Project Canterbury

Of Christian Communion

By John Kettlewell

London: no publisher, 1693.

Part II. Chapter II.
Of the king's ecclesiastical supremacy received and asserted by our church.

And all this agrees well with the ecclesiastical supremacy owned by our church, and claimed by our princes, conformable to what was ascribed to, and claimed by the Godly kings among the Jews, and the Godly emperors in the primitive church. Whose ecclesiastical sovereignty, lies not in their being invested with, or in their having a sovereign disposal of the powers of orders. But in retaining their civil sovereignty over all persons, whether laymen, or ecclesiastics. And in the subordination of ecclesiastical courts and causes, which are content to act in subordination, on the score of their secular mixtures, as in beneficiary matters, censures, &c. and, for cognizance of either, of these, either of persons, or causes, in barring all foreign appeals.

1. First, it lies not, I say, in their being invested with, or having a sovereign disposal of the powers of orders. For these, our kings do not pretend to have in their power, or to be powers subjected and inherent in themselves: but to be proper, and peculiar, to spiritual persons. Thus, king Henry the Eighth, when he asserts his own regal supremacy over the church, leaves all proper spiritual powers and functions to spiritual persons; and, in the statute for restraint of appeals, declares the spirituality sufficient and meet, to declare and determine all such doubts, and to administer all such offices and duties, as to their rooms spiritual doth appertain. And Queen Elizabeth's injunctions disclaim all challenging of any authority and power, of ministry of divine service in the church, by virtue of the supremacy. And the 37th Article of Religion declares, that thereby we give not our princes the ministering, either of God's word, or of the sacraments. And the statute of Queen Elizabeth says, the Oath of Supremacy shall be taken, and expounded, in such form, as is set forth in the queen's Admonition annexed to her injunctions. They are the ministers of God in their dominions, as St. Paul says: but that is, as kings, not as priests. So that, the king's supremacy in ecclesiastical matters, doth not imply the power of the keys, which the king has not, says Mr. Mason. And by the supremacy, we do not attribute to the king the power of the keys, or ecclesiastical censures, as Bishop Andrewes observes. We never gave our kings the power of the keys, or any part of either the key of order, or the key of jurisdiction, purely spiritual, says Bishop Bramhall.

And this bounding of their claims and pretences of power, is suitable to what we find among those Godly Jewish kings, and Christian emperors, to whom our churches articles and canons, about supremacy, refer.

As to the Jews, it appertaineth not unto thee, O Uzziah! To burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests that are consecrated thereto, say the priests to King Uzziah, when he would assume to himself the priests office, for which God miraculously smote him with a leprosy upon the place, 2 Chron. 26. 16, 18, 19, 20. And the Lord hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve, and minister unto him, and to burn incense, says king Hezekiah to the Levites, 2 Chron. 29. 11.

And the like appears, of the Godly Christian emperors, who were told by their holy bishops, and professed of themselves, that they were no priests, and that their power of empire did not swallow up the sacerdotal powers. God hath entrusted the affairs of the kingdom, in your hands; but those of the church, in ours. And, as we may not lawfully take upon us, to act as kings; so neither have you authority, O emperor! To burn incense, or usurp the priest's office, said the great Hosius, in his epistle to the emperor Constantius. To you it appertains externally to punish; but to us to judge and determine what is heretical and impious, say Elusius, and Sylvanus, and the other bishops, to the same constantius. The royal purple makes men emperors, but it doth not make them priests, says St. Ambrose to the emperor Theodosius.

