Jeremy Taylor.

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under the pain of a sin ; but they are not to incur spiritual
censures upon the stock of non-compliance in things not
simply necessary or of essential duty. For to compel them
to advantages, will bring but little joy to the ruler; he must
secure the main duty, whether they will or no ; that himself
is to look to, and therefore to use all the means God hath
put into his hand ; and for that he must look for his joy
when he comes to give up his account : but that he himself
should do his duty with joy, that is, with advantages, with
ease, with comfort, being a duty wholly incumbent on the
people, and for their profit, if they will not comply, they sin;
and " it is not profitable for them," saith the apostle ; k that
is, they lose by it ; but to this they are at no hand to be con-
strained, for that will destroy his joy as much as the letting
it alone.

22. Beyond this the bishop hath no authority to com-
mand what he can persuade by argument ; he is to take care
it be well and wisely, to the glory of God and the good of
his Church, to the edification of all men that are interested,
and the special comfort and support of the weak. The sum
of which power is excellently summed up by St. Paul : l " For
ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord
Jesus : For this is the will of God, even your sanctification :
that ye abstain from fornication that no man defraud his
brother." In these things the spiritual power is proper and
competent. But the apostle adds, " He therefore that de-
spiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given us
his Holy Spirit." That is, in those things which are cer-
tainly the laws of God, the bishop is to rule entirely accord-
ing to the power given him. But because God hath not
only given his authority, but his Spirit too, that is, he hath
given him wisdom as well as power, it cannot be sup-
posed to be for nothing : whatever he wisely orders that is
of necessary relation to the express command of God, or is
so requisite for the doing of it that it cannot be well done
without it by any other instrument, nor by itself alone. In
this it is to be supposed, that the spirit of government which
God hath given to his Church, will sufficiently assist, and

k Heb. xiii. 17. ' 1 Thess. iv. 2, 3, 6.


therefore does competently oblige: less than this the Spirit
of God cannot be supposed to do, if it does any thing beside
giving and revealing the express commandment and neces-
sary duty.

23. Beyond these strict and close measures there is no
doubt but the Spirit of God does give assistance; as the
great experience of the Church, and the effects of govern-
ment, and the wise rules of conduct, and the useful canons,
and the decent ceremonies, and the solemn rites, and the
glorifications of God consequent to all this, do abundantly
testify. But yet beyond this, the bishops can directly give no
laws that properly and immediately bind the transgressors
under sin : and my reasons are these,

24. (1.) Because we never find the apostles using their
coercion upon any man but the express breakers of a Divine
commandment, or the public disturbers of the peace of the
Church, and the established necessary order.

25. (2.) Because, even in those things which were so
convenient, that they had a power to make injunctions, yet
the apostles were very backward to use their authority of
commanding; much less would they use severity, but
entreaty. It was St. Paul's case to Philemon 1 " before men-
tioned ; "Though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin
that which is convenient; yet, for love's sake, I rather
entreat thee."

26. (3.) In those things where God had interposed no
command, though the rule they gave contained in it that
which was fit and decent, yet, if men would resist, they
gently did admonish or reprove them, and let them alone.
So St. Paul in case of the Corinthian men wearing long hair;
" If any man list to be contentious, we have no such custom,
nor the churches of God : " that is, let him choose ; it is not
well done, we leave him to his own liberty, but let him look
to it.

27. (4.) If the bishop's power were extended further, it
might extend to tyranny ; and there could be no limits
beyond this prescribed to keep him within the measures and
sweetness of the government evangelical : but if he pretend
a Divine authority to go further, he can be absolute and
supreme in things of this life, which do not concern the

Philem. 8, 9.


Spirit, and so fall into dynasty : as one anciently complained
of the bishop of Rome, and change the father into a prince,
and the Church into an empire.

