Thirty-Nine articles of Religion. Text of the articles (with
a modern rendering) and links to other information on each article.
25-31: The Sacraments.
23-24 (previous page)
25 The Sacraments
26 The Sacraments are not rendered ineffectual by the
unworthiness of the minister.
28 The Lord's Supper
29 The wicked who partake of the Lord's Supper do not
eat the body of Christ
30 Reception in both kinds
31 The oblation of Christ finished on the cross
(See also Donald Allister's
article in Cross†Way
on Articles 25 and 27 and also article
on Articles 28-31
32-36 (next page)
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.
25 The sacraments
The sacraments instituted by Christ are not only badges or tokens
of the profession of Christians but are also sure witnesses and
effectual signs of God's grace and good will towards us. Through
them he works invisibly within us, both bringing to life and also
strengthening and confirming our faith in him.
There are two sacraments instituted by Christ our Lord in the
Gospel - baptism and the Lord's Supper.
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 the 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 sacraments were not instituted by Christ to be gazed at or
carried about but to be used properly. It is only in those who
receive them worthily that they have a beneficial effect or operation.
As Paul the apostle says, those who receive them in an unworthy
manner bring condemnation upon themselves.
XXVI. Of the
Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of
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 the receiving of 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 judgement be deposed
26 The sacraments are not
rendered ineffectual by the unworthiness of the minister
Although in the visible church the evil are always
mingled with the good and sometimes evil people possess the highest
rank in the ministry of the Word and sacraments, nevertheless
since they do not do these things in their own name but in Christ's
and minister by his commission and authority, we may use their
ministry both in hearing God's Word and in receiving the sacraments.
The effect of Christ's institution is not taken away by the wickedness
of these people, nor is the grace of God's gifts diminished, so
long as the sacraments are received by faith and rightly. The
sacraments are effectual because of Christ's institution and promise,
even though they may be administered by evil men.
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 offences and who in the
end are justly found guilty, should be deposed.
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.
Baptism is not only a sign of profession 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, through which,
as through an instrument those who receive baptism in the right
manner are grafted into the church, the promises of the forgiveness
of sin and of our adoption as sons of God by the Holy Spirit are
visibly signed and sealed, faith is confirmed and grace is increased
by virtue of prayer to God. The baptism of young children is undoubtedly
to be retained in the church as that which agrees best with Christ's
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
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
reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
28 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. Rather, it is a sacrament
of our redemption through Christ's death. To those who rightly,
worthily and with faith receive it, the bread which we break is
a partaking of the body of Christ, and similarly the cup of blessing
is a partaking of the blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation (the change of the substance of the bread and
wine) in the Supper of the Lord cannot be proved from holy Scripture,
but is repugnant to the plain teaching of Scripture. It overthrows
the nature of a sacrament and has given rise to many superstitions.
The body of Christ is given, taken and eaten in the Supper only
in a heavenly and spiritual manner. The means by which the body
of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is faith.
The sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not instituted by Christ
to be reserved, carried about, lifted up or worshipped.
XXIX. Of the
Wicked which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord's
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.
The wicked who partake of the Lord's supper do not eat the body
The wicked and those who lack a living faith, although
they physically and visibly 'press with their teeth' (as St Augustine
says) the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, nevertheless
are in no way partakers of Christ. Rather, by eating and drinking
the sign or sacrament of so great a thing, they bring condemnation
XXX. Of both
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 alike.
30 Reception in both kinds
The cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the laity. For
by Christ's institution and commandment both parts of the Lord's
sacrament ought to be administered to all Christian people alike.
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.
31 The one oblation of Christ
finished upon the cross
The offering of Christ made once is the perfect redemption, propitiation
and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original
and actual. 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, were blasphemous fables
and dangerous deceits.