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required an oath of obedience from them ; called national councils at home; obliged them to attend their councils abroad; and in time came to lay impositions on the revenues, and to dispose of the preferments of the church. The right of appeals, and the exemptions of the clergy from the authority of the state, contended for and begun in king Stephen's, were yielded up in the following reign of Henry the Second ; and the designs of that court were consummated, and the civil as well as the ecclesiastical supremacy, so far as was in the power of that prince, was put into their hands by king John.
It is here we have the beginning, the steps, and the foundation of the papal supremacy over the English Church, which the flatterers of that pretence look for in vain in the preceding ages. And the whole course of our history so fully justifies this account, that whereas before the Conquest we have neither marks nor footsteps of the papal jurisdiction,—from the time of the aforesaid agreements to the Reformation, our ecclesiastic history is little else but different scenes of oppression, and of remonstrances against the abuses it occasioned.- Whether this change in fact and practice altered the sentiments, and changed the faith and sense of the church and nation in this particular, is the next thing to be enquired into. IV. One would have expected, that men who are so very
forward to reproach us with a parliamentary church and a state religion, would have produced some canon of an English national council, grounded on the authority of Christ or the consent of the universal church, to justify this change in the government thereof; at least some public act of the state. But after all it is very evident, that all through the long controversies which their claims occasioned, the nobility, bishops, and clergy, some few excepted, adhered steadily to the rights of the crown and the church; and that when king Henry did what in him lay to give them away in the great council held in London in the year 1107, he acted wholly upon political reasons; and was over-influenced by his great minister and favourite the Earl of Mellent, against the sense of the wiser and greater part of that assembly. And this was so much the case in all the other disputes on this subject, that if any credit can be given to history, the supreme authority of the bishops of Rome over the English church had no other foundation, but some unhappy concessions or leagues betwixt the kings of England and those prelates, occasioned by the bad titles,
the weakness, the ill circumstances, or the difficulties which the arts of that court had drawn upon them.
If the same reasons, upon which our princes acted in the aforesaid changes, did not oblige the church and nation to submit to them, then, since (unless the restoration of the papal power in the reign of queen Mary may be so called) it does not appear that a submission was ever settled by any law of the state, or any canon of the English church. On the contrary, the entire and full sovereignty of the imperial crown of England was so constantly asserted by our several succeeding kings and their great councils ; and the pretended supremacy of those prelates was so frequently denied and controlled, and even insulted by the statutes of mortmain, præmunire, and provisors, annates or first-fruits, and that of Henry the Seventh rescinding the papal exemptions of the religious from the payment of tithes; and was so restrained in all the parts and branches thereof, whenever it interfered with the rights of the crown or the good of the nation; and was at last so generally renounced and abjured', as well by the whole clergy in convocation, as by the people in parliament; and all this brought about in fewer weeks than it had cost years to obtain ; and whilst popery, in other respects, continued the established
, religion, and did depend so far on the authority of the bishops of Rome, that it was easy to foresee that this change would open the way to the Reformation which the body of his clergy so much dreaded. Hence if any judgment can be made of the faith of a Christian church and nation by the canons, the laws and practices thereof, the supremacy of the bishops of Rome was never received as a part of the religion of England, any more than it is at this time in France; but, on the contrary, was ever esteemed an usurpation on the rights of the monarchy and the church. Besides it is very evident, that the attempt of king John to render the kingdom a fief of the papacy, though attended with the forms and appearances of law, was ever thought a void' and illegal act, and
| Renounced and abjured.] An Act (26 Hen. VIII. c. i. A.D. 1535-6) concerning the King's Highness to be Supreme Head, &c. and An Act (28 Hen. VIII. c. X. A.D. 1537) extinguishing the authority of the Bishop of Rome.
