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 6 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 6 of 83)
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that the " coronet of her presbytery " will still abide to adorn
her brow ; and that arising in native strength, she will be
yet wakeful to retain in pristine integrity that emblem of
primitive lineage, that pledge of faithful obedience, which is
to her the symbol" of a divine origin, the countersign of "a
kingdom p not of this world."

o S. Luke s.


P S. John

xviii. 36.


» Mosh.

Inst. Hist.

Eccl. p. 74.



b Treatise

on Pope's

Sup. p. 347.






I. Provincial synods superseded diocesan. II. Ecclesiastical jurisdiction gene-
rally followed the territorial divisions of the civil state— 1. Parishes our pre-
sent dioceses. — 2. Provinces: civil provinces of England— ecclesiastical pro-
vinces of England. — 3. Dioceses originally a union of provinces both civilly
and ecclesiastically. III. Metropolitical jurisdiction traced to the apostolical
age, and provincial synods traced to the second century. IV. How often
provincial synods were convened, and by what authority. V. The metro-
politan president, but his power limited. YI. Comprovincial bishops in
provincial synods — their rights of precedence - their obligation to attend.
YII. Presbyters in provincial synods — their right denied by some of later
times — the objectors answered at length. YIII. Form of holding a provincial
synod in early times. IX. The subjects treated of in provincial synods.
X. The means of enforcing their decrees. XI. Early provincial synods the
models of English convocations. XII. Their disuse the cause of lamentable

To yap w^tXi/iov r»jc t'lfttTBpag ioTopiac, irpog ts to Trcipov Kai Trpoq to
fikWov, iv TovT<i> TrXtXffTov KtiatTui ti^ fiepii. — Polyb. Hist. iii. 4. li.

" At paulatim eveniebat, ut omnes Christianorum societates in una provincia
habitantes in unam quodammodo societatera scu civitatom niajorem coirent." —
Mosh. Inst. Hist. Eccl. sa^c. ii. p. ii. c. 2, s. 2. Helmst. 17G4.

, „ . . , The ecclesiastical assemblies next succeedino- in

I. Provinci.al . . ' , . .

syiimis super- point of time to diocesan were provincial s3nods,
for by degrees all the congregations^ of Christians
who dwelt in one province became united in one society. The
words of the learned Barrow ^ on this subject are not a little
remarkable. " Because," he says, " little disjointed and inco-
herent bodies were, like dust, apt to be dissipated by every wind
of external assault or intestine faction, and peaceable union could
hardly be maintained without some ligature ... it was soon




found needful that divers Churches should be combined and
linked together in some regular form of discipline." Hence
the thirty-third, sometimes numbered the thirty-fifth, of those
called the Apostolical Canons ", ordained that " the^ bishops of
every province ought to own him who is chief among them,
and esteem him as their head ; and to do nothing extra-
ordinary without his consent, but every one those things only
which concern his own parish \%.e. diocese] and the country
subject to it." It was certainly most desirable, and most
conducive to general uniformity and to the extension and
confirmation of Christian unity, as well as to similarity of
discipline, that many bishops, with their associated presbyters,
should meet and give common consent respecting such matters
as pertained to the general regiment of the Church. For, in
the words of S. Cyprian, '" This ^ is the concern not of a few
men, nor of one Church, or of one province, but of the whole
world." It was eminently desirable for the good of all, that
if any error should creep into one diocese, the joint concur-
rence of several bishops, fortified by the assent of their graver
presbyters, might interpose to check it ; and that, in the
words of the same father, " If ^ any one of our own society
should vent an heresy, and attempt to rend and waste the flock
of Christ, the rest might come in to their help." In accordance
with such principles, the limits of ecclesiastical jurisdiction
began very early, apparently even in the apostolical age, to be
enlarged; metropolitans took precedence* among bishops, and
provincial were established as superior to diocesan synods.
^^ ^ , . . , It is clear that in defining the limits of eccle-

