Project Canterbury

Of Christian Communion

By John Kettlewell

London: no publisher, 1693.

Part II. Chapter I.
Of the force of state deprivations in the foresaid cases.

Hitherto I have endeavoured to mark out the cases, wherein the bishops, and pastors of Christ's church are bound to exercise their ministerial powers, and to proceed on duly in their administrations. And to set forth the great and manifold obligations, which are incumbent on them in those cases,

And having thus laid out their obligations, I shall next consider the restraints, which at such times are most pleadable in these cases, by showing,

2. Secondly, of what force a deprivation of state, or the preservation of external communion and peace in the church, ought to be in debarring them thereof.

1. First, one great thing, that may be alleged, to silence faithful bishops and ministers of God's pure worship and righteousness, and to stop the course of their ministrations in the foresaid cases, is a deprivation of state, when the secular power, by its laws and interdicts, forbids those ministrations, and removes them from their sees, putting others into their places.

For bishops and pastors, as they are ministers of Christ, so are they also subjects of the state: and therefore, as some think, ought not to exercise their ministry, at least not among their subjects, nor in any diocese of their dominions, in opposition to it. And in Christian kingdoms, the church is incorporated into the state. And by the benefit of this incorporation, bishops and pastors have their spiritual ministrations backed with secular effects and censures, as excommunication among us, makes liable to temporal imprisonment, and incapacitates from carrying on any civil suit, or action in the civil courts. They have also their jurisdiction extended thereby, to some secular matters; as the bishops courts are to matters of wills, marriages, benefices, &c. and are encouraged therein, by secular benefices, honours, and freeholds. Now all these secular fortifications, jurisdictions, and encouragements in their ministrations, conferred on the bishops and pastors of an incorporate church, are the gifts of the state, and are secular additions, to what spiritual powers they received from Jesus Christ. And what the state gives, the state, when it sees cause, may deprive them of. So that incorporate ministrations, or administering these spiritual powers in the mixed and fortified way of an incorporate church, may seem, as some will argue, more subject to the state, to take out of some, and to put into other hands.

Especially considering, that in grateful return and commutation for the benefit of incorporation, or for being made free of the state, and having the secular accessions; the church, by compromise, has parted with some of its privileges to the civil power. Thus, since the incorporation, has it, in compliance, given up to the state, the nomination of bishops and metropolitans, belonging anciently to the other bishops of the province, or to the clergy and people of the church. And that rules agreed on in synods, shall be no canons, till they be approved and ratified by the prince: and that there shall be no admission, or refusal of clerks to cures, or use of discipline, but in consistence with, and under regulation of the king's prerogative, and the laws of the land; and the like. And by these cessions, they may seem, as some think, to have cut off all power of contesting the states nomination or advancement to churches, or its deprivation and removal from them; as having, by their account given up these privileges, in way of bargain and exchange, to keep on the benefits and state enjoyments of an incorporate church.

But as to this regard, which they ought to have to state deprivations in bar of the foresaid ministrations, I observe.

1. First, that this regard is to be pressed, only under a supposed legal and rightful state. For it is to their rightful prince, that, as good and faithful subjects, they owe all their obedience, which is called for in these cases. What regard they are to pay as subjects, must be to his deprivation. But not if they are deprived by an usurper set up against him, who really has no regal authority over them, but only pretends to it, and assumes a power which is none of his own. Especially, if he should deprive them, for their adherence to their lawful king: as if Athaliah had deprived Jehojadah, for adhering to Joash his true sovereign; or as the rebellious parliament did depose, not only the bishops and episcopal clergy, those faithful adherers to the crown, but episcopacy itself in King Charles the First's time. For then, as there is no real authority, to bind on; so neither would there be any equity, or colour of law, to back such a deprivation, or to oblige the sufferers to acquiesce therein. The law, which still supports the right of the lawful king against his usurpation, must needs support the rights of all his adherents against the same: and as still he would be the legal king; so would they, not only be the real, but, in eye of law, the legal pastors, not withstanding his forcible removal of them. And therefore there is no room for this regard to a deprivation of state, on the plea of a king de facto, or on supposal of unrighteous usurpation. The legal right, asserted still by the public acts on such revolutions, will give it place to go as far as it can. But as for all those, who give up the legal right, it is not for any of them, (and it is well known how considerable a part they make among the writers, as well as among the practicers in this point,) to urge the authority of a deprivation of state in this question.

