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The whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 13) online

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the people. Now though the bishop can, in some cases, ad-
vise this, yet in a Christian commonwealth he cannot, with-
out leave, command it : and therefore the censure or judg-
ment of the Church is to have effort upon the conscience of
the guilty, and this invades no man's right ; it is for his good
that is concerned, and is wholly a spiritual power, and in-
trenches not upon the civil right of any man, much less upon
the public and supreme power. In the lesser excommuni-
cation, if the subjects be not voluntary, or be not subjected
by him that hath the power over them, that is, the king,
they cannot be compelled by the bishop to any external
act or abstention. But if they do themselves submit, or are
submitted by their supreme, they are bound not only to obey
the censure of the Church, but themselves to go away from
company that know not of this calamity : as 1 have r already

16. The sentence of the greater excommunication, though
to be estimated in many particulars by the former mea-
sures, yet hath in it something of particular considera-
tion. This is the great * anathema maranatha,' the excision
of a man from the body of the Church ; without which body,
whosoever is in that manner justly separate, there is no sal-
vation to him : and this the Church called by the name of
' anathema. ' Not that whenever the word * anathema' is
used the greater excommunication is signified ; for it is very
often used as an earnest expression of the dislike of a thing :
so the clergy of Edessa, when they purged their bishop Ibas
of the crimes objected to him in the Council of Chalcedon, s
they solemnly protested they knew no evil of him, " anathe-
matizantes nosmetipsos, et terribili gehennse nosmetipsos
obnoxios facientes, si novimus ; anathematizing them-
selves and exposing themselves to the guilt of eternal dam-
nation, if they knew any such thing." Such tuiathemata are

r Chai). ii. rule '-', num. 15.' Act. x.


denounced against sacrilegious persons in the donatives
made to the Church ; and thus divers councils do pronounce
' anathema ' to false propositions, and Justinian/ in the code,
uses the same execration against certain heresies. Now to
such an anathema as this all persons can be subject, kings
and princes, bishops and priests, multitudes and single per-
sons. There is nothing considerable in this, but that the
cause be great and worthy : for whoever he be that works
abomination, let him be who he will, yet he is ' abominable ;'
and shall be separated from the communion of saints in the
day of the New Jerusalem.

17. But the inquiry that remains is concerning the great
anathema or excision of obstinate criminals from the body of
the Church, which is the only excommunication that Christ
gave in commission and warranty. For so the fathers ex-
pound those words of Christ ; " But if he will not hear the
Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen and a publican;"
that is, not to be esteemed for a brother or a Christian, saith
St. Gregory ; u " quia neque influxum habet a capite, neque
participat de Spiritu Christi," saith St. Austin : x " he neither
hath any influence from the head, nor partakes of the Spirit
of Christ." This man the Church does not pray for, does not
pray with, does not communicate, does not hope well of; he
receives no assistance and gifts of grace from the Holy Spirit
of God: and St. Jude says, his works are " gone aforehand
unto judgment." " Videlicet peccator gravis et scandalosus,
uotonus, aut accusatus et convictus, ' He who is a grievous
and a scandalous sinner, notorious or convict,' being reproved
by the bishop in the public assemblies of the Church, if he
will not be humbled, but remains incorrigible, and perse-
veres in his scandalous sins, ' turn anathemate feriendus est,
et a. corpore Ecclesiae separandus then he is to be smitten
with the anathema, and to be separated from the body of the
Church ;'"* so St. Gregory. To this there is nothing else
consequent, but that the man, unless he timely and mightily
repent, will be damned ; and in the meantime that every
man account him to be no brother, and have no intercourse
with him, but as with a Turk or a Jew.

18. Now concerning this, he that is in ecclesiastical

1 Cod. de Suiuiua Trinit. lib. vii. " In Psal. v. Pocnit. Init.

N Tract xxvii. in JoLan. J L'bi suprii.


