10 Articles (1536)

I. The principle articles concerning our Faith

First, As touching the chief and principal Articles of our VIII. Faith, it is thus agreed, as hereafter followeth, by the whole clergy of this our realm. We will, that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach our people by us committed to their spiritual charge, that they ought and must most constantly believe and defend all those things to lie true which be comprehended in the whole body and canon of the Bible; and also in the three creeds or symbols, whereof one was made by the apostles, and is the common Creed which every man useth: the second was made ‘by the council of Nice, and is said daily in the mass: and the third was made by Athanasius, and is comprehended in the Psalm, Quicunque vult. And that they ought and must take and interpret all the same things, according to the selfsame sentence and interpretation, which the words of the selfsame creeds or symbols do purport, and the holy approved doctrines of the church do intreat and defend the same.

Item, That they ought and must repute, hold, and take all the same things for the most holy, most sure, and most certain and infallible words of God, and such as neither ought ne can be altered, or convelled by any contrary opinion or authority.

Item, That they ought and must believe, repute, and take all the articles of our faith contained in the said creeds to be so necessary to be believed for man’s salvation. That, whosoever being taught will not believe them, as is aforesaid, or will obstinately affirm the contrary of them; he, or they, cannot be the very members of Christ, and his spouse the church, but be very infidels or heretics, and members of the devil, with whom they shall perpetually be damned.

Item, That they ought and must most reverently and religiously observe and keep the selfsame words, according to the very same form and manner of speaking, as the A.D. 1536. articles of our faith be already conceived and expressed in said creeds, without altering in any wise, or varying from the same.

Item, That they ought and must utterly refuse and condemn all those opinions contrary to the said articles, which were of long time passed, condemned in the four holy councils, that is to say, in the council of Nice, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon, and all other since that time in any point consonant to the same.

II The Sacrament of Baptism.

 Secondly, As touching the holy sacrament of baptism, we will, that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach our people committed by us unto their spiritual charge, that they ought, and must of necessity believe certainly all those things which have been always by the whole consent of the church approved, received, and used in the sacrament of baptism; that is to say, that the sacrament of baptism was instituted and ordained in the New Testament by our Saviour Jesus Christ, as a thing necessary for the attaining of everlasting life, according to the saying of Christ.No man can enter into the kingdom of heaven, except he be born again of water and the Holy Ghost.

Item, That it is offered unto all men, as well infants as such as have the use of reason, that by baptism they shall have remission of sins, and the grace and favour of God, according to the saying of n Christ, Whosoever believeth and is baptized ah all be saved.

Item, That the promise of grace and everlasting life (which promise is adjoined unto this sacrament of baptism) pertaineth not only unto such as have the use of reason, but also to infants, innocents, and children: and, that they ought therefore, and must needs be baptized; and, that by the sacrament of baptism they do also obtain remission of their sins, the grace and favour of God, and be made thereby the very sons and children of God. Insomuch as

infants and children dying in their infancy shall undoubtedly be saved thereby, and else not.

Item, That infants must needs be christened, because they be born in original sin, which sin must needs be remitted, which cannot be done but by the sacrament of baptism, whereby they receive the Holy Ghost, which exerciseth his grace and efficacy in them, and cleanseth and purifieth them from sin by his most secret virtue and operation.

Item, That children or men, once baptized, can, ne ought ever to be baptized again.

Item, That they ought to repute and take all the Anabaptists and the Pelagians opinions, contrary to the premises, and every other man’s opinion agreeable unto the said Anabaptists’ or the Pelagians’ opinions in this behalf, for detestable heresies, and utterly to be condemned.

Item, That men or children having the use of reason, and willing and desiring to be baptized, shall by the virtue of that holy sacrament obtain the grace and remission of all their sins, if they shall come thereunto perfectly and truly repentant, and contrite of all their sins before committed: and also perfectly and constantly confessing and believing all the articles of our faith, according as it was mentioned in the first article.

