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5. The sum is this : Kings are so tied to their own eccle-
siastical laws, that they must take care they be not despised
by their example, that the religion designed by them be
promoted, that that part of the commonwealth which most
secures to them obedience and peace, and procures them the
most and greatest blessings, be not discouraged, or disad-
vantaged : but they are not so tied, that every act of omis-
sion is imputable to them, though it have no other cause but
the use of his liberty, for in this his duty differs from that
of his subjects : for obedience which the subject owes, is a
part of justice, and that hath no degrees, but consists in an
indivisible point, where it can be practised, and where it
can be understood ; for he is unjust, that does one act of

1 De Clement, lib. i. c. 8, 1. Ruhkopf. vol. i. p. 446.


injustice. But religion hath a latitude of signification and in-
stances, and a man may be very religious who yet does not
keep a saint's day, where by obedience he is not bound;
which is the case of kings. Therefore what Seneca said of
the cares of kings, may be said of the external observations
of the laws of religion; " Remissum aliquando aninmm ha-
bebit, nunquain solutum ; he may remit something of the
strict observance, but he must never esteem himself wholly

6. But this is to be understood only in externals and ri-
tuals ; concerning which one said excellently, " Pleraque ex
iis magis ad morem quam ad rem pertinent ; They are no-
thing of the substance of religion, but only appendages,"
and manner, and circumstances: and therefore "sapiens
servabit ea tanquam legibus jussa, non tanquam diis grata,
a wise man will observe rituals, because they are com-
manded by laws, not that they are pleasing to God :" they
are the words of Seneca quoted by St. Austin. 8 Since there-
fore these are wholly matters of obedience, kings are free,
save only when they become bound collaterally and acci-
dentally. But in matters of essential duty, the king hath
equally with his subjects no liberty, but much more direct
duty, and many more accidental obligations. The whole
affair is well enough expressed by Cicero : h " Parendum est
religioni, nee patrius mos contumaciter repudiandus; The
prince must obey religion, and he must not despise the cus-
toms and the manners of his country ;" that is, in the better
words of our blessed Saviour, " These things they ought to
do, and not {wholly} to leave the other undone."

7. But the liberty of princes in these ecclesiastical laws
of order, and circumstance, and ritual observances, is very
apparent in the practice of the Hebrew kings, who yet pos-
sessed this liberty, that even, in the rituals of the Divine or-
dinance, they sometimes did dispense. Thus David ate the
shew-bread ; and Hezekiah permitted some that were un-
clean to eat the passover, otherwise than it was written : i
only Hezekiah prayed to God not to impute it to them, and
gave them way : and under his reign the Levites did kill the
sacrifice twice, which was only lawful for the priests to do.

s Lib. Civit. Dei. De Divin. ii. 35. Davis et Rath. p. 214.

1 Levit. vii. 20. 2 Chron. xxx. 18,


But it was a favourable case, because the priests k were but
few, and the sacrifices were very numerous : and if it be (as
the Greek expression is) lawful, ^aXatfa/ n rye axgifaia:,
"to loose a little of the exactness" of the rituals of the
Divine appointment, it is certain, where the man is the law-
giver, he can much more use the liberty. But it is not good
to do all that is lawful.


It is not lawful for the ecclesiastical Power to excommunicate
Christian Princes, or the supreme civil Power.

1. IN the sentence and penalty of the lesser excommuni-
cation, as it is used in the Church, there are three portions
of evil. In one, the bishop is the author or minister, in
the other, the people, and in the third, the prince. The
first is a denying to minister the holy mysteries. Tjie other
is, a withdrawing from the communion and conversation of
such a person : which although it be done most of all in the
greater excommunication, yet it is done also in some pro-
portion in the less, for emendation of the erring brother;
not for extermination, as appears in the apostolical precept
given to the Church of Thessalonica. a And the last is, super-
vening temporal punishments, by which princes use to verify
the just sentences of the Church against refractory criminals.

2. Concerning the last, it is certain it wholly is owing to
the power and favour of the prince ; who, by that favour, is
not supposed to lay violent hands upon himself, who, if he
did, could quickly take them off again : however, the Church
inflicts not them by her own authority, but by that of the
prince, who will not, like the tree in the fable, lend a stick
to the hatchet, to be hewn down or hurt by it afterward.