2. Secondly, a deprivation of a lawful state, if supposed to pass on bishops and ministers, would be no conscionable discharge from keeping on their spiritual ministrations, against such immoralities as are set down in the aforesaid cases. For Jesus Christ, who gave them their ministerial powers, requires them, as his ministers and as pastors of his church, to exercise them for him, and for the souls of men, as I have shown, when those cases happen. And if the state forbids what he commands, they are to hear or obey no state, or power on earth, against him. But must answer, as the apostles did to the Jewish rulers in this case; whether it be lawful in the sight of God, to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye (Acts 4. 18-20). And thus it must needs be, in men who are called to be his ministers, under persecuting states; and to be ministers of a religion, which is a doctrine of the cross, and bids them expect and prepare to bear crosses under oppressive powers; as is plainly the case of gospel-ministers. For if they must be his ministers, and administer this religion in persecutions, they must hold on ministering, when the state where they live breaks with them, and both most strictly forbids, and most cruelly persecutes them for so doing. And thus the first ministers did, who were to plant Christianity, against all the edicts and oppositions, of the heathen, or Jewish magistrates. And so did all the faithful bishops and pastors thereof, who, in all the succeeding persecutions of the church, stuck firm to their ministrations, against all the inhibitions and oppressive force of secular rulers; or else, our holy religion had perished long since, and had never descended pure and perfect as it is, to our days. And so must all others do, in any present, or succeeding trials, (which, as they always have done, so always will seek to suppress Christ's worship and truth, by suppressing the pastoral administrations thereof,) that, by their ministry, it may not fail in the church, but be held on the same, and continued down to the world's end.

But this I say, as to their pure spiritual powers, and ministrations, which they neither did, nor could receive from the civil state, on which he never conferred it, but which they hold independently of Christ Jesus. That is, what spiritual powers they have received from Christ, by imposition of hands continued down from the apostles: for the feeding and governing of his church, by administration of the word, of prayers, and sacraments, by letting into the church, and excluding out of it; and for providing a constant succession of the same ministrations, by empowering or ordaining others: these mere spiritual powers, they must exercise as his ministers, without regard to any deprivation, or inhibition of worldly princes. For earthly kings cannot deprive them of these mere spiritual powers, because they have them not from them, but minister therein, not by theirs, but by Christ's commission. If secular princes gave them their commissions to exercise their spiritual authorities, they might recall them: if they were the fountain of these powers, and could make or ordain bishops, they might have more plea to unmake and deprive them. But not originally proceeding from them, but from Christ himself, by a way of his own prescribing, in a succession of apostolical imposition of hands, through all ages of the church: they cannot be reversed, by their deprivation. Nor are the bishops and pastors, to be debarred the exercise thereof in any case where Christ requires it, at their inhibition; because they are Christ's servants more than theirs, and must obey God rather than man. But

3. Thirdly, as for any temporal accessions and enforcements of these mere spiritual ministrations, which the church receives when once it is shone upon by earthly powers, and made incorporate or free of the state: these accessions are borrowed powers, and the gift of princes; and under the deposition of a lawful state, the bishops and ministers of Christ must not challenge or pretend to them.

As to these I observe,

1. That the civil state hath power over these temporal accessions and secular endowments, because it conferred them. When kings and queens turn Christians, they come not in only as members, to partake in these mere spiritual ministrations; but as patrons, by their secular power, to back and promote them. They must show themselves nursing-fathers, and nursing-mothers, as was foretold by the prophet: and serve the Lord as kings, that is by employing their kingly power to encourage and advance his service, doing him those services, which none can do but themselves, as St. Austin tells them.

