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by not doing what God hath forbidden them." This is much


more modestly expressed than the responsory in the Roman
Breviary, g speaking of the apostles : " Isti sunt triumphatores
et amici Dei, qui contemnentes jussa principum meruerunt
prsemia aeterna ; They have deserved eternal rewards by
despising the commands of princes." The expression is
hard ; for though their impious laws are not to be obeyed,
yet indefinitely it is not safe to say their commands are to be
despised. And none ever less despised the laws than they
who, because they could not obey them against God, yet
obeyed them against themselves ; by suffering death at their
command, when they might not suffer a sin.

27. But then this also suffers diminution. For if the eccle-
siastical power, in 'such things where their authority is proper,
and competent, and Divine, give any negative or prohibitive
precepts, they may and they must be obeyed entirely ; because
every negative is indivisible, and hath neither parts nor time :
and in this they are but proclaimers of the Divine command-
ment, which if it be negative, it can never be lawful to do
against it. But in positive instances of commandment, though
from Divine authority (for that is the limit of the ecclesiasti-
cal power and authority), if the king commands one thing
and the bishop another, they are severally to be regarded
according to the several cases. For the rule is this, That all
external actions are under the command of the civil power in
order to the public government : and if they were not, the
civil power were not sufficiently provided for the acquiring the
end of its institution : and then it would follow, that either
the civil authority were not from God (expressly against St.
Paul) ; or else all that God made were not good, as being
defective from the end of its creation (expressly against
Moses, and indeed against the honour of God). Now be-
cause external actions are also in order to religion internal,
it happens that the spiritual power hath accidentally power
over them. Here then is the issue of this inquiry: When
an external action is necessary to the public service, and yet
in order to religion at the same time, the positive commands
of the spiritual superior must yield to the positive com-
mands of the supreme civil power. For that which hath a
direct power, is to be preferred before that which hath but
an indirect power. Thus it is a Divine precept, that we should

* De Communi Apost. r. 6.


not neglect ' the assembling of ourselves together.' Upon
the warranty of this, the guides of souls have power to com-
mand their flocks to meet at the Divine service ; and they
are tied to obey. But if, at the same time, the prince hath
given command, that those persons, or some of those who
are commanded to be at the Divine offices, be present on
the guards, or the defence of the city-walls, they are bound
to obey the prince, and not the priest, at that time. For be-
sides the former reason, when external actions are appointed
by competent authority, they are clothed with circumstances,
with which actions commanded by God, and in which
ecclesiastics have competent authority, are not invested :
and, amongst those circumstances, time and place are the
principal. And therefore it follows, that, in external actions,
the command of the prince is always to be preferred before
the command of the Church ; because this may stay, and that
cannot : this is not by God determined to time and place,
but that is by the prince ; and therefore by doing that now,
and letting this alone till another time, both ends can be
served ; and it were a strange peevishness of government
(besides the unreasonableness of it) to cross the prince to
shew our power, when both may stand, and both may be
obeyed ; if they did not crowd at the same narrow door
together, there is time enough for them to go out one after
another ; and by a little more time, there will be a great
deal of more room. I have heard, that when King James VI.
of Scotland was wooing the Danish lady, he commanded
the provost of Edinburgh and the townsmen upon a certain
day to feast the Denmark ambassadors, and to shew all the
bravery of their town and all the splendour they could : of
which when the presbytery had notice, they, to cross the
king, proclaimed a fast to be kept in the town upon that very
day. But the townsmen, according to their duty, obeyed the
king : and the presbytery might have considered, that it was
no zeal for God that the fast was indicted upon that day ;
but God might have been as well served by the Tuesday
fast as by the Monday. Thus if the ecclesiastic power hath
admitted a person to ecclesiastical ministries or religions, if
the supreme civil power requires his service, or if he be need-
ed for the public good, he may command him from thence,
unless there be something collaterally to hinder ; as, if the


prince have sworn the contrary, or that the person required
have abjured it by the prince's leave : but supposing him
only bound by the ecclesiastical power, the supreme civil
power is to prevail over it, as being the lord of persons and
actions external. An instance of this was given by Mauri-
tius, the emperor, forbidding his soldiers to turn monks with-
out his leave, though the law was made sore against the
mind of St. Gregory, who was the bishop of Rome. And thus
Casimire, h king of Poland, was taken from his gown, and
invested with a royal mantle ; and divers monks have been
recalled into the employments of armies, or public counsels,
or public governments.

