Articles of Religion
As established by the Bishops, the Clergy, and the Laity of the
Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America,
in Convention, on the twelfth day of September, in the Year of
our Lord 1801
I. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity.
THERE is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body,
parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness;
the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible.
And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance,
power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
II. Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man.
THE Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting
of the Father, the very and eternal God. and of one substance
with the Father, took Man's nature in the womb of the blessed
Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect Natures,
that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together
in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very
God, and very Man- who truly suffered, was crucified dead, and
buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice,
not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.
III. Of the going down of Christ into Hell.
As Christ died for us, and was buried; so also is it to be believed,
that he went down into Hell.
IV. Of the Resurrection of Christ.
CHRIST did truly rise again from death, and took again his body,
with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection
of Man's nature; where-with he ascended into Heaven, and there
sitteth. until he return to judge all Men at the last day.
V. Of the Holy Ghost.
THE Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of
one sub- stance, majesty, and glory, with the Father and the
Son, very and eternal God.
VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.
HOLY Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation:
so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby,
is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed
as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary
to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand
those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose
authority was never any doubt in the Church.
Of the Names and Number of the Canonical Books. (See Authorized,
King James, Version, for listing)
And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for
example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not
apply them to establish any doctrine; such are these following
(See Authorized, King James, Version, of Apocrypha for listing.)
All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received,
we do receive, and account them Canonical.
VII. Of the Old Testament.
THE Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the
Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind
by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being
both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign
that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although
the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites,
do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought
of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet not-withstanding,
no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the
Commandments which are called Moral.
VIII. Of the Creeds.
THE Nicene Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles'
Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they
may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.
IX. Of Original or Birth-Sin.
ORIGINAL sin standeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians
do vainly talk) but it is the fault and corruption of the Nature
of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of
Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness,
and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh
lusteth always contrary to the Spirit; and therefore in every
person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation.
And this infection of nature doth remain, yea in them that are
regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek,
ÌpovnÊ Âpkos, (which some do expound the wisdom,
some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire, of the
flesh,) is not subject to the Law of God. And although there
is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized; yet
the Apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of
itself the nature of sin.
X. Of Free-Will.
THE condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he
cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength
and good works, to faith, and calling upon God. Wherefore we
have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God,
without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may
have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good
XI. Of the Justification of Man.
WE are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own
works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith
only, is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort,
as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.
XII. Of Good Works.
ALBEIT that Good Works, which are the fruits of Faith, and follow
after Justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the
severity of God's judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable
to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and
lively Faith; insomuch that by them a lively Faith may be as
evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.
XIII. Of Works before Justification.
WORKS done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of
his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring
not of faith in Jesus Christ; neither do they make men meet to
receive grace, or (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of
congruity: yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath
willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have
the nature of sin.
XIV. Of Works of Supererogation.
VOLUNTARY Works besides, over and above, God's Commandments,
which they call Works of Supererogation, cannot be taught without
arrogancy and impiety: for by them men do declare, that they
do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do,
but that they do more for his sake, than of bounden duty is required:
whereas Christ saith plainly, When ye have done all that are
commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable servants.
XV. Of Christ alone without Sin.
CHRIST in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all
things, sin only except, from which he was clearly void, both
in his flesh, and in his spirit. He came to be the Lamb without
spot, who, by sacrifice of himself once made, should take away
the sins of the world; and sin (as Saint John saith) was not
in him. But all we the rest, although baptized, and born again
in Christ, yet offend in many things; and if we say we have no
sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
XVI. Of Sin after Baptism.
NOT every deadly sin willingly committed after Baptism is sin
against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore the grant
of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after
Baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart
from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God
we may arise again, and amend our lives. And therefore they are
to be condemned, which say, they can no more sin as long as they
live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly
XVII. Of Predestination and Election.
PREDESTINATION to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby
(before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly
decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and
damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind,
and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels
made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent
a benefit of God, be called according to God's purpose by his
Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling:
they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption:
they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ:
they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God's
mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.
As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election
in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort
to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working
of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and
their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and
heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and
confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through
Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards
God: So for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of
Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of
God's Predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the
Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness
of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.
Furthermore, we must receive God's promises in such wise, as
they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture: and, in
our doings, that Will of God is to be followed. which we have
expressly declared unto us in the Word of God.
XVIII. Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ.
THEY also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every
man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so
that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law,
and the light of Nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto
us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.
XIX. Of the Church.
THE visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men,
in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments
be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those
things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred;
so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living
and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.
XX. Of the Authority of the Church.
THE Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority
in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church
to ordain any thing that is contrary to God's Word written, neither
may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant
to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a
keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing
against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce
any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.
XXI. Of the Authority of General Councils.
[The Twenty-first of the former Articles is omitted; because
it is partly of a local and civil nature, and is provided for,
as to the remaining parts of it, in other Articles.]
XXII. Of Purgatory.
THE Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping
and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation
of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon
no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of
XXIII. Of Ministering in the Congregation.
IT is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public
preaching, or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation,
before he be lawfully called, and sent to execute the same. And
those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen
and called to this work by men who have public authority given
unto them in the Congregation, to call and send Minsters into
the Lord's vineyard.
XXIV. Of Speaking in the Congregation in such a Tongue as the
IT is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the custom
of the Primitive Church, to have public Prayer in the Church,
or to minister the Sacraments, in a tongue not understanded of
XXV. Of the Sacraments.
SACRAMENTS ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of
Christian men's profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses,
and effectual signs of grace, and God's good will towards us,
by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only
quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in him.
There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel,
that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.
Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation,
Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be
counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown
partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states
of life allowed in the Scriptures; but yet have not like nature
of Sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord's Supper, for that they
have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.