Thus, to give encouragement and leisure for the ministers to attend on these ministrations without distraction, the civil state endows them with benefices, or worldly freeholds, honors, and privileges. It also allots them public and authorized places, for these ministrations; and makes civil laws, requiring people duly to resort to them, and punishing all disturbers of them, and such as carry themselves indecently thereat. It likewise adds a secular jurisdiction, to the spiritual, extending the spiritual jurisdiction, to the cognizance of wills, marriages, benefices, &c. which are civil matters; and backing it by temporal accessions in the spiritual parts thereof, making a mixture and concurrence of religious and civil powers, in the spiritual courts. For thus, the rubrics, it passes into laws; and the canons also, which are the rules of exercising that jurisdiction, it binds on the subjects with the king's approbation, and ratification, or with a civil strengthening. And the spiritual censures or judgments according to these rules, it backs with civil penalties, as imprisonment; or with putting men under civil incapacities, as to plead in an action at law, or the like.

Now all these temporal helps and accessions, come not to the bishops and ministers immediately from Christ, or as they are ministers of religion. For his kingdom is not of this world: nor was he, whilst on earth, any judge in civil matters; nor doth he confer any such worldly powers, or grant any such commissions. But all these secular benefices and fortifications, in all the parts of the spiritual ministry, are the gifts of princes. They flow from their favour to the church, or from their taking upon them to be its temporal patrons, or its nursing fathers and nursing mothers. And as the bishops and ministers of Christ, hold them only by their commission: so may they lose them by their recalling it. So that although the state has no power, either to give, or to deprive the ministers of Christ, of their mere spiritual powers: yet has it a direct authority, to grant or deprive them, of these temporal additionals,

And therefore the bishops and ministers of Christ in an incorporate church, when they are deprived by their rightful prince, or by a legal state, must exercise their mere spiritual powers in the foresaid cases, without any of these civil effects or mixtures. That is, they can only administer the word, and prayers, and sacraments, and let in members by baptism, and on just cause cast them out by excommunication, and ordain others that shall hold on from time to time to do the same. But in discharge of these mere spiritual powers, they cannot claim the established places, wherein to assemble for these ministrations; nor any enforcement of civil laws, to make men duly frequent them, and to hinder all from disturbing them, or from demeaning themselves disorderly or irreverently at them. Nor can they claim any secular benefices, for maintenance of those who minister therein; nor to have any cognizance, of wills, tithes, or other temporal matters; nor to have their canons, made regal injunctions; or their rubrics, made parliamentary laws; and the breakers thereof punishable by civil magistrates, in their estates, or persons; nor their spiritual censures, to bring men under civil incapacities, or make them liable to civil punishments, or the like. The state, that gave these civil accessions to the bishops and pastors, in their incorporation; has called them back and taken them away, in their deprivation. So that now, to stick to Christ, they must quit the benefits of incorporation, and the favor of princes. And, as men left to their naked spiritual powers, which no rightful state can deprive them of, be content to exercise their spiritual ministrations in the foresaid cases, not as in an endowed and secularly protected, but as in a persecuted, or secularly destitute church.

And as the state has power, over all these secular endowments of the spiritual ministration, because it conferred them: so has it,

2. Over some other powers, which belonged to the church, whilst it kept separate, but which it gives up to the civil state during the benefit of incorporation with it. For some powers the church may have no necessity to insist on, either for the sake of religion, or of the souls of men. And such powers, for the greater benefit of incorporation, it may be free to part with.

Thus, provided the substance of religion were secured, and kept up among men, in all necessary points of worship and doctrine; and the main of discipline were taken care for by canons already allowed, as it was on the submission of our church and clergy made under King Henry the Eighth: the church might be free, by compromise, to agree, that it would exercise no canons already made, but such as were consistent with the king's prerogative, and the laws of the land: and that, in case of any others, a stop should be put to the proceedings of the spiritual courts, by secular prohibitions. And that the bishops and clergy should not meet to make more, or assemble in synod or convocation, but when summoned thither by the king's writ: nor any of their agreements should be given out for canons, or orders, but what he allowed to pass under his ratification: and that after they were passed, in things dispensable, on just cause in any particular case, he should have the chief power to grant a dispensation. That all bishops coming in to govern this church, according to the foresaid rules and prescriptions, should be of his nomination. And that the advancement of all ministers, to beneficed and civilly fortified cures and administrations, should be according to the rights of patronage established by the laws; and such like.

