Joseph Bingham.

Origines ecclesiasticæ. The antiquities of the Christian church. With two sermons and two letters on the nature and necessity of absolution (Volume 1) online

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tibrarjp of t:he t:heolo0ical ^eminarjp

PRINCETON • NEW JERSEY



From the library of
Prof. Wm. H. Green

BR 75 .B6 1845 v.l
Bingham, Joseph, 1668-1723.
Origines ecclesiastic






Uxcu, ffe^ 1^^



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ORIGINES ECCLESIASTICJi



THE ANTIQUITIES



THE CHEISTIAN CHURCH.



WITH TWO SERMONS AND TWO LETTERS
ON THE NATURE AND NECESSITY OF ABSOLUTION.



BY JOSEPH BINGHAM,



KECTOK OF UAVANT.



EEPEINTED FROM THE ORIGINAL EDITION,
MDCCVIII.— MDCCXXII.

WITH AN ENLARGED ANALYTICAL INDEX.



VOL. I.



LONDON :
HENRY G. BOHN, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN.

MDCCCXLVI.



JOHN CHILDS AND SON, BUNGAY.



THE AUTIIORVS DEDICATIONS.



TO THE RIGHT REVEREND FATHER IN GOn,

JONATHAN, LORD BISHOP OF WINCHESTPHl,

AND PRELATE OK THE MOST NOBLE ORDER OF THE GARTER.

[PUBLISHED WITH VOL. I. OF THE ORIGINAL EDITION.]

My Lord,
Having once determined with myself to make these collections public, I needed no long time to consider
to whom I should first address and present them. They are, my Lord, the first-fruits of my labour under
your Lordship's government and insj)ection ; and I was willing to think, and do presume I did not tliink
amiss, that your Lordship had a sort of title to the first-fruits of any of your clergy's labour ; especially if
the subject, on which they were employed, was suitable to their calling, and had any direct tendency to
promote Christian knowledge in the world. The subject of the present discourse, being an essay ujwn
the ancient usages and customs of the primitive church, and a particular account of the state of her
clergy, is such as, being considered barely in its own nature, I know cannot but be approved by a i)crson
of your Lordship's character; whose care is concerned not only in preserving the purity of tlie j)rimitive
faith, but also in reviving the spirit of the ancient discipline and primitive practice : and were the man-
agement any ways answerable to the greatness of the subject, tliat would doubly recommend it to your
Lordship's favour ; since apples of gold are something the more beautiful for being set in pictures of silver.
But I am sensible the subject is too sublime and copious, too nice and difficult, to have justice done it from
any single hand, much less from mine : all, therefore, I can pretend to hope for from your Lordship is, that
your candour and goodness will make just allowances for the failings, which your sagacity and riuirkncss
will easily perceive to be in this performance. I am not, I confess, without hopes, that as well the ab-
struseness and difficulty of the subject itself, as my own difficult circumstances, under which I was forced
to labour, for want of proper assistance of abundance of books, may be some apologj- for the defects of the
work : and if I can but so far obtain your Lordship's good opinion, as to be thought to have designed well ;
as I am already conscious of my own good intentions to consecrate all my labours to the public service of
the church ; that will inspire me with fresh vigour, notwithstanding these difficulties, to proceed with
cheerfulness and alacrity in the remaining parts of this work, whicli are yet behind, and which I sliall l»c
the more willing to set about, if I can perceive that it has your Lordship's approbation. The coimtcnancc
and encouragement of such a judge may perhaps have a more universal influence, to excite the zx-ai of
many others, who have greater abilities to serve the church: and I know not how better to congratulate
your Lordship upon your happy accession to the episcopal throne of this diocese, than by wishing you the
blessing and satisfaction of such a clcrg>^ ; whose learning and industr}-, and piety and religion, influenced
by the wisdom of your conduct, and animated by the example of your zeal and perseverance, even to im-
prisonment in times of greatest difficulty, may so qualify them to discharge every office of their function,
as may make your diocese one of the shining glories of the present church, and a provoking example to the
future : which is the hearty prayer and desire of.

My Lord,
Your Lordship's faithful and obedient Sennnf,

J. BINGHAM.



THE AUTHOR'S DEDICATIONS.



TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE AND RIGHT REVEREND FATHER IN GOD,

JONATHAN, LORD BISHOP OF WINCHESTER,



AND PRELATE OF THE MOST NOBLE ORDER OF THE GARTER.



[PUBLISHED WITH VOL. II. OF THE ORIGINAL EDITION.]

My Lord,
As the kind entertainment which your Lordship and the world have been pleased to give to the first part
of this work, has encouraged me to go on in hopes of doing public service to the church; so the nature of
the subject contained in this second volume, being but a continuation of the former account of the primi-
tive clergy, obliges me again with all submission to present this second part to your Lordship, in hopes
of no less kind acceptance and approbation. The matters here treated of are many of them things of the
greatest importance, which when plainly set in order and presented to public view, may perhaps excite
the zeal of many in the present age, to copy out those necessary duties, by the practice of which the pri-
mitive church attained to great perfection and glory ; and, as I may say, still provokes and calls us to the
same attainments by so many excellent rules and noble examples. In the fourth and sixth of these Books
I have endeavoured to draw up something of the general character of the primitive clergy, by showing
what qualifications were required in them before their ordination, and what sort of laws they were to be
governed by afterwards, respecting both their lives and labours, in the continual exercise of the duties of
their function. Many of them, I must own, have been very affecting to myself in the consideration of
them ; and I was willing to hope they might prove so to such others as would be at the pains to read
them. For here are both directions and provocations of the best sort, to excite our industry, and inflame
our zeal, and to make us eager and restless in copying out the pattern set before us. If any shall think
I have collected these things together to reflect upon any persons in the present age, I shall only say,
with one of the ancients in a like case,* they mistake my design ; which was not to reproach any man's
person, who bears the sacred character of a priest, but to write what might be for the public benefit of
the church. For as when orators and philosophers describe the qualities, which are required to make a
complete orator or philosopher, they do no injury to Demosthenes or Plato, but only describe things
nakedly in themselves without any personal applications ; so in the description of a bishop or priest, and
explication of ancient rules, nothing more is intended but to propose a mirror of the priesthood, in
which it will be in every man's power and conscience to take a view of himself, so as either to grieve at
the sight of his own deformity, or rejoice when he beholds his own beauty in the glass.

Nothing is here proposed but rules and examples of the noblest virtues ; probity and integrity of life ;
studies and labours becoming the clerical function ; piety and devotion in our constant addresses to God ;
fidelity, diligence, and prudence in preaching his word to men ; carefulness and exactness, joined with
discretion and charity, in the administration of public and private discipline ; candour and ingenuity in
composing needless disputes among good men ; and zeal in opposing and confronting the powerful and
wily designs of heretics and wicked men ; together with resolution and patience in suffering persecutions,
calumnies, and reproaches, both from professed enemies and pretended friends ; with many other instances
of the like commendable virtues, which shined in the lives and adorned the profession of the primitive
clergy ; whose rules and actions, I almost promise myself, your Lordship and all good men will read with
pleasure, because they will but see their own beauty represented in the glass ; and they that fall short

* Hieron. Ep. 83. ad Ocean, t. 2. p. 323. Ne quis me in sugillationem istius temporis sacerdotum scripsisse, quae
scripsi, existimet, sed in ecclesise utilitatem. Ut enim oratoves et philosophi, describentes qualem velint esse perfectum
oratorem et philosophum, non faciunt injuriam Demostheni et Platoni, sed res ipsas absque personis defimunt. Sic in
descriptione episcopi, et in eorum e.xpositione quee scripta sunt, quasi speculum sacerdotii proponitur. Jam in potestate
et conscientia singulorura est, quales se ibi aspiciant : ut vel dolere ad deformitatem, vel gaudere ad pulchritudinem
possint.



THE AUTHOR'S DEDICATIONS. v

of the character here given, will find it a gentle admonition and spur to set in order the thin},'!, that arc
wanting in their conduct, and to labour with more zeal to briu^' themselves a littk- nearer to the primitive
standard.

