Billeder på siden

popery, they would have great reason to repent their rashness, who plead antiquity for it, and put their cause upon that issue. And the many new doctrines first established by the council of Trent so fully confirm the truth of this assertion, that I shall think it needless to say more upon this head; nor had I said this but by showing the reader that these doctrines fall not in the compass of my present design, to account for the reason of my silence respecting them in the following history.

In this volume I have endeavoured to perform what I promised to the public in my last ; that is, to give a just view of the English church for some time after the Norman revolution; and, in particular, of the rise and steps of the papal power, and the changes, as well in the government of the state as the church, which attended it. And because the controversies about investitures, the legantine power, the right of appeals, the exemption of the religious from the authority of their bishops, and both of them and the clergy from the civil power, and about the patronage of the crown, give the best light to the government and discipline of the ancient English church, and show us when and how a change was gradually introduced ; and show that this of England was much the same case as that of other churches abroad, which, by the same men, and by the same arts, and about he same time, were broken and subdued to that of Rome; I have therefore thought myself obliged to be more full and particular in observing the steps and conduct of those long disputes. And indeed, however these controversies pass under other titles, the subject of them was neither more nor less than whether the kings of England should continue, or the bishops of Rome should be raised to the head of the national church? whether the bishops of England might act up to their character and the canons of the universal church; or whether the bishops of Rome might supersede the commission of Christ, and at pleasure control the authority of His church? whether they should govern the church of Rome as bishops; or, as monarchs and sovereign princes, should preside over the universal church?

Nor was England the only scene of controversy; but from the pontificate of Gregory the Seventh, in the latter end of the eleventh century, when the pretence to an universal pastorship was first broached, till the time of pope Innocent the Third in the beginning of the thirteenth, when the authority of the bishops of Rome arrived at its utmost height of grandeur and elevation, the

history of the Western churches is little else but one continued scene of strife and contention : one long struggle betwixt the bishops of Rome endeavouring to raise themselves, and the princes and bishops of the West to guard their kingdoms and churches from their usurpation and encroachments. This was so much the case of England, and the artifices and attempts of the bishops of Rome, in pursuance of the aforesaid design, make so great a part in our history, that it is impossible to give a just view of the English church, without observing the measures and conduct of those prelates, whose ambition and designs did about this time occasion so much trouble, and in the event drew so many mischiefs on the church and nation.

It is but too evident, that the bishops of Rome did in time gain a jurisdiction over the English church; and this has been industriously misrepresented, and so artfully covered with the pretence of antiquity, as to deceive some, and raise doubts and scruples in the minds of others : and this pretence was first made use of, to prevent and embarrass all the steps to the Reformation, and ever since to reproach us with a charge of schism'. Besides, not only the doctrines of infallibility and necessity of communion with the church of Rome, but all those doctrines which properly fall under the head of popery, arise out of the claims or depend upon the authority of the see of Rome, and stand and fall with them; and the honour and justice of the Reformation do in some measure turn upon the same foot. I shall therefore, the better to set these matters in a true light, ask the reader's leave to make some historical remarks on the ground and progress of the claims of the court of Rome, which for the reasons above, do necessarily take up so much room in the following history.

The unparalleled assurance with which some men challenge a power, which, like the rivers of paradise, encompasses the whole earth, extends to the other world, and determines the future state of mankind; which in many instances pretends to control the authority of God, to allow what He forbids, and forbid what He allows; to set up itself as a standard of truth and error, and the last resort of justice ;-would tempt one to think, that a claim which at once shocks the natural notions of God and religion, and

· Charge of Schism.] That the church of England was not guilty of schism in her Reformation, see 4 Christian Institutes, p. 312-24. 334—9. 358, 9. Jewell and n.

the common sense of mankind, should have the most express authority of God, or at least something to colour so extraordinary a pretence. But how wretchedly is one disappointed, who finds all this founded on nothing but upon some occasional discourses of our Saviour with St. Peter, or some particular advices and reproofs addressed to that apostle, but so far from giving the least colour to the claims built upon them, that it is hard to say whether they who found them here, or they who carry us to the history of the creation, and undertake the proof from God's making two great lights', have the greater advantage in the argument.

If one looks to the commission which our Saviour gave to His apostles in His lifetime, to preach to the Jewish nation, exclusive both of the Gentiles and Samaritans ; or to that after His resurrection when all power both in heaven and earth was given to Him, to go out into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, and finds not the least mark of any particular power given to St. Peter; if one considers, that although Christ as God-man was the great lawgiver to His church, yet this power was founded in His divine nature, and was essential to and inseparable from the person of the Mediator; that as a prophet He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister; that it was this ministerial and prophetic power' which He committed to His church ; we are so much to seek for the regalia of St. Peter, that if history did not explain the secret, the Christian church had in probability been as little acquainted with the pretended powers of the bishops of Rome, as the patriarchs were who lived before the flood.