28. But this also is to be understood with this provision.
The supreme civil power hath dominion over external
actions, so as to govern them for time, and place, and other
circumstances. He can forbid sermons at such a time ; he
can forbid fasts or public solemnities and meetings when he
please, when it is for the interests of government : and
concerning any accident or circumstance and manner, he
can give laws, and he must be obeyed. But he cannot give
laws prohibiting the thing itself, out of hatred or in perse-
cution of the religion : for then the ecclesiastic power is to
command not only the thing, but the circumstances too.
For the thing itself, it is plain : because it is a Divine com-
mandment, and to this the spiritual power must minister,
and no civil power can hinder us from obeying God : and
therefore the apostles made no scruple of preaching Christ
publicly, though they were forbidden it under great penalties.
But then for the circumstances, they also, in this case, fall
under the ecclesiastical power. If the prince would permit
the thing, he might dispose of the accidents ; for then he is
not against God, and uses his right about external actions.
But if he forbids the thing, they that are to take care that
God be obeyed, must then invest the actions with circum-
stances ; for they cannot be at all, unless they be in time and
place ; and therefore, by a consequent of their power over
the thing, they can dispose the other, because the circum-
stances are not forbidden by the prince ; but the thing, which
being commanded by God, and not being to be done at all
but in circumstances, they that must take care of the prin-

h A.D. 1040.


cipal, must, in that case, take care also of the accessory.
Thus we find the bishops, in the Primitive Church, indicting
of fasts, proclaiming assemblies, calling synods, gathering
synaxes : for they knew they were obliged to see that all
that should be done which was necessary for the salvation
of souls and instruction of lives by preaching, and for the
stabiliment of the Church by assemblies and communions.
Now the doing of these things was necessary, and for the
doing of these they were ready to die ; for that passive obe-
dience was all which they did owe to those laws which
forbade them under pain of death : for it was necessary those
things should be done, it was not necessary they should live.
But when the supreme civil power is Christian, and does not
forbid the thing, there is no danger that God shall not be
obeyed by the prince's changing and disposing the circum-
stances of the thing ; and therefore there can be no reason
why the prince should be disobeyed, commanding nothing
against God, and governing in that where his authority is
competent. Thus if the supreme civil power should com-
mand, that the bishops of his kingdom should riot ordain
any persons that had been soldiers or of mean trades to be
priests, nor consecrate any knight to be a bishop ; though
the bishops should desire it very passionately, they have no
power to command or do what the civil power hath forbidden.
But if the supreme should say there should be no bishops
at all, and no ordination of ministers of religion according
to the laws of Jesus Christ, then the question is not, whether
the supreme civil power or the ecclesiastical is to be obeyed,
but whether man or God : and, in that case, if the bishops
do not ordain, if they do not take care to continue a succes-
sion in the Church of God, they are to answer for one of the
greatest neglects of duty of which mankind is capable ;
always supposed, that the order of bishops is necessary to
the Church, and that ordination of priests by bishops is of
apostolical institution, and that there is no univocal gene-
ration of church-ministers but by the same hands, which
began the diado%r h ' succession,' and hath continued it for
almost seventeen ages in the Church. Of which I am not
now to interpose my sentence, but to answer the case of
conscience relying upon the supposition. This only I am
to add, that supposing this to be necessary, yet it is to be done


'cum conditione crucis,' with submission to the anger of the
laws, if they have put on unjust armour ; and to be done with
peaceableness, and all the arts of humility and gentleness,
petition and wise remonstrances.