* Ever thought a void.] The king (Edward III.) had lately received notice, that the pope, in consideration of the homage which John, king of England, had formerly paid to the see of Rome, and of the tribute by him granted to the said see, intended by process to cite his majesty to appear at
served only to reproach the memory of that prince and the wickedness of that court which compelled him to it; and to let
his court at Avignon, to answer for his defaults in not performing what the said king his predecessor had so undertaken for him and his heirs, kings of England. Whereupon the king required the advice of his parliament, what course he had best take, if any such process should come out against him. The bishops, lords and commons desired until the following day to give in their answer; when being again assembled, after full deliberation, they declared as follows: that “neither king John, nor any other king, could bring himself, his realm, and people, under such subjection without their assent; and if it was done, it was done without consent of parliament, and contrary to his coronation oath; that he was notoriously compelled to it by the necessity of his affairs and the iniquity of the times. Wherefore the said estates enacted, that in case the pope should attempt any thing by process, or any other way, to constrain the king and his subjects to perform what he says he lays claim to in this respect, they would resist and withstand him to the utmost of their power.” Parliamentary History of England, vol. i. p. 130. Compare Cotton's Abridgment, p. 102. fol.
Of hardly inferior value, is a very explicit testimony even from Sir Thomas More:
Nowe if he saye, as in dede some wryters saye, that king John made England and Ireland tributary to the pope and the see apostolike, by the graunt of a thousand markes; we dare surely saye agayne that it is untrue; and that all Rome neither can shewe such a graunt, nor never could: and if they could, it were right nought worth. For never could any kinge of England geve away the realm to the pope, or make the land tributary though he would ; nor no such moneye is there payde, nor never was." The Supplication of Souls. Works of Sir Thomas More, p. 296. 1557. fol. The testimony, I say, is valuable, as proceeding from a high constitutional authority. At the same time, you cannot but remark, in reference to a different point, that it is not pleasant to see with what confidence, in a controversial spirit, and in extenuation of the offences of the see of Rome, such a man should so confidently contradict, as he here does, the unquestionable facts of this tribute having been imposed, and exacted, till it came to be denied in a tone too firm for the pope to overcome.
It is true that More might not have so fully all the sources of information which we possess; but ignorance can hardly be thought a sufficient excuse for assertions so positive and confident.
See also Sir Thomas Smith’s Commonwealth of England, b. i. c. ix.
We may remark yet again, on this important point, that we have the general argument well put and clearly expressed, in a short tract of bishop Hooper, preserved by Strype, in his Ecclesiastical Memorials, (vol. iii. No. xxvi. Records), and entitled De vera ratione inveniendæ et fugienda false doctrinæ. It was written, as the reader will perceive, in the reign of queen Mary.
“ Et quod auctoritatem suam papa ratam esse voluerit, quasi a regibus et principibus concessam, certo scimus reges et principes, et si vellent, non posse
posterity see how impossible it is to guard the civil, whenever the ecclesiastical supremacy shall be ravished from the crown: and yet it is certain, the grants of the ecclesiastical supremacy were no less mischievous and no better grounded, than that charter which pretended to give away the crown.—And if this be a true state of our case, the charge of schism against the reformed church of England must of necessity vanish with the imposture which supports it; and there can be no more ground to question the wisdom and justice of our reformation, than to doubt whether a nation may resume the rights' which were illegally given away; or aliquam suæ dignitatis partem cuiquam conferre, nec a suo officio et honore deponere. Nam quod Deus necessario alicui statui conjungit, nemo in alium statum transferre valet. Reges autem sub se ministros, qui ecclesie et reipublicæ munia ministrent, habere possunt, sed pares vel superiores in ecclesiæ vel reipub. ministerio habere, regibus non licet. Et si forte quispiam, vel regis permissione, vel aliqua temporis præscriptione, vel tyrannide, in ecclesiis auctoritatem sibi vindicat; nemo tamen illius auctoritati obtemperare debet, nec episcopo, nec papæ, quatenus sunt episcopi; quandoquidem a Deo talem potestatem non habent: nec quia a regibus missi, propterea quod talem potestatem reges episcopo papali facere non possunt. Sed hanc potestatem papæ clare vindicat Joannes (Apoc. xvii.) originem suam habuisse nec a Deo nec ab homine, sed ex abysso ; et in interitum procul dubio brevi ibit.