II. Krclesiastical ....... .

jurisdictions gene- siastical jurisdictions, it was generally deemed
terntoriaurvisions desirable to follow the division of territory esta-
of the civil state, j^iigjied in the civil state. As in each province
subject to one political ^ jurisdiction there was a metropoHs, to

^ Tovq iTTiffKOTTOvc fKooTou tt^vovQ tiSivat xp>) ^^v iv aiiToig TrpwTov, Ka'i
rjyilaOai avrov ioq Ki(pa\r]V Kai /irjSiv ti 7roarTni> TrtpiTTov cii'iv Tijg iKtivov
yvd)[it]g' sKiZva Si fxova tvpciTTHv SKaarov, ova tij cwtov irapoiKK}. iirifSaXXti Kai
tuIq vtt' avT^v x'^pa'C- — Can. Apost. 33, alias 35.

^ dip TrpovTsraKTO BtoijiiXog, rf/c iv KaiaaQeii} TrapotKiaQ iTrioKOTroc, k. r. X.

Ttiov Si KaTCL Uovrov f TrtdKOTTajj/, oif naXfiag wg apxaiorarot; TrpoiiTSTaKTO,
Kcd Twv Kara VaXXiav Si TrapoLKnHv, ag Eipqvaiog intffKOTrei. — Euseb. Ecc. Hist.
1. V. c. 23.

Tuiv Si iiri riig 'Acriag tTriaKOTrojv, to iraXai Trportpov avToXg TrapaSoOiv
Sia(pvXdrTHV Wog xpffvcii Suaxvpil^ofiivijjv, t'lytlro UoXvKpdrtjQ. — Ibid. c. 24.

c Johnson's
Vad. Met:
vol. ii. p. 19.

Ep. 14.

«^ Ep. 70".

f Barrow on
Pope's .Sli|i.
vol. vii. p.
348. Oxford,




e Wordsw.
Theop. Aug.
pp. 107-
109. & Bur-
row, vol. vii.
pp. 350 —

■' Binfrhatn,
book ii. c.

' Bingham,
book ii. c.

J Bingham,
book ix. c.
2, sec. 1. &
Prim. CL.
p. 17.

k Crakan-
thorpc, Def.
Eccl. Ang.
p. 144 ct
Bcq. Lonil.

' Bingham,
book ii. c.
17, sec. 20.
"' Bingliam,
bookix. c. 1,
sec. 1.

which resort was made for the dispensation of secular justice
and for the dispatch of business, so it was convenient that the
determination of ecclesiastical matters should there also take
place ; especially as such a city was for the most part oppor-
tunely situated, and also as many persons for other causes
would have reason to meet there. To these reasons another
also of much weight may be added—that the Churches in
those cities generally exceeded others in numbers, importance,
and wealth, and consequently in opportunities for promoting
the common cause of religion.

To put this matter in a clearer light, it is desirable in this
place to make a brief digression, in order to shew how the
ecclesiastical divisions of the Church followed the civil divi-
sions of the empire. And even if, in point of strict chrono-
logy, any of the circumstances here detailed may be somewhat
forestalled, yet whatever inconvenience may thus arise will
be compensated for by the additional light thrown upon the
prosecution of this subject. The gradations of ecclesias-
tical territorial^ jurisdiction in the fourth century were as
follows, viewing them in a descending order: 1. diocese,
2. province, 8. parish [i.e. our present diocese]. The chief
government in a diocese belonged to the patriarch, exarch, or
archbishop ^, three terms used synonymously : in a province ',
to the metropolitan ; in a parish [i.e. our present diocese], to
the bishop J. This word "diocese'"* in that age signified a
combination of provinces ; the word " province," as it does to
this day, a combination of parishes [i. e. our dioceses] ; and
the word "parish" signified what we call a diocese. Thus,
while the word "province" was used in the same sense as
that which it now bears, the words "diocese" and "parish"
were used in a wider sense than that which we now attach to
them. And these ecclesiastical divisions were often in exact''
accordance with the civil divisions' of the empire. In this
inquiry we will now ascend upwards from the smaller to the
larger divisions of the empire.

