According to the doctrine of St. Peter, the apostle,
in his first letter, all Christians must be ready to give an answer of
the hope that they possess, with all meekness and benevolence; we, the
undersigned, Mr. Villegagnon, unanimously (according to the measure of
grace upon us bestowed by the Lord), are giving an answer, point by
point, as you have thus requested and ordained, beginning with the first
We believe in one God, immortal, invisible,
creator of heaven and earth, and of all things, visible and
invisible, who is identified in three persons: Father, Son and Holy
Spirit; who constitute nothing else but the same substance in
essence, eternal and of the same will; the Father, source and
beginning of all good; the Son, eternally generated by the Father,
who, in the fullness of time, manifested Himself in the flesh to the
world, being conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of the Virgin
Mary, made under the law to rescue those that were under it, in
order that we would be received by adoption as God’s own sons; the
Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son, teacher of all
truth, speaking through the mouths of the prophets, bringing the
things that were said by our Lord Jesus Christ to the apostles. He
is the only comforter in affliction, imparting steadfastness and
perseverance in all good.
We believe that it is necessary to worship solely,
perfectly love, cry to and call upon the majesty of God in faith, and
in a personal manner.
Worshiping our Lord
Jesus Christ, we are not separating one nature from the other, but
confess both natures, namely: the inseparable divine and human
We believe, concerning
the Son of God and concerning the Holy Spirit, that which the Word
of God and apostolic doctrine and the symbol teach us.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ will come
to judge the living and the dead, in a visible and human form, as He
ascended to heaven, executing such judgment in the form which has
been predicted in the 25th chapter of Matthew; and that
the Father has given Him, being man, all power to judge.
And concerning what we say in our prayers, that the
Father will come at last in the Person of the Son, we understand, by
that, that the power of the Father, given to the Son, will be
manifested in this judgment; nevertheless we do not want to confuse
the persons, knowing that they are distinct one from another.
We believe in the holy sacrament of the Supper,
as corporal figures of bread and wine, and that faithful souls are
actually fed with the very substance of our Lord Jesus, as our
bodies are fed by food; thus, we do not understand the saying that
the bread and wine are actually transformed or transubstantiated in
their body, because the bread continues with its nature and
substance; likewise the wine, there is no change or alteration.
We differentiate, nevertheless, this bread and wine
from other bread and wine dedicated to the common usage, understanding
that these are, for us, sacramental signs, under which truth is
infallibly received. The reception of this truth, however, is not
possible except by faith, and it is not proper to imagine anything
carnal, nor to prepare the teeth to eat, as we learn from Saint
Augustine, when he says, "Why do you prepare the teeth and the
stomach? Believe, and you have eaten."
The sign, therefore, does not give us the truth nor
the signified thing; but our Lord Jesus Christ, by His power, virtue
and goodness, feeds and preserves our souls and makes them share in
His own flesh and blood, and all His benefits.
Let us see the interpretation of the words of Jesus
Christ: "This is my body." Tertullian, in his fourth book Against
Marcion, explains these words: "this is the sign and the figure of
St. Augustine says, "The Lord didn’t avoid
saying—'This is my body,' when he was merely giving a sign of his
Therefore (as it is ordained in the first canon of
the Nicean Council), in this holy sacrament, we should not imagine
anything fleshly, nor distract ourselves with the bread and wine,
which are in them proposed as signs, but lift our spirits to heaven so
that we can contemplate, by faith, the Son of God, our Lord Jesus, who
sits at the right hand of God, His Father.
In this sense we could subscribe to the article of
the Ascension, alongside many other statements of Saint Augustine,
which we omit for we fear they are too lengthy.
We believe that if it was necessary to add water
to the wine, the gospel writers and Saint Paul would not have
omitted such an important matter.
And as what the earlier doctors have observed
(concerning the blood mixed with water that flowed from Jesus Christ’s
side, considering that such an observance has no basis in Scripture,
and seeing that this happened after the institution of the Lord’s
Supper), we cannot necessarily admit this practice today.
We believe that there
is no other consecration except that which is performed by the
minister, when he celebrates communion, when he speaks to the
people, in a known tongue, the literal institution of this Supper,
as per the form prescribed by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself,
admonishing the people as to the death and passion of our Lord. Even
as it is taught by St. Augustine, consecration is the word of faith
that is preached and received in faith. Therefore, it follows that
the words secretly pronounced about the signs cannot be their
consecration, as it appears from the institution that our Lord left
to His apostles, speaking His words to His disciples who were there,
present, whom He ordered to take and eat.
The Holy Sacrament of
the Supper is not food for the body as it is for the souls (for we
cannot conceive anything fleshly about them, as we declared in the
fifth article) which receives them by faith, which is not carnal.
We believe that baptism is a sacrament of
repentance, and is an entry into the Church of God, so that we can
be incorporated in Jesus Christ. It represents to us the remission
of all our sins, past and future, which is fully acquired only
through the death of our Lord Jesus.
Moreover, the mortification of our flesh is there
represented, and the washing, represented by the water sprinkled on
the child, is the sign and seal of the blood of our Lord Jesus, who is
the true purification of our souls. Its institution is taught to us in
the Word of God, which the saints have observed, using water in the
name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. As to exorcisms,
abjurations of Satan, confirmation, spit and salt, we record these as
traditions of men, and we are pleased, only, with the form and
institution left by our Lord Jesus.
As to free will, we believe that the first man,
created in the image of God, had freedom and will, both to do good
as well as evil. Only he knew what was free will, for he was
possessed of full abilities. Nevertheless, he did not even keep this
gift of God, for it was taken away from him on account of his sin,
and from all that descend from him, such that no one from the seed
of Adam has a spark of good.