And finally, If they shall also have firm credence and trust in the promise of God adjoined to the said sacrament, that is to say, that in and by this said sacrament which they shall receive, God the Father giveth onto them, for his Son Jesus Christ’s sake, remission of all their sins, and the grace of the Holy Ghost, whereby they be newly regenerated, and made the very children of God, according to the saying of “St. John, and ‘the apostle St. Peter, Do  penance for your sins, and be each of you baptized in the name of Jesu Christ, and you shall obtain remission of your sins, and shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. And  according also to the saying of St. Paul, God hath not saved us for  the works of justice which we have done, but by His mercy by baptism, and renovation of the Holy Ghost, whom he hath poured out upon us most plentifully, for the love of Jesu Christ our Saviour, to the intent that we being justified by his grace, should be made the inheritors of everlasting life, according to our hope.

III The Sacrament of Penance.

Thirdly, Concerning the sacrament of penance, we will, that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach our people committed by us unto their spiritual charge, that they ought and must constantly believe, that that sacrament was institute of Christ in the New Testament as a thing so necessary for man’s salvation, that no man, which after his baptism is fallen again, and hath committed deadly sin, can without the same be saved, or attain everlasting life.

Item, That like as such men, which after baptism do fall again into sin, if they do not penance in this life shall undoubtedly be damned ; even so, whensoever the same men shall convert themselves from their naughty life, and do such penance for the same as Christ requireth of them, they shall without doubt attain remission of their sins, and shall be saved.

Item, That a the sacrament of perfect penance, which’ Christ requireth of such manner persons, consisted of three parts; that is to say, contrition, confession, band the amendment of the former life, and a new obedient reconciliation unto the laws and will of God; that is to say, exterior acts in works of charity, according as they be commanded of God, which be called in scripture, the worthy fruits of penance.

Furthermore, As touching contrition, which is the first part, we will, that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach our people committed by us unto their spiritual charge, that the said contrition consisteth in two special parts, which must always be conjoined together, and cannot be dissevered; that is to say, the penitent and contrite man must first knowledge the filthiness and abomination of his own sin, unto which knowledge he is brought by hearing and considering of the will of God- declared in his laws; and feeling and perceiving in his own conscience that God is angry and displeased with him for the same. He must also conceive not only great sorrow and inward shame that he hath so grievously offended God, but also great fear of God’s displeasure towards him, considering he hath no works or merits of his own, which he may worthily lay before God, as sufficient satisfaction for his sins. Which done, then afterward with this fear, shame and sorrow must needs succeed and be conjoined the second part, that is to wit, a certain faith, trust and confidence of the mercy and goodness of God, whereby the penitent must conceive certain hope and faith that God will forgive him his sins, and repute him justified, and of the number of his elect children, not for the worthiness of any merit or work done by the penitent, but for the only merits of the blood and passion of our Saviour Jesu Christ.

Item, That this certain faith and hope is gotten, and also confirmed and made more strong by the applying of Christ’s words and promises of his grace and favour contained in his gospel, and the sacraments instituted by him in the New Testament. And therefore to attain this certain faith, the second part of penance is necessary, that is to say, confession to a priest, if it may be had; for the absolution given by the priest was institute of Christ to apply the promises of God’s grace and favour to the penitent.

Wherefore, As touching confession, we will, that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach our people committed by us to their spiritual charge, that they ought, and must certainly believe, that the words of absolution pronounced by the priest be spoken by the authority given to him by Christ in the Gospel.

Item, That they ought and must give no less faith and credence to the same words of absolution, so pronounced by the ministers of the church, than they would give unto the very words and voice of God himself, if he should speak unto us out of heaven, according to the saying of Christ, Who so ever heareth you heareih me.

Item, That in nowise they do contemn this auricular confession, which is made unto the ministers of the church, but that they ought to repute the same as a ‘very expedient and necessary mean, whereby they may require and ask this absolution at the priest’s hands, at such time as they shall find their conscience grieved with mortal sin, and have occasion so to do; to the intent they may thereby attain certain comfort and consolation of their consciences.

As touching the third part of penance, we will, that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach our people committed by us to their spiritual charge, that although Christ and his death be the sufficient oblation, sacrifice, satisfaction, and recompense, for the which God the Father forgiveth and remitteth to all sinners, not only their sin, but also eternal pain due for the same; yet all men truly penitent, contrite and confessed, must needs also bring forth the fruits of penance, that is to say, prayer, fasting, alms deeds: and must make restitution or satisfaction in will and deed to their neighbours in such things as they have done them wrong and injury in, and also must do all other good works of mercy and charity, and express their obedient will in the executing and fulfilling of God’s commandments outwardly, when time, power, and occasion shall be ministered unto them, or else they shall never be saved. For this is the express precept and commandment of God, Do you the … worthy fruits of penance. And St. Paul saith, Like as in . times past you have given and applied yourselves, and all the members of your body, to all filthy living and wickedness, continually increasing the same; in like manner now you must give and apply yourselves wholly to justice, increasing continually in purity and cleanness of life. And in another place he saith, I chastise and subdue my carnal body, and the affections of the same, and make them obedient unto the spirit.

