THE SEVEN ARTICLES were prepared by the English congregation of Leiden in 1617, during its negotiations with the authorities in England for permission to immigrate to America. They were signed by John Robinson and William Brewster. This was obviously meant to be a conciliatory document, minimising the differences between the Pilgrims and their persecutors. Yet it contains no concessions; bishops are only allowed civil authority (Peter Toon, The Pilgrims Faith, p. 48). It is interesting to note that the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion of the Church of England are endorsed in the first of the Seven Articles.
Seven Articles which the church of Leyden sent to the Council of England to be considered in respect of their judgments occasioned about their going to Virginia.
1. To the confession of faith published in the name of the Church of England and to every article thereof we do, with the Reformed Churches where we live, and also elsewhere, wholly assent.
2. As we acknowledge the doctrine of faith there taught, so do we the fruits and effects of the same doctrine to the begetting of saving faith in the land (conformists and reformists) as they are called, with whom also, as with our breathren, we do desire spiritual communion in peace, and will practice in our parts all lawful things.
3. The Kings Majesty we acknowledge for Supreme Governor in his Dominion in all causes and over all persons, and that none may decline or appeal from his authority or judgment in any case whatsoever, but in all things obedience is due unto him, either active if the thing commanded be not against Gods Word, or passive if it be, except pardon can be obtained.
4. We judge it lawful for his Majesty to appoint Bishops, civil overseers or officers in authority under him in the several provinces, dioceses, congregations or parishes, to oversee the churches and govern them civilly according to the Laws of the land, unto whom they are in all things to give an account, and by them to be ordered according to godliness.
5. The authority of the present Bishops in the land we do acknowledge so far forth as the same is indeed derived from His Majesty unto them, and as they proceed in his name whom we will also therein honour in all things and him in them.
6. We believe that no Synod, Classes, Convocation or Assembly of Ecclesiastical Officers hath any power or authority at all, but as the same by the magistrate is given unto them.
7. Lastly we desire to give unto all Superiors due honour, to preserve the unity of the spirit with all that fear God, to have peace with all men what in us lieth, and wherein we err to be instructed by any.
The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion
Return to the William Bradford Web Page