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" prince determined or allowed, the time and
place of meeting, and what persons should come « to them.”_When synods are assembled, he shews, “ that the civil magistrate has a right to
prescribe the matters on which they are to de“ bate, and also the manner and method of their
proceedings in them; and, if he pleases, to sit
in and preside over them; or, to appoint his • commissioner to do it in his stead. (Thus Lord " Cromwell, a lay person, sat in, and presided “ over the convocation for the king, Henry VIII.)
They cannot dissolve themselves, nor depart " from council, but by the king's licence :their “ definitions are no further obligatory, than as “ ratified and confirmed by civil authority.“ That the prince is not obliged to confirm, “ whatever the clergy shall think fit to determine, “ but has a power of annulling and rejecting, “ what they have done; to alter or improve, to « add or take from it. He denies the inherent
authority of the church to make any synodical, “ authoritative definitions; or, that the sitting of as convocations is any right of the church. And
says; that as even the king's licence cannot
give the convocation authority to promulge or “ execute any canons but what are agreeable to. " the customs and laws of the realm, so he ought “ to submit them to the examination of his “ cil, learned in the law, by them to be advised, “ whether they are thus agreeable, before he « confirms them."*
So that the convocation, you see, are not so much as the king's supreme council in ecclesiastical affairs. There are others, who are to judge after them, to sit as a check upon them, to inspect, control, approve, or reject the advice they give the king, even his council learned in the law.
Wake's Authority of Christian Princes, &c. page 180
The archbishop adds, " That, as the king has “power, without a convocation, to make and
publish such injunctions as he shall think the s necessities of the church to require, and to com• mand the observance of them, so he may, with “ the advice and consent of his parliament much
more, i.e. I apprehend he may without, much “ more with their advice and consent,) make what “ ecclesiastical laws he shall think fitting for the
discipline of the church; and may alter, cor“ rect, disallow, or confirm the resolutions of the “ convocation according to his own liking.*
And, finally, he gives a list of a great number of alterations, reviews, and reformations in ecclesiastical matters, which have been done entirely by select committees, without the advice or consent of a convocation : (through all the several reigns of Henry VIII. Edward VI. Queen Elizabeth, James I. and Charles I.) when the king, baving first appointed a certain number of bishops and clergymen, (whether they shall be clergy or laily, or what number of each is entirely in his choice,) to consider what may be fit to be ordered, then enjoins it by his royal authority. And adds, (directly contrary to what you assert, that after this manner, viz. by select committees and acts of council,) the reformation of the church of England was in great measure carried on, and its most important affairs transacted. And in his Appendix, No. VII, he presents you with a long catalogue of canons, in
Wake's Authority of Christian Princes, &c. page 136. # Ibid, page 256. The king, says Fuller, would not in. trust the convocation with a power to meddle with matters of religion, from a just jealousy he had of the ill affection of the major part thereof; who, under the fair rind of Pro. tęstant profession, had the rotten core of Romish superstition. It was, therefore, conceived safer for the king to rely on the ability and fidelity of some select confidants, con
junctions, new translations of the bible, articles of religion set forth, explications made of them, examinations of ceremonies, homilies composed, prayers sent to the archbishop with orders for their public use, visitations of the whole kingdom, with an entire suspension of episcopal jurisdiction, (the visitors were two lay-gentlemen, a civilian and a register, and only one divine. Echard's Hist. Eng. page 300.) new offices of communi. on, other offices reformed, new catechism drawn up, &c. &c. all done by private commissions ; or otherwise out of convocation. * So that the clergy in convocation have not the least ground to claim it as a right to be consulted in any ture reformations or reviews. If the government shall indulge them with leave to assemble, and to give their sentiments on these things, it is to be gratefully received as a matter of grace, not of right, and to be used with due humility and deference to the royal judgment, in which the supreme ecclesiastical wisdom is by our constitution declared, and by all our clergy acknowledged to reside.
By this time, Sir, you have, I hope, a humbler and a juster sense of the power of a convocation, and perceive it to be no part of our government, and that it has no legislative power or authority in these realms.
Your favourite fantastic scheme then, “ of pastors and
dial to the cause of religion, than to adventure the same to be discussed and decided by a suspicious Convocation. Cho Hist. Book VII. page 421.
Whether, and in what method our present governors may think proper to attempt any farther reviews, I presume not to guess ; but perhaps, may be allowed to say, that, whoever knows the real history of English convocations, and observes the narrow and bigoted spirit, the petulant, censorious, une catholic, and rigid temper which has ever generally prevailed there, especially in its inferior members, will indulge byt fains bopes of reformatioó from that quartce,
governors having the sole power as to church-matters, and that the civil magis“ trate has NONE AT ALL,"* is really attended, as you must now see, with very dangerous and important consequences, actually subversive of our present happy constitution, wresting from the king and parliament a high branch of their prerogative, impeaching their supreme authority, attempting to set up another legislative power, and casting a severe reflection upon our reformation from popery, which was effected ONLY by the civil magistrate, your boasted pastors and governors struggling vehemently against it. The act of į Eliz. chap. II. which constitutes our présent ecclesiastical establishment, was passed (Judge Blackstone observes) with the dissent of all the bishops; (Gibson's Codex, 268 ;) and, therefore, the style of lords spiritual is omitted throughout the whole.
The times of Henry VIII. Edward VI. and Queen Elizabeth, you say, were extraordinary times, and the regal supremacy was then raised to an undue height. But, see how the case stood when the church was in the zenith of its prosperity and power? I mean at the passing the act of Uniformity of Charles II. in the preamble of which you have the sentiments of the legislature, and those of your most religious king. It recites to this effect: “That, the Book of Common Pray" er, &c. having been enjoined to be used by the “ statute Ist. Eliz. and since that by the neglect " of ministers, great inconveniencies and schismas “ having happened, for prevention thereof, and “ for settling the peace of the church, &c. the
king had granted his commission to some bi" shops, and other divines, to review the Com
• I. Defence, pages 18, 19. Blackstone's Commentaries, 8th Edit. Book L. Chap. Il page 156, dolla
mon Prayer-book, and to prepare such altera« tion and advice as they thought fit to offer. " And that, afterward, his majesty having called “a convocation, and having been pleased to au" thorize and require them to review the same “ book, and make such alterations as to them “ should seem meet, and to exhibit and present “ the same to his majesty for his farther allow“ ance or confirmation; and, the same having “ been done, his majesty hath duly considered., “ and fully approved and allowed the same, and “ recommended to this present parliament that " the same shall be appointed to be used in all “ churches, whereupon it is enacted, &c.
Behold how poor a figure the power of your convocation makes when shining in its highest glory! The clergy are authorized and required by the king to propose alterations in church-ceremonies and forms, for his consideration and allowance as supreme head of the church. The king approves and allows such of them as he thinks fit; but, in order to their having power at all to oblige the members of the church, the king recommends them to bis parliament; and, if they are approved of and passed, they thence acquire the force of a law. What, I pray you, did the clergy in all this affair besides giving their advice; which might have been taken or refused. So lawyers, though they may have no seat in parliament, are often consulted in forming and making laws: shall they, therefore, set up for a share in the legislative power, and exalt themselves from subjects to be rulers in the state?
And when a most happy alteration was afterwards made in this law by the act of Toleration, which so deeply affected the forms and ceremonies of the church, with regard to a great number of the subjects of this kingdom, pray tell me, what hand had the convocation and clergy in that important church affair ?