Project Canterbury

Of Christian Communion

By John Kettlewell

London: no publisher, 1693.

Part II. Chapter III.
Remarks on the preceding account of the force of state deprivations, and instances of deprivations alleged to the contrary, considered and cleared up.

From what I have said in the foregoing chapters, about the power of the civil state, and the effect of its deprivations, I think it may appear, that the bishops and ministers of Christ continue still invested with their ministerial powers, and can receive no discharge from the exercise thereof, in the formentioned cases, by any state deprivations.

And of this I observe, from what has been hitherto discoursed,

1. First, that this is not to deny the civil power, the cognizance of bishops and ministers, in civil matters. Allegiance, it is true, is a civil matter, and most nearly concerns the civil peace. Indeed, it is not only civil, but also religious. For when men are required to swear it, and in all churches to pray conformably to it, solemn oaths and prayers, are most sacred and religious acts. And allegiance in itself is a moral duty, for due payment whereof, all stand answerable to God in the last judgment; as well as a civil, or state-duty, for which they are answerable to the state in judicatures of this world. But it is such a matter of religion, I say, as is also a civil matter, subject to civil cognizance, or a point of state too.

And if this is refused to a rightful state, it is not only an offence against morality and religion, which spiritual judicatures and synods may punish with canonical depositions: but also an offence against the state, which such rightful state may punish by state punishments, as it may all other state offences; and in ecclesiastics, when they are guilty thereof, as in all other persons. And among these punishments, by deprivation, though not of mere spiritual powers, (the state having no authority to take away those mere spiritual powers, which it never gave,) yet of all that is temporal in church-ministrations, so as that such refusers shall no longer hold benefices and preferments, or state endowments. Yea, and even as to those mere spiritual powers, it may make them of themselves to forbear any further exercise thereof, to keep state-favors and endowments to the church, when their deprivation is in a case, that concerns only their own personal rights and privileges, but not the truths or cause of Christ, as was before observed.

But if at any time, or in any kingdom, this should be refused to an usurping state, which has no legal right; but which calls for this allegiance, oaths, and solemn prayers and religious services conformable thereto against him who has the right: then such refusal, is neither a religious, nor a civil offence; neither against God, nor God's vicegerent, divine or humane laws; but a due obedience to both. And this brings on the case of all the foresaid immoralities, damnifying religion, and endangering souls; wherein faithful bishops and clergy, whatever they incur by standing to their spiritual ministrations, must not let them fall in regard to any deprivation of usurping powers. Nay, nor in regard to the most rightful states, should they issue out against them state-deprivations, to stop their ministrations against any such like immoralities, or other irreligious and endangering ways.

And this limitation, of the regard they ought to have to his deprivation, is not to deny the rightful civil sovereign, any part of his just power over ecclesiastics. But only to deny him such a power, as would leave our saviour Christ himself, who is his master as well as theirs, to have no power over them. Or such a power, as should enable him to discharge them, of what Christ has given in charge to them; to take away what powers he confers, or to loose what he has tied on. But under all this discharge of their foresaid ministrations, notwithstanding his inhibitions and deprivations, it allows the civil magistrate as much power over their persons, to mulct, banish, or put them to death, on just cause, as they are his subjects, as over any others. And to have power also over the mixed way of administrations, so as to be able to deprive them, though not of all exercise of their spiritual powers, yet from holding or exercising them with temporal jurisdictions, effects, and privileges, after the way of an incorporate church. And to have those other forementioned prerogatives, of convening synods, passing canons, sending prohibitions to stop any process in prejudice of the prerogative, or of the laws, &c. Which, for the favor and continuance of those secular mixtures, have accrued by incorporation, and belong to Christian kings. And these things, which are allowed, are as much, as any of them can claim of ecclesiastics, as they are kings. And, on the other side, those things, which are denied, are such, as they would abhor to challenge or desire, who would own any subjection to Christ, or bound their pretensions as Christian kings.

2. Secondly, nor is it to set the church above the state, as the papal usurpation pretended to do. But only to set almighty God, and his blessed son Jesus Christ, above it. Not leaving subjects, whether laics or ecclesiastics, in compliance with any the most rightful state, to disobey God. Nor ministers, to let fall any services and ministrations of religion, or cure of souls, which Christ calls them to exercise; yea, not only when the state is consenting, but when it gainsays it, and doth all it can, either to disable or discourage them from it; he not having thought fit to stand to the courtesy of any civil state, whether or no the ministry, of saving souls should be prosecuted, and whether he should be served, and have a church on earth.

