Why Christ was subject to death.

Moreover although this Jesus Christ was thus pure, holy and just, and therefore free and exempt from all charge of sin, to which we are all by nature exposed: nevertheless after that He had taken upon Him our flesh with all its infirmities, save only sin, He willingly made Himself also subject to death. But since there was in Him no stain or charge of sin, and He Himself was the Son of God, yea, God also: this man, being filled with the substance of the Godhead, and with every grace of the Holy Spirit, could not be vanquished by sin, as Adam was; He could not even be holden of death itself. Nay though He submitted to death itself in the flesh, yet being quickened by the Spirit He procured for us eternal redemption before the throne of God’s justice and mercy, for all the elect who had believed or should believe in Him. 111erefore it came to pass, that in like manner as Adam by his trespass corrupted, ruined and destroyed together with himself his whole posterity, which were born of him after the flesh: so Christ restores anew His whole family, to wit, all the elect that are born again of His own seed by the spiritual power of the Holy Ghost, and makes them fit to enter into immortality.

Therefore I profess and believe that Jesus Christ, the true and eternal Son of God according to the divine nature that is in Himself, and likewise the true son of Mary, born in time, according to the human nature that He took upon Him, appeared and came into the world in our flesh, to make satisfaction for the sins of all, and to earn for all life eternal.

‘Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified.’

And this He accomplished fully when by the judgment of Pontius Pilate He underwent a cruel and dreadful death, shameful, yea accursed (albeit by the same judgment the judge himself pronounced Him just and innocent), and was crucified like some malefactor; to the end that He Himself in His own body might bear the curse that was awaiting us, and having taken it wholly upon Himself might consume and destroy it. Finally in order that all men might have the greater certainty of His death, His lifeless body was openly taken down from the cross and laid in the sepulcher.

‘Dead, and buried, He descended into hell.’

And lest peradventure there should seem to be lacking aught of our curse that He had not taken upon Himself, He descended also into hell. For when He was dying He endured all the sharpness of death, with the weight of God’s wrath, like unto a sinner; wherefore He cries out upon the cross that He also had been forsaken of God. But when He was dead, although in the body He lay in the sepulcher, His soul was in hell, that is, in the state of the dead, being truly separated from the body.

‘The third day He rose again from the dead.’

But when He had undergone all things to which by God’s just judgment we had been condemned, in order that God’s justice should be satisfied completely: by His own power He returned to life on the third day, taking again His body, which though laid in the sepulcher could not suffer corruption, even as His soul could not be kept in hell. Thereby He openly showed that He is truly God, and hath power over death, sin, and hell; and finally, that He is Lord over all. And I for my part acknowledge, confess and believe Him.

But since it was 1I0t seemly He that was truly the Son of God should suffer so many things in vain: God the Father of mercies hearkening unto His Son Jesus Christ, hath ordained by an eternal decree that this death shall be imputed unto all that believe in His Son, for full and absolute discharge of all sins, and for justice fulfilled; whereby they may have a sure hope of returning again into the lost inheritance of eternal life.

Christ a Prophet.

Therefore is Jesus Christ become our Emmanuel and Messiah, that is, our Prophet, anointed to bring us the most certain assurance of this goodwill of God the Father, whereby it pleases Him to bless us with all things necessary unto salvation, to wit, the remission of sins and the fullest justification.

A Priest.

Next He is become a priest, a high priest, Who hath offered Unto the Father no victim of another, but Himself, as a sacrifice for all the sins of the whole world.

A King.

Finally He is our King, Who hath most manifestly declared Himself to have dominion and power over sin, death and hell, and over all creatures, in bringing to Himself all that are His, having delivered them from all spiritual bondage Unto another and restored them into the liberty of the children of God: to the end that they may be subject unto, serve and obey Him alone. Since therefore the Son of God being made man hath declared Himself our true Prophet, Priest and King, anointed not with material and earthly oil, but with heavenly and spiritual oil, to wit, with the Holy Ghost Himself: I place all faith, hope and confidence in Him alone, and ascribe Unto Him alone the whole honour of true submission and obedience; bidding farewell to all other strange doctrines, sacrifices and commandments whatsoever, that are not of Christ Himself, and cannot be taught or proven from any word of His.

Vallerandus Poullain, “Confession of the Glastonbury Congregation (1551),” in Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, ed. James T. Dennison, (Grand Rapids Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008), 1:653-655. [Some spelling modernized and underlining mine.]

