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

. (page 15 of 83)
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 15 of 83)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

" Undoubtedly so," was the reply. " Can you allege the
grant of any such privilege to an authority of yours V was
the inquiry then made by Oswy, and addressed to the repre-
sentatives of the British Church. " We cannot," replied
Colman, bishop of Lindisfarne, their spokesman. " I must ®

• " Hujus cupio in omnibus obedirc statutis, ne forte me adveniente ad fores
regni coelorum non sit qui reseret, adverso illo qui claves tenere probatur." —
Bede, iii. 25, p. 230, quoted by Soames, Anglo-Sax. Ch. p. 73.




obey the doorkeeper then," replied Oswy, " in all his com-
mands, lest when I approach the gates of heaven there be
none to open, if he who is allowed to hold the keys .should
oppose my entrance." Metaphors in pure argument are always
dangerous : they are untrustworthy either for offence or de-
fence. The royal champion here descended into the lists of con-
troversy with such weapons, totally unworthy of the cause in
which they were employed. It is certain that the same words
and acts, which in the case of obscure persons would excite
ridicule or provoke disgust, are frequently applauded ' in the
case of the great and noble. Thus the royal argument proved,
in a great measure, persuasive ; the ancient usages of
Britain received a heavy discouragement; and the Roman
party gained a considerable advantage. A. victory won by
such means hardly, however, supplies just cause for triumph.

V. Fresh as- Other advauccs of the Roman power against
nrX'plnTf I^i'itish ecclesiastical liberty may be traced in a
the Popes. gjgar chronological order during the period

before us. Within five years after the national Synod of
Whitby a fresh advance was made by Pope Vitalian in the
appointment of Theodore, a monk^ born at Tarsus, in Cilicia^
to the metropolitan see of Canterbury, charged with a primacy
over the whole Church in England. This was a fresh assump-
tion of power vainly indeed desired by Augustine, but which
was now unfortunately and very improperly permitted by our
insular princes, who were " wearied^ by the animosities of con-
tending parties." Another advance of Rome under the influ-
ence of Theodore may be discovered in the first canon of the
national Synod of Hertford J, a. d. 673, by which the Roman
calculation of Easter became more fully confirmed. And, by
the way, it is much to be wished that the second canon of
that synod had been in that age more justly understood and
more strictly enforced — a canon which enacted that " no
bishop should invade another's diocese, but be content with
the government of the flock committed to his charge." It is a
canon against which the Bishop of Rome was a notable trans-
gressor at that time in this land. Another fatal advance of

' rb d' d^iw/ta, Kaif KaKiog XsypCt I'o <^(>v
TTiiati- \6yog yap tK t ado^ovvTwv Iwr,
Ki'tK rwi' SoKovPTiov avToc, oif TuvTOV aB'ivH. — Eur. Hec. 293-5.

A.D. 601-

'' Soames,
Ch. p. 78.

i Soames,
Ch. p. 78.

J Cone. Mag.
Biit.i. 41.


A.D. 601-

k Preface to
Canons of
ruith, A.u.

' Spelm.
Con.', i. 324,



" Sup. rliaj)
V. sec. 3.

"n Collier,
Eccl. Hist,
i. 274.

" Spch
Cone, i

" Lathburv,
Hist. ConV.
quotes La l)b.
& Coss. vi.
1382. 1384,

Rome upon tlie liberty of the English Church may be recog-
nized in that unhappy precedent which took place in the year
785, when Gregory of Ostia and Theophylact appeared as
legates from Rome in the " provincial mixed Councils " of
Northumbria and Challock or Chalk. These legates declared
that they were the first priests who had been sent from Rome
since Augustine ; and in the words of Johnson ^, " it were to
be wished they had been the last too that came upon such an
errand." Another step was gained by the erection of Lich-
field into a metropolitan see under the auspices of Rome on
the part of Pope Adrian ; and still another when Archbishop
Athelard, in the " provincial Synod" of Cliff at Hoo, a.d. 803,
declared that Pope Leo's authority • had been obtained to
restore to Dover (^. e. Canterbury) the jurisdiction which had
been obtained for Lichfield from his predecessor Adrian. In
such instances we see the advances of the Roman power, and
the gradually increasing influence which it was exerting over
the British Church.

But then, on the other hand, during the period
now before us we may see from time to time the
struggles of our national Church for her just
independence. These we may trace in the
answer '' of the British bishops and clergy to
Augustine at the second session of the provincial Synod of
Augustine''s Oak, — in the repeated rebuffs which Wilfred met
with, though supported by papal authority, — and in the
solemn decision of the national Synod of Osterfield, a.d. 701,
against him. Indeed, the conduct of that assembly, held
under Archbishop Berth wald, is reniJirkable as testifying that
an Anglo-Saxon synod did not then deem itself to be subject
to papal interference, and that the English bishops did not
then feel themselves'" obliged to be governed by the see of
Rome. For Wilfred himself, in regard to whose case this
national synod was convened, reproached the members with
open opposition " to the papal authority for twenty-two years
together. And to give a farther assurance of the claim of
independence on the part of our national Church, we find this
synod declaring that the see of Rome "could" not interfere
with an Anglican council," and that their decrees could not
be altered by Roman authority. Upon Wilfred's declaring

VI. Struggles
of this national
Church for her
just independence
— National Svnod
of Osterfield."



against the proceedings and appealing to Rome, he was a.d.^601-
charged by Archbishop Berthvvald "with contumacy p forj

preferring the judgment of a foreign see to a synod of his
own country." In respect of Wilfred, who was so apt to
appeal from native to foreign authority, Alfrid, then king of
Northumbria, said that "he would noti communicate with
one that had been twice condemned by a synod of almost all
the bishops in Britain : to stand out against such an autho-
rity was so irregular a practice that no recommendation or
sentence of the apostolic see should make him pass it over."
Thus neither the authorities in Church or State seemed at
that time willing to recognize papal authority as supreme
over the authoritative acts of an English synod.

Mixed Council Another instance of Anglo-Saxon resistance
of Cliff at Hoo. ^Q Roman usurpation may be traced at this
time in the circumstances'" connected with the " mixed coun-
cil" held^ at Cliff at Hoo in 74-7. Boniface, an Englishman,
archbishop of Mentz, had forwarded to Cuthbert, archbishop
of Canterbury, a copy of some canons which had lately been
enacted in a synod at Augsburg, the first of which admitted
the authority of Rome over that part of the Church in Ger-
many which the synod represented. These were meant to be
in some sort a guide for the proceedings of the Anglo-Saxon
council. But though the assembled clergy and laity at Cliff
at Hoo adopted to some extent those Augsburg Canons, yet
they fell very short of acknowledging the papal supremacy.
There was a very plain * badge of servitude to Rome patent
upon the face of these Augsburg Canons, which Boniface had
sent to Cuthbert as models upon which to found the decrees
about to be passed in the Anglo-Saxon council. But our
forefathers assembled at Cliff at Hoo were so far from copy-
ing any such precedent, that their very first canon seems
to be specially drawn up in opposition to the encroaching
claims of Rome. It was decreed "that* every bishop should
be earnest in defending the flock committed to him and the
canonical institutions of the Church of Christ, with all his
might, against all sorts of rude encroaclimentr Such a canon,
passed under such circumstances, would seem naturally to

*" " Confessi sumus fidem catholicam, et unitatem, et subjectionem Romanse
Ecclesiee, finetenusvitffinostrsevelleservare."— Epist.Bonif. Cone. Mag. Brit. i.91.

P Collier,
Eccl. Hist,
i. 274.

f Sec Iiinett,
Oi-ig. Ang.
p. 174.
s Spclm.
Conn. i. 242.
Cone. Mag.
Biit. i. 94.

< Cone.
Mag. Brit,
i. 95. &
Collier, i.




A.D. 601-

" Sec Col
i. 84.

^ Innett,
Orig. Ang.
p. 176.
" Cone.
Mag. Brit,
i. 95.

X Cone.
A.D. 747,
can. 2.


point to that well-known decree of the Council of Ephesus,
which enacted 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 Christianity;" and "that the original"" rights which
every province has enjoyed from the beginning shall be se-
cured to them entire and undiminished according to the
course of ancient custom." "Let' the ancient customs pre-
vail " was the golden declaration of the Council of Nice, and
involved in it is that principle of primitive independence on
the see of Rome, which the Council of Cliff at Hoo appears
here desirous of maintaining. Its second canon evidently
looks also the same way. The bishops were commanded^
"to keep'' the bonds of sincere charity and concord in all
religious observances, without any flattering applications to any
person^ considering that they are the servants of the same
Master and intrusted with the same commission ''." This
surely, considering the antecedents of the case and the occa-
sion, appears to have had a very definite object. It seems to have
been drawn up purposely to guard the liberties of the English
Church. For though the Pope is not mentioned, yet the fact
of the bishops being obliged to govern themselves according
to the ancient canons, and at the same time forbidden "to
flatter -^^ any person on the score of his ecclesiastical distinc-
tion," carries upon its face a very significant intention of
rejecting that precedent for servitude to Rome, which was
contained and recommended in the Augsburg Canons.