Item, That these precepts and works of charity be necessary works to our salvation, and God necessarily requireth that every penitent man shall perform the same whensoever time, power, and occasion shall be ministered unto them so to do.

Item, That by penance, and such good works of the same, we shall not only obtain everlasting life, but also we shall deserve remission or mitigation of these present pains and afflictions in this world, according to the saying of St. Paul, if we would correct and take punishment of ourselves we should not be so grievously corrected of God. And Zacharias the prophet saith, Turn yourselves unto me, and I  will turn again unto you. And the prophet Esay saith, Break and deal thy bread unto the hungry, bring into thy house the poor man, and such as want harbour. When thou seest a naked man, give him clothes to cover him with, and refuse not to succour and help the poor and needy, for he is thine own flesh. And if thou wilt thus do, then shall thy light glister out as bright as the sun in the morning, and thy health shall sooner arise unto thee, and thy justice shall go before thy face, and the glory of God shall gather thee up, that thou shalt not fall. And whensoever thou shalt call upon God, shall hear thee: and whensoever thou shalt cry unto God, God shall say, Lo! here I am ready to help thee. Then shall thy light overcome all darkness, and thy darkness shall be as bright as the sun at noondays: and then God shall give unto thee continual rest, and shall fulfil thy soul with brightness; and shall deliver thy body from adversity: and then thou shalt be like a garden that most plentifully bringeth forth all kind of fruits, and like the well-spring that never shall want water.

These things, and such other, should be continually taught and inculcated into the ears of our people, to the intent to stir and provoke them unto good works, and by the selfsame good works to exercise and confirm their faith and hope, and look for to receive at God’s hand mitigation and remission of the miseries, calamities, and grievous punishments which God sendeth to men in this world for their sins.

IV The Sacrament of the Altar.

Fourthly, As touching the sacrament of the altar, we will, that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach our people committed by us unto their spiritual charge, that they ought and must constantly believe, that under the form and figure of bread and wine, which we there presently do see and perceive by outward senses, is verily, substantially, and really contained and comprehended the very selfsame body and blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which was born of the Virgin Mary, and suffered upon the cross for our redemption. And, that under the same form and figure of bread and wine, the very selfsame body and blood of Christ is corporally, really, and in the very substance exhibited, distributed, and received unto and of all them which receive the said sacrament. And, that therefore the said sacrament is to be used with all due reverence and honour; and that every man ought first to prove and examine himself, and religiously to try and search his own conscience before he shall receive the same, according to the saying of St. Paul. Whosoever eateth this body of Christ is unworthily, or drinketh of this blood of Christ unworthily, shall be guilty of the very body and blood of Christ. Wherefore let every man first prove himself and so let him eat of this bread and drink of this drink ; for whosoever eateth it or drinketh it unworthily, he eateth and drinketh to his own damnation, because he putteth no difference between the very body of Christ aand other kinds of meat.

V Justification.

Fifthly, As touching the order and cause of our justification, we will, that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach our people committed by us to their spiritual charge, that this word justification signifieth remission of our sins, and our acceptation or reconciliation into the grace and favour of God, that is to say, our perfect renovation in Christ.

Item, That sinners attain this justification by contrition and faith joined with charity, after such sort and manner as we before mentioned and declared. Not as though our contrition, or faith, or any works proceeding thereof, can worthily merit or deserve to attain the said justification: for the only mercy and grace of the Father promised freely unto us for his Son’s sake Jesus Christ, and the merits of his blood and passion, be the only sufficient and worthy causes thereof. And yet, that, notwithstanding, to the attaining of the bsame justification, God requireth to be in us, not only inward contrition, perfect faith and charity, certain hope and confidence, with all other spiritual graces and motions; which, as we said before, must necessarily concur in remission of our sins, that is to say, our justification: but also he requireth and commandeth us, that after we be justified, we must also have good works of charity and obedience towards God, in the observing and fulfilling outwardly of his laws and commandments. For although acceptation to everlasting life be conjoined with justification, yet our good works be necessarily required to the attaining of everlasting life. And we being justified be necessarily bound, and it is our necessary duty to do. good works, according to the saying of St. Paul,  We be  bound not to live according to the flesh, and to fleshly appetites ; for if we live so, ice shall undoubtedly be damned. And contrary, if we will mortify the deeds of our flesh, and live according to the Spirit, we shall be saved. For whosoever be led by the Spirit of God, they be the children of God. And Christ saith,  If you will come to heaven, keep the commandments. And St. Paul, speaking of evil works, saith, Whosoever commit sinful deeds sliall never come to heaven.

