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All Articles For The Voice Of Our Fathers

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As we remarked in the beginning of this chapter, one of the reasons why the Synod of Dordrecht merits the reputation of being “the great synod” must un­doubtedly be found in the method which it followed in its labors. And because of this method, of course, the Synod produced such a sound and lasting product. Sound methods and sound products are inseparable.

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Turning now to the subject of our own Three Forms of Unity, and in particular to the subject of the Canons, we discover that from every point of view the Canons occupy a very peculiar position among our Re­formed confessions. A comparison of the Three Forms as to their historical position, their form, and their content will at once reveal this.

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As to the content of the canons in comparison with that of our other creeds, it must be noted, first of all, that the Canons treat only a certain aspect of the truth, while both the Belgic Confession and the Heidel­berg Catechism cover the entire field of Reformed doc­trine. In this respect the Canons could never stand alone as the doctrinal standard of a church, while it would be conceivable that a church could stand merely on the basis of the Catechism or the Netherlands Con­fession.

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Hence, the Canons came into existence alongside our other two standards in a natural way, occasioned by an attack against the truth contained in those standards. And the position which the Canons occupy as a confession must be considered in this light. Their confessional authority and rank is, of course, the same, so that together the three creeds constitute our Three Forms of Unity. But as far as their content is con­cerned, the Three Forms are not at all coordinate.

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Article 3. And that men may be brought to believe, God mercifully sends the messengers of these most joyful tidings, to whom he will and at what time he pleaseth; by whose ministry men are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified. Rom. 10:14, 15. “How then, shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent?”

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