In these and such like instances we may trace the continual
struggle on the part of the Church in this country against the
constant encroachments and pertinacious aggressions of the
Roman see. It was thus that for a while we defended the
remains of our just liberties.

While, however, observing these struggles,
nei spread in Eng- and lamenting over that gradual surrender of
land J""'ig this ^j^g ancient rights of our Church, which in after
ages ended in her complete subjection to papal
tyranny, it is just matter for satisfaction to

period niainlj
efforts of the ii;
ttve Church.

" TO a^xaia Wt] icpartirw, Tci iv AtyvTrTtf) Kat Ai/3iy koi UivraTroXn, loari tov
' Wt^av^Qiiai^ inioKoTTOv TrdvTwv Toinwv ixtiv ti)v i^ovaiav, k.t.X. — Cone, j
Nic. can. t>. '




remember that it was by the efforts of native ^ missionaries,
rather than by the influence of Roman teachers, that the
knowledge of the Gospel spread among the Saxons during the
period now under our view. When Rome afterwards asserted
her full authority here, it may be said of her that other men had
laboured, and that she entered into their labours. Indeed, so
far from the Gospel having been mainly propagated during this
period from the southern parts of this island under the influ-
ence of Augustine or his followers, it appears from history
that the south is rather indebted to the north for that bless-
ing ; and that the heralds of good tidings, whose feet carried
them to preach the Gospel of peace, were natives of the soil
and members of the ancient Church of Britain.
I , . , Oswald ^, a Briton, who had embraced Chris-

! Aiuiin.

I tianity in Scotland, and whose conversion must

be attributed to the influence of the native Church, having
j established himself in great power in Northumbria, determined
j on christianizing the people under his government. For this pur-
! pose he obtained the assistance of Aidan, a man of holy charac-
ter and rare merit, a Scotch ecclesiastic, who was consecrated
j bishop, and fixed his see at Lindisfarne^, or Holy Island, on the
i coast of Northumberland, and a few miles south of Berwick,
I A.D. 635. It is plain that no regard was here shewn for papal
jurisdiction, as Gregory, in his instructions given to Augus-
j tine about forty years previously, had ordered " the principal
j see^ for the northern parts to be settled at York."

Finan and Col- To Aidan ^ succecdcd Fiuau and Colman, both
man in the north, ggots, uot Only Unconnected with Rome, but
eager to resist on all just occasions her undue assumption of
authority over the native Church, and her innovations on the
tenets of the national faith. Under these prelates the north
of England was afresh evangelized, and the knowledge ^ of
the truth, which had been well-nigh extinguished by our Saxon
invaders, was again preached among the people.
^. From the north the blessings of the Gospel

Diuma among ^ _ *■

the Middle An- then Spread southward, and the conversion of
^ ^*' the Middle Angles ^ ensued. The hand of the

Northumbrian Princess Athflede, daughter of Oswy, was sued
for in marriage by Peada, son of Penda, king of the Mercians ;
but she would only consent to the union on condition of her

A.D. 601-

y Innett,
Or) ST. Ang.
p. 55.

« Soames,
Ch. p. 68.

' Collier,

^ Collier, i.


<■ Soames,

Ch. p. 68.

<■ Innett,
Orig. Ang.
p. 55.

>^ Collier, i.




A.D. 601-

f Collier,

e Soamcs,
Ch. quotes
Bcde, iii. 21 ,
p. 219.
n Innett,
Orig. Aug.
p. 57.

' Soames,
Cli. p. 69.

J Inuett,
Oiig. Aug.

'' Collier, i.

Collier, i

'" Soames,
Ch. p. 69.