As Christians, and Godly emperors, they used their imperial power and sovereignty about church-matters. But that was not privative, to deny the pastors of the church, or to bereave them of their power; but cumulative, to add the imperial power, which was of another kind, to the spiritual, thereby to back their acts, and to make them bind the faster. Thus, when they sent Count Candidianus to the great Council of Ephesus, the emperors Theodosius and Valentinian declare in their letter to the council, that it was to keep good order, and to see fair debates; but with orders not to intermeddle in determining questions of faith, and ecclesiastical matters, which, say they, is lawful only for the bishops. And when the emperor Marcian came in person, at the passing the definitions of the great Council of Chalcedon, it was not, as he tells them in his speech to the council, to make demonstration of his own power therein, but to give greater firmness to what they had done in the exercise of theirs. Which he doth, by ratifying the same, by secular penalties, as by banishment of citizens, disbanding of soldiers, and deposition of clergy, and by other punishments; after the determinations of the council had been read, and the bishops had owned, and subscribed the same, before him. When the imperial purple came to confirm a pastoral act, it gave a new authority to that, which had authority in itself before; or, as Justinian speaks in his confirmation of the episcopal sentence, or anathemaon zoaras, which, says he, having a validity from itself, or authenticalness of its own, the crown makes yet more valid, or of more authority, by adding to it a secular penalty. The episcopal or spiritual authority, is by too many unjustly slighted; and therefore the secular authority is both humbly called in, and piously comes in to its help, since those irreligious contemners of the spiritual power, will stand more in awe of the secular. Coming in, by their secular authority, to help and back the church in those things, wherein men would otherwise contemn the authority of the bishops, as the fathers express it in the Council of Carthage. So that the imperial power, even whilst employed about church-ministrations, all the time supposes, but doth not swallow up the pastoral powers: nor doth its ecclesiastical supremacy lie, nor was ever thought so to do, either by our church, or by those times whereto it refers, in their being vested with, or having a sovereign disposal of the powers of orders. But,

2. Secondly, it lies,

1. First, in retaining their civil power over all persons, whether laymen or ecclesiastics. The civil state, was first in being; and men were subjects of the state, when Christianity came to be proposed to them, and planted among them. The church is in the commonwealth, not the commonwealth in the church, as Optatus says. And when men became members, or ministers of the church, they did not thereby cease to be subjects of the state, or owe ever the less duty unto it. Let every soul be subject unto the higher power, is meant of ecclesiastic, as well as others: it takes in all, though an apostle, though an evangelist, though a prophet, or whosoever else, as St. Chrysostom notes. And therefore princes may lay their civil commands, and inflict their civil punishments, upon ecclesiastic, as well as upon their other subjects. They may put them under fines, or imprisonments, or banish them out of their dominions, or any parts thereof, as Claudius did the Jews from Rome, or as Domitian did St. John into Patmos, where he wrote his revelations; and as constantius and valence did the orthodox bishops in the Arian persecutions. And true pastors are bound to submit to this, like as other subjects are, either from heathen, or heretical emperors, and even in hard and unjust cases, as in the foresaid instances. And if any under sentence of banishment, inflicted on certain persons, not on the whole cause, return into his own country without leave of the civil power, if being caught, he suffer for it, he dies not as a Christian, but as a malefactor, says St. Cyprian. So that bishops and ministers, are no exempt persons, but are to own their kings as their civil sovereigns, and are as much bound to pay obedience to their civil laws, and are under the cognizance of their civil courts, as others are.

And this civil subjection of ecclesiastical persons, against the papal exemptions thereof, is the main thing in the ecclesiastical supremacy claimed by our kings. In the injunctions of Queen Elizabeth, and in the canons of king James, this supremacy is called the highest power under God, whereto all men within the same realms, by God's law, owe most loyalty and obedience, afore and above all other powers and potentates in earth. Her majesty, say the injunctions again, thereby neither doth, nor ever will challenge any other authority, than was lately used, and was of ancient time due to the imperial crown of this realm; that is, under God to have the sovereignty and rule over all manner of persons born within her dominions, of what estate, either ecclesiastical or temporal, soever they be, so as no other foreign power, shall, or ought to have any superiority over them. By supremacy, or chief government, says the 37th Article of Religion, we give only that prerogative, which we see to have been always given to all godly princes in holy scriptures by God himself; that is, that they should rule all states and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be ecclesiastical or temporal, and restrain with the civil sword, the stubborn and evil-doers. And the Oath of Supremacy, as King James the first declared, only extended to the king's power of judicature over all persons, as well civil as ecclesiastical; excluding all foreign powers and potentates, to be judges within his dominions. All which, plainly make the ecclesiastical supremacy, to lie mainly in having bishops and ministers, or the ecclesiastical state, who were broke off from it by the papal exemption, under the same common obligation to the civil sovereign with other subjects, or under the tie of civil subjection.

