Historic Documents

The 39 Articles of Religion

As per Wikipedia:

‘The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion are the historically defining statements of doctrines of the Church of England with respect to the controversies of the English Reformation. First established in 1563, the articles served to define the doctrine of the Church of England as it related to Calvinist doctrine and Roman-Catholicpractice.’


The Thirty-Nine Articles (1572)

I. Of fayth in the holy Trinitie.

There is but one lyuyng and true God, euerlastyng, without body, partes, or passions, of infinite power, wysdome, and goodnesse, the maker and preseruer of al things both visible and inuisible. And in vnitie of this Godhead there be three persons, of one substaunce, power, and eternitie, the father, the sonne, and the holy ghost.


II.  Of the worde or sonne of God which was made very man.

The Sonne, which is the worde of the Father, begotten from euerlastyng of the Father, the very and etemall GOD, of one substaunce with the father, toke mans nature in the wombe of the blessed Virgin, of her substaunce: so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say the Godhead and manhood, were ioyned together in one person, neuer to be diuided, whereof is one Christe, very GOD and very man, who truely suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his father to vs, and to be a sacrifice, not only for originall gylt, but also for all actuall sinnes of men.

III.  Of the goyng downe of Christe into hell.

As Christe dyed for vs, and was buryed: so also it is to be beleued that he went downe into hell.

IV.  Of the Resurrection of Christe.

Christe dyd truely aryse agayne from death, and toke agayne his body, with flesh, bones, and all thinges apparteyning to the perfection of mans nature, wherewith he ascended into heauen, and there sitteth, vntyll he returne to iudge all men at the last day.

V.  Of the holy ghost.

The holy ghost, proceedyng from the father and the sonne, is of one substaunce, maiestie, and glorie,’ with the father and the sonne, very and eternall God.

VI.  Of the sufficiencie of the holy Scriptures for saluation.

Holye  Scripture  conteyneth  all thinges necessarie to saluation: so that whatsoeuer is not read therein, nor may be proued therby, is not to be required of anye man, that it shoulde be beleued as an article of the fayth, or be thought requisite as necessarie to saluation

In the name of holy Scripture, we do vnderstande those Canonicall bookes of the olde and newe Testament, of whose aucthoritie was neuer any doubt in the Churche.

Of the names and number of the Canonicall Bookes.










The .1. booke of Samuel.

The .2. booke of Samuel.

The .1. booke of Kinges.

The .2. booke of Kinges.

The .1. booke of Chroni.

The .2. booke of Chroni.

The .1. booke of Esdras.

The .2. booke of Esdras.

The booke of Hester.

The booke of lob.

The Psalmes.

The Prouerbes.

Ecciesia. or preacher.

Cantica, or songes of Sa.

4. Prophetes the greater.

12. Prophetes the lesse.

And the other bookes, (as Hierome sayth) the Churche doth reade for example of lyfe and instruction of maners: but yet doth it not applie them to establishe any doctnne.Such are these followyng.

The third booke of Esdras. The fourth booke of Esdras. The booke of Tobias. The booke of ludith. The rest of the booke of Hester. The booke of Wisdome. lesus the sonne of Sirach. Baruch, the prophet. Song of the .3. Children. The stone of Susanna. Of Bel and the Dragon. The prayer of Manasses. The .1. booke of Machab. The .2. booke of Macha.

All the bookes of the newe Testament, as they are commonly receaued, we do receaue and accompt them for Canonicall.


VII.  Of the Olde Testament.

The olde Testament is not contrary to the newe, for both in the olde and newe Testament euerlastyng lyfe is offered to mankynde by Christe,  who is the onlye mediatour betweene God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore they are riot to be hearde whiche faigne that the olde fathers  dyd  looke  onlye  for transitorie promises. Although the lawe geuen from God by Moyses, as touchyng ceremonies and rites, do not bynde Christian men, nor the ciuile preceptes therof, ought of necessitie to be receaued in any common  wealth:  yet  notwith­ standyng, no Christian man whatsoeuer, is free from the obedience of the commaundementes, whiche are called morall.

VIII.  Of the three Credes.

The three Credes, Nicene Crede, Athanasius Crede, and that whiche is commonlye called the Apostles’ Crede, ought throughlye to be receaued and beleued: for they may be proued  by  moste  certayne warrauntes of holye scripture.