Your Lordship is enabled, by your high station and calling, to revive the exercise of ancient discipline
among your clergy in a more powerful way ; and you have given us already some convincing proofs, tliat
it is your settled resolution and intention so to do : as the thoughts of this is a real pleasure to the diligent
and virtuous, so it is to be hoped it will prove a just terror to those of the contrary character; and, by
introducing a strict discipHne among the clergy, make way for the easier introduction of it among the
laity also ; the revival of which has long been desired, though but slow steps are made toward the restora-
tion of it. In the mean time it becomes every man, according to his ability, though in a lower station, to
contribute his endeavours toward the promoting these good ends : to which purpose I have collected and
digested these observations upon the laws and discipline of the ancient clergj-, that such as are willing to
be influenced by their practice, may have great and good examples set before them ; whilst they wlujm
examples cannot move, may be influenced another way, by the authority which your Lordshij), and others
in the same station, are invested with, for the benefit and edification of the church -. the promoting of
which is, and ever will be, the hearty endeavour of him, who is.

My Lord,
Your Lordship's most dutiful and obedient Servant,

JOSEPH 131N(iHAM.



TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE AND RIGHT REVEREND FATHER IN GOD,

JONATHAN, LORD BISHOP OF WINCHESTER,

AND PRELATE OF THE MOST NOBLE ORDER OF THE GAUTEU,
THIS THIRD VOLUME OF

THE ANTIQUITIES OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH,
Is humbly submitted and inscribed by the Author,
His Lordship's

Most dutiful and obedient Servant,

JOSEPH r.INfiHAM.

[PtIBLIsnED WITH VOL. HL OF THE ORIGINAL EDITION]



HIS MOST SACRED MAJESTY, GEORGE,

BY THE GRACE OF GOD KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE, AND IRELAND, DEFE.VDER

OF THE FAITH, &C.

[PUBLISHED WITH VOLS. IV. V. VI. VIL VIII. OF THE ORIGINAL EDITION.]

Most Gracious Sovereign, c . j -.^^i ,o

I HUMBLY beg leave to lay at vour Majesty's feet a part of a larger work, which wa.s at first dcs.gne<l to
promote those great and worthy ends, which your Majesty, in your princely wisdom. ^yy^^^'^Lof
eiarations has lately thought fit to recommend to your universities and clerg,- : that is, the promotion



vi THE AUTHOR'S DEDICATIONS.

Christian piety and knowledge, and such useful learning as may instil good principles into the minds of
younger students ; upon which the prosperity of church and state will in this, and all succeeding ages, so
much depend. The practice of the primitive ages of the church, when reduced into one view, seems to
be one of the most proper means to effect these honourable designs ; and with that consideration I have
hitherto proceeded in this laborious work, not without the countenance and approbation of many worthy
men, and now hope to finish it under your Majesty's favour and protection : humbly beseeching Almighty
God to bless your Majesty's great designs for the good of this church and nation, and the protestant in-
terest abroad : which is, and ever shall be, the hearty prayer of

Your Majesty's

Most loyal and obedient Subject,

JOSEPH BINGHAM.



TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE AND RIGHT REVEREND FATHER IN GOD,

CHARLES, LORD BISHOP OF WINCHESTER,

AND PRELATE OF THE MOST NOBLE OKDER OF THE GARTER.

[PUBLISHED WITH THE CONCLUDING TWO VOLUMES.l

My Lord,
It was one of those ancient rules, many of which I have had occasion to speak of in this work, That
presbyters should do nothing dvev yvwfirjg rov iTrto-KOTroi^, or sine conscientia ejnscojn, without the consent or
knowledge of the bishop : which though it extend not to all private, domestical, and secular affairs, yet
doubtless it was intended to keep a good harmony and subordination between them, in all matters of a
jjublic nature relating to the affairs and welfare of the church. And therefore, with a view to this rule,
as I first presented the beginning of this work to your predecessor, my then diocesan, so now I lay this
last and finishing part of it at your Lordship's feet ; not doubting but that your Lordship, who is an
encourager of good literature and ancient learning, will give it your favourable acceptance and approba-
tion. I have the more reason to hope for this, because, out of your great good nature and condescension,
your Lordship has always been an encourager of the undertaking, as I have been made sensible by
happy experiment, in many years' distant correspondence with you. The work, I hope, is of general use,
and will meet with a general acceptance among all those who are, without prejudice, true lovers of ancient
learning. A noble lord was once pleased to tell me, he had sent it into Scotland by the hands of a
great man of the assembly : though what appprobation it meets with there, I cannot say. But I can
speak it with more satisfaction, that our worthy primate was once pleased to acquaint me in private
conversation, that he himself had sent it to the professors of Geneva, who returned him their thanks
together with their approbation. And if it be well accepted there, there is some reason to hope it may be
accepted in most other protestant churches, and be a little means to bring them to a nearer union to the
church of England in some points, for which some parts of the work are particularly designed. A late
author has thought fit to epitomise some part of it, for the service (as he says) of his poor brethren of the
clergy : though I fear, for the reasons I have been forced to give against his undertaking, it will prove
of no service, but rather hurtful to them. But if he, or any other person of ability, would undertake to
translate the whole into Latin, now that it is finished and completed, that might perhaps be of more
general use to all the protestant churches. And in the mean time our poor brethren, if it please God to
bless me with health, shall not want such an epitome, it it be needful, as is proper for their information.