These, and such like powers, are naturally resident in the church itself in a separate state, or when it stands-upon its own bottom, and is not incorporated. For, as a society, it must have power in itself, to make needful and wholesome rules of government, from time to time; and to have its bishops and ministers meet together, as they can, that they may make them; and to appoint persons, who shall be entrusted with the administration thereof. And accordingly, whilst the church was kept separate from the state, and persecuted by it, these powers were exercised by the church, and by its bishops and pastors, under all the heathen persecutions. During which, the clergy under their bishops, and the bishops under their metropolitans, were convened and met in synods, and made canons, and decided controversies, and sentenced criminals, and filled up vacancies in presbyteries, or bishoprics, having a new bishop elected by the metropolitan and bishops of the province, or sometimes by the clergy and people of the diocese; and the like.

Indeed, as good subjects of the state, they are bound to keep all innocent state laws; and cannot, by any devised canons of their own, cast off their obligation, or forbid themselves, or the church, to pay a due civil obedience by observance thereof. So that they have no power in any condition, of making any church canons, which require subjects to act against innocent state constitutions. Nor may they lawfully refuse, when the state calls them, to meet together in synods, or otherwise: but, as good subjects, are obliged to pay a ready obedience, and to appear upon its summons. These, are only proper expressions of civil subjection, from which the church can in no state or condition plead exemption. But, though they may not disobey the state summons; yet, when it meddles not therewith, in a separate condition, they have power to assemble themselves, as they can, and as need requires, taking care to do it in such ways, as will make it least jealous of them. And when assembled, though they can make, or enforce no canons, to defeat any innocent civil constitutions; they have power in such separate state, to make others which are consistent with them, and to exercise the other now mentioned powers, as I say the church did in the primitive persecutions.

But when it became incorporate, and was obliged by the favors and privileges of the state, the church, by agreements, partly express, and partly by tacit and practical, carried in prescription, and the practice of times, gave up these and such like powers, residing otherwise in itself, to the civil magistrates, who were thus obligingly become its patrons and nursing fathers. Since the emperors became Christians, the affairs of the church have depended upon them, and the greatest councils have been held, and still are held at their pleasure, was the observation of Socrates in the preface to his fifth book of the History of the Church.

These, it parted with to the civil power, for its greater honor. And also to secure it, of its good behaviour; being tied thereby to a compliance in things, which it was not bound to insist on, for the sake of religion and of a good conscience; and to prevent all jarring and interfering with that power, in whose favor and society it found so great benefit; seeking herein, to keep up that beneficial kindness and correspondence, which is between them. And these it gave up to it, by degrees; and more in some places, and less in others: being put upon parting with less at first, and with more afterwards; especially after the papal usurpations in the western church, grew so very troublesome and prejudicial to princes and their kingdoms, in point of investitures, appeals, &c. which made them more sensible of the advantage, of having these powers quietly and uncontestedly lodged in their own hands.

These it might safely part withal, during the incorporation, as retaining still, what it could not part with, viz: a power of standing by all necessary points of worship and doctrine, and of doing what is necessary for the souls of men; and as being also fitted all the time in the main, with what is needful in point of discipline. And its parting with them, was in way of compromise and bargain, as a grateful return, for the benefits and privileges of its enfranchisement and incorporation; or on consideration of its enjoying a freedom, not only of exercising spiritual ministrations; but of exercising them in the way of an incorporate church, viz. in holding benefices, and in being backed therein by secular jurisdiction, laws, and privileges.

And whilst these benefits of incorporation are held on in favour of the truth, the cession of the church in these points is to be held on too, and not to be resumed back again. Protected and incorporate bishops and pastors, must be content to claim episcopal and pastoral powers, under the recessions and limitations of an incorporate church. Thus our articles, and canons, receive and assert the ecclesiastical supremacy of our kings, which contains the foresaid church-recessions. And denounce excommunication ipso facto to those, that deny any part of our king's legal supremacy in ecclesiastical causes, or his having the same authority therein, as the godly kings had among the Jews, or Christian emperors had in the primitive church. And accordingly, in our form of ordaining bishops, they profess to think themselves called to this ministration, according to the will of Jesus Christ, and the order of this realm: and promise to censure and punish the unquiet and disobedient within their dioceses, according to such authority, as they have by God's word, and as to them shall be committed by the ordinance of this realm.