IX.  Of originall or birth sinne. 

Originall sinne standeth not in the folowing of Adam (as the Pelagians do vaynely talke) but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of euery man, that naturally is engendred of the ofspring of Adam, whereby man is very farre gone from originall ryghteousnes, and is of his owne nature enclined to euyll, so that the fleshe lusteth alwayes contrary to the spirite, and therefore in euery person borne into this worlde, it deserueth Gods wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remayne, yea in them that are re­generated, whereby the luste of the fleshe called in Greke fronema sarkos (whiche some do expoune, the wisedome, some sensualitie, some

the desyre of the fleshe) is not subject to the lawe of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that beleue and are baptized: yet the Apostle doth confesse that con­cupiscence and luste hath of it selfe the nature of synne.

X.  Of free Wyll.

The condition of man after the fall of Adam is suche, that he can not turne and prepare hym self,e by his owne naturall strength and gobd workes, to fayth and calling vpon God:

Wherefore we haue no power to do good workes pleasaunt and accept­able to God, without the grace of God by Christe preuentyng us, that we may haue a good wyll, and workyng with vs, when we haue that good wyll.

XI.  Of the iustification of man.

We are accompted righteous before God, only for the merite of our Lord and sauiour Jesus Christe, by faith, and not for our owne workes or deseruynges. Wherefore, that we are justified by fayth onely, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homilie of iustification.

XII.  Of good workes.

Albeit that good workes, which are the fruites of fayth, and folowe after iustification, can not put away our sinnes, and endure the seueritie of Gods iudgement:  yet  are  they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christe, and do spring out necessarily of a true and huely fayth, in so muche that by them, a lyuely fayth may be as euidently knowen, as a tree discerned by the fruit.

XIII.  Of workes before justification.

Workes done before the grace of Christe, and the inspiration of his spirite, are not pleasaunt to God, forasmuche as they spring not of fayth in Jesu Christ, neither do they make men meete to receaue grace, or (as the schole aucthours saye) deserue grace of congruitie: yea rather for that they are not done as GOD hath wylled and commaunded them to be done, we doubt not but they haue the nature of synne.

XIV.  Of workes of supererogation.

Voluntarie workes besydes, ouer and aboue Gods commaundementes, which they call workes of super­erogation, can not be taught without arrogancie and impietie. For by them men do declare that they do not onely render vnto God as muche as they are bounde to do, but that they do more for his sake then of bounden duetie is required: Wheras Christe sayth playnly, When ye haue done al that are commaunded to you, say, We be vnprofitable seruantes.

XV.  Of Christe alone without sinne. 

Christe in the trueth of our nature, was made lyke vnto vs in al thinges (sinne only except) from which he was clearley voyde, both in his fleshe, and in his spirite. He came to be the lambe without spot, who by the sacrifice of hym self once made, shoulde take away the sinnes of the worlde: and sinne, (as S. John sayeth) was not in hym. But al we the rest, (although  baptized,  and  borne agayne in Christe) yet offende in many thinges, and if we say we haue no sinne, we deceaue our selues, and the trueth is not is vs.

XVI.  Of sinne after Baptisme.

Not euery deadly sinne willingly committed after baptisme, is sinne agaynst  the  holy  ghost,  and vnpardonable. Wherefore, the graunt of repentaunce is not to be denyed to such as fal into sinne after baptisme. After we haue receaued the holy ghost, we may depart from grace geuen, and fall into sinne, and by the grace of God (we may) aryse agayne and amend our lyues. And therefore, they are to be condemned, whiche say they can no more sinne as long as they lyue here, or denie the place of forgeuenesse to such as truely repent.

XVII.  Of predestination and election.

Predestination to lyfe, is the euer-lastyng purpose of God, whereby {before the foundations of the world were layd) he hath constantly decreed by his councell secrete to vs, to dehuer from curse and damnation, those whom he hath chosen in Christe out of mankynde, and to bryng them by Christe to euerlastyng saluation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore they which be indued with so excellent a benefite of God, be called accordyng to Gods purpose by his spirite workyng in due season: they through grace obey the callyng: they be iustified freely: they be made sonnes of God by adoption: they be made lyke the image of his onelye begotten sonne Jesus Christe: they walke religiously in good workes, and at length by gods mercy, they attaine to euerlastyng felicitie.