And now, my Lord, that I have made mention of my own health, I cannot but with hearty prayers to
God most sincerely wish yours, for the good things you have already done to this diocese, and more that
may be expected, if it shall please God to confirm your health in such a state, as may enable you to go
through the great work you want no will to perform. The reducing the exorbitant fees of this diocese



THE AUTHOR'S DEDICATIONS. vii

to a proper standard, is a thing that will never be forgotten by your poor brethren, who will always feel
the sweet effect of it. Your encouragement given to the meanest clergymen to write to yourself in person,
and not to any officers, upon business relating to the church, is a singular instance of your good nature
and condescension ; and also a sure method to prevent corruption. Your care to inform yourself of the
character and worth of your clergy, with a view to the promotion of such as have long laboured diligently
in great cures, or small hvings, is a method that cannot fail of giving a new life and spirit to all such, as
may reasonably hope that their merits and labours will not always be overlooked and despised ; but that
they may in due time find their reward, both in ease and advancement, from so kind an inspector.

That you may have health and long life to proceed in such good acts, and all other oflices of your
function, I believe is the wish of all your clergy : I am sure it is the hearty prayer of him who is.

My Lord,
Your most dutiful and obedient servant,

JOSEPH BINGHAM.



THE PREFACE.



[PUBLISHED WITH VOL. I. OF THE ORIGINAL EDITION.]



This volume, which is now published, being only a part of a larger work, the reader, I presume, will ex-
pect I should give him some little account of the whole design, and the reasons which engaged me upon
this undertaking. The design which I have formed to myself, is to give such a methodical account of the
Antiquities of the Christian Church, as others have done of the Greek, and Roman, and Jewish antiqui-
ties ; not by writing an historical or continued chronological account of all transactions as they happened
in the church, (of which kind of books there is no great want,) but by reducing the ancient customs, usages,
and practices of the church under certain proper heads, whereby the reader may take a view at once of
any particular usage or custom of Christians, for four or five of the first centuries, to which I have gener-
ally confined my inquiries in this discourse. I cannot but own, I was moved with a sort of emulation
(not an unholy one, I hope) to see so many learned men with so much zeal employed in collecting and
publishing the antiquities of Greece and Rome ; whilst in the mean time wc had nothing (so far as I was
able to learn) that could be called a complete collection of the antiquities of the church, in the method that
is now proposed. The compilers of church history indeed have taken notice of many things of this kind,
as they pass along in the course of their history, as Baronius, and the Centuriators, and several others :
but then the things lie scattered in so many places in large volumes, that there are few readers of those
few that enter upon reading those books, that will be at the pains to collect their accounts of things into
one view, or digest and methodise their scattered observations. There are a great many other authors,
who have written several excellent discourses upon particular subjects of church antiquity, out of which,
perhaps, a Gronovius or a Greevius might make a more noble collection of antiquities than any yet extant
in the world : but as no one has yet attempted such a work, so neither, when it was effected, would it be
for the purchase or perusal of every ordinary reader, for whose use chiefly my own collections are intended.
There are a third sort of writers, who have also done very good service, in explaining and illustrating
several parts of church antiquity in their occasional notes and observations upon many of the ancient
writers ; of which kind are the curious observations of Albaspiny, Justellus, Petavius, Valesius, Cotele-
rius, Baluzius, Sirmondus, Gothofred, Fabrotus, Bishop Beveridge, and many others, who have pubhshed
the works of the ancient fathers and canons of the councils, with very excellent and judicious remarks
upon them. But these, again, lie scattered in so many and so large volumes, without any other order, than
as the authors on whom they commented would admit of, that they are not to be reckoned upon, or used
as any methodised or digested collection of church antiquities, even by those who have abihty to purchase,
or opportunity to read them. Besides these, there are another sort of writers, who have purposely under-
taken to give an account of the ancient usages of the church, in treatises written particularly upon that
subject, such as Gavantus, Casalius, Durantus, and several others of the Roman communion ; but these
writers do by no means satisfy a judicious and inquisitive reader, for several reasons : 1. Because their
accounts are very imperfect, being confined chiefly to the liturgical part of church antiquity, beside which,
there are a great many other things necessary to be explained, which they do not so much as touch
upon, or once mention. 2. Because, in treating of that part, they build much upon the collections of Gra-
tian, and such modern writers, and use the authority of the spurious epistles of the ancient popes, which
have been exploded long ago, as having no pretence to antiquity in the judgment of all candid and
judicious writers. But chiefly their accounts are unsatisfactory, because, 3. Their whole design is to