28. But this hinders not, but that the power of spiritual
rulers may yet extend to a further use, not by a direct power
of command, or of giving laws, but by all the indirect and
collateral ways of obligation ; as of fame, consent, reputation
of the man, the reverence of his person, and the opinion of
his wisdom and sanctity, by voluntary submission, and for
the avoiding scandal : when any of these causes of action or
instruments of obligation do intervene, the bishop does not
directly bind, but the people are bound : and their obligations
from all these principles are reduced to two heads : " The
matter of scandal;" in which case, under pain of sin, they
must obey in all lawful things, when by accident and the
concourse of emergent causes it is scandalous to disobey.
And the other is, " Their own consent ; " for however it be
procured fairly, if they once have consented, they are become
a law unto themselves, and so they remain till his law suffers
diminution, as other laws do that die : of which I am after-
ward to give account.

There is one way more by which ecclesiastical laws do
bind ; but this is the matter of the next rule.


When the Canons or Pules of the Ecclesiastical Rulers are
confirmed by the Supreme Civil Power, they oblige the
Conscience by a double Obligation.

1. TO' vopoQeriiv avtTrai roTs ftaffiXtvffi, say the Greek law-
yers : " The power of making laws," viz. of determining
things not commanded by God, or of punishing prevarica-
tions against God's laws or their own, " is granted to kings."
And therefore as secular princes did use to indict or permit
the indiction of synods of bishops ; so, when they saw cause,
they confirmed the sentences of bishops and passed them
into laws. Before the princes were Christian, the Church
was governed by their spiritual guides, who had authority
from God in all that was necessary, and of great convenience


next to necessity ; and, in other things, they had it from the
people, from necessity and from good-will, by hope and fear,
by the sense of their own needs, and the comfort of their
own advantages. It was ' populus voluntarius,' the people
came with freewill-offerings, and were at first governed by
love, as much as now they need to be by fear and smart.
But God was never wanting to his Church, but made provi-
sions in all cases and in all times. Of that which was neces-
sary, Christ left in his ministers a power of government :
and in that which was not primely necessary, but emergently
and contingently came to be useful and fit, he only left in his
ministers a power to persuade ; but he gave them an excellent
spirit of wisdom and holiness, by which they did prevail, and
to the people the spirit of love and obedience : and these
together were strength enough to restrain the disobedient.
For as, in the creation, there was light before the sun, that
we might learn that the sun was not the fountain of light,
but God ; so there was a government in the Church even
before the princes were Christians, that the support and or-
nament of God's Church might be owned as an efflux of the
Divine power, and not the kindness of princes. But yet as
when the light was gathered and put into the body of the
sun, we afterward derived our light from him, and account
him the prince of all the bodies of light ; so when the go-
vernment external of all things was drawn into the hands of
princes becoming Christians, to them the Church owes the
heat and the warmth, the light and the splendour, the life of
her laws, and the being of all her great advantages of main-
tenance and government. At first the Church was indeed
in the commonwealth, but was reckoned no part of it; but,
as enemies and outlaws, were persecuted with intolerable
violence ; but when the princes of the commonwealth became
servants of Christ, they were also nurses of the Church, and
then it became a principal part of the republic, and was cared
for by all her laws.

2. For this first way was not like to last long ; for good
manners soon corrupt : and a precarious authority, though
wise and holy, useful and consented to, was not stable as
the firmament of laws that could compel : and yet it became
necessary, by new-introduced necessities, that there should
be rules and measures given in things relating to the Church,


concerning which God himself had given no commandment ;
as concerning order in synods and conventions ecclesiastical,
the division of ecclesiastical charges, the appointment of
under-ministries in the Church, the dispensation of revenues,
the determination of causes and difficulties in manners of
speaking or acting, and whatsoever was not matter of faith
or a Divine commandment ; in all that new necessities did
every day arise, and the people were weary of obeying, and
the prelates might press too hard in their governing, or
might be supposed to do so when they did not, and the peo-
ple's weariness might make them complain of an easy load ;
and it was not possible well to govern long by the consent
of the people who are to be governed. It pleased God to
raise up a help, that should hold for ever, and when the
princes became Christian and took care of all this, that is,
of all the external regiment of the Church, of all that was
not of spiritual nature and immediate necessary relation to
it, then the ecclesiastical laws were advised by bishops and
commanded by kings ; they were but rules and canons in
the hands of the spiritual order, but laws made by the secular
power. And now these things are not questions of the
power of the clergy, but a matter of obedience to kings and

3. These canons, before the princes were Christian, were
no laws further than the people did consent ; and therefore
none but the men of good-will, the pious and the religious
children of the Church, did obey : but now that princes have
set the cross upon their imperial globes and sceptres, even
the wicked must obey : all are tied by all manner of ties,
and all can be compelled that need it. These ecclesiastical
laws so established, the Greeks call Biardyftara, ^<wr/<r/Aara,
XguffofiovXXa, xugoDura rag cwodixas atfopaeeig, " edicts, orders,
and golden bulls, commanding or making into laws the
sentences and rules of synods." The avotpagsig, that is, the
effect and production of bishops in their conventions, that
is, they have "jus pronunciandi quid sanctum, quid non,
a right of pronouncing what is for God's glory and the
interests of religion, and what not :" but the ri xugog xal rb
xgdroc, " the establishment and the command" belong to
princes. The synod hath a x^/V/s, or " a right of judging,"
but the Jw/jcg/ff/u, or " confirmation" of it into a law belongs to


the civil power. So we find in a synodal epistle ' de non
avellendis episcopis a sua metropoli ;' EvgiQi) n -/.a! roiovrov
ytw/Attov xgiffti ff-jvodixi} ', xai firixoigu (3affi\ixf xvou6sv, " Some
such thing as this hath been found done by the decree or
judgment of a synod, but established by after-judgment of
the king." To the same sense are those words of JT/erraX-
para applied to the bishops' canons, and ^ooray^ara to the
king's edict upon them : and therefore the emperors and
princes were said hri^pftty^tn ra xsxgipeva,,* " to put the seal
of their authority to the decrees of the fathers." 6

4. For it was never known in the Primitive Church, that
ever any ecclesiastical law did oblige the catholic Church,
unless the secular prince did establish it. The Nicene canons
became laws by the rescript of the Emperor Constantine,
says Sozomen. He wrote an epistle, and commanded that
all churches should keep Easter by the canon of the Nicene
fathers, and made it capital to keep any of the books of
Arius. When the Council of Constantinople was finished,
the fathers wrote to the Emperor Theodosius, and petitioned
" ut edicto pietatis tuae confirmetur synodi sententia, that
he would be pleased to confirm the sentence of the council
by his edict :" " Ut quemadmodum literis, quibus nos voca-
bas, ecclesiam honorasti, ita etiam decreta, communibus suf-
fragiis tandem facta, sigillo tuo confirmes." The emperor had
done them favour and honour in calling them together, and
they petitioned he would also confirm what they had agreed
upon, and by his zeal make it authentic. The confirmation of
the canon and decrees of the great Ephesine Council by the
emperor is to be seen at the end of the acts of the synod : and
Marcian, the emperor, wrote to Pelladius, his prefect, a letter,
in which he testifies that he made the decrees of the Coun-
cil of Chalcedon to become laws. For having forbidden any
person to make assemblies and orations of religion in public,
he adds this reason, " Nam et injuriam facit reverendissimae
synodi judicio, si quis semel judicata ac recte disposita re-
volvere et publice disputare contenderit ; cum ea quae nunc
de Christiana fide a eacerdotibus, qui Chalcedone convene-
runt, per nostra proecepta statuta sunt," &c. " For he does
injury to the judgment of the most reverend synod, if he shall
unravel and dispute the things which were there judged and

1 In Act. Concil. Constantinop. b Vide c. iii. rule 8, hujus libri.


rightly disposed, since those things appointed by the bishops
met at Chalcedon, concerning Christian faith, were commanded
by us, or were appointed by our commandment;" " Nam in
contemptores hujus legis poena non deerit, They that
despise this law shall be punished." Thus also the fathers
of the fifth general synod petitioned Justinian to confirm
and establish their canons into a law, in the same form which
was sent to Theodosius by the bishops of the general Coun-
cil at Constantinople before mentioned. The same prince
also published a novel in which he commands " vim legum
obtinere ecclesiasticos canones a quatuor synodis, Nicena,
Coustantinopolitana prima, Ephesina prima, et Chalcedonensi
expositos et confirmatos;" that all the laws which were
made or confirmed by the four last general councils should
have the force of laws : that is, all their own canons, and
those of Ancyra, Gangra, Antioch, and Laodicea, which
were then adopted into the code of the universal Church,
though they were but provincial in their original.