But there is yet one reserve of caution to be used in this
case. If the civil power and the spiritual differ in this par-
ticular, the spiritual must yield so long, and forbear to do
what is forbidden by their lawful supreme, until it be cer-
tain that to forbear longer is to neglect their duty, and to
displease God. If the duty or if the succession can be any
way supplied, so that the interest of religion be not destroyed,
then cession or forbearance is their duty. And, therefore, if
the King of Portugal should forbid consecrations of bishops
in his kingdom not for a time, but for ever, the bishops were
bound to obey, if they could be supplied from other churches,
or if it were not necessary that God should have a church
in Portugal, or if without bishops there could be a church.
But if they be sure that the bishops are the head of ecclesi-
astical union, and therefore the conservators of being; and
if the remaining prelates are convinced, that God hath
required it of them to continue a church in Portugal (as it is
certain that by many regards they are determined there to
serve God's Church, and to provide for souls and for the reli-
gion of their charges) ; and if they could be no otherwise sup-
plied with ecclesiastical persons of the order and ordination
apostolical, as if other churches would not ordain bishops or
priests for them but upon sinful conditions, and violation of
their consciences : then the spiritual power is to do their
duty, and the supreme civil power is to do their pleasure;
and the worst that can come is the crown of martyrdom,
which whosoever gets will be no loser. And therefore I
cannot, without indignation, consider it, that the pope of
Rome, who pretends to be a great father of Christians, should
not only neglect, but refuse, to make ordinations and conse-
crations in that church : which if their prince should do, the
bishops ought to supply it by their care ; and therefore when
the prince desires it, as it is infinite dishonour to the bishop
of Rome to neglect or refuse, in compliance with the tem-
poral interest of the King of Spain, so it is the duty of the
bishops of Portugal to obey their prince. But I have nothing
to do to meddle with any man's interest, much less that of


princes : only the scene of this case of conscience happens
now to lie in Portugal, and the consideration of it was useful
in the determination of this present question.

29. But this question hath an appendant branch which
is also fit to be considered. What if the civil laws and the
ecclesiastical be contrary ? as it happens in divers particu-
lars ; as, if the prince be a heretic, an Arian or Macedonian,
and happens to forbid the invocation of the Holy Ghost, or
giving Divine honours to the Son of God, and the Church
hath always done it, and always commanded it. What is to
be done in this case ? This instance makes the answer easy :
for, in matters of faith, it is certain the authority and laws
of God have made the determination ; and therefore, in these
and the like, the Church is bound to do, and believe, and to
profess, according to the commandment of God. But how,
if the prince does not forbid the internal duty (for in that his
authority is incompetent), but commands only that there
should be no prayers to the Holy Ghost put into the pub-
lic liturgies of the Church ? To this the answer is certain :
That though, in all externals, the supreme civil power, is to
be obeyed, yet the spiritual power, in such cases, is tied to
confess the faith which the prince would discountenance,
and to take care that their charges should plentifully supply,
in all their private devotions, what is not permitted to them
in public. And the reason of this is not that they are tied
to do any thing in opposition or scandal to the prince ; but
that they are in duty and charity to provide, lest the public
discouragement and alteration of the circumstance of the
duty, do not lessen the duty internal and essential : and there-
fore they are to put so much more to the private, that they
may prevent the diminution which is likely to come upon the
private duty from the public prohibition.

