James Wayland Joyce.

England's sacred synods : a constitutional history of the convocations of the clergy, from the earliest records of Christianity in Britain to the date of the promulgation of the present Book of common prayer; including a list of all councils, ecclesiastical as well as civil, held in England, in whic online

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Online LibraryJames Wayland JoyceEngland's sacred synods : a constitutional history of the convocations of the clergy, from the earliest records of Christianity in Britain to the date of the promulgation of the present Book of common prayer; including a list of all councils, ecclesiastical as well as civil, held in England, in whic → online text (page 13 of 83)
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prepared to watch with much exactness Augustine"'s con-
duct. When they approached he received them in a sit-
I ting posture, at which they felt extreme indignation, perceived
that his conduct was any thing but meek and lowly, " took ^
him for a haughty person, and argued strongly upon the points
in debate."

Three principal points Augustine urged, stating that if in
those they would conform, he was ready to pass over any minor
differences, and to sanction a union between the British and
the Roman Churches. The three points upon which he insisted
were these : first, that they should celebrate the Paschal fes-
tival at the same time with himself; secondly/, that they
should administer the sacrament of baptism after the Roman
manner; and thirdly, that they should unite with his followers
in preaching the Gospel to the Anglo-Saxons.

. As regards the first of these points, namely,

on the computa- that they should celebrate the Paschal festival
at the same time with himself, it is necessary
to make a brief digression, in order to place the request in a
clear light. It is said that S. John, in accordance with
the old directions of the Mosaic law respecting the Jewish
Passover, kept the Paschal festival of the Church on the
fifteenth^ day of the Paschal moon, and commenced the ob-
servance on the evening of the fourteenth without regard to
the question whether that day fell upon a Saturday, so as to
secure a Sunday for the holding of the great Christian feast.

^ See Home's Introd. vol. iii. p. 308. Levit. xxiii. 6. Josephus, Ant. Jud.
lib. iii. c. 10, p. 93, edit. Pet. de la Rouiere, 1611. Exod. xii. 18. Numb. ix. 3.

A.D. 3£

S. Matt.
■A. 2.9.

a Coll.





A.D. 39—

•> Iiinett,
Orig. Ang.
p. 68.

«= Coll. i.

•' Bingham's
Ant. vol.
vii. p. 91.

<^ Churton's
Early Eng.
Ch. p. 43.
fColl. i.
225, 226.

K Churton's
Early Eng.
Ch. p. 43.

'I See Bing-
ham, Ant.
vol. vii. p.

' Churton's
Earlv Eng.
Ch. j.. 43.
Orig. Ang.
p. 68.

Thus the Easter festival would be celebrated six times out of
seven on a week day. The Eastern Churches generally fol-
lowed this computation, and from the fact that their Paschal
feast was thus invariably commenced upon the evening of the
fourteenth day of the moon, they obtained the name^ of
" Quartodecimans."

But S. ]-*eter, we are told, concluded •= that the great
Christian festival of Easter should always be held upon a
Sunday, because upon that day of the week the Lord brake
the bonds of death, became the firstfruits of them that
slept — the earnest and pledge of mane's resurrection. That
was emphatically " the Lord's day," and on that day S. Peter
thought that the highest festival of the Lord's Church on
earth should be celebrated. If, therefore, a Sunday did not
immediately follow the fourteenth day of the Paschal moon,
but stood forward to the sixteenth, seventeenth, or still fur-
ther, the celebration, according to S. Peter's rule, was post-
poned to that more distant day. Thus the festival ranged
between the fifteenth and the twenty-first day of the moon in-
clusive, the actual celebration depending in every case on the
day upon which the Sunday fell. This course the Western
Churches followed, and thus a difference prevailed between
the Christians of the East and West. But to secure unity
a rule was laid down at the Council"^ of Nice, a.d. 325, that
Easter should be kept on one and the same day by all, i. e. on
the first Sunday after the first ^ full moon which succeeded
the vernal *" equinox, *. e. the 12th of the calends of April ; in
our calendar, the 21st of March. Now the Britons were ori-
ginally " Quartodecimans ;" that is, they began the feast on
the evening of the fourteenth day of the moon, celebrating
their high festival on the fifteenth, even if the fourteenth did
not fall ^ on a Saturday, so as to secure a Sunday for the cele-
bration. But after the Council of Nice, though wishing to
correct their practice, and desiring to keep their Easter fes-
tival on Sunday, they still fell into errors in their arrange-
ment : and it may be remarked by the way, that such errors ^
were not confined to them. They began' a day too soon, and
chose the Sunday which fell between J the fourteenth and
twentieth day of the moon inclusive, whereas they should
have chosen the Sunday which fell between the fiiteenth and