In virtue of this civil power over their persons, as his subjects, he can command them faithfully to discharge their duties, and functions. And that, not only as subjects, in civil matters; but as ministers, in divine offices. For, as he is the civil sovereign, the temporal magistrate is the keeper of both tables, being to keep his subjects in godliness, as well as in honesty, as St. Paul says. And is to use the civil sword, for sins against religion, as well as for sins against the state; and, in his way, to punish ministers, for neglect or abuse of their spiritual functions, as well as for breach of the civil peace. Thus good kings, as Hezekiah, and Josiah, employed their temporal power, to cut off corrupt administrations, and to reform abuses of worship and religious offices, in the Jewish church: as Constantine, and other good Christian kings and emperors did afterwards, in other nations. And the 37th article of our church declares, that by his supremacy, the king with the civil sword may restrain the stubborn and evil-doers, whether laics or ecclesiastics. And on this account, Constantine calls himself the minister of God, for the coercion and punishment of wicked bishops. And, at his entertainment of the bishops, tells them, that God has appointed them the bishops of things within the church, and him the bishop of things without it: and that it belongs to him, as bishop of bishops, to see they discharge their duties, and be pious. Thus, the emperors, Theodosius and Valentinian, say, that God, by setting them to reign; had made them the bond, both of the piety, and of the external welfare and security of those, who are subject to them, the connexion betwixt which two, their study was to preserve inviolable. And in this, kings, saith St. Austin, according as God commands them, do serve the Lord as they are kings, when they enjoin good things, and prohibit evil things in their kingdoms: and that, not only in matters pertaining to humane society, but also in matters pertaining to our holy religion.

And thus, by means of his civil power over spiritual persons, has the king the like power over spiritual acts and functions, viz. As he can require, and, by the civil sword, compel them, whom Christ has empowered thereto in his dominions, to exercise the same. I mean, to exercise them, according to the rules of God's word, and of their own spiritual function; his power lying in calling them to do their duties, not to any neglect or breach thereof. As we see was observed, not only by the Godly Jewish kings, but also by the primitive emperors, whose civil laws and edicts in these matters, still followed the spiritual rules and duties, and were a secular enforcement, to drive all ecclesiastics to keep them, not to transgress them. Our laws, do not disdain to follow the sacred and divine canons; the civil power in these matters, enforcing that which the church had first prescribed, says the emperor Justinian. And accordingly, in the civil law for restraint of excommunications, we forbid our bishops, saith he, to excommunicate any, without a just cause be shown for it. We forbid all bishops and presbyters, saith another law, to exclude any from the communion, before proof of such a cause, for which this is commanded to be done by the ecclesiastical canons. So, by his imperial power over their persons, commanding their ministrations, and limiting them therein to their own rules.