30. But there are some civil laws which are opposed to
ecclesiastical, not by contrariety of sanction and command,
* hinc inde,' but by contrariety of declaration or permission
respectively. Thus if the ecclesiastical laws have forbidden
marriage in a certain degree, and the civil power hath per-
mitted it, then the subject may more safely obey the power
ecclesiastical ; because, by so doing, he avoids the offending
of religious persons, and yet disobeys no command of the
prince ; for no civil power usually commands a man to marry


in a certain degree : and therefore when he is at liberty from
the civil law, which, in this case, gives him no command,
and he is not at liberty from the ecclesiastical law,' which
hath made a prohibition, he must obey the Church; which if
it had no power over him, could have made no law ; and if it
have a power, it must be obeyed ; for, in the present case,
there is nothing to hinder it. So it is in such things which
are permitted 'for the hardness of men's hearts' or the pub-
lic necessity. The permission of the prince is no absolution
from the authority of the Church. Supposing usury to be
unlawful, as it is certain many kinds and instances of it are
highly criminal, yet the civil laws permit it, and the Church
forbids it. In this case the canons are to be preferred. For
though it be permitted, yet, by the laws, no man is compelled
to be a usurer ; and therefore he must pay that reverence and
obedience which are otherwise due to them that have the
rule over them in the conduct of their souls.

31. The case is alike in those laws where the civil power
only gives impunity, but no warranty. As in such cases
when laws indulge to a man's weakness and grief; as when
it permits him to kill any man that creeps in at his win-
dows, or demands his purse of him on the highway, or to
kill his adulterous wife, if he snrprises her in the sin : if the
civil power promises impunity, and does not intend to change
the action from unlawful to lawful, as in some cases it does,
in some it cannot ; then, if there be any laws of the Church
to the contrary, they pass an obligation upon the conscience,
notwithstanding the civil impunity. And there is great rea-
son for this. For since the affairs of the world have in them
varieties and perplexities besides, it happens that, in some
cases, men know not how to govern by the strictest mea-
sures of religion, because all men will not do their duty upon
that account ; and therefore laws are not made ' ut in Plato-
nis republica,' but as ' in faece Romuli,' with exact and purest
measures, but in compliance and by necessity, not always as
well as they should, but as well as they may : and therefore
the civil power is forced sometimes to connive at what it
does not approve. But yet these persons are to be governed
by conscience : and therefore it is necessary, that that part
of the public government, which is to conduct our con-
sciences more immediately, should give a bridle to that


liberty, which, by being in some regards necessary, would,
if totally permitted, become intolerable. And therefore the
spiritual power puts a little myrrh into their wine, and sup-
plies that defect which, in the intrigues of human affairs, \ve
bring upon ourselves by making unnatural necessities.

32. But then if it be inquired, Whether it be lawful for
the spiritual power, by spiritual censures, to punish those
actions which the civil power permits ? I answer, that
the Church makes laws, either by a declarative and direct
power, or by a reductive and indirect power: that is, she
makes laws in matters expressly commanded by God or
forbidden, or else in such things which have proportion,
similitudes, and analogies, to the Divine laws. In the
first, she is the declarer of God's will, and hath a direct
power. In the second she hath a judgment of discretion,
and is the best judge of 'fit' and 'decent.' If the Church
declare an act to be against God's commandment, or bound
upon us by essential duty, in that case, unless there be
error evident and notorious, she is entirely to be obeyed :
and therefore the refractory and the disobedient she may
easily coerce and punish by her censures, according as
she sees it agreeable and conducing to God's glory and
the good of souls, although the civil power permits the
fact for necessity or great advantages. And the reason
is, because as the civil power serves the ends of the repub-
lic by impunity and permission, so there is another end to
be served, which is more considerable ; that is, the service
of God and the interest of souls, to which she is to minister
by laws and punishments, by exhortations and the argument
of rewards : and as every power of God's appointment is suf-
ficient for its own end, so it must do its own portion of duty,
for which so competent provisions are made. And therefore
the spiritual power may, in this case, punish what the civil
power punishes not. With this only caution, if the civil
power does not forbid the Church to use her censures in such
a particular case : for if it does, it is to be presumed that
such ecclesiastical coercion would hinder the civil power
from acquiring the end of its laws, which the ecclesiastical
never ought to do : because although her censures are very
useful to the ends of the spiritual power, yet they are not


absolutely necessary ; God having by so many other ways pro-
vided for souls, that the Church is sufficiently instructed with
means of saving souls, though she never draw her sword.
But the civil power hath not so many advantages.