k Coll. :

twenty-first inclusive. Thus when Augustine debated the
question with them, they were no " Quartodecimans ''," for they
kept their Easter festival always on the Lord's day, but still
their practice did not coincide with that of the Western
Church, for though the days would generally agree, yet once
in a cycle of years the feast would be held seven days too
soon. Such was the cause of the controversy upon the first
point raised between the British bishops and Augustine— one
which had a powerful effect upon the event of the synod.
„ ^ , The second point which came into discus-

3. Other points , '^ , ^ / .1 i j.r

discussed iii this siou aroso froiii Augustuie s request that the
^^''" ■ Britons should administer the sacrament of

baptism after the Roman manner. To explain this, it may be
observed that a practice had prevailed among some of the
early Christians of dipping the person baptized three times
in water, in memory of the Three Persons of the ever-blessed
Trinity, and of our Saviour's having lain three days in the earth.
Augustine wished to impose this practice upon the British
Church, as a necessary condition of union with himself. But
this was somewhat unjustifiable, because his master Gregory
was less stringent on this very subject. In writing to Lean-
der, bishop of Seville, his words are, '^ We use three immer-
sions at Rome ; but, in such a matter as this, while the faith
of the Church is one, there is no harm in a little difference of
custom." Augustine however betrayed a less catholic spirit,
and wished to exercise a higher strain of authority.

The third point urged by Augustine upon the Britons was,
that they should unite with his followers in preaching the
Gospel to the Anglo-Saxons. Now had they declined to
accede to this proposition, if it had been made to them unac-
companied by the other conditions suggested, the British
clergy would have been inexcusable in refusing. The suffer-
ings 1 they had endured at the hands of their invaders should
never have rendered them unwilling to make so blessed a
return of good for evil. The plainest lessons of Him whose
name they bore, and of whose Church they were the represent-
atives, should have reminded them "to love"^' their enemies,
to bless those that cursed them, to do good to those that hated
them, and pray for those that despitefully used them, and
persecuted them." But it must be remembered that Augus-

1 See Col-
lier's quota-
tion from
Coll. i. 180.

•n S. Matt.
V. 44.




n Coll.

° Churton's
Early Eng.
Ch. p. 43.

p Coll. i.


Cone. i. no.

■• Coll. i. iJ4.

tine''s three propositions were united together ; two of which
might very justly and very reasonably be declined by the
British clergy. They were conditions too not demanded so
much "as terms" of brotherly communion, but as marks of
submission and inferiority." " If in these three things you
will obei/ * me,"" said Augustine, then would he " bear with °
all other things." They had been but little prepossessed in
his favour by his receiving them sitting. It is unlikely that
the counsel of the wise hermit was forgotten ; and this last
imperious condition would naturally suggest that their just
liberties were assailed. They might fairly conclude, if, when
treating upon the subject of authority, he was so little careful
to shew due respect, that they would receive less if that
authority was admitted. So they returned answer to all the
points at once, declined his proposals, and said that "they?
could not give him satisfaction upon those heads, nor receive
him for their archbishop." Indeed, thus to have transferred
allegiance from their own primate would have been an offence
of a grave character ; for to the ancient metropolitical see of
Caerleon-upon-Usk they owed obedience. And thougli that see
had been removed to S. David's about eighty-two years pre-
viously, i.e. at the mixed Council of Llandewy Brevi, in 519, yet
the ancient title of Caerleon, and the jurisdiction was still re-
tained. If, therefore, on this occasion the British bishops and
clergy had transferred their allegiance to Augustine from their
own metropolitan, they would have acted in direct contradiction
to the eighth canon of the third oecumenical cor.ncil (Ephesus),
which "1 ordained that " no "^ bishop shall exercise any jurisdic-
tion in a foreign province which has not been under the
government of his predecessors from the first planting of

4. Ill success of ^^ ^^ a matter for curious speculation why the
thTfiriUsi/bt ^'^^OP o^ ^- I^avid's, at this time metropolitan
shops in this »y- of Cacrlcon, was not present with his seven suf-
fragans at this provincial synod assembled to
discuss such important subjects. Among the causes assigned
for his absence, that one seems the most probable, which suggests
that he might have been afraid lest his metropolitical dignity

* " Si ir
by Collier,

tribus his mihi obtcmpcrarc vulti.s,
. 179.

