Principles Of The Christian Religion

A summary from the writings of Dr. Adam Clarke*

General Principles Of Christian Theology (Wesleyan):

1. That there is but one uncreated, unoriginated, infinite, and eternal Being--the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things.

2. That there is in this infinite essence a plurality of what are commonly called persons; not separately subsisting, but essentially belonging to the Godhead; which persons are commonly termed Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; or God, the Logos, and the Holy Spirit; and these are generally named the Trinity, which term, though not found in the New Testament, seems properly enough applied, as we never read of more than three persons in the Godhead.

3. That the sacred Scriptures, or holy books, which form the Old and New Testaments, contain a full revelation of the will of God, in reference to man; and are alone sufficient for every thing relative to the faith and practice of a Christian; and were given by the inspiration of God.

4. That man was created in righteousness and true holiness, without any moral imperfection, or any kind of propensity to sin; but free to stand or fall.

5. That he fell from this state, became morally corrupt in his nature, and transmitted his moral defilement to all his posterity.

6. That to counteract the evil principle, and bring man into a salvable state, God, from his infinite love, formed the purpose of redeeming man from his lost estate, by Christ Jesus; and, in the interim, sent his Holy Spirit to enlighten, strive with, and convince men of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

7. That in due time the divine Logos, called afterward Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour, &c., became incarnated, and sojourned among men, teaching the purest truth, and working the most stupendous and beneficent miracles.

8. That this divine Person, foretold by the prophets, and described by evangelists and apostles, is really and properly God; having, by the inspired writers, assigned to him every attribute essential to the Deity; being one with Him who is called God, Jehovah, &c.

9. That he is also perfect man in consequence of his incarnation; and in that man, or manhood, dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; so that his nature is twofold--divine and human, or God manifested in the flesh.

10. That his human nature is derived from the blessed Virgin Mary, through the creative energy of the Holy Ghost; but his divine nature, because God, infinite and eternal, is uncreated, underived, and unbegotten; which, were it otherwise, he could not be God in any proper sense of the word; but as he is God, the doctrine of the eternal Sonship must be false.

11. That, as he took upon him the nature of man, he died for the whole human race, without respect of persons; equally for all, and for every man.

12. That on the third day after his crucifixion and burial he rose from the dead; and, after showing himself many days to his disciples and others, he ascended to heaven, where, as God manifest in the flesh, he continues, and shall continue, to be the Mediator of the human race, till the consummation of all things.

13. That there is no salvation but through him--and that throughout the Scriptures his passion and death are considered as sacrificial; pardon and salvation being obtained by the shedding of his blood.

14. That no human being since the fall either has or can have merit or worthiness of or by himself, and therefore has nothing to claim from God, but in the way of his mercy through Christ; therefore pardon, and every other blessing promised in the gospel, have been purchased by his sacrificial death, and are given to men, not on account of any thing they have done or suffered, or can do or suffer, but for his sake or through his merit alone.

15. That these blessings are received by faith; because not of works, nor of sufferings.

16. That the power to believe, or grace of faith, is the free gift of God, without which none can believe; but that the act of faith, or actually believing, is the act of the soul, under the influence of that power. But this power to believe, like all other gifts of God, may be slighted, not used, or misused, in consequence of which is that declaration, "He that believeth shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

17. That justification, or the pardon of sin, is an instantaneous act of God's infinite mercy in behalf of a penitent soul, trusting only in the merits of Jesus Christ; that this act is absolute in respect of all past sin, all being forgiven where any is forgiven.

18. That the souls of all believers may be purified from all sin in this life; and that a man may live under the continual influence of the grace of Christ, without sinning against his God, all evil tempers and sinful propensities being destroyed, and his heart filled with pure love both to God and man.

19. That unless a believer live and walk in the spirit of obedience, he will fall from the grace of God, and forfeit all his Christian privileges and rights; in which state of backsliding he may persevere, and, if so, perish everlastingly.

