Canons of Dordt
Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby
1: God is not only supremely merciful, but also supremely just.
And his justice requires (as he hath revealed himself in his Word), that
our sins committed against his infinite majesty should be punished, not
only with temporal, but with eternal punishment, both in body and soul;
which we cannot escape, unless satisfaction be made to the justice of God.
2: Since therefore we are unable to make that satisfaction in
our own persons, or to deliver ourselves from the wrath of God, he hath
been pleased in his infinite mercy to give his only begotten Son, for
our surety, who was made sin, and became a curse for us and in our stead,
that he might make satisfaction to divine justice on our behalf.
3: The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice
and satisfaction for sin; and is of infinite worth and value, abundantly
sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.
4: This death derives its infinite value and dignity from these
considerations, because the person who submitted to it was not only really
man, and perfectly holy, but also the only begotten Son of God, of the
same eternal and infinite essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
which qualifications were necessary to constitute him a Savior for us;
and because it was attended with a sense of the wrath and curse of God
due to us for sin.
5: Moreover, the promise of the gospel is, that whosoever believeth
in Christ crucified, shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This
promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be
declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously
and without distinction, to whom God out of his good pleasure sends the
6: And, whereas many who are called by the gospel, do not repent,
nor believe in Christ, but perish in unbelief; this is not owing to any
defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross,
but is wholly to be imputed to themselves.
7: But as many as truly believe, and are delivered and saved from
sin and destruction through the death of Christ, are indebted for this
benefit solely to the grace of God, given them in Christ from everlasting,
and not to any merit of their own.
8: For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will
and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy
of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect,
for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to
bring them infallibly to salvation: that is, it was the will of God, that
Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant,
should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language,
all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation,
and given to him by the Father; that he should confer upon them faith,
which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he
purchased for them by his death; should purge them from all sin, both
original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and
having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring
them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his
own presence forever.
9: This purpose proceeding from everlasting love towards the elect,
has from the beginning of the world to this day been powerfully accomplished,
and will henceforward still continue to be accomplished, notwithstanding
all the ineffectual opposition of the gates of hell, so that the elect
in due time may be gathered together into one, and that there never may
be wanting a church composed of believers, the foundation of which is
laid in the blood of Christ, which may steadfastly love, and faithfully
serve him as their Savior, who as a bridegroom for his bride, laid down
his life for them upon the cross, and which may celebrate his praises
here and through all eternity.
doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of
Who teach: That God the Father has ordained his Son to the death of the
cross without a certain and definite decree to save any, so that the necessity,
profitableness and worth of what Christ merited by his death might have
existed, and might remain in all its parts complete, perfect and intact,
even if the merited redemption had never in fact been applied to any person.
For this doctrine tends to the despising of the wisdom of the Father and
of the merits of Jesus Christ, and is contrary to Scripture. For thus
saith our Savior: "I lay down my life for the sheep, and I know them,"
John 10:15,27. And the prophet Isaiah saith concerning the Savior:
"When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see
his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall
prosper in his hand,"
Isaiah 53:10. Finally, this contradicts the article of faith according
to which we believe the catholic Christian church.
Who teach: That it was not the purpose of the death of Christ that he
should confirm the new covenant of grace through his blood, but only that
he should acquire for the Father the mere right to establish with man
such a covenant as he might please, whether of grace or of works. For
this is repugnant to Scripture which teaches that Christ has become the
Surety and Mediator of a better, that is, the new covenant, and that a
testament is of force where death has occurred.
Hebrews 7:22; 9:15,17.
Who teach: That Christ by his satisfaction merited neither salvation itself
for anyone, nor faith, whereby this satisfaction of Christ unto salvation
is effectually appropriated; but that he merited for the Father only the
authority or the perfect will to deal again with man, and to prescribe
new conditions as he might desire, obedience to which, however, depended
on the free will of man, so that it therefore might have come to pass
that either none or all should fulfill these conditions. For these adjudge
too contemptuously of the death of Christ, do in no wise acknowledge the
most important fruit or benefit thereby gained, and bring again out of
hell the Pelagian error.
Who teach: That the new covenant of grace, which God the Father through
the mediation of the death of Christ, made with man, does not herein consist
that we by faith, in as much as it accepts the merits of Christ, are justified
before God and saved, but in the fact that God having revoked the demand
of perfect obedience of the law, regards faith itself and the obedience
of faith, although imperfect, as the perfect obedience of the law, and
does esteem it worthy of the reward of eternal life through grace. For
these contradict the Scriptures: "Being justified freely by his grace
through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth
to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,"
Romans 3:24,25. And these proclaim, as did the wicked Socinus, a new
and strange justification of man before God, against the consensus of
the whole church.
Who teach: That all men have been accepted unto the state of reconciliation
and unto the grace of the covenant, so that no one is worthy of condemnation
on account of original sin, and that no one shall be condemned because
of it, but that all are free from the guilt of original sin. For this
opinion is repugnant to Scripture which teaches that we are by nature
children of wrath.
Who use the difference between meriting and appropriating, to the end
that they may instill into the minds of the imprudent and inexperienced
this teaching that God, as far as he is concerned, has been minded of
applying to all equally the benefits gained by the death of Christ; but
that, while some obtain the pardon of sin and eternal life, and others
do not, this difference depends on their own free will, which joins itself
to the grace that is offered without exception, and that it is not dependent
on the special gift of mercy, which powerfully works in them, that they
rather than others should appropriate unto themselves this grace. For
these, while they feign that they present this distinction, in a sound
sense, seek to instill into the people the destructive poison of the Pelagian
Who teach: That Christ neither could die, needed to die, nor did die for
those whom God loved in the highest degree and elected to eternal life,
and did not die for these, since these do not need the death of Christ.
For they contradict the Apostle, who declares: "Christ loved me,
and gave himself for me,"
Galatians 2:20. Likewise: "Who shall lay any thing to the charge
of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth?
It is Christ Jesus that died,"
Romans 8:33,34, namely, for them; and the Savior who says: "I
lay down my life for the sheep,"
John 10:15. And: "This is my commandment, that ye love one another,
even as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man
lay down his life for his friends,"