3. But then concerning that part which is inflicted by
the people, which is abstinence from the society of the
offender till he repent and make amends, and get his pardon,
it is infinitely certain that the Church cannot inflict that on
kings ; because it is destructive of the duty which the people.

k Levit. i.5. 2 Chron. xsix. 24 ; xzx. 17. 2 Thess. iii. 6, 14, 15.


owe to their prince, and of the rights which the prince
hath from God independently from the religion.

4. Besides this, nothing ought to be done to the disho-
nour of the supreme power, to whose happy government
fame is almost as necessary as power : and the imposing
upon them disgraceful penalties is xoiaig J3\aa pricing, " a note
of dishonour and blasphemy ;" for they are to esteem their
king as a heathen and a publican, from whose society they
are to estrange themselves as from a pestilence. " Inviso
semel principe, seu bene seu male facta premunt," saith
Tacitus. b If he once fall into such a calamity and disho-
nour, whether he do well or ill afterward, it shall be evil
to him.

5. And yet further ; the power of assemblies and public
meetings is wholly by the laws and permission of kings ; and
nothing is more unreasonable, than that any man should
interdict kings from public meetings, by whom himself hath
leave to meet publicly. And, therefore, we find imperial laws
making provisions in this very particular, and so far from
being subject to any thing of this nature, that the emperors
gave orders and strict measures to the bishops when they
should, and whom they should or should not, separate from
churches and communions. For even in those actions of
bishops, in which themselves have liberty and Divine author-
ity, yet the supreme civil power hath external jurisdiction.
Thus Mauritius the emperor commanded Gregory the Great,
bishop of Rome, to communicate with John of Constanti-
nople ; and anciently, in France, the princes were wont to
compel the clergy to officiate ; and when the pope had in-
terdicted the kingdom of England, the king compelled the
priests and bishops to open their churches : so it is in Hol-
land, and so in Venice, and so in all places where kings
know their power, and their interest, and their duty.

6. For if excommunication be only an act of caution and
prudence, it is very great prudence not to involve kings in
it, lest they be provoked by the evil usages of the Church ;
and if it be nothing else, certainly it cannot be necessary to
be done at all. But if it be an act of external jurisdiction,

b Histor. i. c. 7. Valp. ed.vol. iii. p. 14.

c As is to be seen lib. xxx. Cod. de Episc. et Clericis, and in the 123d novel
of Justinian.


it derives from kings, and therefore they are not under it,
but over it : for no coercion in the hands of man ought to
touch those who are reserved only for the judgment of God.
" Apud Serenissimum Regem opus est exhortatione potius
quam increpatione, consilio quam prseceptis, doctrina quam
virga," said Hildebertus the bishop: "The king is to be
exhorted, not reproved ; counselled, not commanded ; and to
him not a rod, but doctrine is to be used :" and Ivo, bishop
of Chartres, d said the same thing. Kings, if they abuse their
power, are not to be provoked ; but in case they refuse the
admonition of bishops, they are to be left to the Divine judg-
ment ; where they will be punished the more severely, by
how much they were the less obnoxious to human monitions.
So Gregorius Turonensis ; " Si tu excesseris, quis te corri-
piet? Si autem nolueris, quis te damnabit, nisi is qui se pronun-
ciat essejustitiaui?" He spake to King Chilperic: " If thou
beest exorbitant, who shall correct thee ? If thou refusest,
who shall condemn thee, but he only who is the everlasting
righteousness?" For if St. Paul 6 gave in charge to Timothy,
that each person should receive an impression and emana-
tion from the pastoral charge according to his quality, and
commanded that he should " not rebuke an elder, but entreat
him as a father ;" much less would he have permitted any to
have punished the father of the country and his own supe-
rior, and him who is less than none but God, and by whom
himself can rule others in external actions, and who, in
these very administrations, is superior, and can give laws,
and inflict penalties, and is judge and the remedy of all

7. And if concerning this inquiry we consult the doctrine
and practices of the fathers in the primitive and ancient
churches, we shall find that they never durst think of excom-
municating kings. They had no power, no right, to do it.
" Nam sacerdotis tantum est arguere, et liberam praestare
admonitionem," saith St. Chrysostom ; ( "Priests can only
reprove and argue, and give a free admonition :" and therefore
the first supreme prince that ever was excommunicated by a
bishop, was Henry the emperor, by Pope Hildebrand.

8. But against this that I say, now the doctors of the

* Epist. clxxi. 1 Tim. r. 1.

