency of that price was also exclusively for the elect alone. As Owen says: “[T]herefore, it is denied that the blood of Christ was a sufficient price and ransom for all and every one, not because it was not sufficient, but because it was not a ransom.” Keep in mind, in the later revision of the Lombardian formula, a distinction was introduced between the satisfaction’s intrinsic or inherent or innate or internal sufficiency as opposed to its extrinsic or external sufficiency (that is, its applicability). On the terms of the revised version, the internal sufficiency of the satisfaction came to denote only the satisfaction’s inherent value, objectively considered, while the satisfaction’s external sufficiency and applicability was limited to the elect alone, insofar as it was the “sufficient price” laid down exclusively for their redemption.]

Dennison’s introduction:

This confession is the product of two intersecting careers: that of Count John VI of Nassau-Dillenburg (1536-1606) and Christoph Pezel (1539-1604). The Reformation came to Nassau-Siegen-Dillenburg in 1533 when William the Rich (1487-1559) embraced Lutheranism. Together with John VI, however, this famous father of William of Nassau (the Silent, 1533-1584) was increasingly attracted to Reformed theology via contacts with the Palatinate, the Swiss confederation, and the Netherlands. By 1566 a Reformed emphasis was dominant in Nassau-Dillenburg.

Pezel had also experienced a shift from Lutheran to Calvinistic convictions–a result (as he expressed it) of the ‘improvement’ or furtherance of the Wittenberg Reformation. Appointed professor (philosophical faculty) at Wittenberg University in 1557, he served until 1574. Pezel was also ordained as pastor in the Lutheran Schlosskirche in Wittenberg in 1569 and in that same year became lecturer in theology at Wittenberg University, His Reformed (considered crypto-Calvinism by adamant Lutherans) leanings, emerging from his zealous Philippism (follower of Philip Melanchthon [1497-1560]), provoked clashes with the Gnesio-Lutherans. His own disagreement with Melanchthon over predestination was followed by his embrace of full-orbed divine sovereignty in the Calvinistic tradition. But, of course, the Reformed doctrine of the eternal decrees was not the only cause célèbre. In 1574, he was forbidden to teach his Calvinistic views of the Lord’s Supper and, as he refused, he was banished from Wittenberg in 1576. In 1577, John of Nassau offered him (along with Friedrich Widebram [1532-1585]) a position at Siegen and later at Dillingen. Pezellater became director of the Gymnasiums in Nassau. By 1578, he had become decidedly opposed to the Lutheran Formula of Concord (1577) and that same year was appointed preacher in Herborn. Pezel fully embraced Calvinism and drafted the confession below at the request of Count John in order to provide a summary expression of his faith. The document was presented to the Dillenburg Synod in July 1578 and subscribed by all present (though it was not printed until 1593; the reader will note, however, that our version has the imprint 1620 at the conclusion). Pezel would later be instrumental in the Bremen Consensus of 1595–another attempt to unite Reformed ministers around the Calvinistic system of doctrine (see pages 645-744 of this volume).

Our text is from Heppe, Die Bekenntnischriften der reformirten Kirchen Deutscblands (1860), 68-144. Muller has a very abridged version (pp. 720-39). The translator has included full citations of Biblical proof-texts in square brackets. For the most part, we have also preserved the paragraph form of Heppe’s version. [pp., 458-459.]

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