Wherefore we will, that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach our people committed by us unto their spiritual charge, that God necessarily requireth of us to do good works commanded by him, and that not only outward and civil works, but also the inward spiritual motions and graces of the Holy Ghost: that is to say, to dread and fear God, to love God, to have firm confidence and trust in God, to invocate and call upon God, to have patience in all adversities, to hate sin, and to have certain purpose and will not to sin again, and such other like motions and virtues. For Christ saith, Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven: that is to say, we must not only do outward civil good works, but also we must have these foresaid inward spiritual motions, consenting and agreeable to the law of God.

Articles concerning the laudable ceremonies used in the 
Church of Christ

VI and first of Images.

As touching images, truth it is, that the same have been used in the Old Testament, and also for the great abuses of them, sometime destroyed and put down. And in the New Testament they have been also allowed, as good authors do declare. Wherefore we will, that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach our people committed by us to their spiritual charge, how they ought and may use them. And first, that there be attributed unto them, that they be representers of virtue and good example. And, that they also be by occasion the kindlers and stirrers of men’s minds, and make men oft to remember and lament their sins and offences, especially the images of Christ and our LadyAnd, that therefore it is meet that they

should stand in the churches, and none otherwise to be esteemed. And, to the intent that rude people should not from henceforth take such superstition as in time past, it is thought that the same hath used to do; We will, that our bishops and preachers diligently shall teach them, and according to this doctrine reform their abuses: for else there might fortune idolatry to ensue, which God forbid. And as for censing of them, and kneeling and offering unto them, with other like worshippings, although the same hath entered by devotion, and fallen to custom, yet the people ought to be diligently taught, that they in nowise do it, nor think it meet to be done to the same images; but only to be done to God and in his honour, although it be done before the images, whether it be of Christ, of the cross,’of our Lady, or of any other saint beside.

VII Of honouring of Saints

As touching the honouring of saints, we will, that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach our people committed by us unto their spiritual mcharges, that saints, now being with Christ in heaven, be to be honoured of Christian people in earth, but not with that confidence and honour which are only due unto God, trusting to attain at their hands that which must be had only of God. But, that they be thus to be honoured, because they be known the elect persons of Christ, because they be passed in godly life out of this transitory world; because they already do reign in glory with Christ; and, most specially to laud and praise Christ in them for their excellent virtues, which he planted in them, for example of and by them to such as “yet are in this world, to live in virtue and goodness; and also not to fear to die for Christ and his cause, as some of them did. And finally, to take them in that they may, to be the advancers of our prayers and demands unto Christ. By these ways, and such like, be saints to be honoured and had in reverence, and by none other.

VIII Of Praying to Saints.

As touching praying to saints, we will, that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach our people committed by us unto their spiritual charge, that albeit grace, remission of sin, and salvation, cannot be obtained but of God only, by the mediation of our Saviour Christ, which is only sufficient mediator for our sins; yet it is very laudable to pray to saints in heaven everlastingly living, whose charity is ever permanent to be intercessors, and to pray for us and with us unto Almighty God, after this manner:

“All holy angels and saints in heaven, pray for us, and “with us, unto the Father, that for his dear Son Jesus “Christ his sake, we may have grace of him, and remission “of our sins, with an earnest purpose (not wanting ghostly “strength) to observe and keep his holy commandments, “and never to decline from the same again unto our lives’ “end.” And in this manner we may pray to our blessed Lady, to St. John Baptist, to all and every of the apostles, or any other saint particularly, as our devotion doth serve us: so that it be done without any vain superstition, as to think that any saint is more merciful, or will hear us sooner than Christ; or that any saint doth serve for one thing more than another, or is patron of the same. And likewise we must keep holy-days unto God, in memory of Him and His saints, upon such days as the church hath ordained their memories to be celebrate, except they be mitigated and moderated by the assent and commandment of us the supreme head, to the ordinaries; and then the subjects ought to obey it.

