15 December 2001

I've posted the 1615 Irish Articles of Religion. They don't appear to be otherwise readily available on the Web in an easily accessible form. So I thought their publication might be useful to some.

The Irish Articles (along with the Lambeth Articles of 1595) are part of an important bridge between the earlier 39 Articles of the Church of England (first English version 1571) and the later Westminster Confession of Faith (1647). The similarities to both the earlier and later documents is apparent. For example, the treatment of the Apocrypha is close to that of the 39 Articles while the discussion of the divine decrees is like that of the Westminster Confession.

The Irish Articles were probably written by Archbishop Ussher and were adopted by the Irish Episcopal Church in 1615, four years before the Synod of Dort. They also bear witness to the Calvinistic bent of the Irish Anglicans, though it is clear that the Irish were not of a Puritan persuasion in their Calvinism and had no difficulties with episcopacy.

Of particular interest to some:

  • Section 18 is the first occurence of "in the space of six days" in an English confessional document and thus is important in determining the intent of Westminster Confession 4.1 when it picks up that phrase.

  • Section 29 shows a good Reformed use of the phrase "the blessed Virgin" to refer to the Mother of our Lord.

  • Section 74 expresses clearly Calvin's view on confession of sin and absolution as part of the ministry of the Gospel, though this did not make its way into the Westminster Confession so explicitly.

  • The non-Puritan perspective of the Articles is evident in Section 77 which gives the church the authority to appoint rites and ceremonies within certain bounds.

  • Section 89, concerning baptism, sees the sacrament as a means of admission into the church whereby the new birth is sealed unto us.

  • While denying transubstantiation, Section 94 asserts nonetheless that we substantially partake of the body and blood of Christ in the holy Supper.

I've attempted to update the spelling in the Articles and make it consistent, though I'm sure I haven't caught every instance yet.