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cils, with far more reverence than is paid to them by the Romans, has never ascribed infallibility to them, least of all in a minor point of internal discipline, her rulers are guilty of no inconsistency in relaxing a rule of discipline which, however expedient it might have been at the time, they have found to be contrary to edification, and hurtful to Christian holiness. The apostolic authority of the spiritual pastors of an integral portion of the Catholic Church must at least be allowed to avail thus far, provided that in the exercise of it they are guilty of no breach of charity by anathematizing others, who, in an indifferent matter, prefer a different course. Excepting this one minor point of discipline, there is not a single decree, of all that bear upon the points in dispute, which is contrary to the Church of England. Oh! but you forget, perhaps the Romans will say, the canons of Sardica, which acknowledge a pre-eminence in Rome which you reject. No, I do not forget them; but I consider, as I have already pointed out more than once, that canons which were unknown to the Church of Africa within a century of the time when they are stated to have been made, although that Church had no less than thirty-six representatives at the council which is said to have made them (Conc. ii. 656.); which, when first noticed in ecclesiastical history, were represented by the bishop of Rome to be Nicene, and not Sardican; which, notwithstanding the mention of the Sardican council in the second canon of the Trullan council, were rejected by the Greeks, as appears from the remonstrance of Pope Nicolas I. to the clergy of Constantinople in his letter to Photius, as follows: “In that ye say that ye neither have nor receive the Sardican council, nor the decretals of the holy pontiffs, it is difficult for us to believe you: especially since the whole Church receives the Sardican council, which took place among you in your country; how has it happened that the holy Church of Constantinople should reject it, and not retain it, as is fitting ?” (Conc. viii. 285), are totally destitute of all authority. But, waving for the sake of argument, these insuperable objections, and admitting, which it would be monstrous to do in reality, the genuineness of the canons of Sardica, what do they amount to? Simply to this, that the eighty worthy and orthodox bishops there assembled, considering that the Emperor for the time being was a favourer of the Arians, (I am giving the probable reason,) judged it expedient to recommend that in certain cases it should rest with Julius, the then bishop of Rome, to decide whether or no a cause should be reheard. I conceive this to be a reasonable solution of the matter, and that the canons, if genuine, were only intended to serve a temporary purpose, because the privilege with which they (evidently newly and for the first time) agreed to invest Julius, bishop of Rome, had been six years before admitted as belonging to the Emperor, by the council of Antioch: and the African bishops (as I
have before shewn,) who rejected the Sardican canons, and forbade on pain of deposition any one to make appeals to Rome as proposed in these canons, allowed the appeals to the Emperor, which the earlier council of Antioch had admitted; which council of Antioch was confirmed with the authority of a general synod at Chalcedon. It is clear, therefore, that the English Church which follows the course pointed out by the canons of Antioch, Carthage, and Chalcedon, and admits in her princes the right of ordering a spiritual cause to be re-heard, is beyond reproach from the canons of the unacknowledged council of Sardica, even if they could be proved to be genuine, and not open to the gravest and most insuperable objections.
If it be objected that in the English Church more than this is done, that the appeals to the king in spiritual causes are determined not by a greater synod of bishops, according to the rules of the Catholic Church, as set forth in the canons of Constantinople, 6,: Antioch 12, and others, but by his privy council, which is mostly, if not wholly, composed of laymen; and that the appointments to vacant Sees are made not at the advice of the metropolitan and bishops of the Province, according to the rules of the Catholic Church, (see canons of Nice, 4, 6; Antioch, 19,) but by the king's or prime minister's arbitrary and compulsory choice, and that in both these points there is a departure from
Catholic rules : indeed these things are true, and deeply and sorely have they been, and are still regretted by the members of the Church. But all this avails nothing to reprove the Church of England, unless it can be shown that she has consented to these things; which she has never done: no constitution or canon of hers can be produced even recognizing them. They rest on the acts of the civil legislature (25 Hen. viii. c. 19 and 20,) passed without the consent of the bishops or clergy, and enforced by the severe and extreme penalties of præmunire. So far has the Church of England been from being implicated in these things, that she may safely aver that they are in violation of her recognition of the king as supreme. For the only supremacy which she acknowledges to be in the king over the Church, is the same which he has over the State ; that is, to govern the Church according to its rules and constitution by the advice of his spiritual counsellors, as he governs the nation according to its rules and constitution, by the advice of his civil counsellors. Anything beyond this is not recognized by the Church of England, though under the tremendous penalties above-mentioned her bishops and clergy have submitted to it, as the bishops of Rome in former days were often constrained to submit to acts on the part of the Christian Emperors, which were in violation of the canons of the Church. I maintain, therefore, and repeat that with
the exception of the single non-essential point of internal discipline, the marriage of the clergy after ordination, no testimony can be adduced from the general councils of the first seven centuries, against the Church of England.
Next let us, in like manner inquire whether the Church of Rome, according to the faith and discipline which she now professes, is justified or condemned by these primitive witnesses. The plain answer is, that these councils furnish, not designedly or premeditatedly, but in point of fact do furnish, one uniform, consistent, and continuous body of evidence against the Church of Rome. It matters little whether we call them general councils, or, to please the inconsistent Romans, deny them that character when they witness against Roman innovations. Whatever their style may be, they were the most solemn and important assemblies of Christian bishops ever convened; and the testimony which they bear against modern Rome, is unimpeachable. It is indeed a wonderful thing to consider how many errors of the modern Church of Rome were witnessed against, by a sort of prescience before they had appeared, the testimony of which, by the providence of God, has been preserved to these times. Thus the canons of Nice, 4, 6, 1st Constantinople, 2, 3, 6, Ephesus 8, Chalcedon, 1, 9, 28, and 3rd Constantinople, and 36th of the Quin-Sextine, wholly and entirely disprove all idea of any Roman supremacy in the Catholic Church in those ages. The