But at the same time, it sets God and religion, above their power; it subjects all, both laics and ecclesiastics, to the same in other things. Allowing every rightful civil state, the chief civil power over all ecclesiastical persons. And the chief civil power over all ecclesiastical causes, so far forth, and so long, as they are mixed and compounded with civil benefices and jurisdictions. And a civil power to compel church men by civil penalties, to do the duty of their spiritual ministrations; and to hold them under a necessity, of not resisting by arms, but of suffering with patience under them, when they punish and persecute them, not for breaking, but for faithfully performing of the same. And this is to leave the civil power, to be chief in all civil matters, and to have several prerogatives of sovereignty in spiritual, so long as they proceed with civil mixtures: that is, to be supreme in all, which it can call its own. Though at the same time it is not to be held superior to Christ, nor must be thought entrusted with the supreme disposal of the matters of religion, wherein men are empowered of Christ by another sort of commission.

And from all these, it is plain, that it is no revival of the abolished papal usurpations. For these, lay not in the bishops asserting, as is aforesaid, of their own pure spiritual powers; or of their own indefeasible obligations, notwithstanding any state inhibitions and deprivations, to exercise them for the service of religion and the church, as Christ requires they should, in the forementioned, and other like cases. For this is no more, than has been done by the holy apostles, and by all faithful bishops and ministers, in all ages. But in their claiming an independency on the state, in the exercise of spiritual powers and ministrations, mixed and endowed with the borrowed adjuncts of secular benefices and jurisdictions. And in their professing a dependence therein upon the Pope, seeking to him for investitures and confirmations, and making him the last judge by appeals: as also depending on him, for convening synods, for passing and confirming canons, and granting dispensations from them, and for other matters, which, for their civil endowments of churches, were granted to Christian princes, and by incorporation accrued to the crown. And lastly, in their challenging an exemption of their persons from civil cognizance, so as not to be answerable in civil courts, and coercible there by civil penalties, even for state-matters and offences. And the retrenching of these usurpations, was the business of our reformers. But as for the independence of the ecclesiastics mere spiritual powers, and their obligations to exercise them in any case, as may answer the command of Jesus Christ, and not the contrary inclination or inhibition of the civil magistrate, they were as far from intending, as from needing, to reform it. Yea, soon after, they were most glorious asserters thereof, in all their ministrations for the service of souls, and for the support of truth; which they discharged against the deprivations and inhibitions of the state, as confessors and martyrs, during all the persecutions of queen Mary's reign.

3. Thirdly, nor is this to mistake, or to over-look the condition of an incorporate church: but only not to over-value the civil benefits of incorporation; and at the same time to under-value their obligations, to Christ, to the ministries of religion, and to the souls of men. It is necessary that pastors and people, should keep obedient, and true to Christ: but it is not necessary, that they should keep in the favour of princes, and continue a church incorporate. Nay, it is necessary they should cheerfully take up the cross, and be content to be a church persecuted, when they can no longer enjoy the secular benefits of incorporation, without yielding to an irreligious and ill ministration; nor hold on ministering to the necessary service of souls, and of pure religion, without incurring persecution. For then, all churchmen of any fidelity or conscience, must show themselves ministers of Christ, not of princes; and guides, that watch for souls, not for benefices, and secular accessions: and, like their great master, and all good and holy bishops, who were called by him, as we all are, to spiritual ministries, under whatever persecutions of princes, despise all state-favors and preferments in this world, in comparison of fulfilling that spiritual ministry and most sacred trust, which they have received from the Lord, and whereof one day they must give a most strict account.

And therefore it is a very ill-grounded reasoning, which the aforesaid author of the vindication of their majesties-authority &c. Uses, to authorize the deprivation of suffering bishops at such times, for state-matters, by a mere act of state, thinking it well proved, if it is as certain and evident, as that the church is, and must be incorporated into the state. For in the aforesaid cases, for the service of Christ, and the sake of religion, and of souls, the church is bound to break with the state, and to lay aside all thoughts of continuing incorporated, and submit to be persecuted. It is then called to bear Christ's cross, for its steadfastness in his service and ministrations; not to seek or court state-favors, by ceasing to minister what is good, or consenting to minister what is ill, in compliance with princes. And if, instead of being certain, and evident it must, it is certain and evident the church must not be any longer incorporate, when it cannot purchase it, but on these terms: then in all the foresaid cases, there is an end of all arguments to persuade acquiescence, for the preservation of the incorporation of churches in Christian kingdoms.

