Thirty-Nine articles of Relion. Text of the articles (with
a modern rendering) and links to other information on each article.
9-14 : Doctrines connected with justification
6-8 (previous page)
9 Original or Birth-sin
10 Free Will
11 The justification of man
12 Good works
13 Works done before justification
14 Works of supererogation
15-18 (next page)
(Also see Donald Allister's
on Articles 9-11 & 18 and also Cross†Way article
on Articles 12-16)
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 ingendered 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 the Greek, Fronema sarkoV, 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.
9. Original or Birth-sin
Original sin is not found merely in the following of Adam's example
(as the Pelagians foolishly say). It is rather to be seen in the
fault and corruption which is found in the nature of every person
who is naturally descended from Adam. The consequence of this
is that man is far gone from his original state of righteousness.
In his own nature he 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. This infection
within man's nature persists even within those who are regenerate.
This desire of the sinful nature, which in Greek is called phronema
sarkos and is variously translated the wisdom or sensuality or
affection or desire of the sinful nature, is not under the control
of God's law. Although there is no condemnation for those that
believe and are baptized, nevertheless the apostle states that
any such desire is sinful.
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 will.
10 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 good
works for faith and for calling upon the name of the Lord. Hence
we have no power to do good works which are pleasing and acceptable
to God, unless the grace of God through Christ goes before us
so that we may have a good will, and continues to work with us
after we are given that good will.
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.
11 The justification
We are accounted righteous before God solely on account of the
merit of our Lord and Saviour 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. This is taught more fully in the homily
XII. Of Good
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 Judgement; 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.
12 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.
XIII. Of Works
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 willed
and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the
nature of sin.
13 Works before justification
Works done before receiving the grace of Christ and the inspiration
of his Spirit are not pleasing to God. This is because they do
not spring out of faith in Jesus Christ. Nor do they make people
fit to receive grace or (as the schoolmen say) to deserve grace
of congruity. On the contrary, because they are not done as God
has willed and commanded that they should be done, it is undoubtedly
the case that they have the nature of sin.
XIV. Of Works
Voluntary Works besides, over and above, God's Commandments, which
they call Works of 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.
Works of supererogation
The concept of voluntary works besides, over and above God's commandments,
which are sometimes called works of supererogation, cannot be
taught without arrogance and impiety. By them men declare not
only that they render to God their proper duty but that they actually
do more than their duty. But Christ says: "So you also, when
you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We
are unworthy servants.'