1 Parishes our E^ch city, amoug thc Romans ™ and the
present dioceses. Grccks, was uudcr the iuunediatc government
of certain magistrates, among whom one was principal and
enjoyed a precedence over the rest. They were commonly
known under the name of "senatus" or /3oi»X»), the "senate"




or "common comicil." Their chief was called sometimes
" dictator ;" sometimes " defensor civitatis," the defender of
the state ; and his authority, united with that of the inferior
magistrates, extended not only over the city itself, but over
the Trpoa(TTeia or suburbs, the smaller villages subject to its
jurisdiction. Conformably to these arrangements in the early
establishment of the Church, where a civil magistracy existed,
there was ordinarily founded also an ecclesiastical one. This
consisted of a "senate'" or "common councir"" of presbyters,
presided over by one chief among them called TrpoEorwc, the
"apostle," "bishop," or "angel" of that Church. And this
jurisdiction, like that of the civil magistracy, was not confined
to the city itself, but extended to the adjoining country, the
Trpoaareia or " suburbs," which, with the city, constituted the
wapoiKia, the " parish," that territorial division which we now
term diocese.

„ „ . The next civil division of the empire in an

2. rrovinces. . . ,, .

ascendmg order was into " provinces. A pro-
vince embraced the cities of a whole region, together with their
dependencies, all of which were subject to the authority of one
chief magistrate, usually a "praetor" or proconsul, who resided
in the metropolis or principal city. This division into provinces
is referred by some authors to Vespasian ; by others it is
thought to have been more ancient, and even coeval with the
establishment " of the Christian Church. The number of these
provinces was probably 117, there being about fifty-nine in the
East, about fifty-eight in the West. It would be beyond the
scope of our present purpose to set them down here in detail,
but an account of them may be found, by such as are curious
in these matters, in " Bingham's Antiquities of the Christian
Church," book ix. c. 1.

Civil provinces I^ ^ill be Sufficient here to inquire into the
of England. ^jj^jj provincial divisions of our own country.

This island was divided into five" civil provinces : — 1 . " Maxima
Csesariensis," comprising originally the country from the Thames
to the northern border, having York as its metropolis.

2. " Flavia Csesariensis," subsequently divided off" from the
first province, and comprising the district between the Thames
and the Humber, but still having York as its metropolis.

3. "Britannia Prima," comprising the country south of the

n Notitia
quoted l)y
book ix. c. 1.

o But com-
pare Stil-
Orig. Brit,
pp. 77, 78.





P Infra,
cliap. vi.

1 Johns.
Can. vol.
p. 303.

f .Johns
Can. vol.
p. 303,
quotes Ar
Sac. vol.
p. 23,5.

Thames, and having London as its metropolis. 4. " Britannia
Secunda," comprising the conntry west of the Severn, and
having Caerleon-upon-Usk as its metropoHs. 5. " Valentia,"
comprising the country north of the Picts' border, and having,
like the first and second provinces, York again as its metro-

Conformably, again, with such arrangements tliroughout
the empire, the Church in establishing " provincial," or, what
is the same thing, metropolitical power, usually followed the
civil territorial divisions. As, according to the regiment of
the civil state, there was usually in every metropolis or chief
city of a province a "proconsul" or "praetor," a magistrate
superior to the chief magistrates of each single city ; so gene-
rally in the same metropolis a superior bishop was placed by
the Church, whose jurisdiction extended over the bishops of the
single cities in that province, and who was thence denominated
metropolitan or primate.

Eccicsinstical ^^ appears, however, that in this island there
provinces of Eng- were nevcp more than three ecclesiastical pro-
vinces ; for the short-lived power of the metro-
political sec of Lichfield p, a\ Inch lasted at most not longer
than thirty-thi-ee years, viz. from a.d. 7G5 to 798, need not
be here taken into account. Those three ecclesiastical pro-
vinces were originally: 1. London, the see being in later
times transferred to Canterbury; 2. York; 3. Caerleon-
upon-Usk, that see being subsequently transferred to
S. David's.