The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon,
or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them. And
in such only as worthily receive the same, they have a wholesome
effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily, purchase
to themselves damnation, as Saint Paul saith.
XXVI. Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not
the effect of the Sacraments.
ALTHOUGH in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with
the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the
Ministration of the Word and Sacraments, yet forasmuch as they
do not the same in their own name, but in Christ's, and do minister
by his commission and authority, we may use their Ministry, both
in hearing the Word of God, and in receiving the Sacraments.
Neither is the effect of Christ's ordinance taken away by their
wickedness, nor the grace of God's gifts diminished from such
as by faith and rightly, do receive the Sacraments ministered
unto them; which be effectual, because of Christ's institution
and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.
Nevertheless, it appertaineth to the discipline of the Church,
that inquiry be made of evil Ministers, and that they be accused
by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally,
being found guilty, by just judgment be deposed.
XXVII. Of Baptism.
BAPTISM is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference,
whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened,
but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby,
as by an instrument they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted
into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and
of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are
visibly signed and sealed; Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased
by virtue of prayer unto God.
The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in
the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.
XXVIII. Of the Lord's Supper.
THE Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians
ought to have among themselves one to another; but rather it
is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ's death: insomuch
that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the
same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of
Christ- and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the
Blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and
Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ;
but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth
the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper,
only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby
the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is Faith.
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance
re- served, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
XXIX. Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ in the
use of the Lord's Supper.
THE Wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they
do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as Saint Augustine
saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; yet in
no wise are they partakers of Christ: but rather, to their condemnation,
do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament of so great a thing.
XXX. Of both Kinds.
THE Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people: for
both the parts of the Lord's Sacrament, by Christ's ordinance
and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men
XXXI. Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross.
THE Offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption,
propitiation, and satisfaction. for all the sins of the whole
world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction
for sin, but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses,
in the which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer
Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain
or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.
XXXII. Of the Marriage of Priests.
BISHOPS, Priests, and Deacons, are not commanded by God's Law,
either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage:
therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men,
to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same
to serve better to godliness.
XXXIII. Of excommunicate Persons, how they are to be avoided.
THAT person which by open denunciation of the Church is rightly
cut off from the unity of the Church, and excommunicated, ought
to be taken of the whole multitude of the faithful, as an Heathen
and Publican, until he be openly reconciled by penance, and received
into the Church by a Judge that hath authority thereunto.
XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church.
IT is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all
places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been
divers, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries,
times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against
God's Word. Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly
and purposely, doth openly break the Traditions and Ceremonies
of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and
be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked
openly, (that others may fear to do the like,) as he that offendeth
against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority
of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren.
Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain,
change, and abolish Ceremonies or Rites of the Church ordained
only by man's au- thority so that all things be done to edifying.
XXXV. Of the Homilies.
THE Second Book of Homilies, the several titles whereof we have
joined under this Article, doth contain a godly and wholesome
Doctrine, and necessary for these times, as doth the former Book
of Homilies, which were set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth;
and therefore we judge them to be read in Churches by the Ministers,
diligently and distinctly, that they may be understanded of the
Of the Names of the Homilies.
1 Of the right Use of the Church.
2 Against Peril of Idolatry.
3 Of repairing and keeping dean of Churches.
4 Of good Works: first of Fasting.
5 Against Gluttony and Drunkenness.
6 Against Excess of Apparel.
7 Of Prayer.
8 Of the Place and Time of Prayer.
9 That Common Prayers and Sacraments ought to be ministered in
a known tongue.
10 Of the reverend Estimation of God's Word.
11 Of Alms-doing.
12 Of the Nativity of Christ.
13 Of the Passion of Christ.
14 Of the Resurrection of Christ.
15 Of the worthy receiving of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood
16 Of the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
17 For the Rogation-days.
18 Of the State of Matrimony.
19 Of Repentance.
20 Against Idleness.
21 Against Rebellion.
[This Article is received in this Church, so far as it declares
the Books of Homilies to he an explication of Christian doctrine,
and instructive in piety and morals. But all references to the
constitution and laws of England are considered as inapplicable
to the circumstances of this Church; which also suspends the
order for the reading of said Homilies in churches, until a revision
of them may be conveniently made, for the clearing of them, as
well from obsolete words and phrases, as from the local references.]
XXXVI. Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers.
THE Book of Consecration of Bishops, and Ordering of Priests
and Deacons, as set forth by the General Convention of this Church
in 1792, doth contain all things necessary to such Consecration
and Ordering; neither hath it any thing that, of itself, is superstitious
and ungodly. And, therefore, whosoever are consecrated or ordered
according to said Form, we decree all such to be rightly, orderly,
and lawfully consecrated and ordered.
XXXVII. Of the Power of the Civil Magistrates.
THE Power of the Civil Magistrate extendeth to all men, as well
Clergy as Laity, in all things temporal; but hath no authority
in things purely spiritual. And we hold it to be the duty of
all men who are professors of the Gospel. to pay respectful obedience
to the Civil Authority, regularly and legitimately constituted.
XXXVIII. Of Christian Men's Goods, which are not common.
THE Riches and Goods of Christians are not common, as touching
the right, title, and possession of the same; as certain Anabaptists
do falsely boast. Notwithstanding, every man ought, of such things
as he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according
to his ability.
XXXIX. Of a Christian Man's Oath.
As we confess that vain and rash Swearing is forbidden Christian
men by our Lord Jesus Christ, and James his Apostle, so we judge,
that Christian Religion doth not prohibit, but that a man may
swear when the Magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and
charity, so it be done according to the Prophet's teaching, in
justice, judgment, and truth.