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20 ARTICLES OF RELIGION (proposed 1786)

I. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity.

THere is but one living, true, and Eternal God, the Father Almighty; without body, parts or passions; of infinite Power, Wisdom, and Goodness, the Maker and preserver of all things both visible and invisible: And one Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, very and true God; who came down from heaven, took man's nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin of her substance, and was God and man in one person, whereof is one Christ; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice for the sins of all men He rose again from death, ascended into heaven, and there sitteth until he shall return to judge the world at the last day: And one Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, of the same divine nature with the Father and the Son.

II. 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.

III. Of the Old and New Testament.

There is a perfect harmony and agreement between the Old Testament and the New, for in both everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man : and although the law given by Moses, as to ceremonies and the civil precepts of it, doth not bind Christians; yet all Christians seek to observe the moral commandments  in hopes of glorifying the Christ who has saved them.

IV. Of the Creed.

THe Creed, commonly called the Apostles' Creed ought to be received and believed: because it may be proved by the Holy Scripture.

V. Of Original Sin.

BY the fall of Adam the Nature of Man is become greatly corrupted, having departed from its primitive innocence, and that original righteousness in which it was at first created by God. For we are now so inclined naturally to do evil that the flesh is continually striving to act contrary to the Spirit of God, which corrupt inclination still remains even in the regenerate. But although there is no man living who sinneth not, yet we must use our sincere endeavours to keep the whole law of God, so far as we possibly can.

VI. 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 giving a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.

VII. 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.  

VIII. Of Good Works.

Although 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.

IX. Of Christ alone without Sin.

Christ, by taking human nature on him, was made like unto us in all things, sin only excepted. He was a lamb without spot, and by the sacrifice of himself once offered, made atonement and propitiation for the sins of the world; and sin was not in him. But all man kind besides, although baptized and born again in Christ, do offend in many things. For if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

X. Of Sin after Baptism.

They who fall into sin after Baptism may be renewed by repentance; for although after we have received God's grace, we may depart from it by falling into sin, yet, through the assistance of his Holy Spirit, we may by repentance and the amendment of our lives, be restored again to his favour. God will not deny forgiveness of sins to those who truly repent, and do that which is lawful and right; but all such through his mercy in Christ Jesus, shall save their souls alive.

XI. Of Predestination.

Predestination to life, with respect to every Man's Salvation, is the everlasting purpose of God, secret to us: and the right knowledge of what is revealed concerning it, is full of comfort to such truly religious Christians, as feel in themselves the spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of their flesh, and their earthly affections, and raising their minds to heavenly things. But we must receive God's promises as they are generally declared in Holy Scripture, and do his will, as therein is expressly directed: for without holiness of life no man shall be saved.

XII. Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ

They are to be accounted presumptuous, who 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.

XIII. Of the Church and its Authority.

The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, wherein the true Word of God is preached and the sacraments administered according to Christ's command.  Every Church has the power to ordain, change, and abolish rites and ceremonies for the more decent and good government thereof: so that all things be done to edifying. But it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything contrary to God's Word, nor so to expound the Scripture, as to make one part seem repugnant to another; nor to decree or enforce anything to be believed as necessary to Salvation that is not contained in the Scriptures. General Councils and Churches are liable to err, and have erred, even in matters of faith and doctrine, as well as in their ceremonies.

XIV. 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, who be chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send Ministers into the Lord's vineyard.

XV. Of the Sacraments.

Sacraments ordained by Christ are not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God's good will towards us, by 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.

XVI. Of Baptism.

Baptism is not merely a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that are 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.

 This last paragraph appears in one of my sources, but not in the other.

XVII. Of the Lord's Supper

THe Supper of the Lord is not merely a sign bf the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another; but rather 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 like wise 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 of the Lord, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is Faith.

XVIII. Of the one Oblation of Christ 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.

XIX. Of Consecration and Ordination.

THe Book of Consecration of Bishops and Ordering of Priests and Deacons, excepting such parts as require any Oaths inconsistent with the American revolution, is to be adopted, as containing all things necessary to such Consecration and Ordering.