As the Godlie consideration of As the godly consyderation of predestination, and our election in Christe, is full of sweete, pleasaunt, and vnspeakeable comfort to godly persQns, and such as feele in them selues the working of ‘the spirite of Christe, mortifying the workes of the fleshe, and their earthlye members, and drawing Vp their mynde to hygh and heauenly thinges, aswell because it doth greatly establyshe and confirme their fayth of eternal saluation to be enioyed through Christ, as because it doth feruently kindle their bue towardes God: So, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the spirite of Christe, to haue continually before their eyes the sentence of Gods predestination, is a most daungerous downefall, whereby the deuyll doth thrust them either into desperation, or into recheles-nesse of most vncleane huing, no lesse perilous then desperation.

Furthermore, we must receaue Gods promises in such wyse, as they be generally set foorth to vs in holy scripture: and in our doynges, that wyl of God is to be folowed, which we haue expreslye declared vnto vs in the worde of God.

XVIII.  Of obtaynyng eternall saluation, only by the name of Christe.

They also are to be had accursed, that presume to say, that euery man shal be saued by the lawe or sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his lyfe accordyng to that lawe, and the light of nature. For holy scripture doth set out vnto vs onely the name of Jesus Christe, whereby men must be saued.

XIX.  Of the Church.

The visible Church of Christe, is a congregation of faythfull men, in the which the pure worde of God is preached, and the Sacrarnentes be duely  ministred,  accordyng  to Christes ordinaunce in all those thynges that of necessitie are requisite to the same.

As the Church of Hierusalem, Alexandria,  and Antioche  haue erred: so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their huing and maner of ceremonies, but also in matters of fayth

XX.  Of the aucthoritie of the Church.

The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and aucthoritie in controuersies of fayth: And yet it is not lawfull for the Church to ordayne any thyng that is contrarie to Gods worde written, neyther may it so expounde one place of scripture, that it be repugnaunt to another. Wherefore, although the Churche be a witnesse and a keper of holy writ:  yet, as it ought not to decree any thing agaynst the same, so besides the same, ought it not to enforce any thing to be beleued for necessitie of saluation.

XXI.  Of the aucthoritie of generall Counselles.

Generall Counsels may not be gathered  together  without  the commaundement  and  wyll  of princes. And when they be gathered together (forasmuche as they be an assemblie of men, wherof all be not gouerned with the spirite and word of God) they may erre, and sometyme haue  erred,  euen  in  thinges parteynyng vnto God. Wherfore, thin ges ordayned by them as neces­sary to saluation, haue neyther strength nor aucthoritie, vnlesse it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture.

XXII.  Of Purgatorie.

The Romishe doctrine concernyng purgatorie,  pardons, worshipping and adoration as well of images, as of reliques, and also inuocation of Saintes, is a fonde thing, vainly inuented, and grounded vpon no warrantie of Scripture, but rather repugnaunt to the worde of God.

XXIII.  Of ministering in the congregation.

It is not lawful for any man to take vpon hym the office of publique preachyng, or ministring the Sacramentes in the congregation, before he be lawfully called and sent to execute the same. And those we ought tQ iudge lawfully called and sent, whiche be chosen and called to this worke by men who haue publique aucthoritie geuen vnto them in the congregation, to call and sende ministers into the Lordes vineyarde.

XXIV.  Of speakyng in the congregation, in such a tongue as the people vnder-standeth.

It is a thing playnely repugnaunt to the worde of God, and the custome of the primitiue Churche, to haue publique prayer in the Churche, or to minister the Sacramentes in a tongue not vnderstanded of the people.

XXV.  Of the Sacramentes.

Sacramentes ordayned of Christe, be not onely badges or tokens of Chris tian mens profession: but rather they be certaine sure witnesses and effec-tuall signes of grace and Gods good wyll towardes vs, by the which he doth worke inuisiblie in vs, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirme our fayth in hym.

There are two Sacramentes or-dayned of Christe our Lorde in the Gospell, that is to say, Baptisme, and the Supper of the Lorde.

Those fyue, commonly called Sacra-mentes, that is to say, Confirmation, Penaunce, Orders, Matrimonie, and extreme Vnction, are not to be compted for Sacramentes of the gospel, being such as haue growen partly of the corrupt folowing of the Apostles, partly are states of life alowed in the scriptures: but yet haue not lyke nature of Sacramentes with Baptisme and the Lordes Supper, for that they haue not any visible signe or ceremonie ordayned of God.

The Sacramentes were not or­dayned of Christ to be gased vpon, or to be caryed about: but that we should duely use them. And in such only, as worthyly receaue the same, they haue a wholesome effect or operation: But they that receaue them vnworthyly, purchase to them selues damnation, as S. Paul sayth.