As regards the metropolitical jurisdiction of York, it nuist
be borne in mind that the Northumbrians in early times
extended to the Firth of Forth, and that the lowlands of
Scotland were subject to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the
Archbishops of York. But in the more northern parts of
Scotland, Church government was not reduced into so settled
a state, as it exhibited in England, until a much later period ;
even the dioceses not having been territorially defined %
according to Johnson, before the middle of the eleventh cen-
tury. And though after that event the ]3ishop of S. Andrew's
was esteemed the first bishop, and was, indeed, styled " sum-
mus "^ pontifex Scotorum," yet he never enjoyed archiepiscopal
authority until after the middle of the fifteenth century, i.e. until




author of character and learning .... proves from good^
records that the Bishops of S. David's consecrated suf-
fragans, and exercised all other branches of metropolitieal
authority, till the reign of K. Henry I., who. upon subduing

' Jolins.
Can. vol. i.
p. 303, Ad-

' Cone


Brit. vol. i.

p. 170


. Map-

Brit. ^

•ol. i.

p. 3G2

' Chu




CI,, p.


" il.i,

• P-


the year 1472, when that distinction was conferred on Patrick
Graham ^

And this lack of archiepiscopal authority in Scotland ap-
pears to have been considered a matter of grave consequence
by the English Church, for by the fifth canon of the provincial
Synod of Challock or Chalk, a.d. 816, it was enacted that
"none of Scottish orders should be permitted to usurp to
himself the sacred ministry in any one''s diocese. . . . ^Ve
refuse to receive the sacred ministrations from other nations,
among whom neither rank or honour is given to metropolitans'."
But though the metropolitieal jurisdiction of York did not
extend over the north of Scotland, yet it included at one
period Zetland and Orkney", a suffragan see^ being planted
at Kirkwall about the end of the tenth or beginning of the
eleventh century. Indeed, at the battle'^ of the Standard,
A.D.] 138, it was Ralph, bishop of Orkney, who, in the absence
of his metropolitan, Thurstan of York, encouraged the sol-
diers, fighting under a sacred banner, to engage as in a
holy war against King David and his Scottish troops at

The extent of the metropolitieal jurisdiction of Caerleon-
upon-Usk, or S. David"'s (for the terms are used synony-
mously), as originally settled, seems pretty plainly pointed
out by the list "" of prelates present at the provincial Synod of
Augustine's Oak, a.d. 601. And though after that time
some of the dioceses there represented became subject to
Canterbury, yet it is plain that metropolitieal jurisdiction
attached to the see of S. David's, through many subsequent
centuries, at least over some of the Welsh dioceses. Dun-
stan, archbishop of Canterbury, indeed, consecrated, about
982, one Gucan as Bishop of Llandaff ; and from that time it
has been affirmed that all Wales became subject to Canter-
bury. But this seems to have been an excess of jurisdiction
on the part of Dunstan, who was not backward in assaulting
some of the ancient rights of the British clergy ; for Geraldus
Cambrensis, " a Welshman " born, and," as Collier says, " an

» Infra. Vid.
rhap. V. sec.

'^ Collier,
Eccl. Hist.
i. 474.
y Ibid.




^ Churton's
Early Eng.
Ch. p. 311.

» Bingham,
bookix. c. 1,

b Bingha
book ix.
sec. 5.

c Bingham,
book ix. c. 1,
sec. 4.

<• Mosh.
Hist. Ercl.
Inst.]). 182.
e Bingham,
book ii. c.
17, sec. 1. k
Cone. Chal.
act. -wi.
f AVordsw.
Ang. p. 109.