authority, and hath received the holy order, hath this power ;
and he that hath a charge can minister this power : and so
long as nothing temporal and secular is mingled with it, the
bishop can do it wholly hy his spiritual authority ; and in
this he does nothing depend upon the supreme civil power,
save that he be permitted to exercise his spiritual office.
For though it be true that any bishop can by the civil power
be hindered from ministering in public assemblies, for he
may be banished or deposed, and another put in his chair,
or all his offices may be suspended ' quoad exercitium actus,'
as the schools speak, so that he may not exercise his
power, yet a bishop that hath a flock, that is permitted ac-
tually to do what Christ hath empowered him to do, can, by
his own sole authority, inflict this sentence upon scandalous
and refractory, disobedient and impenitent, rebellious and
persevering sinners : and if the Church could not do this, she
had not power sufficient to the ends of her designation ; she
were no body politic, but without government and power;
and all that discourse of our blessed Saviour in the eigh-
teenth of St. Matthew, 2 and his commands of delating refrac-
tory criminals to the Church, and the promise to * verify in
heaven what they shall reject on earth,' were words signi-
fying nothing, and of no effect. But because no wise man
will imagine that it must follow that the ecclesiastic state,
they to whom Christ promised to give the keys of the kingdom
of heaven, they who are stewards of the household, and dis-
pensers of the mysteries of the Gospel, have this power
subjected in themselves independently from the civil power,
as they have a power to baptize, and to consecrate, and to
ordain ministers of religion ; and they can no more be hin-
dered from one than from the other ; they may ' de facto,' and
they may by a competent power; but if they be, it is perse-
cution. That this bishop or that, that Cyprian or Sylvester,
that Valerius or Austin, should be the man, is under the
power of a civil magistrate ; but the man that is permitted
to use the powers Christ put into his hand, can, upon per-
sons so disposed, pronounce God's anathema and the

19. Now the reason of the difference, why the bishop
cannot do this in the lesser excommunication, and yet can

1 Matt, xviii. 16-18.


in the greater, is this : because the greater is of Divine
institution, and the other is of human, never used but by con-
sent, or by superinduced civil authority, and therefore must
still depend upon the causes of its being. Add to this, there
is a precept annexed to this power : there is a double duty ;
the bishop is to separate the vile from the precious, the
leprous from the sound, and the people are to take heed of
such impure mixtures. But in the lesser excommunications
there may possibly be something of prudence ; yet as there
is no proper authority in the ecclesiastical superior, but what
is given him by consent, so there is no obligation or duty in
the subjects : it is well when they submit to this discipline,
and go to be cured by the public hands even for every ma-
lady ; but they are not bound to this : but if they be delated
or be notorious and great criminals, here the Church is war-
ranted by God to proceed to discipline, and to separation and
excision of the refractory. This only hath effort upon the
soul ; but the lesser excommunication is a discipline of
ecclesiastical institution ; and so is that ' denying of commu-
nion to equals or superiors,' and so is ' irregularity,' and so is
' refusing to mention a name in our collects and public or pri-
vate prayers,' and so is ' suspension and interdict, degradation
and deposition :' they are all of ecclesiastical positive con-
stitution, no part of the power of the keys, nothing of Divine
authority ; but are introduced by the consent of churches,
and verified by custom, consent, and the laws of princes, and
so come accidentally to pass an obligation, but effect nothing
directly upon the soul. That is a peculiarity of the greater
excommunication : and that which stands next to it is the
lesser excommunication ; which although it be ' humanum
inventum,' and of positive institution, yet because it is a part
of the greater, and proceeds in the same way upon lesser
causes, but to designs of charity and edification, it is a use
of the spiritual sword, it is the lancing of a sore, but not the
cutting off a dead part; but it may be admitted to be a con-
sequent of the power of binding or loosing, and so I have
already called it. a For it is a part of that intermedial mo-
nition which Christ hath in general commissionated his
ministers and guides of the Church to make. If an offender
will not mend by private, and by a more public admonition,

* Numb. i. of this Rule.


" tell it to the Church;" then the Church is to do something,
when the stubborn criminal is delated to her. The Church
must try if he will repent upon her monition ; for then the
ecclesiastical rulers are to exhort him unto repentance, to
reprove, to correct, to do what spiritual fathers ought to do :
the particulars of which, because they are not specified by
our blessed Lord, they are left to the prudence of the eccle-
siastical governors; so that the general discipline is war-
ranted, but the particular is left to their choice, who, by the
analogies of the consequent power of the keys, can proceed
by lesser and an intermedial process. But the power of the
keys is given in order to something that is to be done after-
ward. For that is only the warranted and express authority,
and that which imitates coercitive jurisdiction the nearest,
that those be cut off from the Church who, by their voluntary
submission, will not amend, and submit to the paternal rod
and gentle conception.





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