XXVI.  Of the unworthynesse of the mini-sters, which hinder not the effect of the Sacramentes.

Although in the visible Churche the euyl be euer myngled with the good, and sometime the euyll haue cheefe aucthon.tie in the ministration of the worde and Sacramentes: yet fora~ much as they do not the same in their owne name but in Christes, and do minister by his commission and aucthoritie,  we  may  vse  their ministrie, both in hearing the word of God, and in the receauing of the Sacramentes. Neither is ye effecte of Christes ordinaunce taken away by their wickednesse, nor the grace of Gods gyftes diminished from such as by fayth and ryghtly do receaue the Sacramentes ministered vnto them, which be effectuall, because of Christes insitution and promise, although they be ministred by euyll men.

Neuerthelesse, it apparteyneth to the discipline of the Churche, that enquirie be made of euyl ministers, and that they be accused by those that  haue  knowledge  of  their offences: and finally beyng founde gyltie by iust iudgement, be deposed.

XXVII.  Of Baptisme.

Baptisme is not only a signe of profession, and marke of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from other that be not christened:  but is also a signe of regeneration or newe byrth, whereby as by an instru­ment, they that receaue baptisme rightly, are grafted into the Church:  the promises of the forgeuenesse of sinne, and of our adoption to be the sonnes of God, by the holy ghost, are visibly signed and sealed: fayth is confyrmed: and grace increased by vertue of prayer vnto God. The baptisme of young children, is in any wyse to be retayned in the Churche, as most agreable with the institution of Christe.

XXVIII.  Of the Lordes Supper.

The Supper of the Lord, is not only a signe of the bue that Christians ought to haue among them selues one to another: but rather it is a Sacrament of our redemption by Christes death. Insomuch that to suche as ryghtlie, worthyly, and with fayth receaue the same the bread whiche we breake is a parttakyng of the body of Christe, and likewyse the cuppe of blessing, is a parttakyng of the blood of Christe.

Transubstantiation (or the chaunge of the substaunce of bread and wine) in the Supper of the Lorde, can not be proued by holye writ, but is repug-naunt to the playne wordes of scripture, ouerthroweth the nature of a  Sacrament,  and  hath  geuen occasion to many superstitions.

The body of Christe is geuen, taken, and eaten in the Supper only after an heauenly and spirituall maner: And the meane whereby the body of Christe is receaued and eaten in the Supper, is fayth.

The Sacrament of the Lordes Supper was not by Christes ordinaunce reserued, caryed about, lyfted up, or worshipped.

XXIX.  Of the wicked which do not eate the body of Christe in the use of the Lordes Supper.

The wicked, and suche as be voyde of a liuelye fayth, although they do carnally and visibly presse with their teeth (as Saint Augustine sayth) the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ: yet in no wyse are the partakers of Christe, but rather to their condemnation do eate and drinke the signe or Sacrament of so great a thing.

XXX.  Of both kindes.

The cuppe of the Lorde is not to be denyed to the laye people. For both the partes of the Lordes Sacrament, by Christes ordinance and com­maundement, ought to be ministred to all Christian men alike.

XXXI.  Of the one oblation of Christe finished uppon the Crosse.

The offering of Christ once made, is the perfect redemption, propiciation, satisfaction for sinne, but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said that the Priestes did offer Christe for the quicke and the dead; to haue remission of payne or gylt, were bias­phemous fables, and daungerous deceites.

XXXII.  Of the manage of Priestes.

Byshops, Priestes, and Deacons, are not commaunded by Godslawe eyther to vowe the estate of single lyfe, or to abstayne from manage. Therefore it is lawfull also for them, as for all other Christian men, to mary at their owne discretion, as they shall iudge the same to serue better to godlynesse.

XXXIII.  Of excommunicate persons, howe they are to be auoyded.

That  person  whiche  by  open denuntiation of the Churche, is ryghtly cut of from the vnitie of the Churche,  and  excommunicated, ought to be taken of the whole multitude of the faythfull as an Heathen and Publicane, vntill he be openly reconciled by penaunce, and receaued into the Churche by a iudge that hath aucthoritie thereto.