[Dennison’s biographical introduction:

When John Calvin (1509-1564) was recalled from Strasbourg to Geneva in 1541, he left behind a small band of French refugees whom he had pastored since his arrival in 1538 at the invitation of Martin Bucer (1491-1551). The origins of this Reformed congregation of French and Walloon exiles lay in the preaching of William Farel (1489-1565) to the group’s predecessors in 1523. Farel left for Bern shortly thereafter, bur the French congregations remained. Calvin’s vacancy was filled by Pierre Brully (ca. 1518 -1545), who had arrived in Strasbourg after being expelled from the Dominican monastery in Metz in 1540/41. Brully was a guest in Calvin’s home until the latter departed for Geneva. From 1541 to 1544, he was pastor of the French refugees. While on a mission to preach the Reformed faith in Flanders (Tournai), Brully was seized, condemned, and executed. The refugee congregation in Strasbourg turned to Vallérand Poullain (Vallerandus Pollanus, 1520-1557). Poullain had visited Bucer in the fall of 1543 and, with his recommendation, became pastor of the French congregation a year later (September 1544).

Following the defeat of the Schmalkaldic League in 1547 by Charles V (1500 -1558), the adoption of the Augsburg Interim (1548) altered conditions for many Reformed bodies in German Lutheran territory. Bucer was forced to flee Strasbourg in 1548, settling in England at the invitation of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556). Here he was reunited with his former Strasbourg colleague, Perer Marryr Vermigli (1500-1562), who had journeyed to England the previous year to become Regius professor of Theology at Oxford (also at the invitation of Cranmer). Cranmer was attempting to strengthen the Protestant Reformation in England during the days of young, yet sympathetic, King Edward VI (1537-1553). Cranmer extended an invitation to Poullain and his congregation to settle in England too. The Duke of Somerset, Edward Seymour (ca. 1506-1552), served as patron to the French refugee congregation and their pastor, arranging for them to settle at Glastonbury in Somersetshire in 1550. According to the Privy Council records of 1551 and 1552, only twenty adults made up the pilgrim congregation. Supporting themselves by means of their ancient trade (weaving wool into cloth), the little band of French speakers grew to a congregation of seventy souls by 1554.

However, exile was to be their lot once more. At the fall of Somerset in 1552, Sir William Cecil (1520-1598) became their sponsor. Bur young King Edward died in 1553, to be succeeded by Bloody Mary Tudor (1516-1558). Determined to root out the Protestantism of her profligate father (Henry VIII, 1491-1547) and her stepbrother (Edward VI), Queen Mary harassed and persecuted hundreds of Protestants. Many of those who were not executed became part of the Marian Exiles and fled to the continent for safety. The ecclesia Glasion peregrinorum (“Glastonbury church of pilgrims”) was no exception. Early in 1554, they boarded ships for Emden, but on arrival were refused permission to disembark on account of Lutheran hostility to Calvinism. They next sought refuge in Cologne, but were turned away once more. Finally, they came to Frankfort, whose city council had declared a policy of toleration for all Protestants. Poullain and his little flock disembarked here on April 19, 1554. The council granted them the use of the Church of the White Ladies, a former Cistercian nunnery.

Soon thereafter, English refugees (fleeing Bloody Mary’s persecution) arrived and the “troubles at Frankfort” began. The issue documented from the Puritan viewpoint in the famous A Brieff discours off the troubles begonne at Franckford in Germany Anno Domini 1554. Abowte the Book off common prayer and Ceremonies (1575), centered on William Whittingham (ca. 1524-1579) and John Knox (ca. 1513-1572) in their dispute with fellow . high-church countryman, Richard Cox (ca. 1500-1587).

Poullain invited the English refugees to join his congregation in June 1554. The English demurred on the grounds that they did not understand the French language and petitioned for a separate English-speaking congregation. The council of Frankfort granted both groups joint use of the Church of the White Ladies urging them to choose Sunday worship hours that would not conflict.

Poullain’s Liturgia Sacra is the order of divine service that the French congregation had used in Strasbourg. He translated it from French into Latin in 1551 and dedicated it to King Edward VI. A French edition was also published in London in 1552, which contains the Confession of Faith used by the church in Glastonbury. When Poullain and his congregation settled in Frankfort, he presented a Latin version of the 1552 French Confession to the city council in 1554. It is this version that was translated into English by Rev. John Gordon (1878-1955) and donated to the University of Glasgow in 1928. The text is reprinted here by the kind permission of the Special Collections Department of the University of Glasgow. The full title of Gordon’s work is: Valerand Poullain, The Liturgia Sacra and Professic [sic] Fidei Catholicae of Valerandus Pollanus first minister of the Reformed Church at Frankfort. 1554 (transcribed and translated by John Gordon, M.A., with a historical introduction and notes), University of Glasgow, Special Collections (GB 0247 MS Gen 1082). cr. also Busch, 1/3:79 -104.]

[Note: The English refugees which Dennison references also composed a confession of faith. Its brief statement on the extent of the satisfaction can  be found here.]

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