33. But if the laws of the Church are made only by her
reductive and indirect power, that is, if they be such, that
her authority is not founded upon the express law of God,
but upon the judgment of discretion, and therefore her laws
are concerning decencies, and usefulness, and pious advan-
tages, in this case, the Church is not easily to proceed to
censures, unless it be certain that there is no disservice nor
displeasure done to the civil power. For it will look too like
peevishness to cross the civil laws, where it is apparent there
is no necessity, and no warranty from a Divine command-
ment. The Church would not have her laws opposed or
discountenanced upon little regards ; and therefore neither
must she, without great necessity, do that which will cause
some diminution to the civil laws, at least by interpretation.

34. And, after all this, if it happens that the civil power
and the ecclesiastical command things contrary, there is fault
somewhere, and there is nothing to be done but to inquire
on which side God is; for if he be not on the Church's side
by a direct law in the matter, he is not on the Church's side
for her relation, but on the king's side for his authority.

From the matter of the former question arises another
like it.

Question VI.

Whether in the civil affairs and causes of the ecclesiasti-
cal power and persons, the presumption ought to lie for the
king, or for the Church ?

35. This question must suppose the case to be dubious,
and the matter equal on both sides as to the subject-matter;
for else there needs to be no question, but judgment must be
according to the merit of the cause : and it must suppose
also, that neither of them will yield, but use their own right ;
for if either did, themselves would make an end of the ques-
tion : but when both are in pretence, and the pretence is
equal in the matter and the argument, and that the cause is
to be determined by favour and privilege, whether is to be


preferred ? I do not ask, Which is to be preferred in law? for
in that question, the laws and customs of a people are the
rule of determination: but, Whether there be in conscience
any advantage of presumption due to either ?

36. To this I answer, that, in the most pious ages of the
Church, the presumption was ever esteemed to lie for the
Church, when the princes were Christians: and when the
question is of piety, not of authority, of charity, not of em-
pire, it is therefore fit to be given to the Church. 1 . Because
if the civil power takes it to itself, it is a judge and a party
too. 2. Because whatever external rights the Church hath,
she hath them by the donation, or at least enjoys them by
the concession, of the supreme civil power, who, in this case,
by cession do confirm at least, and at most but enlarge, their
donative. 3. Because the spiritual power is under the king's
protection, and hath equal case with that of widows and
orphans. It is a pious cause of the poor and the unarmed.
4. The king is better able to bear the loss, and therefore it is a
case of equity. 5. The Church is a relative of God and the
minister of religion, and therefore the advantage being given
to the Church, the honour is done to God ; and then, on the
king's side, it would be an act of religion and devotion.
6. If the civil power, being judge, prefers the ecclesiastics in
the presumption, it is certain there is no wrong done, and
none hath cause to complain: but if it be against the ecclesi-
actics, the case is not so evident, and justice is not so secured,
and charity not at all done.

37. And if it be thought, that this determination is fit to
be given by a churchman, though it be no objection while
it is true and reasonable, yet I endeavoured to speak exactly
to truth, and for the advantage of the civil power, though the
question is decided for the ecclesiastics. For in such cases,
as the ecclesiastics will have advantage, if they in dubious
cases never will contend, so the civil power will ever have
the better of it, if in these cases they resolve never to prevail.

38. Although these inquiries have carried me a little fur-
ther than the first intention of the rule, yet they were greatly
relative to it. But I shall recall my reader to the sense and
duty of it by the words of St. Gregory, 1 who says, that
" Christus imperatori et oniuia tribuit, et dominari euin nou

' Epist. btiv. ad Theodorum Medicum.


solum militibus, sed etiam sacerdotibus concessit; Christ
hath both given all things to the emperor, and a power of
dominion not only over the soldiers, but even over the priests
themselves." And that great wise Disposer of all things in

Online LibraryJeremy TaylorThe whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 13) → online text (page 52 of 61)