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bishop of Rome, in the second century, to raise so many broils in support of his opinion, upon a question of no more importance than this, On what day the Passover ought to be celebrated, and even to excommunicate all the churches of the leffer Alia, because they celebrated that festival on the 14th day of the First Month, and not on the First-day of the week following, as he would have had it ?
And again, upon the same principle, what else but pride was the origin of those great contentions we read of, that the Christians in the fourth century fell into about their creeds ?
And moreover, certain external accidents attending the church seem to have had no small share in fostering this pride incident to some of her members, that is to say, outward ease, liberty and an affluence of the riches of this world. When the church's fortune grew better, her sons grew worse, and some of her fathers, (as a learned author observes) worst of all: and indeed, as far as I have learned, the most memorable æra from whence we may date the corruption of Christians was, when the church, through the favour of Emperors, became endowed with lands, possessions, and patrimonies, so that (in the words of Fox, in his Acts and Monuments, Vol. I. p. 716.) the bishops thereof, feeling the smack of wealth, ease, and prosperity, began to swell in pomp and pride,' where I also read, that about this time a voice was heard, as it were from Heaven, over the city of Constantinople, saying, "This day is poison poured forth into the churches.”
That lordly imposing spirit, which I have hinted at às creeping in among some of the leading men, even in the early times, grew much more flagrant in fucceeding ages ; and to such a degree, that in process of time, upon the growing pride of the prelates and corruption of the people, a spiritual sovereignty was erected, a separate jurisdiction was established and tyrannically exercised over the rest of mankind. Thus
the word Church, which, in Scripture language, signifies any number of persons who embraced the doctrine of the gospel, and worshipped God in the name of Jesus Christ, was in process of time wrested from the people, and appropriated, together with the power thereto belonging, to a certaiu set of men who called themselves the clergy. Now this was a mere novelty, and utterly inconsistent with the primitive example. For, ' in the apostolick age, the laity bore a part in the most folemn deliberations which concerned the interest and government of the church. The whole number of believers was consulted in the choice of a fit person to succeed in the apostleship after Judas. The apostles, elders, and brethren, or as it is otherwise expressed in the 15th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, the church, or all the multitude assembled at Jerusalem to deliberate on the great question, How far the gentile converts were obliged to submit to the law of Moses: and after the assembly had proceeded, not by apostolical authority, but in the way of a rational and free debate, they came to a risolution, which they communicated to the churches, convened in the name of the whole body. Nor indeed did any of the bishops of the first three hundred years after Christ claim any separate exclusive powers for the exercise of church discipline, but left these matters to the provincial and diocesan consistories, which, in the purer ages of the church, were composed of bishops, clergy, and laity.'
Hence, in the laws of the Anglo Saxons, we find a perpetual mixture of ecclesiastical and civil laws t; nor was it until the papal power grew to a monstrous heighth, under the Norman kings, that the clergy claimed a privilege of debating apart all matters, that in
any wife related to religion, in ecclesiastical afsem
* Examination of the bishop of London's ' Codes Juris Ecclegastiçi Anglicani,' published in London, 1735.
+ Rápin's History of England.
blies or fynods. Even in the time of king Henry I. we meet with plain proofs of the civil court retaining their ancient jurisdiction in ecclefiaftical causes; but in the time of king Henry II. the two courts, ecclesiastical and civil, are constantly spoken of as distinct, and enjoying separate jurisdiétions: and herein the clergy had the countenance and authority of pope Innocent II. (who began his reign A. D. 1130, and died 1143), who at this very juncture excluded the laity from all pontifical assemblies at Rome. *
And here it seems worthy of observation, that the celibacy of the clergy was not established until this time, or pretty near it; for in the New Testament,
1 Tim.iv. 1,3) the prohibition of marriage is reckoned among the marks of apostacy and doctrines of devils, and even in the year of our Lord 601, marriage was allowed to priests that could not live continently; but in the year 1102, in the reign of king Henry I. a national synod was held, of which the fourth canon forbids the clergy to marry, or to live with their wives already married ; t and this point once gained was a great step towards putting in execution the projet the pope had formed, of rendering the clergy independent of the civil power, and incorporating them into a fociety apart, which should be governed by its own laws; and indeed whilst the priests had children of their own, it was a hard matter to prevent them from having some dependence on their princes, whose favour has so great an influence on the fortune of private persons; but being without families, and consequently in expectation of no great matters from their sovereign, they were more at liberty to stick by the pope, who would be looked upon as the sovereign of the clergy. I
This however he did not attain to, till after a series
See the place beforc cited.