Chad in Essex.

suitor becoming a Christian. When the great doctrines of
Christianity were submitted to hira, and the hopes of a future
resurrection ^ and a glorious immortahty Mere held out to
him, he was so deeply affected as to declare that he would
become a Christian, even though the princess should refuse to
become his wife. Under these circumstances Peada was
baptized, together with his followers, by Finan, who had then
succeeded to the bishopric of Lindisfarne. Under such au-
spices Diuma^ was consecrated l)ishop of the Mercians, or
Middle Angles, and taking with him three English priests^,
Cedda, Atta, and Betti, preached both to the nobles and
common people of that division of our country, who were
persuaded in great numbers to renounce paganism and to be
baptized into the Church. Thus from members of our native
Church central England received the glad tidings of sal-

From the same quarter the kingdom of
Essex, that part of the country chiefly com-
prised in the modern diocese * of London, received again the
blessings of the Christian faith. Since the failure of Mellitus
heathenism seems to have prevailed there ; but now Chad J, a
native Christian, was solemnly consecrated '' as bishop of that
district by Finan ; and having repaired from Northumbria, at
this time the cradle of our national faith, he pursued his labours
in Essex, which were crowned with success; and its inha-
bitants were thus reclaimed from Gentile superstitions. Priests
and deacons were ordained ^ by this bishop to assist him in
his pious work ; a monastery was commenced under his au-
spices at Tilbury on the Thames ; several churches were built,
and the interests of Christianity wisely and effectually pro-
moted, in that country committed to his charge.

Fnrsey among Even among the East Angles, inhabiting the
the East Angles, j^odem counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, though
the prelates appear to have been in communion with the
Church of Rome after Augustine's arrival here, yet the con-
version of the people " was "" greatly owing to the labours of
Fursey, an Irish monk."

Thus only two coimties between the south of Scotland and
the Thames, during the period of the revival of Christianity
in England, were under Roman superintendence ; and even in




West Saxons.

those two the labours of a native Christian were greatly in-
strumental in evangelizing the people. As regards all the
remaining country between Edinburgh and the mouth of the
Thames (for the southern" counties of Scotland were included
in Northumbria), it was indebted for the recovery of the
Christian faith to the native Church of Britain.

It must be allowed that the West Saxons
derived much of their religious instruction from
Birinus", a Roman monk. But, on the other hand, it must
also be borne in mind that the Church among the West
Saxons was much indebted for its advancement to the esta-
blishment of an episcopal see at Dorchester, in Oxfordshire.
In this good work Oswald, king of Northumbria, was mainly
instrumental. To that king, a member of the British Church,
and a staunch supporter of her independent rights and of the
ancient national faith, the West Saxons owed a large debt of
gratitude for the part he took in promoting Christianity
among them.

Such considerations as the foregoing warrant us in dating
back the origin of our Church to native sources ; and they
help to supply us with arguments in defence of her rightful
independence. That independence was gradually wrested from
her. Her birthright was taken away " with subtilty p ;" she
was well-nigh deprived of her blessing also. That independ-
ence once lost, was only regained by struggles so violent as
to endanger her very existence ; but by God's blessing she
did recover, and now enjoys it. Yet still she requires the
united prayers, and vigilance, and labours of her sons, if they
would maintain her birthright inviolate, and secure for her
that blessing which only is attached to a faithful guardianship
of her just inheritance.

YTTT p- h' ^^ comes within the scope of our present
ters in mixed inquiry to considcr, as regards one point, the
constitution of the mixed councils of this period,
as well as of the national and provincial synods ; and for
this reason, that though questions of the law divine were then
settled by the spiritualty alone i, yet external Church affairs
were often treated of in the mixed councils, and so became
the subjects of their enactments. Now of the king, the arch-
bishops, the bishops, the principes, optimates, duces, sapientes.

A.D. 601-

n Innett,

" Soames,



P Gen.xxvii

q Kennett,
Eccl. Syn.
p. 249.
Auth. pp.
158 et seq.




A.D. 601-

>• TTodv, p.
30. ■

• Spelm.
Cone. i. 182.

or wites, it is not necessary here to speak ; they are allowed
on all hands to have been constituent members of the "mixed
councils," though, as regards the last five mentioned members
of those assemblies, it is not generally agreed by what election
or exact arrangement they were appointed. But there were
other members of the " mixed councils," abbots and presbyters,
men of the second order in the ministry of the Church ; and
since complete success has attended the endeavours of those
in this country whose object has been to deprive that order of
any direct voice in secular matters ; and still further, since
there is no small anxiety shewn to deprive them of giving
their voices even in spiritual matters, it seems not out of
place to shew that no precedent for either of such exclusions
can be found in the ancient institutions of this country. Let
us see, then, how the matter stands during this period under
review, as regards the admission of the second order of the
clergy to the "mixed councils" of this nation.