For this reason, Saint Paul says that the natural
man does not understand the things of God. And Hosea cries to the
children of Israel: "You have fallen by your iniquity." And we
understand that this is true about the man that is not regenerated by
the Holy Spirit.
As to the Christian man, baptized in the blood of
Jesus Christ, who walks in newness of life, our Lord Jesus Christ
restores to him free will, and reforms his will for all good works;
nevertheless, not in perfection, for the performing of good will is
not in his power, but comes from God, as fully this holy Apostle
declares, in the seventh chapter of Romans, saying, "but to will is
present with me, but to perform that which is good, I find not."
The man predestined to eternal life, even though he
sins on account of his human frailty, nevertheless cannot fall into
Speaking about this, St. John says that he does not
sin because His seed remains in him.
We believe that forgiveness of sins belongs only
to the Word of God, of which, says St. Ambrose, man is just the
minister; therefore, if he condemns or absolves, it is not him, but
that which is announced by the Word of God.
St. Augustine, in this area, says that it is not by
merits of men that sins are forgiven, but by virtue of the Holy
Spirit. For the Lord said to his apostles, "Receive ye the Holy
Spirit," and he adds, "whosoever sins you remit, they are remitted
unto them, etc."
Cyprian says that a servant cannot forgive an
offence against the Lord.
As to imposition of hands, this has served its
time, and there is no need of preserving it now, for through the
imposition of hands one cannot bestow the Holy Spirit, for this
belongs only to God.
As to ecclesiastical orders, we believe that which
has been written by St. Paul in the first letter to Timothy and in
The separation between
a man and a woman legitimately united by marriage cannot be done,
except on account of adultery, as is taught by our Lord (Mathew
19:5). And not only is this cause for separation, but also, with the
cause properly examined by authorities, the non-guilty party, if
cannot contain himself, should marry, as it is taught by St.
Ambrose, on the seventh chapter of the first letter of Corinth. The
authority, however, must proceed in this matter with mature counsel.
while one's spouse is living is forbidden (Rom. 7:2-3; I Cor. 7:39).
Click here for the biblical doctrine of marriage and remarriage.]
St. Paul, when teaching
that the overseer must be the husband of one wife, is not saying
that another marriage is not proper, but he is condemning bigamy,
which attracted many in those days; nevertheless, we will leave the
concluding judgment on this matter to ones more knowledgeable in the
Holy Scriptures, and we will not base our opinion in this matter
solely on our faith.
It is not right to vow a promise to God, unless
it is that which He approves. In this way the monastic vows tend to
corrupt the true service to God. It is also a fearful thing for a
man in presumption to vow something beyond the measure of his
calling, seeing that Scripture teaches us that continence is a
special gift (Matthew 19 and I Corinthians 7). Therefore, it follows
that those who impose on themselves this necessity, renouncing
matrimony throughout all their lives, cannot be excused of extreme
temerity and excessive and insolent confidence in themselves.
And through this means, they tempt God, considering
that the gift of continence is, in some, merely temporal, and that
which is temporal does not last throughout a whole life. Thus, monks,
priests, and others who oblige themselves to live in chastity, tempt
God, for it is not in themselves to fulfill what they have promised.
St. Cyprian, in his chapter eleven, says, "If virgins dedicate
themselves in good will to Christ, they persevere in chastity without
defect; if they so remain, strong and constant, they can expect the
reward prepared for their virginity; if they do not want or cannot
persevere in their vow, it is better for them to marry than to be
thrown into the fire of luxury, on account of its pleasures and
delights." As to the passage written by St. Paul, it is true that the
widows separated to take care of the church would submit to a vow of
not marrying again while they would be engaged in those duties; not
because this would impart to them, or because it would be attributed
to them, any holiness, but because they would not be able to perform
those duties, if they were married; and, if they felt like marrying,
they should renounce that calling to which God had led them;
nevertheless, fulfilling the promises made in the church, without
breaking the promises made at baptism, in which this is included:
"Every one should serve God in the place where he has been called."
Widows, therefore, did not vow continence, for marriage was unbecoming
to their duties, and they had no other choice but to observe that.
They were not so constrained to the point that they were forbidden to
marry and burn themselves, falling into infamy or dishonesty.
But, to avoid such inconvenience, the Apostle Paul,
in the aforementioned chapter, forbids that they be allowed to vow
such vows unless they reached sixty years of age, which is an age
generally considered outside of the incontinence bracket. And he adds
that the elect should be married only once, so as in this manner they
receive already an approval of continence.
We believe that Jesus Christ is our only
mediator, intercessor and advocate, by whom we have access to the
Father, and that, justified by His blood, we will be free from
death; and reconciled by Him we will have full victory against
As to the saints who died, we say that they desire
our salvation and the fulfillment of the kingdom of God, and that the
number of elect is completed; nevertheless, we must not direct
ourselves to them, as intercessors to obtain something, because we
would be disobeying the commandment of God. As to us, the living,
while we are united as members of one body, we should pray one for
another, as we are taught by many passages of Scriptures.
As to the dead, St. Paul, in the first letter to
the Thessalonians, in its fourth chapter, forbids us to mourn for
them [excessively], for this is a pagan custom, who have no hope of
a resurrection. The Apostle does not command nor teach us to pray
for them, something which he would not have forgotten, if it would
be convenient. St. Augustine, speaking about Psalm 48, says that the
spirits of the dead receive according to what they have done in
life; and that if they have not done anything, and are still living,
they will receive nothing, when dead.
the answer that we give to the articles that we have received from
you, according to the measure and proportion of faith, which God
has given us, praying that he may be pleased that this faith may
not be found dead in us, but bearing fruits worthy of His
children, and that we may grow and persevere in it, so that we
will render praises and thanksgiving to Him forever. Amen.
More about the story of the French Huguenots in Brazil, in English,
can be found in: