Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

can. 6.

Greg.

stant. ca

3.

ART. speaks only of their union under one bishop; and of the XXXVII. other churches holding a brotherly communion with that

bishop. Through his whole epistles he treats the bishops of

Rome as his equals, with the titles of brother and colleague. Conc. Nic. In the first general council, the authority of the bishops of

the great sees is stated as equal. The bishops of Alexandria and Antioch are declared to have, according to custom, the same authority over the churches subordinate to them, that the bishops of Rome had over those that lay about that city. This authority is pretended to be derived only. from custom,

and is considered as under the limitations and decisions of a Ep. x. ad general council. Soon after that, the Arian heresy was so

spread over the east, that those who adhered to the Nicene faith, were not safe in their numbers; and the western churches being free from that contagion, (though St. Basil laments that they neither understood their matters, nor were much concerned about them, but were swelled up with pride,) Athanasius and other oppressed bishops fled to the bishops of Rome, as well as to the other bishops of the west; it being natural for the oppressed to seek protection wheresoever they

can find it: and so a sort of appeals was begun, and they were Con. Sard. authorized by the council of Sardica. But the ill effects of can.3.et 7. this, if it should become a precedent, were apprehended by Con. Con can. the second general council; in which it was decreed, that

every province should be governed by its own synod; and that all bishops should be at first judged by the bishops of their own province; and from them an appeal was allowed to the bishops of the diocese ; whereas by the canons of Nice no appeal lay from the bishops of the province. But though this canon of Constantinople allows of an appeal to the bishops of every such division of the Roman empire as was known by the name of diocese; yet there is an express prohibition of any other or further appeal; which is a plain repealing of the canon at Sardica. And in that same council it appears upon what the dignity of the see of Rome was then believed to be founded; for Constantinople being made the seat of the empire, and called new Rome, the bishops of that see had the same privileges given them, that the bishops of old Rome had; except only the point of rank, which was

preserved to old Rome, because of the dignity of the city, Con. Chal. This was also confirmed at Chalcedon in the middle of the 28.

an. fifth century. This shews, that the authority and privileges Labb. and of the bishops of Rome were then considered as arising out Coss. vol. of the dignity of that city, and that the order of them was

p.109. subject to the authority of a general council. Conc. The African churches in that time knew nothing of any Afric. cap. 101. et

apo superiority that the bishops of Rome had over them: they

superior 105. Epist. condemned the making of appeals to them, and appointed ad Bonifac. that such as made them should be excommunicated. The et Celest. Labb. and popes, who laid that matter much to heart, did not pretend

ced. can

[ocr errors]

to an universal jurisdiction as St. Peter's successors by a ART. divine right: they only pleaded a canon of the council of XXXVII. Nice; but the Africans had heard of no such canon, and so Coss. vol. they justified their independence on the see of Rome. Great iii. p. 528 search was made after this canon, and it was found to be an 532. imposture. So early did the see of Rome aspire to this universal authority, and did not stick at forgery in order to the compassing of it. In the sixth century, when the emperor Mauritius continued a practice begun by some former em- Greg. Ep. perors, to give the bishop of Constantinople the title of lib. ix. Epo universal bishop; Pelage, and after him Gregory the Great, 38 39 broke out into the most pathetical expressions that could be lib. vi. invented against it; he compared it to the pride of Lucifer ; 24, 28,

30, 31. and said, that he who assumed it was the forerunner of anti- lib. vi. christ; and as he renounced all claim to it, so he affirmed Ep. 69. that none of his predecessors had ever aspired to such a power.