 

 

XX. Of a Christian Man's Oath.

 

THe Christian Religion doth not prohibit any man from taking an oath, when required by the Magistrate in testimony of truth; but all vain and rash swearing is forbidden by the Holy Scriptures

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1. Faith in the Holy Trinity

There is only one living and true God, Father almighty, who is an eternal  indivisible and invulnerable spirit. He is of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness. He is the maker and preserver of all things both visible and invisible.  Of this one true God there are three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These three persons are identical in substance, power and eternal existence. The Son, who is the Word of the Father, was begotten from eternity of the Father, and is the true and eternal God, of one substance with the Father. He took man's nature in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary, joining the natures of the Godhead and manhood in one person, never to be divided. Of these two natures, is the one Christ, true God and true man. He truly suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried, to restore a right relationship between the Father and all those he has chosen to believe in His only Son. Christ was the sacrifice, not only for the sin of Adam, which all of us are born with, but also for all actual sins of those who believe in him. Christ truly rose again from death and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all that belongs to the completeness of man's nature. In this body he ascended into heaven, where he is now seated until the last day, when he will return again to bodily raise all mankind from the dead and judge them. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. He is of one substance, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son, true and eternal God. He is the Lord and giver of eternal life. He dwells within each Christian and guides them into all truth.

2. The Sufficiency of Scripture for salvation

Holy Scripture is the word of God and contains all things necessary for salvation. Consequently whatever is not read in Scripture nor can be proved from Scripture cannot be demanded from any person to believe it as an article of the faith. Nor is any such thing to be thought necessary or required for salvation. By holy scripture is meant those canonical books of the Old and New Testaments whose authority has never been doubted within the church. See listing of 66 canonical books of the Old and New Testaments (at bottom).

3. The Old and New Testament

There is a perfect harmony and agreement between the Old Testament and the New, for in both everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man : and although the law given by Moses, as to ceremonies and the civil precepts of it, doth not bind Christians; yet all Christians seek to observe the moral commandments  in hopes of glorifying the Christ who has saved them.

4. Of the Three 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. (Changed in American BCP) The three creeds, the Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed, and that known as the Apostles' Creed, ought to be wholeheartedly accepted and believed. This is because their contents may be proved by definite statements of holy Scripture.

PART III The Life of Faith (Articles 5-14)

Personal Religion

A. Its Commencement (Articles 5-10)

5. Original or Birth-sin

Original sin is not found merely in the following of Adam's example. It is also to be seen in the fault and corruption which is found in the nature of every person who is naturally descended from the first man, Adam. The consequence of this is that man is far gone from his original state of righteousness, before the sin of Adam. In his own nature man is predisposed to evil, the sinful nature in man always desiring to behave in a manner contrary to the Spirit. In every person born into this world there is found this predisposition which rightly deserves God's anger and condemnation. These sinful desires continue even within those who are regenerate or born again. Although there is no condemnation for those that believe in Christ, nevertheless the apostle states that any such desires are sinful.

6. Rejection of Free Will

The condition of man since the fall of Adam is such that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and works (his own so-called free will) to gain faith and call upon the name of the Lord.

7. The justification of man

We are accounted or made righteous before God solely on account of the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through faith and not on account of our own good works or of what we deserve. Consequently the teaching that we are justified by faith alone is a most wholesome and comforting doctrine.

8. Good works

Although good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow on after justification, can never atone for our sins or face the strict justice of God's judgment, they are nevertheless pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ and necessarily spring from a true and living faith. Thus a living faith is as plainly known by its good works as a tree is known by its fruit.

9. Works before justification

Works done before receiving the gift of faith in Christ are not pleasing to God. This is because they do not spring out of faith in Jesus Christ.  On the contrary, such works have the nature of sin.

10. Works of supererogation

The concept of voluntary good works that somehow go over and above what God commands, is nothing but sheer imagination. Men who declare that they do such works are arrogant and impious. For Christ plainly declares: 'So you also, when you after done everything you were told to do, should say, "We are unprofitable servants."

 

B. Its Course (11-14)

11. Of Christ alone without sin

Christ, who truly took our human nature, was made like us in every respect except that of sin. He was free from sin in both body and spirit.  He came to be the Lamb without blemish who, by the sacrifice of himself once made, should take away the sins of all who come to believe in him. Sin, as St. John says, was not in him. But all the rest of us, even though baptized and born again in Christ, still offend in many ways. if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

 12. Sin after baptism

The gift of repentance is not to be declared impossible for those who fall into sin after baptism. After we have received the Holy Spirit we may depart from the grace given to us and fall into sin, and we may also by the grace of God, the power of the Holy Spirit,  return and amend our lives. Therefore those who say that they are incapable of sinning any more in this life are to be condemned, as are those who deny the opportunity of forgiveness to those who truly repent.