But now all this giving up these, or the like powers, to the state, for the sake of this incorporation, and in way of bargain and compromise; or other abridgement of its own ministrations; is,

1. With a salvo to the interests of religion, and of the souls of men. They cannot give away any thing, to make themselves wanting in any necessary service unto them; nor part with their powers of ministering to souls, to build and nurse them up in pure worship, doctrine, and practice. These powers, are a sacred depositum; which if they embezzle, or yield up in compliance, they are false to God, and to men's souls, and thereby betray both them, and their own holy function. And their acts also are nullities, wherein they offer or promise to do the same. For they are acts against an antecedent obligation, which are wicked in the making, as Herod's oath was to gratify Herodias in the Baptist's death; and the Jews' conspiracy and oath to kill St. Paul. But they are null as to the obligation of performance, as is agreed in the case of all contracts and promises to do unlawful things, or things evil or forbidden in themselves.

They can neither discharge themselves, I say, nor receive any discharge from princes, of exercising these powers, where Christ requires they should exercise them for the service of religion and of souls, as I have shown he doth in the fore mentioned cases. In stewards, it is required that they be found faithful, in dispensing out these ministrations as he orders, not in suppressing them contrary to order, (1 Corinthians 4 2). Necessity is laid upon me, and woe be to me, is here the scripture denunciation, if they preach not the gospel, or fail trustily to discharge that ministry they have undertaken (1 Corinthians 9. 16). No earthly powers, by conferring on them the benefits of incorporation, get any authority over Christ's ministers, to discharge them of ministering to their master in these matters. For this would be, to give the civil power, which ought to keep under Christ, a power over him. It would turn them, from nursing fathers, who, by giving it a civil enfranchisement, undertake to protect the true religion; into devouring wolves, who seek to make a prey of it. It is expressly declared against by the apostles, who appeal to the common sense of mankind, whether they are not bound to obey God, rather than men (Acts 4: 19, 20). And would leave no ministrations of true gospel worship and doctrine, under any Christian state, which should fall from any necessary parts thereof, and begin to persecute them: as the Arian emperors did, in the persecutions they raised against the orthodox; and as popish princes did, in like violences used by them at any time, against our protestant brethren or ancestors. Than which, nothing can be worse calculated for any church of God, but especially for the Christian church, which is to continue a church in persecution, and to bear up Christian worship and doctrine, by due ministrations of both, when any powers of this world fall, from protecting, most violently to bear them down.

And this in all times has been the opinion and practice of God's faithful ministers, when the state, which, by incorporation, should have backed and strengthened them therein, fell to discharge and bar them of their ministrations in these cases.

Thus God's faithful prophets and ministers did in the Jewish church, who approved themselves glorious confessors and martyrs, in administering God's word and true worship, when the state fell to break in upon them, and, instead of backing and protecting them in those ministrations, according to the purport of incorporation, fell violently to discharge and drive them from officiating any longer therein.

Thus likewise Athanasius bishop of Alexandria, Paulus of Constantinople, and other bishops did, in the Arian persecution. The civil state had then received the church into itself, and endowed it with civil edicts and enfranchisements. And the deprivation and ejection of these bishops out of their churches, particularly of the great Athanasius, was with state-concurrence, and for state-causes or pretences. Among other articles, Athanasius was charged with contumacy against the emperor, in refusing to appear upon his edict at the synod of Caesarea. And with a treasonable design, to stop the yearly transport of corn from Alexandria to Constantinople, on which suggestion, he was banished to tryers by Constantine. Not to mention the accusation of his having imposed on the Egyptians, a tribute of linen cloth; and having conspired with one philumenus against the emperor; and having treasonably corresponded with the traitor magnentius, and usurped the imperial prerogative, by holding the festival dedication of the great church of Alexandria without the emperor's warrant, and the like. And his deposition, and Gregory's and George's advancement to his see by synods, were seconded by acts of state: having the approbation and justification of the emperors, and the assistance of prefects, as well as the imperial letters, violently forcing one out of the episcopal throne, and giving the other possession thereof, and barbarously enforcing submission and adherence to them from the clergy and people, as was done by Philagrius, Syrianus, and Heraclius, to omit others. But these state inhibitions and deprivations, coming on him and his adherents, not for any other crimes alleged, which were shameless falsehoods, and assumed merely as pretences, but in reality only for his being a stout asserter of the orthodox faith; he still went on preaching and ministering the same, and for all these state-ejections, was stuck to therein by the faithful Egyptians, and by the orthodox in all other places.