But though this principle, of faithfully exercising their pure spiritual ministrations in the foresaid cases, without accepting any discharge thereof from mere state-deprivations, excludes all over-rating of civil incorporation, or placing the favor of princes above the favor of God, and benefices and preferments above the interest of religion and of souls. Yet doth it, at the same time, allow to an incorporate state, all that really doth belong to it. And therefore in these ministrations, after deprivation by a rightful state, it claims nothing, that came to churchmen by incorporation. But its spiritual ministrations, Christ's church then discharges, without the encouragement of state-benefices and preferments; without claiming the convenience of the established places, for a free holding of its religious assemblies; or the guard and assistance of any of the forementioned civil laws, jurisdictions, or other secular mixtures and state accessions, for the strengthening and furtherance of its exercise of any spiritual functions. And what more should they look at in this state of incorporation, than to see, that as they do not let fall any spiritual service, which was not given up, nor can be stopped thereby: so, when divested thereof, that they do not challenge any worldly benefices, powers, or other endowments, which are dependant thereupon.

And this is not to make the claims and exercise of ecclesiastical powers by bishops and pastors, the same in all points at this day in an incorporate church, as they were by the ancient canons, whilst the church was separate from the state, under the gentile persecutions. It asserts them the same, as to ministering all that is necessary in religion, and in care of souls; which the pastors are as much empowered, and as much obliged to look to, under incorporation, as before it. And to be the same also in other points, given up and accruing to the state at the incorporation of the church, as naming of bishops, convening them in synods, ratifying of canons, dispensing with them, and the like; after once a rightful state breaks the incorporation, and puts the true church from state-protection and endowments, into a state of persecution. For then, the church and state are divided again, as they were in the days of the ancient canons; and so they may be free, as bishops then were, to exercise those powers by the rule of those canons, as they can, and as in prudence they shall see cause. But whilst the protection and incorporation holds, for the sake whereof it laid down its claim to those powers, and suffered them to become the states-prerogatives; the bishops and ministers are not to pretend to them. And so, whilst the church enjoys such incorporation, our own church, by its articles and canons, disclaims the exercise of these powers by itself, and confirms them to the crown, as I formerly observed.

Thus are the recognitions, which ecclesiastics ought to make of the supremacy of princes, and all the regard they ought to bear to the incorporation of the church, fairly consistent with their faithful discharge of their spiritual ministrations, after the state has deprived them, in the foresaid cases. They stand bound to Christ there, to exercise the same, by manifold obligations, as I have shown: and no deprivations of princes, though they be sovereign governors of all their subjects, and have endowed and incorporated the church, can disable, or discharge them from it.

And from this state of these matters, it may be easy to clear and take off the force of those instances, which are brought of state-deprivations without the concurrence of ecclesiastical synods, and to show they are of no force in the foresaid cases.

The instances chiefly insisted on, are the deposition of Abiathar by Solomon; and the frequent, sometimes annual depositions of their high-priests by the Romans, when Judea fell into their hands; the depositions of the patriarchs of the Greek church, by the Turks; and the deprivation of Queen Mary's popish bishops, by a commission of state, pursuant to an act of parliament, without a synod, at the beginning of the reformation under queen Elizabeth.

1. First, as for Abiathar, whom, for conspiring with Adonijah, Solomon is said to have thrust out from being priest unto the Lord, 1 Kings 2: 27. It doth not appear, that Solomon did remove him from the dignity and office of high priest, but only from the exercise thereof. For after this sentence was passed upon Abiathar, and after Joab the general also, his accomplice and conspirator, had been sentenced and suffered death, and Benajah was made general in his place, 1 Kings 1: 28, 34, 35: Abiathar is still reckoned as partner with Zadock, in the high-priesthood, 1 Kings 4. For so, in the reckoning up of Solomon's officers, when Benajah the son of Jehojadah, was over the host, it is added, and Zadock and Abiathar were the priests, v. 4.

And as for the debarring him the exercise of his high-priest's office, that was the natural, and inseparable consequent, of his banishment from Jerusalem to Anathoth for his life. For the exercise of that office, was local, and fixed to Jerusalem and the temple. In the temple, were all the priests tied to officiate, whose ministrations he was to direct; and in that was the holy of holies, whereinto once a year he himself in person, and he alone, was to enter, and offer the blood of expiation: and there was the mercy seat; before which he was to stand with the urim and thummim, to consult God upon occasion. The exercise of which ministrations, with others, required his personal residence, and could not be discharged by him living in another place. So that the banishing him from Jerusalem, by mere natural consequent, without need of spiritual jurisdiction, excluded him from the exercise of the high priest's office. And this banishment, Solomon inflicted on him as his civil sovereign, for his traitorous conspiracy with Adonijah; and on like cause, any other lawful sovereign may do the same. And without doubt, he not only consented to this emotion, but was thankful for it, and that, instead of being sent to Anathoth, he was not sent out of the world, as by law his fact deserved. So that Abiathar had nothing to contest in his case, nor any mind to do it; being justly liable to suffer so much more at the hand of the civil power, than it was pleased to inflict on him.