XXXIV.  Of the traditions of the Churche.

It is not necessarie that traditions and ceremonies be in al places one, or vtterly like, for at all times they haue ben diuerse, and may be chaunged accordyng to  the  diuersitie  of Countreys, times, and mens maners, so that nothing be ordeyned against

Gods worde. Whosoeuer through his priuate iudgement, wyllyngly and purposely doth openly breake the traditions and ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnaunt to the worde of God, and be ordayned and approued by common aucthor-itie, ought to be rebuked openly, (that other may feare to do the lyke) as he that offendeth agaynst the Common order of the Churche, and hurteth  the  aucthoritie  of  the Magistrate,  and  woundeth  the consciences of the weake brethren.

Euery  particuler  or  nationall Churche, hath aucthoritie to ordaine, chaunge, and abolishe ceremonies or rites of the Churche ordyened onlye by mans aucthoritie, so that all thinges be done to edifiyng.

XXXV.  Of Homilies.

The seconde booke of Homilies, the seuerall titles wherof we haue ioyned vnder this article, doth conteyne a godly and wholesome doctrine, and necessarie for these tymes, as doth the former booke of Homilies, whiche were set foorth in the time of Edwarde the sixt: and therefore we iudge them to be read in Churches by the  Ministers  diligently,   and distinctly, that they may be vnder-standed of the people.

Of the names of the Homilies.


1 Of the right vse of the Churche.

2 Agaynst perill of Idolatrie.

3 Of repayring and keping deane of Churches.

4 Of good workes, first of fastyng.

5 Agaynst gluttony and drunken-nesse.

6 Against excesse of apparell.

7 Of prayer.

8 Of the place and time of prayer.

9 That common prayers and Sacra-mentes ought to be ministred in a knowen tongue.

10 of the reuerente estimation of Gods worde,

11 of almes doing.

12 of the Natiuitie of Christe.

13 of the passion of Christe.

14 of the resurrection of Christe.

15 of the worthie receauing of the Sacrament of the body and blood of christe.

16 of the gyftes of the holy ghost.

17 For the Rogation dayes.

18 of the state of Matrimonie.

19 of repentaunce.

20 Agaynst Idlenesse.

21 Agaynst rebellion.


XXXVI.  Of consecration of Bishops and ministers.

The booke of Consecration of Archbyshops, and Byshops, and orderyng of Priestes and Deacons, lately set foorth in the time of Edwarde the sixt, and confyrmed at the same tyme by aucthoritie of Parliament, doth conteyne all thinges necessarie to suche consecration and orderyng:  neyther hath it any thing, that of it selfe is superstitious or vngodly. And therefore, whosoeuer are consecrate or ordered accordyng to the rites of that booke, sence the seconde yere of the aforenamed king Edwarde, vnto this  time,  or  hereafter  shalbe consecrated or ordered accordyng to the same rites, we decree all such to be ryghtly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered.

XXXVII.  Of the Ciuill Magistrates.

The Queenes Maiestie hath the cheefe power in this Realme of Englande, and other her dominions, vnto whom the cheefe gouernment of all estates of this Realme, whether they be Ecclesiasticall or Ciuile, in all causes doth apparteine, and is not, nor ought to be subiect to any forraigne iurisdiction.

Where we attribute to the Queenes Maiestie the cheefe gouernment, by whiche titles we vnderstande the mindes of some slaunderous folkes to be offended: we geue not to our princes the ministring either of God’s word, or of Sacraments, the which thing the Iniunctions also lately set forth by Elizabeth our Queene, doth most plainlie testifie: But that only prerogatiue whiche we see to haue ben geuen alwayes to all godly Princes in holy Scriptures by God him selfe, that is, that they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be Ecclesiasticall or Temporall, and restraine with the ciuill sworde the stubberne and euyll doers.

The bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realme of Englande.

The lawes of the Realme may punishe Christian men with death, for heynous and greeuous offences.

It is lawfull for Christian men, at the commaundement of the Magis­trate, to weare weapons, and serue in the warres.

XXXVIII.  Of Christian mens goodes, which are not common.

The ryches and goodes of Christians are not common, as touching the ryght, title, and possession of the same, as certayne Anabaptistes do falsely boast. Notwithstandyng euery man ought of suche thinges as he possesseth, liberally to geue almes to the poore, accordyng to his habilitie.

XXXIX.  Of a Christian mans othe.

As we confesse that vayne and rashe swearing is forbidden Christian men by our lord Jesus Christe, and James his Apostle:  So we iudge that Christian religion doth not prohibite, but that a man may sweare when the Magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and charitie, so it be done accordyng to the prophetes teaching, in iustice, iudgement, and trueth.