' Homil. ir. de Verbis Isai. Vidi Dominum.


Church of Rome make a mighty outcry, saying that Philip,
the first Christian emperor, was excommunicate and thrust
amongst the penitents; that Babylas, the bishop of Antioch,
thrust the Emperor Decius with his hands against his breast
from the doors of the church ; that Athanasius excommuni-
cated the prefect of Libya, and St. Basil commanded in his
diocess that he should be avoided ; that St. Ambrose did ex-
communicate the Emperor Theodosius ; that St. Chrysostom
forbade Eudoxia the empress to enter into the church-doors ;
that Innocentius excommunicated Arcadius ; so did Synesius
to Andronicus the prefect, St. Austin to Bonifacius, Pope
Symmachus to Anastasius the emperor, Pope Vigilius to
Theodora the empress, Gregory II. to the Exarch, Gregory
III. to Leo Isaurus : instances 5 enough, if they be right and
true, to shew that the fathers were of another mind than the
rule pretends.

9. But in this heap I must separate what is true and cer-
tain from what is false and uncertain, and give an answer to
them, and the rest will not trouble us. The story of the Em-
peror Philip is vehemently suspected : but if it were true, yet
it was no excommunication, but his own submission to the
discipline of penitents; to which, saith Eusebius, he was
persuaded by the bishop. And the same was the case of St.
Ambrose to Theodosius : h the prince was persuaded to it,
but it was only to do his repentance after the manner of the
penitents in those days ; the bishop only refused to celebrate
in the presence of the emperor, if he would not give testi-
mony of his repentance towards God . This the emperor did,
because he was a good man, and things were then in such a
conjunction that there was nothing amiss : but St. Am-
brose could not have verified his power, if the emperor had
been unwilling, and the emperor did no more than was
necessary. But St. Ambrose said that he had his warrant to
use the emperor so, from a vision. His warrant was extraor-
dinary ; for he had no ordinary power or commission. The
excommunications of the prefects by St. Athanasius, St.

f Euseb. lib.vLc. 27. Cbrysost. adv. Gentes. Basil, ep. xlvii. Paulin. apud
Baron. A.D. 387. Theod. lib. v. c. 17. Leo. Aug. Oral, de Vita Johan. Chrysos-
tom. Niceph. lib. xiii. c. 34. Aug. Epist. vi. in Append. Greg. lib. ii. ep. 36.
Anastas. Biblioth. in Greg. II.

h Ultroa communione abstinuisse Theodosium aiunt Ruffinus, lib. ii. c. 18, et
Waremund. ab Erenb. c. 2, de Subsid. Reg. n. 35, et seq.


Basil, St. Austin, Synesius, and Gregory II., do not come home
to the inquiry, because the prefects were but subjects, and
had not the privilege of supreme princes. The fact of Ba-
bylas to Decius was not excommunication : for Decius was
a heathen, and the Church hath < nothing to do with them,
that are without ;' but Babylas was zealous and fierce, and
acted with the spirit of a martyr, to which he hastened by
his fervour. St. Chrysostom indeed did that to Eudoxia
which did not become him, and which he had leisure and
cause enough afterward to repent : he did in anger what
himself, in the sober hours of his life, professed to be more
than he could justify. That of Innocentius to Arcadius is of
no credit, and so is that of Symmachus to Anastasius, as being
only seen in the epistles of the popes of Rome ; concerning
which there is nothing certain, but that very many of them
are certainly spurious. The pretended excommunication of
Theodora by Vigilius hath no testimony. " Contra Theodo-
ram et Acephalos Vigilius pronunciavit damnationis senten-
tiam," said Gregory. 1 But this was nothing but a condem-
nation or rejection of the heresy of the Acephali, with which
she was a partaker. And the like was the case of Leo Isau-
rus ; it was ' sententia damnatoria ; a condemnation of his
opinion,' called by Zonaras avaSt^a, ewodixov. But these
things are only pretended to make noises. Pope Hildebrand
was the first that ever did any thing of this nature ; as is
expressly affirmed by authors of great credit, by Otho Fri-
singensis, by Godefridus Viterbiensis, and by Onuphrius,
who counted all the other pretences either fabulous or to no