This is the more remarkable, because the Saxons being converted to the Christian religion under this pope's direction, we have reason to believe that this doctrine was infused into this church at the first conversion of the Saxons : yet pope Gregory's successor made no exceptions to the giving himself that title, against which his predecessor had declaimed so much : but then the confusions of Italy gave the popes great advantages to make all new invaders or pretenders enlarge-their privileges ; since it was a great accession of strength to any party to have them of their side. The kings of the Lombards began to lie heavy on them; but they called in the kings of a new conquering family from France, who were ready enough to make new conquests; and when the nomination of the popes was given to the kings of that race, it was natural for them to raise the greatness of one who was to be their creature; so they promoted their authority; which was not a little confirmed by an impudent forgery of that time of the Decretal Epistles of the first popes; in which they were represented as governing the world with an universal and unbounded authority. This book was a little disputed at first, but was quickly submitted to; and the popes went on upon that foundation, still enlarging their pretensions. Soon after that was submitted to, it quickly appeared that the pretensions of that see were endless.

They went on to claim a power over princes and their dominions; and that first with relation to spiritual matters. They deposed them, if they were either heretics themselves, or if they favoured heresy, at least so far as not to extirpate it. From deposing they went to the disposing of their dominions to others; and at last Boniface the Eighth completed their claim; for he decreed, that it was necessary for every man to be subject to the pope's authority: and he asserted a direct dominion over princes as to their temporals, that they

ART. were all subject to him, and held their dominions under him, XVII. and at his courtesy. As for the jurisdiction that they claimed

over the spiritualty, they exercised it with that rigour, with such heavy taxes and impositions, such exemptions and dispensations, and such a violation of all the ancient canons, that as it grew insupportably grievous, so the management was grossly scandalous, for every thing was openly set to sale. By these practices they disposed the world to examine the grounds of that authority, which was managed with so much tyranny and corruption. It was so ill founded, that it could not be defended but by force and artifices. Thus it appears, that there is no authority at all in the scripture for this extent of jurisdiction that the popes assumed: that it was not thought on in the first ages: that a vigorous opposition was made to every step of the progress that it made: and that forgery and violence were used to bring the world under it. So that there is no reason now to submit to it.

As for the patriarchal authority, which that see had over a great part of the Roman empire, that was only a regulation made conform to the constitution of that empire: so that the empire being now dissolved into many different sovereignties, the new princes are under no sort of obligation to have any regard to the Roman constitution: nor does a nation's receiving the faith by the ministry of men sent from any see, subject them to that see; for then all must be subject to Je-rusalem, since the gospel came to all the churches from thence. There was a decision made in the third general council in the case of the Cypriotic churches, which pretended that they had been always complete churches within themselves and independent; therefore they stood upon this privilege, not to be subject to appeals to any patriarchal see. The council judged in their favour. So since the Britannic churches were converted long before they had any commerce with Rome, they were originally independent ; which could not be lost by any thing that was afterwards done among the Saxons, by men sent over from Rome. This is enough to prove the first point, that the bishops of Rome had no lawful jurisdiction here among us. · The second is, that kings or queens have an authority over their subjects in matters ecclesiastical. In the Old Testament,

the kings of Israel intermeddled in all matters of religion : 1 Sam. xv. Samuel acknowledged Saul's authority; and Abimelech,

though the high priest, when called before Saul, appeared and answered to some things that were objected to him that related to the worship of God. Samuel said in express words to Saul, that he was made the head of all the tribes;' and one of these was the tribe of Levi. David made many laws about sacred matters, such as the orders of the courses of the priests, and the time of their attendance at the public service. When he died, and was informing Solomon of the extent of

30. xxii.

14.

xv. 17.

XXVII.

xviii. 21.

his authority, he told him, that the courses of the priests and ART. all the people were to be wholly at his commandment. Pur- XXX suant to which, Solomon did appoint them their charges in 1 Chron the service of God; and both the priests and Levites de- xxiii. 6. parted not from his commandment in any matter. He

192 Chron. turned out Abiathar from the high priest's office, and yet no vi. 14, 15. complaint was made upon it, as if he had assumed an authority that did not belong to him. It is true, both David and Solomon were men that were particularly inspired as to some things; but it does not appear that they acted in those matters by virtue of any such inspiration. They were acts of regal power, and they did them in that capacity. Jehosha- 2 Chron. phat, Hezekiah, and sosiah, gave many directions and orders xvii. 8,9.