&c. — Bede, lib. ii. c. 2, quoted




should be uncanonically compromised within his own pro-
vince*, if he attended on this occasion. But though he
does not appear to have been present in person, his suffragans
and clergy did not forget their allegiance to him, and main-
tained with manly resolution his just authority.

The words of Dinoth, the abbot of Bangor, before men-
tioned, fully express the decision of the representatives of the
British Church on this occasion. '• Be it known, and without
doubt \ unto you that we all are, and every one of us, obedient
and subjects to the Church of God, and to the Pope of Rome,
and to every godly Christian to love every one in his degree
in perfect charity, and to help every one of them by word and
deed to be the children of God ; and other obedience than
this I do not know due to him whom you name to be Pope,
nor to be the father of fathers, to be claimed and to be de-
manded. And this obedience we are ready to give and to pay
to him, and to every Christian continually. Besides, we are
under the government of the Bishop of Caerleon-upon-Usk,
who is to oversee under God over us, and to cause us to keep
the way spirituaF."

Augustine was so deeply moved by the ill success of his
enterprise that he uttered, in the way of prophecy, this
threat : " Those who are unwilling to accept peace at the
hands of their brethren must expect war at the hands of their
enemies." Thus ended the Synod of " Augustine's Oak" un-
satisfactorily to both parties engaged. Augustine and the
Roman clergy, whatever pure and disinterested motives may
have actuated them respecting the conversion of the Anglo-
Saxons, yet, without doubt, desired to establish an undue
authority over the native Church of Britain. The British
bishops and clergy, on the other hand, must have been anxious
to secure the aid of K. Ethelbert, and to obtain the co-

6 " Ne metropoliticam suatn dignitatem peregrino in provincia sua contra ca-
nones subderet metropolitano."— Spelm. Cone. i. p. 106. As regards the duration
of the metropolitical power of the see of S. David's, a vexata quastio, see Collier's
Eccl. Hist vol. i. pp. 473-4.

' Tliis was copied from an ancient MS. of the Mostyn family, by Sir H. Spel-
man. Some objections * made against its authenticity have been dealt with in
Still. Orig. Brit. pp. 370, 371 et seq.

» Spelm.
Cone. i. 108.
Ch. Hist,
bk. ii. p. 61.

See Rev. R, J. Wilberforce on Supremacy, p. 246.




A. D. 39-


•Chap. iii.
sec. 7, Bup.

operation of those successful missionaries who had converted
him to the Christian faith, in order to repair those breaches in
the outworks of their Church which persecution had effected.
Both parties were, however, equally subject to disappoint-
ment. Augustinefailed in usurping attempted jurisdiction ; the
Britons did not succeed in securing that assistance of which
they stood so much in need. And all this does not fall in
satisfactorily with the more modern claims of the Vatican,

XX. Proofs that The history has now been briefly traced of
thedmgy were on- thosc public assemblies of which records remain
of all councils in as having been held in Britain, up to the time of

England, whether , • /. a • i r. /-.

civil or ecclesiasti- the acccssion ot Augustme to the see of Can-
terbury. There remains one point of import-
ance, as connected with our present purpose, to be considered.
An unaccountable desire has been manifested in England, and
still exists, to deny the right of the lower clergy to give their
advice in councils, both ecclesiastical and civil. A nice* inquiry
into the subject of their complete ejection from the civil councils
of the realm would elicit facts, which might surprise even such
as boast themselves learned in constitutional lore. But a
still further aggression on their rights does not lack support-
ers, — rights far less questionable, and with which the pi*esent
subject is more immediately connected. There have not been
wanting those who have denied the original right of the
lower clergy to a voice in provincial synods, maintaining
that for their places in the convocations of England they
are indebted to a practice introduced by K. Edward I,, who
assembled them by royal authority merely for the sake of
granting subsidies, A statement less warranted by facts can
hardly be imagined. The doctrines of those who thus deal
with history should be received with great caution. The faith
of their disciples nuist be exceedingly flexible. For not only
is the right of the inferior clergy to a voice in provincial synods
(to which at present our inquiry might be confined) derived
from the example of the Council of Jerusalem in the apostolic
age ; not only from the history of the primitive Church and
the general consent of antiquity to which reference ' has before

Without inquiring into the reasons why the clergy are considered ineligible as
naembers of parliament, the subject of the " praemunientes " clause in the bishops'
writs involves some curious considerations. Vid. infra, chap, ix, sec. 5.




been made ; but we find this principle rooted among the very
foundations of our country's institutions, that the lower clergy
should be admitted to all councils, whether ecclesiastical or
civil, and therefore it is a principle which, as regulating the
present constitution of our convocations at least, demands
especial regard. If with this object a review is taken of the
public assemblies detailed in this chapter, notwithstanding
the meagre accounts of them handed down, it will yet be seen
that plain proofs may be adduced of the constant presence
of the inferior clergy in them all.