THE PREFACE. ix

varnish over the novel practices of the Romish church, and pu( a face of anti<iuily upon them: to
which purpose, they many times represent ancient customs in disguise, to make them look like the prac-
tices of the present age, and offer them to the reader's view, not in their own native dress, but in the
similitude and resemblance of modern customs. Cardinal Bona himself could not forbear makin" this
reflection upon some such writers as these, whom he justly censures, as deserving very ill * of the sacred
rites of the church, and their venerable anticjuity ; who measure all ancient customs by tlie practice of
the present times, and judge of the primitive discipline only by the rule and customs of the age they live
in; being deceived by a false persuasion, that the practice of the church never differed in any point from
the customs which they learned from their forefathers and teachers, and which they have been inured to
from their tender years : whereas we retain many words in common with the ancient fathers, but in a
sense as different from theirs, as our times are remote from the first ages after Christ ; as will appear (savs
he) when we come to discourse of the oblation, communion, and other parts of Divine service. This is
an ingenuous confession, and withal a just reflection upon the partiality of the writers of his own church ;
and a good reason, in my opinion, why we are not to expect any exact accounts of antiquity from anv
writers of that communion; though some are less tainted with her errors than others, and can allow them-
selves to be a little more liberal and free upon some occasions than the rest of their brethren : vet even
Bona himself, after the reflection he has made upon others, runs into the very same error, and falls under
his own censure ; and Habertus, though otherwise a very learned and ingenuous person, who has written
about the Greek liturgies, as Bona has of the Latin, is often through prejudice carried away with the
common failing of the writers of that side, whose talents are chiefly employed in palliating the faults of
the communion and cause they are engaged in. So that if we are to expect any exact accounts of church
antiquities, it must be from some protestant authors, who can write with greater freedom and less ])rejudice
concerning the usages and customs of the primitive church. But among these thei'c are very few that have
travelled very far in this way ; the generality of our writers contenting themselves to collect and explain
so much of church antiquity, as was necessary to show the errors and novelties of popery ; but not de-
scending to any more minute and particular consideration of things, which did not come within the com-
pass of the controversy they had with the Romish church. Hospinian indeed, in the beginning of the
Reformation, wrote several large volumes of the origin of temples, festivals, monachism, with the history
of the euchai'ist; but as these take in but a very few subjects, so they are too full of modern relations ;
which make them something tedious to an ordinary reader, and no complete account of primitive customs
neither. Spalatensis, in his books de Republica Ecclesiastica, has gone a little further; yet he generally
confines himself to the popish controversy, and has much out of Gratian and the canon law ; wliich in-
deed served him as good arguments ad homiiiem against those whom he had to deal with, but it will not
pass for authentic history in other cases. Suicerus's Thesaurus Ecclesiasticus is abundantly more
particular, and indeed the best treasure of this sort of learning that has yet been published : but his col-
lections are chiefly out of the Greek fathers ; and only in the method of a Vocabulary or Lexicon, ex-
plaining words and things precisely in the order of the alphabet. The most methodical account of things
of this kind that I have yet seen, is that of our learned countryman Dr. Cave, in his excellent book of
Primitive Christianity ; wherein he has given a succinct, but clear account of many ancient customs and



Online LibraryJoseph BinghamOrigines ecclesiasticæ. The antiquities of the Christian church. With two sermons and two letters on the nature and necessity of absolution (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 171)