IX Of Rites and Ceremonies.

As concerning the rites and ceremonies of Christ’s church; as, to have such vestments in doing God’s service as be and have been most part used: as sprinkling of holy water, to put us in remembrance of our baptism, and the blood of Christ sprinkled for our redemption upon the cross: giving of holy bread, to put us in remembrance of the sacrament of the altar, that all Christian men be one body mystical of Christ, as the bread is made of many grains, and yet but one loaf; and to put us in remembrance of the receiving of the holy sacrament and body of Christ, the which we ought to receive in right charity, which in the beginning of Christ’s church men did more often receive than they use nowadays to do: bearing of candles on Candlemas-day, in memory of Christ the spiritual light, of whom Simeon did prophesy, as is read in the church that day: giving of ashes on Ash-Wednesday, to put in remembrance every Christian man in the beginning of Lent and penance, that he is but ashes and earth, and thereto shall return, which is right necessary to be uttered from henceforth in our mother-tongue always on the same day: bearing of palms on Palm-Sunday, in memory of the receiving of Christ into Jerusalem a little before his death, that we may have the same desire to receive him into our hearts: creeping to the cross, and humbling ourselves to Christ on Good-Friday before the cross, and there offering unto Christ before the same, and kissing of it in memory of our redemption by Christ made upon the cross: setting up the sepulture of Christ, whose body after his death was buried: the hallowing of the font, and other like exorcisms and benedictions by the ministers of Christ’s church, and all other like laudable customs, rites and ceremonies, be not to be contemned and cast away, but to be used and continued, as things good and laudable, to put us in remembrance of those spiritual things that they do signify, not suffering them to be forgotten, or to be put in oblivion, but renewing them in our memories from time to time; but none of these ceremonies have power to remit sin, but only to stir and lift up our minds unto God, by whom only our sins be forgiven.

X Of Purgatory.

Forasmuch as due order of charity requireth, and the Book of Maccabees and divers ancient doctors plainly shewen, that it is a very good and charitable deed to pray for souls departed; and forasmuch also as such usage hath continued in the church so many years, even from the beginning; we will, that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach our people committed by us unto their spiritual charge, that no man ought to be grieved with the continuance of the same; and, that it standeth with the very due order of charity, a Christian man to pray for souls departed, and to commit them in our prayers to God’s mercy, and also to cause other to pray for them in masses and exequies, and to give alms to other to pray for them, whereby they may be relieved and holpen of some part of their pain. But, forasmuch as the place where they be, the name thereof, and kind of pains there also, be to us uncertain by scripture, therefore this, with all other things, we remit to Almighty God, unto whose mercy it is meet and convenient for us to commend them; trusting that God accepteth our prayers for them, referring the rest wholly to God, to whom is known their estate and condition. Wherefore it is much necessary that such abuses be clearly put away which under the name of purgatory hath been advanced, as, to make men believe that through the bishop of Rome’s pardons souls might clearly be delivered out of purgatory and all the pains of it; or, that masses said at. scala call, or otherwise in any place, or before any image, might likewise deliver them from all their pain, and send them straight to heaven. And other like abuses.


A summary of the Ten Articles (courtesy of Luminarium)

Articles related to doctrines:

  • That Holy Scriptures and the three Creeds are the basis and summary of a true Christian faith.
  • That baptism conveys remission of sins and the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, and is absolutely necessary as well for children as adults.
  • That penance consists of contrition, confession, and reformation, and is necessary to salvation.
  • That the body and blood of Christ are really present in the elements of the eucharist.
  • That justification is remission of sin and reconciliation to God by the merits of Christ; but good works are necessary.

Articles related to ceremonies:

  • That images are useful as remembrancers, but are not objects of worship.
  • That saints are to be honored as examples of life, and as furthering our prayers.
  • That saints may be invoked as intercessors, and their holy days observed.
  • That ceremonies are to be observed for the sake of their mystical signification, and as conducive to devotion.
  • That prayers for the dead are good and useful, but the efficacy of papal pardon, and of soul-masses offered at certain localities, is negatived.

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