At the mixed council held in 449, " all the clergy ' of the
Britons met, and thus a great assembly of clerks and laity was
convened." At the mixed Council of Snowdon " tlie clergy ' oj
the Jcingdom were called together." At the mixed Council of
Stonehenge ^'' all the clergy^'''' attended; and they, together "
with the princes, united in carrying out the measures of K.
Arabrosius. At the mixed Council of Llandewy Brevi " reli-
gious men of all orders ^ were present." To the provincial
Synod of Victory '■'■ alV the clergy" of Wales'''' were summoned.
And at the provincial Synod of Augustine's Oak, besides the
seven bishops, " very many * doctors'''' of the " British Church "
were present. The diocesan synods are passed over, as the
right of the lower clergy to a voice there could hardly be
denied by those who volunteer the most reckless sallies upon
historical truth. But confining our view to the mixed councils
and provincial synods with which the present argument alone is
concerned, it will be seen that, out of eight of those assemblies
upon record during this period, there is direct evidence in six
instances that the lower clergy were members of them. Indeed
there is not the least room for doubt but that the lower clergy
were members of the other two not specified ; on the con-
trary, there is good reason to say that they were ; but at any
rate it is satisfactory to be able to shew by direct proofs that

' " Cum omni clero Britonum."— Spelm Cone. i. 49.

1 " Convocato clero regni." — Ibid. i. CO.

^ " Consentiente rege Ambrosio Aurelio necnon et om7ii clero." — Spelm. Cone,
i. GO. Cone. Mag. Brit. i. 7, note.

' Vid. Hody, 16. " Virisque religiosis diversorum ordinum midtis." — Cone.
Mag. Brit. i. 8.

* " In qua eonvocato denuo totius Kambrise clero." — Cone. Mag. Brit. i. 8.

s " Pliorimis doctoribus Britanniae." — Spelm. Cone. i. 104 in titulo.

A.D. 39-

V Hody, |..




in six instances out of eight such was the case. Nor will this his-
torical fact be less clear as we proceed through other periods
of inquiry. It is the more necessary to press this point at a
time like the present, when a most unreasonable anxiety has
been shewn to divest the lower clergy in this national Church
of their hereditary and indefeasible right to give their voices,
either by themselves or by their proxies, even in such synodical
definitions upon Church matters as come within their proper

Of old time in this land the counsel and ad-
gy's counsel and vico of the clcrgy in all public matters was
dSr "rrgi"d anxiously sought, highly prized, and readily
sTritu'Jl "'''"*''' attended to. And though the opinions of a
learned and well-disposed body of men can
hardly even in this age be deemed utterly worthless, yet
since they have ceased ^ to regulate at their own will their
contributions towards the common burdens, it is perhaps but
matter for small surprise, that their counsel in secular matters
should neither be sought, nor their opinions regarded.

But notwithstanding that this very substantial reason for
consulting the clergy in civil affairs has vanished, yet as re-
gards spiritual decisions, it does seem somewhat surprising
that they should have been almost wholly supplanted in one
branch of their proper office, and begrudged the discharge
of those peculiar duties which are entailed upon them not
only by most ancient prescription, but by divine inheritance.
It supplies matter for reasonable complaint, that questions
of the deepest doctrinal mystery, involving the ministration of
the word to them solemnly committed by an authority not of
this world at the most awful moment of their lives, shoidd be
withdrawn in cases of ultimate appeal from the synodical judg-
ment of the Church, and remitted to a tribunal against which
the gravest objections may reasonably be pleaded, and whose
decisions \ whether right or wrong, wise or foolish, defensible or
indefensible, will never be admitted as conclusive in the supreme
court of conscience. It is farther a fair matter for indignant
remonstrance that all debatable subjects connected with the

" By an agreement between Archbishop Sheldon and Lord Clarendon in the
year lGfi4.

' /!)/ '-KiTcxaa' a /(// ic/xirfif. — Soph. Qid. Col. iiii2.