And thus the king, like as the Jewish kings, and primitive emperors were, is supreme in these spiritual acts and administrations, as in his dominions, they are all to be sped and administered, not by independent foreigners, but by his own subjects; or, as having the supreme earthly command of bishops and priests, who are bound in civil obedience to him, as their temporal sovereign, to exercise them when he requires it. And this way, he can give final justice to all his subjects, in all spiritual, as well as temporal matters; having authority to command his bishops and clergy, to do it in the one; as well as his judges and temporal ministers, to do it in the other. And by this power, of doing it by their means or ministrations, is his supremacy set off. Thus, in the statute for the restraint of appeals, the king is declared to be the one supreme head, endowed with plenary power and authority, to render final justice in all causes; because the spirituality, or his bishops and clergy, can administer and determine all that belongs to their spiritual offices; and the judges and other his temporal ministers, can do the like for trial of property, and conservation of civil peace. The king's supremacy in ecclesiastical matters, doth not imply the power of the keys, which he has not; but he may command those who have them, to use them rightly, says Mr. Mason. This supremacy is preserved, if he take care, that those, who have the power of ecclesiastical censures, do exercise them, says Dr. Burhil. He has plenary power to render final justice; that is, to receive the last appeal of his own subjects, without any fear of any review from Rome, or at Rome, for all matters ecclesiastical and temporal; ecclesiastical, by his bishops; temporal, by his judges, says bishop bramhall. So that the legal supremacy of our kings in spiritual matters, lies in their power of doing them all, (without any interposition of foreign bishops who are none of their subjects,) by their own bishops and clergy, whom they can command and compel to do their duties therein, as their civil sovereigns. And this way, the civil sovereignty doth not drown, or swallow up the spiritual powers of ecclesiastics; but supposes them all the while, peculiarly and immediately vested therewith. But only retains its own secular power over their persons, as well as others; whereby it can oblige them to a due discharge of their sacred powers, according to the rules of their spiritual functions, as occasion requires.

It lies moreover;

2. Secondly, in the subordination of ecclesiastical courts and causes, wherein ecclesiastics are content to act subordinately, on the score of their secular mixtures and jurisdictions, as in beneficiary matters, censures, and other things of that cognizance. To give more leisure and encouragement to the ministers of religion, in attending their spiritual administrations, the civil state has endowed their spiritual cures, with temporal benefices or preferments. And to beget a greater regard, and a more general and awful observance of ecclesiastical determinations, the civil power, as I before observed, is annexed and mingled with the spiritual, in these causes, and a concurrence is therein made of temporal and ecclesiastical jurisdictions.

The matters cognizable there, are not only mere spiritual, but some of them of a temporal nature. Such are all causes testamentary, or about wills; the causes of matrimony and divorces; and those about right of tithes, oblations, and obventions; the knowledge whereof, by the goodness of princes of this realm, says the statute for restraint of appeals, and by the laws and customs of the same, appertaineth to the spiritual jurisdiction of this realm.

And the canons and rubrics, which are to rule all proceedings, are not only the prescriptions of bishops and priests; but royal and civil injunctions. Like as also the ancient canons were, by the piety of the primitive emperors. We decree, that the holy ecclesiastical canons, either those passed in the four general councils, or those confirmed by them, be in place of laws, says the emperor Justinian. Our own laws, will have the divine canons, not to be of less force or effect, than laws,--and what the sacred canons forbid; that also do our laws coerce and abolish, says the code. And as it was in the case of those ancient canons, under those emperors; so, in case of ours too under our kings, the judgments and sentences upon them, rest not in mere spiritual, but draw on temporal effects and incapacities, which effect the sufferers in their persons and estates, as well as in their spiritual concerns: as subjecting them to a writ of imprisonment, rendering them incapable to commence or carry on a suit at law, or the like.

Now for the favour of this state-concurrence in all these causes, that under the union of two such different powers there may be no clashing, the church submits to act in subordination, and the king, in all these causes and mixed jurisdictions, is supreme. That is, no synod of ecclesiastics is to meet for making canons or constitutions, but when, by his writ; he convenes them. Nor are any agreements of theirs, when assembled, to be published as canons or ordinances, till he approves or ratifies them. Nor any of those introduced formerly, to be executed and put in use, further than they consist with the king's prerogative royal, and with the laws, customs, and statutes of the realm: all which are provided for in the statute of submission. And when canons are thus made by his ratification, it submits also, that in certain cases, which are declared by other acts, they may be relaxed by his royal dispensation; and that, as in making canons, so also in granting dispensations from them, he shall be supreme. That no persons shall be elected bishops, of beneficed and temporally endowed churches, but who have the king's letters missive, as is provided in another statute, or who are of his nomination. That when ecclesiastics sit to judge in their courts by those laws, all their proceedings in that judicature shall be subject to the king's prohibition, to stop their further hearing of a cause, which, by allowance, or custom, is of another cognizance; or to his commission of review, upon appeals made to him, after they have given sentence. So that in these courts, there is a subjection and subordination to the king, both as to the laws they proceed by, which are the king's laws, as not passing, or being introduced, without his approbation or sufferance; and as to the judgments there passed according to them.