At the mixed council of Bapchild, near Sittingbourne,
A.D. 692, eight ■■ out of the eighteen signatures attached to
the decrees are those of presbyters.

The laws of the West Saxons, embracing both ecclesiastical
and civil affairs, were enacted under K. Ina, about a.d.
693, in a "mixed council" or " wittena-gemote," consisting
of bishops % senators, the wise elders of the people, together
with a great number of the " inferior clergy'''' — for in this sense
the expression " magna servorum Del freqiientia'''' is understood
by the learned '.

At the mixed council of Brasted, near Sevenoaks, held
A D. 696, there were assembled K. ^^^ithred, Archbishop
Berthwald, Gybmund, bishop of Rochester, and ^'' all persons
holding any rank of the ecclesiastical order ^^

Of the mixed council held a.d. 700, it is mentioned
that the decision was approved " by ^ all the clergy.''''

At the mixed council of Cliff at Hoo, a.d. 747, there were
present "wry' many priests and ecclesiastics^'''' together with
Ethelbald, and his princes and great men. And it is worthy of

' " Omnes ecclesiastici ordinis dignitates."— Cone. Mag. Brit. i. GO.
* " Placuit idem etiam omni clero et laicis permultis." Hody fjuotcs Life of

' "Sacerdotes et ecelesiasticos jilurimos." — Spelm. Cone. i. 212.




remark in this council, when consultation was had concerning
"the unity" of the Church and the state of the Christian
rehgion," and Archbishop Cuthbert was joined in council
'"'•with* man J/ priests and ecclesiastics of inferior dignity/' that
all " EQUALLY took their seats in council '," while joining in
deliberation on the subjects brought forward.

In the account of the mixed council held at Challock, or
Chalk, A.D. 785, presbyters, among others, are found as
having "agreed® and subscribed."

At the mixed council of Finkeley, a.d. 798-9, there
were " very many princes and clergy ".''''

In the accounts of several of the other "mixed councils" of
this period there are expressions used which probably were
intended to include the presence of presbyters, as when it is
said that Archbishop Athelard attended at the mixed Council
of Bapchild, a.d. 798, together with bishops, and abbots, and
"many' other fitting persons;" or when there were said to |
be collected at the mixed council of Cliff at Hoo, a.d.
800, besides the metropolitan, bishops, dukes, and abbots,
'■'' men^ also of each rank!''' But only to mention such expres-
sions in passing, and without insisting upon them for the
present argument, enough direct evidence has been adduced
to prove that the second order of the clergy were admitted as
constituent members of the " mixed councils" of this period.
Not a hint is meant here to be suggested that it would be
well for the lower clergy to be admitted as members of the
civil legislature at this day. No opinion is here ventured upon
on the subject ; on the contrary, the full weight of that argu-
ment is admitted, that men of so sacred a calling, to whom,
each in his respective sphere, the ministration of the word
and sacraments are committed — that men whose holy office it
is to visit the fatherless and widows, to supply help to the
needy and comfort to the mourner, may be more usefully and
more blessedly employed in the discharge of those unobtrusive

* " Plurimis sacerdotibus Domini et minoribus quoque ecclesiastici gradus digni-
tatibus." — Hody, 39.

'■' " Pariter consederunt." — Spelm. Cone. i. 245.

" " His quoque saluberrimis admonitionibus presbyteri, &c. &c. . . . uno ore
consentimus et siibscripsimus." — Cone. Mag. Brit. i. 151.
^ " ^Midtis aliis idoneis personis." — Cone. Mag. Brit. i. 1G2.

* " Cujuscunque dignitatis viros."— Ibid.

A.D. 60]

Ho.ly, 39.

' Cone.
Maw. Rrit.
i. 161.




A.D. noi-


w Ordering
of Priests.

order i

duties, than by descending into the lists and mingling in the
strife of the political arena. But these facts of history arc
here adduced simply for the purjjose of shewing, that the total
exclusion of the lower clergy, from all participation whatever
in the English civil legislature, cannot be traced back to
ancient precedents, has no foundation in the original institu-
tions of our country, and that the jealousy which some modern
writers appear to take so much delight in exciting against
them is a feeling of comparatively mushroom ' growth.
TV T^ 1- . But a topic now comes in its turn more

IX. Presbyters r

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 15 of 83)