+ Rapin's History of England, Vol. II. Ibid. Vol. II.
of ages of growing darkness and ignorance. For the bishop of Rome at first had no more authority than others, nor was Rome deemed a mother church until the time of Boniface Ill. who did not begin to preside till after the year of our Lord 600, and obtained from the emperor Phocas, that the fee of Rome should be acknowledged the head of all other churches : for before that, the Constantinopolitan church was accounted the highest, as Jerusalem was before: nor did the church of Rome remarkably exercise her sway over. England until the 7th or 8th century. The ancient Britons had been converted to Christianity by the apostles, or some of their disciples,* and adhered to the rites prefcribed to them by their first teachers: and when Austin the monk came into England, being sent by pope Gregory I, chiefly urging this one point, that they should submit to the authority of the pope, the church of Rome having made several innovations in the celebrating divine service, to which they pretended all other churches ought to conform, the British bishops refused to submit to any alterations, professing that they owed no more deference to the bishop of Rome than to any other Christian bishop: however, by and by, they submitted their necks to the yoke, for A.D. 669, Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury, as soon as he came into England, made a visit to all the churches in his jurisdiction, and brought the people to a thorough conformity to the usages of the church of Rome; and A. D. 735, the English archbishops went to Rome to receive the pall.+
Besides the celibacy of the clergy, there was yel another stratagem, by which the dominion of this
* “ The first springing of Christ's gospel in England was in the time of king Lucius, in the year of our Lord, 180, and the continuance of it from thence to the entrance of the Infidel Saxons, waz 302 years. The decay of the same, to the entrance of Austin the monk, was 143 years." Fox's Ad6 and Monuments, Vol. I. p. 104.
+ Rapin's History of England, Vol. I.
mighty prince was extended far and near; of which Puffendorf, in his Spiritual Monarchy of the Church of Rome, gives us the following account:
“ The popes claimed the supreme direction over the universities, whereby these were rendered mainly instrumental in maintaining the popish sovereignty. For, in the universities, men are first tinctured with such opinions as they are afterwards to make use of during their whole life, and instil them into others : and it was for this reason, that the sciences there to be taught were sure to be accommodated to the pope's interest. Here the professors of divinity, those of the canon law, and even the philosophers, were the creatures and flaves of the pope ; and indeed the divinity and philosophy professed in these universities, were not taught with an intention to make the young students more learned and understanding, but that the ingenious, by confused and idle terms, might be diverted from thoroughly canvafling those matters which would have led them to the whole discovery of the popith intrigues : for their school-divinity is not employed in searching the Holy Scripture, but for the most part entangled in useless questions, invented chiefly by Peter Lombard, Thomas Aquinas, Scotus, and other patriarchs of pedantry: and what they call philosophy is nothing else but a collection of foolish chimeras, empty terms, and very bad Larin, the knowledge of which is rather hurtful than profitable. So that all their aim was, to take care that the sciences should not be fundamentally taught; and above all the rest, the most useful of all, the doctrine of morality is much misinterpreted, and entangled in an endless labyrinth, that the fathers confeffors
may not want means to domineer over laymen's consciences, and that these may be rendered incapable to examine and rule their actions according to folid principles, but be obliged to be guided blindfold, at the pleasure of their fathers confessors.” So far Puffendorf.