Chapter III:20: The Prudent Confession of True Religion

2. Nevertheless, true Religion requires a Prudent Confession, not with a worldly prudence, of which Luke 16:8, and which might persuade them to adjust themselves to whatever Religion for a time: but with a holy Prudence, which belongs to the children of God, which the Lord commends, Matthew 10:16, and which both dissuades from giving an occasion for a profanation of the mysteries of Religion by an untimely profession, Matthew 7:6, and prohibits them from rashly exposing themselves to dangers and martyrdom, Matthew 10:23; 2 Corinthians 11:33. The Church of Smyrna also feels this way in its Epistola de Martyrio Polycarpi,[1] not approving of those that willingly offer themselves and hasten to Martyrdom, indeed thus it writes in chapter IV in Cotelerii Patribus Apostolicis, tome 2, page 194, Διὰ τοῦτο οὖν, ἀδελφοὶ, οὐκ ἐπαινοῦμεν τοὺς προσιόντας ἑαυτοῖς (in the place of which perhaps ἑκόντως/willingly is to be read)· ἐπειδὴ οὐκ οὕτως διδάσκει τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, Wherefore, brethren, we do not approve those that surrender themselves (or, willingly), since the Gospel does not teach us to do so. And this opinion the Church confirms by the example of a certain one that had offered himself, but then he, stricken with terror, arrived there, so that he might swear and offer sacrifice. In chapter V, the Church commemorates the example of Polycarp himself, who with many petitioning and urging withdrew to a country house, so that he might hide himself.


This is to be held against more imprudent Zealots: thoroughly peruse JOHANNES BARUETH’S[2] Kruysschole der Christenen, chapter XI, § 56-72, pages 427-446. Concerning the Profession of divine Truth, see the discourse of SALDENUS,[3] Otiis Theologicis, book II, Exercise IX, pages 397-408, likewise, de Abnegatione Fidei, Exercise X, pages 408-422. Concerning the Confession of the True Religion, consult also CORNELIUS VAN VELZEN’S[4] Theologiæ Practicæ, book I, section II, chapter XIV, § 6-9, 17, 18.

[1] Polycarp (martyred c. 167) was a disciple of the Apostle John and Bishop of Smyrna.


[2] Johannes Barueth (1708-1782) was a Dutch Reformed minister. He is remembered as a preacher of repentance, calling the Dutch Church back to its historic orthodoxy as expressed in her constitution.


[3] Guilielmus Saldenus (1627-1694) was a Dutch Reformed pastor and theologian.


[4] Cornelius van Velzen (1696-1752) was a Dutch Reformed Theologian; he served as Professor of Theology at Groningen (1731-1752).

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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