5. So that now, upon this account, the ecclesiastical
laws are as obligatory to the conscience, as those which are
made in a civil matter ; and there is no difference but in the
matter only : but for that there will be some advantage ; for
as the civil power hath authority in ecclesiastical matters,
so the spiritual power hath a share in the legislative : the
matter is handled by the ecclesiastics, and the law is esta-
blished by the secular. And therefore, if it be thought that
the cognizance of these things is not proper for seculars,
those that think so may be satisfied that the bishops have
judged the thing already ; and they that think the bishops
have no power of making the law, may learn to obey, be-
cause the prince hath by his legislative established it. So
one hand helps another, and both are lift up to God, but
will fall heavy upon the disobedient.

SECT. 2. Of Censures Ecclesiastical.

I have given the general measures of the legislative power
of the ecclesiastical state : next to this I am to account con-
cerning their coercive, sect. 2 ; and then return to the in-
quiries after the more particular subjects of this power,

= Vide Concil. Tolet.


sect. 3 ; and their particular laws and their obligations upon
the conscience in external order, sect. 4 ; and in matters of
faith, sect. 5.


Kings and Princes are, by the Ties of Religion, not of Power,
obliged to keep the Laws of the Church.

1 . THE laws of the Church I have already divided into such
which she makes by Divine authority, such which concern
our essential duty, in which she hath power to command and
rule in her appointed manner ; and into those which are ex-
ternal, political, and contingent, such which princes, if they
please, make up into laws, but the spiritual power cannot.
In the first sort, kings and princes are as much tied to obe-
dience as the meanest Christian subject. For the king,
though he be supreme in government political, yet his soul
is of Christ's fold, and to be conducted by a proper shep-
herd. It is no contradiction that the same person should be
supreme, and yet obey in another regard in which he is not
supreme. The captain that fights in a ship commands the
soldiers in chief, but himself obeys the master ; and the
safety of the soldiers depends upon them both ; for they are
distinct powers in order to distinct purposes. For kings
must give an account for bishops, that they live well in the
political capacity, and bishops for kings m their spiritual ;
and therefore they must obey each other ; and we find that
persons of greatest honour in the days of peace, serve under
captains and generals in the time of war ; and when Themis-
tius, an excellent philosopher, who from his chair did rule
and dictate wise things, and give laws to the understandings
of his auditors, and was admired by his prince, was by the
Emperor Constantius advanced to a prefecture, in an excel-
lent epigram a he says to himself, AMP avdj3ri6i xdru' wv ya.o
avu xars(Br)$, " Now ascend downwards, for thou hast already
descended upwards." The same dignity is above and below
in several regards. But in this there is no difficulty, be-
cause the souls of princes are of equal regard, and under


Bninck. Anthol. torn. ii. p. 401.


the same laws of God, and to be cleansed and nourished by
the same sacraments, and tied to the same duty by the com-
mandments of God, as any of the people; in this there is no

2. But in matters not of necessary duty, not expressly
required by God's law and the necessary, unavoidable, im-
mediate consequents of it, there being no laws but what
themselves had made, they are no otherwise obliged than
by their own civil laws : of which I have already given ac-
count. This thing is particularly noted by Balsamo upon
the sixteenth canon of the Council of Carthage, who affirms,
that by reason of the power given to princes from God, they
are subject neither to their laws nor canons. And of this
latter he gives this instance, that although by the twelfth
canon of the Council of Chalcedon it was decreed, that no
city should for the future acquire the title of a metropolis ;
yet after this ' Justinianea prima' was made an archiepiscopal
seat, and had metropolitical rights, to the diminution of the
former rights of Thessalonica : but Balsamo instances in
divers others. There was an ancient canon of great celebrity
in the Church, that every city should have a proper bishop :
but the bishops of Isauropolis and Tolma, besides their own,
had others ; so had the bishops of Lichfield and of Bath in
England : they had other cities under their jurisdiction
which had no bishops in propriety. For if kings did give
limit to their diocesses, they might divide again, and give a
new limit ; since it is not in kings as it is in people. The
power that goes from the people, is like water slipped from
their hands ; it returns no more, and does not abide in the
first place of its efflux ; but when an act of power passes
from the king, any deputation or trust, any act of grace or
delegation of jurisdiction, it is like heat passing from the
fire, it warms abroad, but the heat still dwells at home. It
is no more the less, than the sun is for emission of its beams
of light.