“Sed hanc violentiam et Satanicam auctoritatem papæ, non est præsentis instituti ulterius prosequi. Tantum admonere volui, quamvis contra omnia jura divina et humana, nunc iterum, propter nostra peccata, inter Anglos caput ecclesiæ appellari obtinuerit ; non plus hic habere jurisdictionis, quam infimus episcopus Angliæ habet Romæ. Et tandem denuo Dominus interficiet illum spiritu oris sui, ut antehac fecit.” P. 75, 76. In a later age, the like objection was urged to the royal concessions, to
a another species of tyranny and usurpation, that of democracy and regicide.
“This parliament,” says the noble-minded Marquis of Ormond to Lord Inchiquin, (Nov. 17, 1648) “have voted the king's answers unsatisfactory; though they were as large, or larger than he could give : for to my sense he hath parted with more than his own.” Carte's Life of Ormond, vol. iii. p. 593. Again in the State Papers of Edward Earl of Clarendon, vol. ii. p. 309. “ The king hath not power to release one grain of the allegiance that is due to him.”
1 May resume the rights.] All the points connected with these matters were deliberately considered by the Convocation of 1536, and accordingly, on this in particular, in their Institution of a Christian Man, 1537 (the Bishop's Book), they thus express themselves, under the head “The Sacrament of Orders.” fol. p. 50, 51.
“Whereas the kynges most royall Majestie, consyderynge of his most excellent wysedom, not only the notable decaye of Christe's true and perfytte religion amonges us, but also the intollerable thraldome, captivitie and a Christian church may act up to the commission of Christ, and contend earnestly for the faith which he delivered to the saints.
These few reflections on the claims of the bishops of Rome, on their true and pretended antiquity; on the grounds and the consequences thereof; and on the sense of the Christian church in general on this subject, and of that of England in particular, will, I hope, give the reader a just view of the nature and importance of those disputes occasioned thereby: and by leaving it out of doubt that it was guarding the supremacy of the crown, and preserving the ancient freedom and independence of the English church on the one side, and on the other usurping on the rights of both, which were the great subject of the aforesaid controversies, will sufficiently answer for the room which has been allowed them in the following history. bondage, with the infinite damages and prejudices, whiche we and other his subjectes continually susteyned, by reason of that longe-usurped and abused power, whiche the bishops of Rome were wonte to exercyse here in this realme, hath nowe of his moste godly disposition, and by consent of his nobles spiritual and temporal, and by the auctoritie of the hole parlyament, determyned no longer to suffer the byshop of Rome to execute any parte of his jurisdiction here within this realme, but clerely to delyver us from the same, and restore us again to our olde lybertie : surely we have great cause most joyfully and thankefully to embrace and accepte the same, considerynge that therby no prejudice is done to Goddis worde or his ordynances. For, as we have shewed and declared before, it was by princes and men's ordinance and sufferance onely that the byshop of Rome exercysed any such jurisdiction within this realme, and not by any auctoritie gyven unto hym by Christe. And, as for the byshop of Rome, he can not pretende himselfe no more to be greved or injured therewith, than the kynges chancellour, or any other his offycers might worthily thinke, that the kinges highnes shulde do hym wronge, in case he shulde upon good causes remove hym from his sayde roome and offyce, and committe it unto another. And as for us and other the kynges faythfulle subjectes, we shall undoubtedly receyve and have therby syngular welthe and commoditie, as well spiritually to the edifienge of our soules, as corporally to the encrease of our substance and ryches."
See also a passage to the same purport, under the same head, in the Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for any Christian Man. (The King's Book, 1543. signat. I, 6, 7.) The reader is aware that two years before, viz., in 1534, the bishops, universities, collegiate churches, monasteries, and learned men generally throughout the kingdom, on being formally consulted by the king, had, with very few exceptions, determined :
“ Romanum episcopum majorem aliquam jurisdictionem non habere sibi a Deo collatam in sacra scriptura, in hoc regno Angliæ, quam alium quemvis externum episcopum.” Twisden, 72 and 119.