10. But yet there is a third portion of excommunication,
which is a denying to administer the holy communion to
princes of a scandalous and evil life ; and concerning this
there is no question but the bishop not only may, but in
some cases must do it. " Nolite dare sanctum canibus," said
Christ, " Give not that which is holy to dogs ;" and cast not
pearls before swine. But this is not an act of jurisdiction,
punishment, or coercion, but of charity to the prince and
duty in the bishop. It is just as if a physician should refuse
to give drink to a hydropic patient; he may have it, if he
will be willing to die ; but if the other refuses his ministry

1 Lib. ii. ep. 36.


in the reaching it, he is charitable and kind, not imperious
and usurping. For whatsoever is in the ecclesiastical hand
by Divine right, is as applicable to him that sits upon the
throne as to him that sits upon the dunghill. But then the
refusing it must be only by admonition and caution, by fears
and denunciations evangelical, by telling him his unfitness
to communicate, and his danger if he do : but if after this
separation by way of sentence and proper ministry the prince
will be communicated, the bishop hath nothing else to do
but to pray and weep, and willingly to minister. St. Gre-
gory's case with Mauritius the emperor was like this. The
prince commanded him to be the minister to hand an unlaw-
ful edict to the churches : the bishop told the prince it was
a sin which the prince went about, prayed, admonished, de-
claimed, did all that he could to hinder it, and then obeyed ;
that is, he did all he could to God, by using all this authority,
the word of his proper ministry, and then all that he owed
to the prince, by submitting his external ministry to his com-
mand. The unlawful proclamations and edicts of a true
prince may be published by the clergy in their several
charges ; but yet they must not conceal from the people any
thing of their duty, nor yet from their prince when they can
declare it. It was also the case of Saul and Samuel. k The
king desired Samuel to join and communicate with him in
the service of the Lord. He, with the liberty of a prophet,
refused at first, and declared the heinousness of Saul's sin ;
but at last, when the king's will was pressing and importu-
nate, Samuel did obey his voice and did join with him. Ivo,
bishop of Chartres, tells that in such cases where princes
will not comply with the customs and disciplines of the
Church, the bishops must do their duty by saying, " Nolo te
fallere ; introitum hujus visibilis ecclesiae periculo tuo te
habere permitto. Januam regni coelestis tali reconciliatione
tibi aperire non valeo ; Sir, I will not deceive you ; at
your peril be it, if you will come into the holy place to par-
take of holy mysteries. I declare to you, that this ministry
(of the communion) is not any reconciling of you to God :"
I cannot do that, unless you repent. But the reason of this
is wholly upon this account, because the ecclesiastical state
hath no proper coercion by Divine right, but is a minister of

k 1 Sam. xv. 25.


the Divine coercion, of spiritual promises and threatenings ;
their power is spiritual and internal, it hath its effort upon
the spirit, and not upon the outer man, and therefore is to
proceed by methods fitted to the spirit, that is, by reason and
argument,|by the fear of God, and the terror of his threaten-
ings, by the love of God and the invitation of his promises.
But all the ministries and compulsions about the external is
the gift and leave of princes : and therefore it descends, but
ascends not, unless they please ; of which by and by. " Ad-
moneri quideni possunt, increpari, argui a discretis viris :
quia quos Christus Rex regum in terris vice sua constituit,
damnandos et salvandossuojudicio reliquit," said the Church
of Liege in their epistle to Paschalis : " Kings may be ad-
monished and reproved and argued by discreet persons ; but
they whom Christ, the King of kings, hath appointed to be
his vicars on earth, are entirely to be left to his judgment."
Upon the likeness of matter it is to be inquired,

11. Whether the guides of souls have a proper and spi-
ritual power to enjoin penances or ecclesiastical satisfactions
to a prince that hath sinned publicly ?

12. The answer to this depends upon the premises. For
the Church, when she enjoined public satisfactions, did sepa-
rate from the communion those whom they thrust into the
place of public penitents. Now if the bishops may not se-
parate the prince from the communion, then neither impose
those penances to which that separation did minister : but
this is one of the censures of the Church, and part of that
coercitive power which she hath by the permission of princes
and the voluntary submission and consent of good people :
and therefore it cannot be done unless the prince please. In
the Primitive Church, when this discipline was in godly use,
none could be compelled to it but by conviction in public,
or private confession, and in both cases their own consent
was either express or implied ; and therefore much less can
this be done to the supreme power whether he will or no.
" Imperatoria unctione poenitentiam tolli," said Balsauio; 1
" From the suffering penances, kings are quitted by their
anointing:" and upon those words of David, "Against thee
only have I sinned," St. Ambrose hath this note, " He was
a king, he was held by no laws; because kings are free from

1 Ad can. xii. Synodi Ancyranae.


the bands of delinquents ; " '" neque enim ullis ad pcenam
vocantur legibus tuti imperil potestate, neither are they
by any laws called to penance, being safe by the power of
their empire." And since the Primitive Church was infinitely
restrained in imposing public penances on bishops, for the
honour of their order and dignity of their persons, we shall
the less need to doubt of their opinion or practices concern-
ing kings.

