V. Particular churches how they may be known, whether they be true churches or not.

And hereby we believe every particular church may be discerned, whether it be a true church gathered in the Lord, even by those things whereupon the Lord hath willed them to be built, namely upon the preaching of the gospel, the administration of the sacraments instituted of Christ and the keeping of his commandments. Therefore those churches we acknowledge for the true churches of Christ, in which first the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached, heard and allowed of, and that so allowed of, that there is no place nor hearing for the contrary.

For these both are properties of the flock or sheep of Christ, namely to hear the voice of their shepherd and to reject the strangers voice. In those also, where the sacraments instituted of Christ (as much as in them lieth) are lawfully, that is according to Christ’s own institution administered and received, and so where other sacraments devised by men are not allowed of.

In those lastly, where the discipline of Christ taketh place, that is, where a care is taken through love, that both privately and publicly, by admonitions, corrections and, when need requireth, by excommunications the commandments of Christ may be observed. And so that men may live soberly, justly, and godly to the glory of God and edification of their neighbours.

For, wheresoever ungodliness and all looseness of life is in public practise and open offences are not reproved according to the discipline of Christ, there we believe that it is possible that many good and godly men may be, but we believe this is not a godly and christian congregation; the Lord himself saying: ‘In this men shall know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another’. But what love can there be, where no care is taken that according to Christ’s doctrine brethren, which offend, may be corrected, may repent, may be gained unto the Lord and saved?

Girolamo Zanchi, De religione christiana fides – Confession of Christian Religion, ed. Luca Baschera and Christian Moser (1585; 2 vols, Leiden: Brill, 2007), XXIV.V, 1: 395-97.

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