.: chủ x. 8, to in sacred matters: but though the priests withstood Uzziah the en when he was going to offer incense in the holy place, yet they xxvi. 16 did not pretend privilege, or make opposition to those orders 19. that were issued out by their kings. Mordecai appointed the feast of Purim, by virtue of the authority that king Ahasuerus gave him : and both Ezra and Nehemiah, by virtue of commissions from the kings of Persia, made many reformations and gave many orders in sacred matters.

Under the New Testament, Christ, by saying, “Render to Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's,' did plainly shew, that he did not intend that his religion should in any sort lessen the temporal authority. The apostles writ to the churches to obey magistrates, to submit to them, and to pay taxes : 5 they enjoined obedience, whether to the king as supreme, Ver. 1. or to others that were sent by him :' every soul,' without 1 Pet.ü. 13, exception, is charged to be subject to the higher powers.' 14. The magistrate is ordained of God, and “is his minister to encourage them that do well, and to punish the evil doers.' If these passages of scripture are to be interpreted according to the common consent of the fathers, churchmen are included within them, as well as other persons. There was not indeed great occasion to consider this matter before Constantine's coming to the empire; for till then the emperors did not consider the Christians otherwise than either as enemies, or at best as their subjects at large: and therefore, though the Christians made an address to Aurelian in the matter of Samosatenus, and obtained a favourable and just answer to it; yet in Constantine's time, the protection that he gave to the Christian religion led him and his successors to make many laws in ecclesiastical matters, concerning the age, the qualifications, and the duties, of the clergy. Many of these are to be found in Theodosius and Justinian's code : Justinian added many more in his Novels. Appeals were made to the emperors against the injustice of synods: they received them, and appointed such bishops to hear and try those causes as happened to be then about their courts. In the council of Nice many complaints were given to the emperor by the

ART. bishops against one another. The emperors called general XXXVII. councils by their summons; they sate in them, and confirmed

their decrees. This was the constant practice of the Roman emperors, both in the east and in the west: when the church came to fall under many lesser sovereignties, those princes continued still to make laws, to name bishops, to give investitures into benefices, to call synods, and to do every thing that appeared necessary to them, for the good government of the church in their dominions.

When Charles the Great was restoring those things that had fallen under much disorder in a course of some ignorant and barbarous ages, and was reviving both learning and good government, he published many Capitulars, a great part of them relating to ecclesiastical matters; nor was any exception taken to that in those ages : the synods that were then held were for the greatest part mixed assemblies, in which the temporalty and the spiritualty sate together, and judged and decreed of all matters in common. And it is certain, that such was the sanhedrim among the Jews in our Saviour's time; it was the supreme court both for spirituals and temporals.

In England our princes began early, and continued long, to maintain this part of their authority. The letters that are pretended to have passed between king Lucius and pope Eleutherius are very probably forgeries; but they are ancient ones, and did for many ages pass for true. Now a forgery is generally calculated to the sense of the age in which it is made. In the pope's letter, the King is called God's vicar in his kingdoms; and it is said to belong to his office, to bring his subjects to the holy church, and to maintain, protect, and govern them in it. Both Saxon and Danish kings made a great many laws about ecclesiastical matters; and after the conquest, when the nation grew into a more united body, and came to a more settled constitution, many laws were made concerning these matters, particularly in opposition to those practices that favoured the authority that the popes were then assuming ; such as appeals to Rome, or bishops going out of the kingdom without the king's leave. King Alfred's laws were a sort of a text for a great while; they contain many laws about sacred matters. The exempting of monasteries from episcopal jurisdiction was granted by some of our kings at first. William the Conqueror, to perpetuate the memory of his victory over Harold, and to endear himself to the clergy, founded an abbey in the field where the battle was fought, called Battle-Abbey: and in the charter of the foundation, in imitation of what former kings had done in their endowments, this clause was put; It shall be also free and quiet for ever from all subjection to bishops, or the dominion of any other persons. This is an act that does as immediately relate to the authority of the church, as any one that we can

« PoprzedniaDalej »