Christian Church in this land, be they spiritual or temporal,
sacred or secular, should have been forcibly wrenched from
the hands of those, who not only by divine right and ancient
prescription may justly claim to entertain them, but who by
education, experience, and habit are best qualified to deal with
them ; and that such matters should meanwhile afford mate-
rials for unseemly and interminable discussion in that popular
assembly, which from its existing constitution, and generally
from the qualifications of its individual members (though I
admit with some notable and brilliant exceptions), is eminently
unfitted for any such engagements.

A.D. 39-



A.n. 601



BISHOP ATHELARD, A. D. 601 — 803-4.


I. Plan of this chapter. II. Necessity of distinguishing at this period between
the terms " synod " and " council "—Church and State now closely united-
Desirableness of such union at all times. III. Jurisdiction of the respective
metropolitan sees of Canterbury and York during this period — Metropolitan see
of Lichfield of short duration. IV. Roman aggression on our national Church
— National Synod of \Miitby. V. Fresh assumptions of power on the part of
the Popes. VI. Struggles of this national Church for her just independence —
National Synod of Osterfield —Mixed Council of Cliff at Hoo. VII. The
Gospel spread in England mainly by efforts of the native Church — Aidan — Finan
and Colman in the north — Diuma among the Middle Angles— Chad in Essex —
Fursey among the East Angles— West Saxons. VIII. Presbyters in mixed
councils. IX. Presbyters in national and provincial synods — Late aggressions
on the rights and duties of that order in the ministry — A violence done to
English history — Proofs of the point in question. X. "The Church's judg-
ments free," a principle asserted in every age of our history— declared by mixed
Council of Brastcd — by K Edgar — by Magna Charta — by a pubUc document
of K. Henry VIII.'s time— by 24 Henry VIII. c. 12— by K. Charles the Mar-
tyr— by the Declaration of Rights— by the Coronation Oath. XI. Review of

Aid rb nr]Sifiiav tToifiorifiav uvai roTc dv9pwTroi^ SiopOuxriv, ttiq tmi- Trpoyi-
yevTjfi'ivwv Trpa^twv iirt(rrt)iir]g. — Polvb. Hist. lib. i. c. 1.

" Atque hie ingentera comitum adfluxisse novorum
Invenio admii-ans numerum."

ViRG. yEn. lib. ii. 796'-7.

1. Plan of this In the last chapter it was thoufjlit desirable to
chapter. gj^g gome account, however brief, of all the

public assemblies of which records remain, as held by the
British Church and nation, up to the time of the accession of




Augustine to the see of Canterbury. And this course was
taken for the purpose of shewing in an especial manner how
unfounded is that vulgar error, so often repeated, so sedulously
propagated, and so widely believed, that the Britons were not
Christians before the arrival of that missionary. It will not,
however, be necessary henceforward, in prosecuting this in-
quiry, to enter in detail into all the matters treated of in future
ecclesiastical and civil councils, except so far as they tend to
elucidate the subject immediately before us, viz. the origin,
antiquity, and constitution of the provincial synods or convo-
cations of the English Church. It is certain that an inquiry
into all the acts of our early public assemblies is one of deep
interest, as shewing the progress of Christianity among the
people, and the rules of discipline laid down for all members
of the Church, whether ecclesiastics or laymen. The har-
mony long existing between the ecclesiastical and civil power,
"the sword of Peter being united with that of Constantine,"
and the benefits thence ensuing to the whole community —
all this affords matter of most interesting inquiry, but it
would open a field of investigation too wide for our present
purpose, and would extend the subject beyond any reasonable
limits. A list \ however, of all the public assemblies which took

A.D. 601-





Archbishop or



Nature of


Canterbury . .



Spelm. Cone. i. 126.
Cone. M. B. i. 28

COS London



Cone. M. B. i. 29 . .!Provinc. Synod.

617 Cantium



Spelm. Cone. i. 131, Provinc. Synod.
132. Cone M. B. i.

664 iStreaneshealch,

Agelbert.Colman Earcombert,

Spelm. Cone. i. 145 National Synod.

i. e. Whitby

of Lindisfarne,

Online LibraryJames Wayland JoyceEngland's sacred synods : a constitutional history of the convocations of the clergy, from the earliest records of Christianity in Britain to the date of the promulgation of the present Book of common prayer; including a list of all councils, ecclesiastical as well as civil, held in England, in whic → online text (page 13 of 83)