3. Dioceses ori-
ginally a union
of provinces, both
civilly and eccle-

the country, forced tlie Welsh Churches upon a submission
to Canterbury. And this scheme was probably the more easily
managed at that time, as Bernard, chaplain^ to Adelais
K. Henry's second queen, upon being raised to the see of
S. David's, submitted to the Archbishop of Canterbury ; and
thus the independence of the western ecclesiastical province
came to an end, about a.d. 1115.

The next civil division of the empire in an as-
cending order was into dioceses. A civil diocese
embraced a combination of provinces, and was
placed under the authority of an officer desig-
nated "vicarius^" or " eparch," who resided in the capital city
of the diocese, and had authority to receive appeals which might
be brought from any of the provinces comprised within his
jurisdiction. But this division into dioceses, it must be re-
membered, did not take place until about the time of Constan-
tino, and was consequently of much later date than the
division into provinces. Of these dioceses there were even-
tually thirteen, seven in the eastern and six in the western
empire, and of those there were two wiiich contained as
many as seventeen'' provinces each; but the Britannic dio-
cese, with which we are now more peculiarly concerned, con-
tained but five, as detailed in the preceding paragraph.

Conformably once more to this arrangement of the civil
powers, it will be found that, at least as early as the fourth
century, a territorial division into dioceses, i.e. combinations
of provinces, had been adopted generally by the Church.
And as the state*' had an "eparch" or "vicarius" in the
capital city of each civil diocese, so the Church in progress of
time established her "exarchs," "patriarchs*^," or "arch-
bishops®" (for these words were aforetime used synonymously*")
in many of the capital cities of the empire.

lleturning now back from this digression,
which, though not placed here in strict chrono-
logical order, may yet be useful to the present
purpose, our inquiry reverts to the consideration
of the constitution and functions of the primitive
provincial synods. Nor can there be an inquiry of deeper
interest to members of the English Church. And for this
reason ; her legislative synods, the provincial Synods of Eng-

HI. !\retropoli-
tii-al jvirisdiction
traced to the apos-
tolical ajrc, and
provincial synods
traced to the se-
cond century.




land, known now among us by the name of " convocations,'"
are founded upon those ancient models of the primitive Church.
Before the interference of the powers of this world had usurped
the functions of that kingdom " which ^ is not of this world,"
— before the government of the Church fell into hands which
were fettered by political manacles, or, what is worse, were
uplifted to forward political intrigues, — before that bane of
poor human nature, the tendency to sacrifice what is "just^
pure, lovely, and of good report," at the feet of temporal
aggrandizement, or at the shrine of a miserable expediency,
had grown up like a noxious weed within the precincts of the
Church herself, — before these "beggarly' elements'" had dis-
turbed and polluted the pure stream of divine truth, the faith
and discipline of the Church were defined in provincial synods,
and government by provincial synods is still (with all reverence
let us be thankful for it) the normal state of our English
Church. In her provincial synods, her convocations, she can
only speak authoritatively; no otherwise can her voice be
recognized. There she may teach us the lessons of a mother's
love — lessons to make us "wise unto salvation." "State"
super vias et videte, et interrogate de semitis antiquis, quse sit
via bona, et ambulate in ea."

That our "convocations" or provincial synods may be
traced to their original models, it is necessary to revert to the
very earliest ages of the Church. As was before remarked,
territorial divisions into provinces under the jurisdiction of
metropolitans appear to have been in some instances coeval
with the Apostles themselves. But the records J of the original
of most Churches being lost, it is impossible to define with
certainty when this arrangement first generally took place.
Certain it is that the Nicene Council, a.d. 325, speaks of the
offices of metropolitans as having been settled by ancient
custom long before that time ; for its sixth canon'', insisting
upon the metropolitical power of the Bishop' of Alexandria,
commences thus : " Let * the ancient customs prevail." In
confirmation of this view that the metropolitical power was
established in the primitive age, sundry proofs may also be
deduced from the earliest writers, some of them tracing it

* TO. a^xaia tOrj KpnTtiTio, ru iv AlyvTTTtp, Kal Ai(3inj, Kat llevTaTroXii, ioate rbv
'AXi^avcptiag £7ri'(j(co7rov Trdi'Twv tovtuv Ix"*' '"')'' i^ova'iav. — Cone. Nic. can. C.

ii PlO],!].