And because of this subordination of the bishops and clergy, in their pure spiritual jurisdictions, for the civil sovereigns addition of such temporal or state concurrence; the king is declared supreme in all these causes. Thus much is declared, in the passages already mentioned from the statutes settling the king's supremacy. And thus it is said in another statute, of the review of the institution of a Christian man, that king Henry viii set it forth as supreme head of the church of England, because he called the convocation together, to frame and publish it by his consent. And thus in his declaration prefixed to the 39 Articles of Religion, King Charles the first sets forth his supremacy over the church, by this subordination of the churchmen, and because, in making any canons or constitutions, they must have his license for their assembling, and their orders and agreements confirmed by his approbation, and executed all with subordination, to the laws and customs of the land, for preservation whereof they are subject to the temporal prohibition.

And in respect of both these parts of civil power, viz: both in having this civil command of spiritual persons, and this civil power over spiritual causes by reason of such secular mixtures, it lies moreover in having the same,

3. Thirdly, in opposition and bar of all other earthly dependence, especially of all foreign jurisdiction and appeals. He is the one supreme head of all, both spiritual and temporal, next under God, saith the statute for restraint of appeals. And the claim of supremacy in the Queen's Injunctions, is so as no other foreign power, shall, or ought to have any superiority over them. And the thirty seventh Article of Religion, the first of King James the First's canons, and especially the Oath of Supremacy, doth most fully disclaim, and exclude all foreign jurisdiction herein. And the extending of the king's power of judicature over all persons, ecclesiastics, as well as others, thereby, is for excluding all foreign powers from being judges in our king's dominions, as we heard from King James's apology for the Oath of Allegiance.

The foreign jurisdiction and appeals particularly aimed at, is that, which was claimed here by the Popes of Rome. They had wrested from the crown the foresaid sovereignty, both over ecclesiastical persons, and causes. For as to ecclesiastical persons, they claimed an exemption for them, as not answerable in civil courts, but cognizable only by themselves. And as to ecclesiastical ministrations, as backed by secular benefices; and ecclesiastical causes, as mixed in the ecclesiastical courts with civil privileges and jurisdiction; they disclaimed subordination to the crown, and asserted a supremacy to themselves therein. For they made themselves supreme here, in investitures into benefices and preferments; and to have the chief power; by their legates, of calling our convocations; of passing, and ratifying, all our decrees, canons, and constitutions; of granting dispensations from them; of having their decrees take place, of the prerogatives of the crown or of the customs of the realm; of holding courts; and of receiving appeals from any of our spiritual courts, and judicatures, and the like. All which civil powers over ecclesiastical persons, and subordination of ecclesiastical causes proceeding by the foresaid mixture of secular fortifications, benefices, and jurisdictions; the statutes, articles, injunctions, and canons of this church and realm about supremacy, abolish in the Popes, and assert to the crown, to which they anciently did, and of right should belong.

So that this sovereign civil power, over all ecclesiastical persons, as their subjects; and this subordination of all ecclesiastical causes to it, because of the concurrence and intermixture, of the foresaid civil privileges and jurisdictions therewith; and that in opposition to the papal pretences in these points; is the ecclesiastical supremacy vested in the king, by our church, and laws. The Popes spiritual usurpation upon this church, was shaken off, by asserting to the archbishop of Canterbury the British churches' ancient, and independent primacy. Which did right to the king too; it being against his prerogative, that any foreigner, who doth not own himself to be one of his subjects, should have any power in his dominions. And his civil usurpation on the crown, in respect to ecclesiastical persons, and causes, among its subjects, was thrown out by asserting of the king's supremacy.