13. But yet we find that some excellent good princes did
submit to such imposition of penances, and did abstain from
the public communions, till they had given testimony of their
repentance towards God. So the Emperor Philip, KgoSv/tu;
s-mftdgxqffs, he ofhis own willing mind placed himself amongst
the penitents. So did Theodosius, under the discipline and
conduct of St. Ambrose. But these things are but cautiously
to be drawn into example, and as they give no power to the
bishop, so very seldom do they advantages to kings. Henry
the emperor was a sad example of it ; for his affairs went
into diminution, and his person into contempt, and his power
into pupillage, as soon as ever he had done penance at Ca-
nusiuni barefooted, in a cold winter, for three days together,
and had endured the insolence and scorn of Hildebrand.
And when kings made themselves less, the bishops became
greater without any good to the Church, but not without
much detriment to religion.

14. ' But neither may princes be reproved publicly.' For
if he will not be obedient to the will of God in the voice of
his ministers publicly teaching, or privately admonishing,
and prudently reproving ; he that goes about to reprove
him publicly, intends, by that means, by some indirect
coercion, to compel him, either by shame or by fear; neither
of which ought to be imposed by a subject on the prince.
For it is to be observed, that reproof is a part of empire and
superiority, and differs not from teaching, save only that it
is ' manus linguae,' it is * the hand of the tongue,' not the
voice only. He that reproves, teaches only minors : and
though kings are so in respect of the conduct of their souls,
yet it must not be done to them but very sparingly, because
it can very hardly be done without diminution of their dig-
nity ; and teaching or declaring their duty will do their work
for them if they please, and if they do not please, he that


reproves, will do the prince no good, but he shall hurt him-
self, and shall not be a martyr when he is smitten. Let no
man, therefore, pretend zeal for God in excuse of any boldness
more than priestly towards kings. For the work of God is
oftentimes better done by a gentle hand than by a strong.

. Peragit tranquilla potestas

Quod violenta nequit ; mandataque fortius urget

Imperiosa quies . ra

And if we esteem reproof unseasonable where it is likely we
may do hurt, and where it is not likely we shall do good,
much more is not this course prudent to be used to kings,
who may be provoked by your ungentle sermon, or may be
hardened by your fire. For every prince hath not the gen-
tleness of Antigonus, patiently to hear himself reviled : but
if he had, yet it was but reason that Antigonus spake, when
he bade the soldiers, if they would revile him, to go further
off. n And such men should do well to consider, how ill them-
selves would take it, if they were publicly in the pulpit called
schismatics or incendiaries. But how and if the people be
as zealous as the priest, and think it lawful to call their king
by all the names of reproach which they hear in the ser-
mons of the ministers ? And if the bishop calls a spade a
spade, it is very possible the people may do so too, for they
are soon taught to despise their rulers ; and then it is to be
remembered what Aristotle says, 'Ex rod xarapgoviuftui croAXag
yiyvs&ai ruv xaraXvfftuv. If they once come to despise their
prince, they will soon unclasp his royal mantle.

15. It is true that the ministers of religion are ' stewards
of the mysteries' of God and ' ambassadors for Christ : ' and
though I cannot say that they who, upon this account, think
they have power publicly to reprove vicious kings, and in
plain language give names to their vices and publish their
shame, do overvalue their dignity, for that cannot easily be
done ; yet I say they use it incompetently and imprudently ;
for the effect of this power and dignity is not to upbraid, or
to disgrace, but to edify and do good to all men according
to their capacity: and therefore St. Paul, when he had de-
clared his office and commission to be Christ's ambassador,

Claud, de Fl. Moll. Theod. Cons. 239. Gesner, vol. i. p. 219.

n O<ov Avnyavau TO a"f rovs trroanurtts^ an rev; ra^ec riv runty* Xa/Sojouvraj

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