But it is so natural to men who make their fortunes in the world, to indulge a vanity, and the better to cover the meanness of their original, to look backward to find or make a pedigree, to add a lustre to the family which themselves first raised, that we are not to wonder if the bishops of Rome took the same measures, and endeavoured to persuade the world, that the authority which

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1 Two great lights.] “They have indeed found the Pope" (says Barrow) “in the first chapter of Genesis, ver. 16; for, if we believe P. Innocent III., he is one of the two great luminaries there; and he is as plainly there, as any where else in the Bible.” Barrow on the Pope's Supremacy; or Christian Institutes, vol. iv. p. 151. 8vo. 1837.

2 This prophetic power.] See Baxter in Christian Institutes, vol. i. p. 475; and Barrow, in the same collection, vol. ii. p. 398.


was first gained by their own conduct, was founded in the commission of Christ. And the sense and practice of the whole Christian church, for a thousand years after Christ, do so fully confirm this conjecture, that there is no one thing more evident, than that the aforesaid claims, and the wrested interpretation of Scriptures on which they are built, had the same beginning, and were ushered into the world by that ambition which first broached the pretence to an universal pastorship.

And the success and credit thereof has been answerable to the weakness of the pretence; for at least two-thirds of the Christian world rejected as well the aforesaid interpretations, as the doctrines which were built upon them: and those Christians who have been unhappily deceived by the assurance with which the court of Rome has endeavoured to impose their pretensions, do still differ so much about them, that if a visible interest did not enable us to account for it, one would wonder how such great bodies of Christians should centre in the communion of a church, when the principles on which that unity is founded, so vastly differ, or rather so directly destroy one another, that it may be truly said of the claims of the court of Rome, that they have had the fate which commonly attends impostures, which seldom need any thing else to detect and expose them, but the inconsistent tales which are usually made for their colour and support. For a primacy of order, an universal pastorship by divine right, and an authority over the Western church in right of the patriarchate of Rome, are so many several things so widely distant in their own original, their nature and extent, that if they do not flatter themselves, who tell us that the Spanish and Italian churches maintain the supremacy, and in consequence thereof the infallibility of the bishops of Rome by divine right, the Gallican church is certainly in the wrong, and guilty of heresy in denying both; but if the French are in the right, the charge of heresy will with equal force turn back on the Spanish and Italian churches.

If a more favourable construction be put upon this controversy betwixt those churches, it may be, it will appear much more to the disadvantage of those claims which occasion it ; for if they who boast so much of the zeal of the Spaniards for the grandeur of the papacy, would follow them to their dominions in Italy, and observe the jurisdiction which they challenge and exercise in the right of the crown of Naples, and call to mind the vigorous efforts of their bishops, as well as of the French and Germans, in the

[ocr errors]

council of Trent, for the divine right of episcopal residence and the consequences of that doctrine; or consider their friendship and communion with the Gallican church, which so openly denies and confutes the supremacy of the bishops of Rome,-they cannot easily be persuaded that the Spaniards are such friends to those claims as some men seem to believe. And one who reflects on the conduct of the Portuguese, upon that revolution which brought the present royal family to the crown of Portugal, with what steadiness and resolution they opposed the attempts of the court of Rome, to gain a part in the nomination of their bishops; that notwithstanding the unsettled state of the new government, the vigorous attempts of the Spaniards to reduce that kingdom to their obedience, and the utmost inconveniences which their church suffered by that dispute,-yet for above twenty years they maintained their ground, and at last secured the rights of the crown,—will be apt to think, that the bigotry of that people is not such a blind and governable thing as some men seem to imagine. And indeed the conduct of all the Western princes in communion with the church of Rome is so much alike, whenever their interests call them to dispute the claims of the court of Rome, as might convince the world that they mean no more by the pompous titles they bestow upon the bishops of Rome, than what the emperor Phocas intended, when he conferred upon them the title of ecumenical bishops ; or the preceding emperors, when in their edicts and rescripts they gave the same titles to the bishops of the greater sees. And the unsuccessful attempts of those prelates to put an end to the disputes betwixt the Dominicans and Franciscans, the Jansenists and the Jesuits, and even to quiet the trifling squabbles, where the sentiments, the honour, the offices, or the privileges of particular orders are concerned, would incline one to think, that the universal pastorship has little credit amongst those who are under the obligations of vows and interest to support it.

Whatever the present sense of some Western churches may be in this particular, nothing can be more evident, than that all the apostles and all the first Christian bishops consulted and acted in common', and ever treated one another as colleagues and brethren ; that the government and discipline of the whole

1 In common.] See Barrow on the Pope's Supremacy; or Christian Institutes, vol. iii. p. 267–70.

« ForrigeFortsæt »