And thus also our own ancestors continued to do, on the states turning upon them, and, under forfeiture of incorporation, and all the penalties of a bloody persecution, forbidding them to go on administering the word and worship of God, according to the reformation thereof made by King Edward, in Queen Mary's time. For being to administer this word and worship, in duty to God, and in care of souls, they set light by the benefits of incorporation and civil advantages, and paid no regard to state-deprivations or inhibitions; but went on faithfully to administer the same, though at the peril of their lives.

I grant, the desire of keeping on the public benefits of incorporation, may many times be a reason for bishops and ministers, voluntarily to rest under state-deprivations and inhibitions, when it is a case only of personal rights and privileges. Such deprivations and inhibitions, often affect persons only and not things, when, on the deprivation of one, the same ministrations would be kept up by others: as was done in the depositions of high-priests, so common in later times among the Jews; and of patriarchs, so ordinary at present among the Greeks; and may happen in other places. In all which, there is only a change of persons, but no change in ministrations; the church being lead on in the same necessary worship, doctrine, and practice, under both. And here, to prevent a breach with the state, and to keep on the way of spiritual ministrations with the benefit of secular accessions, the bishops and pastors of an incorporate church, (where it is not like to do the church more hurt by an utter loss of its liberty in these points, than the incorporation desired will compensate,) may think there is more cause for the churches sake, to rest under state-deprivations. They may esteem it their parts, to quit their own particular interests, to advance the churches; and believe that the keeping on the public benefits of incorporation, will abundantly compensate, for the wrongful encroachment made by such deprivation on a private person. But in cases, which concern, not only the personal rights and privileges of pastors, but the substance of religion, or the safety of souls, and where Christ requires they should exercise their ministrations, as I have shown he doth in the foresaid cases: they must not let them fall, in regard to any inhibitions, or deprivations, even of their lawful princes. They must here slight all worldly benefit of protection, and be willing, if need require, to undergo a persecution. And go on faithfully in their ministrations, as their bounden duty requires, and as in these cases, God's faithful ministers have done in all times.

2. Secondly, what is so given up by the church, for abridgement of its own power in spiritual ministrations, is only whilst it keeps united to the state, and receives protection, not when it is separated from it again, or falls under persecution. Its recessions, as I noted, were on consideration of state benefits, and as a grateful return for them whilst it was suffered to enjoy them. They are all upon the score of its union; and so cease when the state breaks off, and turns it up to itself again. For being made separate, it is no longer under any former ties of incorporation, but acts again with the powers of a separate condition. And thus it is, when, instead of protecting, the state puts any necessary points of doctrine or worship, or part of their ministration, under persecution. When it separates its protection, it separates itself. It drives out the church, when it drives out any of those things, which the church must stick to at all perils; and when, instead of incorporating, or civilly protecting the ministrations thereof, it falls to incorporate, and to protect the ministration of error and wickedness, in their place. It disfranchises pure worship and doctrine, when it enfranchises errors and corruptions contrary to them: and by turning to persecute the necessary ministrations of pure religion, it breaks itself from them, and thence forward they are no longer one, but become two again.

So that, whatever regard and compliance the bishops and ministers of Christ may show, to such deprivations and inhibitions of the state whereinto they are incorporated, whilst it inhibits no necessary ministrations to religion, or to the souls of men, but, in discharging all those, they enjoy the privileges and protection thereof: yet are they not to be discharged thereby, from ministering to the same in all the foresaid, or other like cases; nor to be debarred of any of their spiritual powers, after once the state breaks with them, and, instead of yielding them the benefits of incorporation, puts them under persecution. But then, they must exercise these ministrations, only according to what they have received from Christ, and from the canons of the church, so far as they do not interfere with any innocent state laws, which restrain them as good subjects: not with any civil fortifications, and state accessions.

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