20. That the whole period of human life is a state of probation, in every part of which a sinner may repent and turn to God, and in every part of it a believer may give way to sin and fall from grace; and that this possibility of rising, and liability to falling, are essential to a state of trial or probation.

21. That all the promises and threatenings of the word of God are conditional, as they regard man in reference to his being here and hereafter; and that on this ground alone the sacred writings can be consistently interpreted or rightly understood.

22. That man is a free agent, never being impelled by any necessitating influence either to do evil or good, but has it continually in his power to choose the life or death that is set before him; on which ground he is an accountable being, and answerable for his own actions; and on this ground also he is alone capable of being rewarded or punished.

23. That his free will is a necessary constituent of his rational soul, without which man must be a mere machine, either the sport of blind chance, or the mere patient of an irresistible necessity; and, consequently, not accountable for any acts to which he was irresistibly impelled.

24. That every human being has this freedom of will with a sufficiency of light and power to direct its operations; and that this powerful light is not inherent in any man's nature, but is graciously bestowed by Him who is the true light that lighteneth every man that cometh into the world.

25. That as Christ has made, by his once offering himself upon the cross, a sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world; and that, as his gracious Spirit strives with and enlightens all men, thus putting them in a salvable state; therefore every human soul may be saved, if it be not his own fault.

26. That Jesus Christ has instituted, and commanded to be perpetuated in his church, two sacraments; baptism (sprinkling, washing with, or immersion in water) in the name of the holy and ever blessed Trinity, as a sign of the cleansing and regenerating influences of the Holy Ghost, producing a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness; and the eucharist or Lord's supper, as commemorating the sacrificial death of Christ. That by the first, once administered, every person may be initiated into the visible church; and by the second, frequently administered, all believers may be kept in mind of the foundation on which their salvation is built, and receive grace to enable them to adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things.

27. That the soul is immaterial and immortal, and can subsist independently of the body.

28. That there will be a general resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust; that the souls of both shall be reunited to their respective bodies; and that both will be immortal, and live eternally.

29. That there will be a day of judgment, after which all shall be punished or rewarded according to the deeds done in the body; the wicked being sent to hell, and the righteous taken into heaven.

30. That these states of reward and punishment shall have no end, forasmuch as the time of probation or trial is for ever terminated, and the succeeding state must necessarily be fixed and unalterable.

31. That the origin of human salvation is found in the infinite philanthropy of God; and that on this principle the unconditional reprobation of any soul is absolutely impossible.

32. The sacred writings are a system of pure, unsophisticated reason, proceeding from the immaculate mind of God; in many places, it is true, vastly elevated beyond what the reason of man could have devised or found out, but in no case contrary to human reason. They are addressed, not to the passions, but to the reason of man: every command is urged with reasons of obedience, and every promise and threatening founded on the most evident reason and propriety. The whole, therefore, are to be rationally understood, and rationally interpreted. He who would discharge reason from this its noblest province, is a friend in his heart to the Antichristian maxim, "Ignorance is the mother of devotion." Revelation and reason go hand in hand. Faith is the servant of the former, and the friend of the latter: while the Spirit of God, which gave the revelation, improves and exalts reason, and gives energy and effect to faith.

* From: Adam Clarke , LL.D, Christian Theology: Selected From His Published And Unpublished Writings. And Systematically Arranged (chapter 35), By Samuel Dunn.

See also: A Compendium of Scriptural Knowledge (Clavis Biblica), Adam Clarke

About the author: Dr. Adam Clarke (1762-1832) was an English theologian and Biblical scholar. He was the son of a schoolmaster and was educated at Kingswood School near Bristol. He was a Methodist minister, appointed to his first Methodist circuit in 1782. Dr. Clarke was President of the Wesleyan Conference several years between 1806 and 1822. He authored books and articles on theology, languages and biblical studies. His major work Clarke's Bible Commentary, published in eight volumes between 1810 and 1826 is considered a classic.