13. Predestination and election

Predestination to life is the eternal purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he has consistently decreed by his counsel to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he has chosen in Christ out of mankind and to bring them through Christ to eternal salvation as vessels made for honor. Hence those granted such an excellent benefit by God are called according to God's purpose by his Spirit working at the appropriate time. By grace they obey the calling; they are freely justified, are made sons of God by adoption, are made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, they walk faithfully in good works and at the last by God's mercy attain eternal happiness.

The reverent consideration of this subject of predestination and of our election in Christ is full of sweet, pleasant, and inexpressible comfort to the godly and to those who feel within themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, putting to death the deeds of the sinful and earthly nature and lifting their minds up to high and heavenly things. This consideration establishes and confirms their belief in the eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ and kindles a fervent love towards God.

14. Obtaining salvation only by Christ alone

Those who presume to say that every person shall be saved by the rule of life, religion, or sect that he professes, provided he makes diligent efforts to live by that rule and the light of nature, must be regarded as accursed. For holy Scripture declares to us that it is only in the name of Jesus Christ that men must be saved.

 

PART IV: THE HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH (Articles 15-)

Corporate Religion

A. The Church (15-22)

15. The church and its authority

The visible church of Christ is a congregation of believers in which the pure Word of God is preached and in which the sacraments are rightly administered according to Christ's command. The church has authority to decree forms of worship and ceremonies and to biblically decide in controversies concerning the faith. However, it is not lawful for the church to order anything contrary to God's written Word. Nor may it expound one passage of Scripture so that it contradicts another passage. So, although the church is a witness and guardian to holy Scripture, it must not decree anything contrary to Scripture, nor is it to enforce belief in anything additional to Scripture as essential to salvation. General Councils and Churches may err and have erred, even in matters of faith and doctrine as well as their ceremonies.

 16. Purgatory

As the churches of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred, so also the church of Rome has erred, not only in their practice and forms of worship but also in matters of faith. The Roman doctrine concerning purgatory, pardons, worshipping, and adoration (both of images and of relics), and the invocation of saints is a futile thing foolishly conceived and grounded on no evidence of Scripture. On the contrary this teaching is repugnant to the Word of God.

 

B. Ministry (23-24)

17. Ministering in the congregation

It is not right for any man to take upon himself the office of public preaching or of administering the sacraments in the congregation before he has been lawfully called and sent to perform these tasks. The lawfully called and sent are those who have been chosen and called to this work by men who have had a public authority given to them in the congregation to call and send such ministers into the Lord's vineyard. Worship is to be provided in the language understood by the people.

 

C. The Sacraments (25-31)

25. The sacraments

The sacraments or "mysteries" were instituted by Christ to allow us to publicly confirm our faith in him. There are two sacraments instituted by Christ our Lord: Baptism and the Lord's Supper. The sacraments were not instituted by Christ to be gazed at or carried about but to be used in their proper context. As Paul the apostle says, those who receive them in an unworthy manner, bring condemnation upon themselves. Though unworthy ministers may administer the sacraments, we may use their ministry both in hearing God's Word and in receiving the sacraments. The sacraments are a blessing to us not because of the man who administers them but because of Christ's institution and promise. 

27. Baptism

Baptism is a sign of our profession of faith and a mark of difference by which Christians are distinguished from those who are not baptized. It is also a sign of regeneration or new birth by the Holy Spirit., through which, those who receive baptism visibly proclaim the promises of the forgiveness of sin and of their adoption as sons of God by the Holy Spirit. Most importantly, their gift of faith from God is confirmed and their  membership in Christ's body on earth, is acknowledged by fellow believers.  

28. Of the Lord's Supper

The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the mutual love that Christians ought to have among themselves, it is confirmation of our redemption through Christ's death. To those who receive the bread and wine with the faith the Lord has given them, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ, and similarly the cup of wine is a partaking of the blood of Christ. The Lord did not explain to us how this is possible and so we simply believe in his promise. No explanation is necessary nor possible in this life. The apostle teaches that those who receive unworthily, failing to discern Christ's body, sin against his body and blood. As Christ commanded, all members of his body are to receive both the bread and the wine. 

31. The oblation of Christ finished upon the cross

The offering of Christ made once and for all times. It was and is the perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of those who believe in Christ. There is no other satisfaction for sin but this alone. Consequently, the sacrifices of masses, in which it was commonly said that the priest offered Christ for the living and dead so as to gain remission of pain or guilt, are blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.