And then, as for Zadock, who held the high-priesthood in his room, and whilst he was living; that doth not appear to have been by a new creation. For before this extrusion of Abiathar, he had been created partner, vicar, or suffragan with him in the high-priests. Office, in David's time. Thus, in the reckoning up of David's officers, they are put together as filling this place. Sheva was scribe, and Zadock and Abiathar were the priests, 2 Samuel 20. 25. And hast thou not there with thee, Zadock and Abiathar the priests, says David to Hushai, when, in his flight from Absalom, he sent him back into the city, to defeat the Council of Achitophel, 2 Samuel 15. 35. And chapter 17: 15. And in carrying back the ark into the city, David gives command to Zadock the priest about it, 2 Samuel 15. 25, 27. And the text adds, Zadock therefore and Abiathar carried the ark of God again to Jerusalem, joining them as partners in this great act of the pontifical charge, v. 29. He also commits to Zadock the priest, the anointing and proclamation of Solomon, which was another act thereof, 1 Kings 1: 32, 34, 38, 39. And this is plainly asserted by Josephus, who says, that Zadock was first created high-priest, in the reign of David: and therefore, on Abiathar's exclusion by Solomon, that Zadock only came in to have the high-priesthood, and to act therein alone. He was then sagan, or suffragan, and vicar to Abiathar, as Grotius, and Vatablus conceive.

When abiathar therefore, by his banishment for life, in just punishment of his treason, was incapacitated for any further exercise of his high priest's office, on such debarring of his pontifical exercise, there was no new ordination of another into his place. But Zadock, who had been created his partner in the priesthood before, on his partner's loss of this exercise, was to exercise the whole himself. So that the authority of a deprivation of state, to unmake one, and to make another, to be a bishop in their dominions during his life, is ill-fetched from this instance. For neither doth Abiathar plainly appear, to have been despoiled of the honour of the high priesthood, (though by banishment for life, he was of the exercise thereof,) by Solomon: nor Zadock, to have been first advanced and created high-priest by him; but to have been ordained thereto by the spiritual powers of the Sanhedrim, to whom that ordination and investiture did belong, in David's time.


2. Secondly, in these alleged state-deprivations of the Jewish high priests, either of Abiathar by Solomon, or, after they came under Roman subjection, of the chief-priests by the Roman procurators, who made such frequent changes among them, sometimes annual, as Josephus notes: in all these state-deprivations of Jewish high-priests, I say, there was only a change of persons; but matters of religion, went on in every thing the same, and men were taught the same doctrines, and trained up in the same practices, and held on in the same prayers, sacrifices, and temple, and synagogue-service, under both. And where it doth not affect the state of religion, or the interest of souls, but only their own personal claims and privileges; God's faithful ministers may be free, as has been observed, to secure protection and civil benefits to the church, by not breaking with the state, but acquiescing under its deprivations. But what voluntary deference were thus payable to a deprivation of state, in a case which doth not touch religion, or the souls of men; must not be expected in other cases, which do touch, and damnify and endanger both. And thus it is in the fore-mentioned cases, wherein I have been asserting the necessity of holding on their spiritual ministrations, and not yielding to be stopped thereof by any state-deprivations.

3. And this also clears the instance of the submission of the Greeks, on the frequent deprivations of their patriarchs, by the Turkish governors. The benefits of incorporation, which they propose to secure thereby, are not the most tempting; lying not so much in being privileged and beneficed by the state, as in not being persecuted, but tolerated under it. And their submission, for keeping on this state benefit, such as it is, is not without detriment to the church, (though their breaking with the state, they fear would be more detrimental,) the Turks, as learned travellers inform us, making the new advancements for money, to be levied on the church by the new patriarch, to the countenance and growth of great corruption, and to the bringing of the church in debt. But as to the course of religious ministrations, they are the same under both patriarchs. Religion, or the word, and prayers, and sacraments, are administered alike without alteration; and the souls under their charge, are fed with the same doctrines both of faith and good life, and are nursed up in the same practices, and serve God in the same prayers and public offices, in both cases. And therefore, those deposed patriarchs, are not driven, by insisting on their spiritual powers and ministrations, to break this partial incorporation, such as it is, for the support of pure faith, worship and practice, or for the interest of religion and of souls; as I have shown true and faithful pastors are in the fore-mentioned cases.