Jer. vi. !(>.

J Bingham,
book ii. c.
16, sec. 2, 3.

^ Cone. Nic.
Can. vi.
' Bingliani,
book ii. c.
16, sec. 3.



>" Chi vs.
Horn. XV. ii
1 Tim.
torn. vi.
p. 510.
Paris, 1633.

n T.il),


back to the times of the Apostles. Titus is said to have been
charged with the oversight of the Churches * of Crete, and to
have superintended the bishops of the whole island®; and Timo-
thy again is said to have been entrusted with the charge of
the whole of Proconsular Asia "", in which there were several
bishops also.

In the second century we find very clear traces of metro-
political power, a few instances of which will here suffice.
Irenseus, as bishop of Lyons, having succeeded Pothinus in
the year 177, superintended the Galilean' dioceses. Philip
of Gortyna was styled by Dionysius of Corinth " Bishop of
all* the dioceses of Crete;" and as at that time there was
more than one diocesan in that island (whereof we are assured
by the fact that a letter was addressed simultaneously to
Pinytus, bishop of Gnossus), the inevitable inference is, that
Philip was metropolitan. Towards the decline of the second
century several plain proofs of this metropolitical authority
may be found in one passage of Eusebius's history ". Provin-
cial synods were at that time convened to consider the proper
time for celebrating the paschal festival. In that of Palestine,
assembled on this occasion, Theophilus of Caesarea presided
(Narcissus of Jerusalem indeed being joined with him, as
having by primitive custom the next place to his metro-
politan) ; in the provincial Synod of Rome Victor presided ; in
that of France, Irenaeus of Lyons ; in that of Procon.sular
Asia, Polycrates of Ephesus. So clearly, then, was it the ge-
neral practice for the bishop of the civil metropolis to preside
in the synod of the ecclesiastical province. Thus at a very early
period of the Church's history, even if not contemporaneously
with the Apostles, the whole Church consisted of "many
provinces, being independent' of each other in ecclesiastical

' TiiioQioQ ys fiy)v, tTic iv'E(pi<T(f) TranoiKiag, loTOptirnt ttoiutos t})v tiritTKOTTtjv
tlXijx'et'ai, ojg Kai Tirog rujv ini Kpt'irijg tK/cXj/ffiwr. — Eus. Hist. Ecc. 1. iii. c. 4.

" tl (17) yap t/v SoKtiioQ, oi'K av avT(^ rt)v r/jiroi' oXoicXj/por ToaovriDV
tmaKonuv K^)i(Tip inirpi^iv. — Clirys. Iloni. i. in Tit. torn. vi. p. 61!). Paris,

^ Toiv Kara FaWiat' ^i TrapoiKiwv llg Eipyji'mog tTrttT/coTTfi. — Eusi'b. Hist.
Ecc. 1. V. c. 2.S.

' (ifia Toig Xonralg Kara KpijTtjv napoiKiaig . . . <l>i\nnrov tTriffKOTror avTCJv
cnroSixiTai. — Euseb. Hist. Ecc. 1. iv. c. 23.

' avTOKs^aXoi. — Barrow on Pope's Sup. Works, vol. vii. p. ."{SO.


rnovixciAL synods.


administration; but each one reserving to itself the consti-
tution of bishops, the convocation of synods, the enacting of
canons, the decision of spiritual causes," together with such
rights and duties as would thence ensue ; and in the mean time
maintaining " the harmony ° of communion and concord with
other provinces, both adjacent and remote."'"'
,„ „ „ It is uncertain p how often in the second cen-

IV. How often .

provincial synods tury metropolitans were wont to convene their

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 6 of 83)