But when the supremacy speaks such a civil power over the persons of ecclesiastics, as they are its subjects, and such subordination of ecclesiastical causes thereto, as they are united to secular benefices and jurisdictions: yet at the same time, as I have shown, doth it disclaim all pretence to mere spiritual powers, or to the sovereign disposal of the powers of orders. Of itself, it can neither give, nor recall them. Nor stop the ministrations thereof, in any of those cases where Christ requires them. All it can do there, is to withdraw its civil incorporation, from those who have these mere spiritual powers, and are bound, for the sake of religion and of the souls of men, to proceed in the exercise thereof. But still, that exercise and administration, which hangs on another's commission, will go on upon its own bottom, and must be discharged as it can, under the opposition, instead of the former incorporation of state, or under a civil persecution.

And this continuance of such ministrations in such cases, notwithstanding the deposition of state, I think may fairly be concluded, from the concessions of those, who have undertaken to plead for the authority of state deprivations, and to press them on the suffering clergy, at such times.

We are told by one from Mr. Mason, that a state deposition of a bishop, is not by way of degradation, from his orders, as if he had them not; but of exclusion, from the exercise thereof. And that not absolutely, as if he could exercise his office nowhere; but after a sort, that he should not do it, as to their subjects, nor in their dominions. And by another, that a state deprivation doth not concern the character, or ecclesiastical communion, as an ecclesiastical deprivation doth; but only concerns the exercise of his episcopal authority, in any diocese within the dominions of that state, or enjoying any ecclesiastical benefice in it.

Now, since such state deprivation neither concerns the character, nor the communion of the church; it is plain he is a bishop still notwithstanding their deprivation; and such a bishop, as, without any fault in church communion, all good Christians may communicate with. And since his exercise of episcopal powers is thereby excluded, only from the dioceses and subjects of their dominions; it is still the same it was, as to all other places. And what is the hindrance, of exercising the same still in those dioceses, and among that king's subjects? One reason already cited is, because he cannot exercise them in the incorporate way, or in enjoyment of any ecclesiastical benefice. But besides, another I conceive is suggested, viz. regard to state authority, or civil obedience. Though neither the faith, nor the communion of the church is here concerned; yet, says the learned author last mentioned, the authority of the state is, which obliges both the clergy, and laity, in these cases. So that although neither his powers are thereby vacated, nor their dependence and communion with him is broken off on other accounts; yet in civil obedience, it seems, by his account both bishops and people, on such state deprivation, are bound to acquiesce.

But now, if they are left in full possession of their spiritual powers, and of the communion of the church; it is plain they cannot be debarred of their ministrations in the foresaid cases, nor the people of their attendance on them, in any regard to secular inhibitions, or to show civil obedience. For we must never hear kings against Christ, or obey them, when they bar us of doing what he bids us do. And these ministrations, he requires and calls for in the aforesaid cases, as I have shown; and also for the people's communion with, and attendance on them. And it matters not, that they cannot minister any longer in the incorporate way, or under shelter of civil laws, and enjoyment of benefices. For true ministers of Christ, and of souls, must despise benefices and secular incorporations, when they come in competition with his service, and minister his word and worship, at their hazard, and under persecutions.

Besides, if, as he owns, such deprivation doth not affect the communion of the church, it leaves the subjects of those dioceses still under the same religious and church principles, of dependence and communion with their bishops, as they were before it. For, though the state should not meddle therein, the church has principles of this dependence and communion, of its own. Christ requires his church should be one; and that is by adhering to their bishops, whom he has made the heads of union. And these, it seems, the deprivation of state doth not at all cancel, only the authority of state, as is said, but not church communion being concerned therein. So that such bishops deprived by the state, continue still to be Christ's bishops and heads of union in those dioceses, according to his rules and principles of union. And then, how shall a mere command of state, dissolve the tie made by him, or break communion betwixt their bishop and them? Whilst Christ, by conscionable obligations of church unity, bids them adhere to their bishop, and keep one with him; must they give ear to the state, that bids them, divide from him? I think on second thoughts, he will not make church union, or the dependence of people on their bishops, so unsettled or precarious a thing, as either to have no fixed and conscionable principles, engaging and holding all good members thereto, of its own; or to have it in the power of a secular state, when it pleases to set them aside, and over-rule them.

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