4. The fourth and last instance, is of queen Mary's popish bishops, deposed by a commission of the queens council, without a competent and lawful synod, and principally for a state-crime, viz. refusing the Oath of Supremacy, which was made a cause of deprivation by a preceding act of her parliament, under Queen Elizabeth: and of our reformed bishops coming into their sees, upon such deprivation, during the others lives.

As to this case of the Marian bishops, or of other popish bishops under Edward the Sixth, two things are to be noted in their removal and ejection out of their dioceses. One is, from the temporalities, the benefices and preferments thereof. And these temporal endowments, as I have observed, are directly subject to the temporal power. So that the act of parliament, and the proceedings of the council, and the commission of the lawful state, took away all claim to the temporalities, and deprived them of their bishoprics, as they were temporal free-holds.

The other is, from the spiritual adherence and dependence of the people upon them, as on heads of church-unity and communion, for religious ministrations. And this, there was no need for the state to deprive the popish bishops of; for they had already deprived themselves of it, by their own corruptions, both in doctrines, and devotions. Adulterations of religion, and corrupt ministrations, of the word, of prayers, and sacraments, break the ligaments, which tie on people to this adherence to any bishops or pastors; yea, though they were apostles themselves. Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be anathema or accursed, saith St. Paul, Galatians 1. 8. Or, instead of sticking to his communion, break off from it, and have no more religious commerce with such, than was to be held with those, whom the synagogue or church had anathematized or cut off: anaqhma, as he elsewhere uses it, and in the ecclesiastical style, speaking one excommunicate, for so we Christians are wont to call a sentence against the speakers of impious things, says Socrates. When therefore any bishops and pastors, instead of heading Christian truths, appear at the head of unchristian errors; the people are discharged from their obligation and dependence upon them, and are to unite themselves, as they can, to others, who still keep firm to that necessary gospel-truth and worship, which they have forsaken, as shall be shown more fully afterwards. And this was done by the popish bishops, who fed the people with false doctrines, and polluted prayers and ministrations; which left no need of any thing more to deprive them of the people's communion and dependence, these papal corruptions of religious ministrations, being enough to discharge and drive them away of themselves.

So that the reformed bishops, when they were set at the heads of those dioceses, called none away, nor made them break off, from any just and due spiritual dependence on their former bishops, whose own heretical doctrines and corrupt ministrations, had made the people cease from depending any longer in conscience upon them. They wanted only to be lawfully empowered, and regularly ordained themselves, by episcopal imposition of hands; as all those reformed bishops plainly were: and the people were free from any obligations to the old ones, because of their errors, and corrupt and dangerous ministrations; and both lawfully might unite themselves to them, and were in duty bound so to do. And thus, coming to head a people, whose dependence was broke off from others, by their spiritual corruptions and depravations of religion; they were no spiritual intruders. And coming into benefices and temporalities, made vacant by the deprivation of a lawful state; they were guilty of no civil usurpation and injustice. And this is enough, to justify the advancement of those first reformers: though, where bishops are orthodox, and deprived for their adherence to truth and righteousness, both in their private practice, and public ministrations, the people are still left spiritually to depend on them, and are not to be taken off by any deprivation, though of the most rightful state, as in the above-mentioned cases.

It is true, as to the popish bishops themselves, they thought otherwise of their own worship and doctrines, and took them for Christian and gospel-ways and truths, not for anti-christian corruptions. And had they really been, what they thought, as they were not but quite contrary, it had been their duty to go on in their pastoral cures and ministrations, with persecutions, for all their deprivations. And so we our selves should have thought, at least we all seem as if we should, if, by God's providence, the civil state had gone on to deprive our reformed bishops, for sticking to the worship and doctrines of the reformation, and had set up popish bishops in their places. Notwithstanding which, I suppose both our faithful prelates and people, instead of silently acquiescing, would have gone on ministering and communicating, in the reformed worship and doctrine of this church.

But whatever they thought of these things, or how consonant or disagreeing soever their actings were to their own apprehensions in this case; it suffices for justification of our reformed bishops advancement to their sees, without their being deprived by competent and lawful synods, which is objected as a thing most exceptionable therein, and as seeming most to deviate from ecclesiastical rule, that in reality they were not orthodox. And that, for this want of orthodoxy, without any need of recourse to the authority of mere state deprivations, to take off people from a spiritual adherence and communion with their bishops, the people, before they could have a synodical deprivation, were loose from them, and at liberty to unite themselves to the orthodox reformers in their room.

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