3. And this is apparent in all the privileges and conces-
sions made to the Church, which are as revocable as their
duty is alterable. For princes are so far from being obliged
to perpetuate such rights which themselves have indulged,
that it is a ruled case, and the Greek b fathers sometimes

b Leunclav. B-,X;*.


make use of it to this very purpose : 'o
si d^a^iffriag <ragifj.vffot Xoyoj, ava\a/*f3dvti rr,v dugiav, " If
a king hath given a gift, he may recall it, in case the benefi-
ciary proves ungrateful." The same with that in the feudal
laws of the Lombards, " Feudum amittit, qui feudum sciens
inficiatur ; If he wittingly denies the fee, or refuses homage,
he loses it." But this depends upon the reasons of the
second rule in the third chapter of this book.

4. But although in strict right the king's laws oblige him
not, yet because ' de bono laudabili' he is, in the senses
above explicated, obliged to his civil laws, therefore much
more is he tied to the observations and canons of the
Church, as being specifications of religion, instances of love
to God, significations of some internal duty, or outer guards
to piety, great examples to the people, and honours to the
Church of Christ, and that which above all external things


will enable the rulers and guides of souls to render their ac-
count with joy ; and the king shall never so well promote
the interests of religion by any thing, as by being himself
subject to the religion : for who will murmur at those laws
which the king himself wears in a phylactery upon his fore-
head and his wrists? " Facere recte cives suos princeps
optimus faciendo docet ; cumque sit in imperio maximus,
exernplo major est," said Velleius Paterculus. c This is most
of all true in religion, whose laws look too like policy, when
they are established only by penalties ; but they are accounted
religion when they are made sacred by example. To which
purpose is that of Tacitus ; d " Obsequium inde in principem
et semulandi amor validior, quam pcena ex legibus etmetus ;
It is duty to our prince, and it is our honour to imitate
the example of the prince ; and these prevail more than pe-
nalties." " Hsec enim conditio principium, ut quicquid fa-
ciant, praecipere videantur," saysQuintilian. 6 Their example
is the best law.

Sic agitur censure, et sic exempla parantur,
Si judex alios quod jubet ipse facit.

So laws, and judgments, and good manners, are best esta-
blished, when, by the examples of kings and supreme judges,
they are made sacred.

c Lib. ii. 126, 5. Krause, p. 539. d Annal. iii. 55. Ruperti, p. 165.

* Decluin. iv.


Add to tliis, that the laws of religion have, most of them,
the warranty of some internal grace or other, and are to be
reckoned in the retinue and relation of that virtue ; and
therefore cannot, in many instances, be broken without some
straining of our duty to God, which is, by the wisdom and
choice of men, determined in such an instance to such a spe-
cification. But this is to be understood only in such laws
which are the crgofuAaxcu, ' out-guards,' the exercises of in-
ternal religion, not in the garments and adornments of the
relatives and appendages of religion. If a prince despises
the festival of the Church, nothing but a competent reason
will excuse him from being, or at least from seeming, irreli-
gious. And in whatsoever instance he hath made or con-
sented to laws of religion, if by them he can suppose the
people may serve and please God, he is much more obliged
than they ; not by the duty of obedience, for he owes none,
but by the virtue of religion : for besides that his soul must
Jive or die by greater measures and exactions of those vir-
tues which bring the people unto heaven, every action of
his that deserves an ill report, it is but scandal in the lesser
people, but to him it is infamy. For the king's escutcheon is
blazoned otherwise than that of his subjects : the gentry by
metals, the nobility by precious stones, but kings by planets,
For in a king there is nothing moderate. " Curandum est
qualem famam habeat, qui qualemcunque meruerit, magnam
habiturus est," said Seneca : f " His fame, let it be good or
bad, it will certainly be very great."

Online LibraryJeremy TaylorThe whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 13) → online text (page 58 of 61)