D. Discipline (32-36)

32. Marriage of Priests

It is not commanded by any decree of God that bishops, presbyters, or deacons take a vow of celibacy or abstain from marriage. So it is lawful for them, as for all other Christians, to marry at their own discretion when they judge that this will promote godliness

33. The excommunicated: how they are to be avoided

Any person who has openly been denounced by the church and justly cut off from its fellowship and excommunicated is to be regarded by the whole body of the faithful as a 'pagan and swindler' until he is openly reconciled by repentance and received back into the church by a judge who has the necessary authority in such matters. Nevertheless, it belongs to the discipline of the church that investigation be made into evil ministers. Those who are accused by witnesses having knowledge of their offenses and who in the end are justly found guilty, should be disposed.

 

34. The customs of the church

It is not necessary that customs and forms of worship be exactly the same everywhere. Throughout history they have differed. They may be altered according to the differing nations, times, and habits of people provided that nothing is commanded contrary to God's Word. Whoever by his own private judgment openly, willingly, and deliberately breaks those customs and forms of worship of the church which do not contradict the Word of God and are approved by common authority, is to be openly rebuked. This is so that others will be afraid to act similarly, and in so doing offend against the common order of the church, to undermine the authority of the state's representative and to wound the consciences of weak Christians. Every particular or national church has authority to command, change, or abolish the ceremonies or forms of worship of the church which are appointed by man's authority provided that every thing is done for the building up of Christian people.

 

 

36. The 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, contains all things necessary to such Consecration and Ordering; neither has 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.

 

The original 1571, 1662 text of this Article reads as follows:  "The book for the consecration of archbishops and bishops and for ordaining presbyters and deacons, published in the time of Edward VI and confirmed at the same time by the authority of Parliament, contains all things necessary to such consecration and ordination. Nor does it contain anything which of itself is superstitious and ungodly. Therefore whoever is consecrated or ordained according to the services of that book, since the second year of Edward VI to the present time, and whoever will be consecrated and ordained according to those services in the future, we declare to be rightly, duly and lawfully consecrated and ordained."

 

E. Church-State Relations (37-39)

37. The state and its civil representatives

The power of the Civil Magistrate extends to all men, as well as Clergy as Laity, in all things temporal; but has 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.

 

The original 1571, 1662 text of this article reads as follows:  The sovereign has the chief power in the realm of England and his other possessions.  The supreme government of all in this realm, whatever their station, whether ecclesiastical or civil, and in all matters, belongs to him and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign jurisdiction.

 

    When we attribute to the sovereign the chief government (a title which seems to have offended some slanderous persons) we do not grant our rulers the ministry of either God's Word or of the sacraments.  This is also made clear in the Injunctions published by Queen Elizabeth I.  By this we acknowledge only the prerogative which we see in holy Scripture God has given to all godly rulers.  They should rule all people committed to their charge by God, whatever their station or rank, whether ecclesiastical or secular, and restrain with the civil power those who are stubborn or practice evil.

    The bishop of Rome has no jurisdiction in this realm of England.

    The laws of the realm may punish Christian people with death for heinous and grave offenses.

    It is lawful for Christian men at the command of the state to carry weapons and serve in wars.

38. Private Property

Contrary to what some Anabaptists claim, the wealth and possessions of Christians are not common, as far as the right, title, and possession of them is concerned. Nevertheless, everyone ought to give freely to the poor from what he possess, according to his means.

 

39. A Christian's Oath

We believe that the vain and rash swearing of oaths is forbidden to Christians by our Lord Jesus Christ and St. James. However, we judge that the Christian faith does not prohibit the swearing of an oath when the state requires it if in a cause where the faithfulness and love justify it, and according to the prophet Jeremiah's teaching, in justice, judgment and truth.

 The five that are commonly called sacraments (confirmation, penance, ordination, marriage, and extreme unction) are not to be regarded as Gospel sacraments. This is because they are either a corruption of apostolic practice or states of life as allowed in the Scriptures. They are not of same nature as the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper since they do not have any visible sign or ceremony instituted by God.

The Old Testament is not contrary to the New, for in both the Old and New Testaments eternal life is offered to mankind through Christ. Hence he, being both God and man, is the only mediator between God and man. Those who pretend that the Patriarchs only looked for transitory promises must not be listened to. Although the law given by God through Moses is not binding on Christians as far as its forms of worship and ritual are concerned and the civil regulations are not binding on any nation state, nevertheless all Christians is seek to glorify the Christ who saved them by obeying those commandments which may be classified as moral.