Samuel Wilton.

A review of some of the articles of the Church of England, : to which a subscription is required of protestant dissenting ministers. online

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called the fourth Sacrament of the Church of
England. The only way to evade this conclu-
lion, muft be to confidcr it as the fubjlituts
rather than as the fign of Repentance. But
though this is more agreeable to faft, and to
other views given of this doctrine by the publick
Injun(5lions of the Church, it is far from being
in fuch a view more agreeable to the word of
God, or a more proper condition of reconciling
notorious finners to the privileges of the Church.

But whatever objedions there are, againfl a

reconciliation of Offenders by the performance

of Penance, there are many more, and much

ftronger, to allowing the fame influence and

3 efficacy

Art. xxxiill Commutation of Penance. 147

efficacy to the redemption of it by money ^ com-
monly called the commutation of Penance \
which requires fome farther confideration.

By the ftatute 9 Edw. 11. Cap. I. it was
enafted, " If a Prelate enjoin Penance pecuniary
** to a man for his offence, and it be demanded,
** the King's prohibition fliall hold place. Not-
*' withftanding if Prelates enjoin a Penance
** corporal:, and the Party will redeem fuch
** Penarice by money^ if m>oney be demanded
*' before a Judge Spiritual, the King's prohi-
" bition fhall hold no place." Hence the
pra6lice of commutation prevailed in the
Church, to the no fmall fcandal of our Holy
Religion. Dr. Nicbols fpeaks of it, as a pro-
vifion made for the accommodation of perfons
of a fuperior rank, " whofe honour would
*' fuffer by publick Penance j and who are on
" that account allowed to ranlbm themfelves
** from the reproach of it, by a good round fum
*'• of money * f ." A practice fo infamous,


• Nichols ubi fupra, p. 3^0.

f A Writer to whom the learned World is greatfy
ifidebted, for a very valuable account of the Do£lrine, Sec.
of the Greek Church ; has taken occafioh in the courfe of
that work, to defend and applaud the Conftitution of the
Church of England, upon certain general principles of
analogy. And among other encomiums pafled upon this
eftabliiliment, he defcribes it as '^ genersus in its difcipline.'" — r
L ? a corn-

14S Hegtilations of the Art. xxxilri

could hardly fail of giving offence to every
i'erious profefibr of Religion, in any period of
the Church. And fo we find the fa6l to have been.
For the Commons in Parliament ift R. II. and
ill H. V. petitioned that there might be no
Commutations at ail. The Petitioners however
never lucceeded •, but in fome meafure to
obviate the Icandal,, feveral regulations were
eftablilhed m different periods. By one, the
Commutation was limited to great and urgent
caufes -, but this was explained by the Lower

a compliment vvhieh I confefs is unintelligible to mej.
unlefs it is to be referred to the eftablifhed dodrine of the
Commutation of Penance. In this refpeft, I fear the Church
is too generous in her difcipline, to the rich Offenders in
her Communion. But it is fuch a fpecies of generofity, as
one fhould imagine could fcarcely be applauded by her
warmell advocates, if any rcfpedt is to be had to moral
fitnefs, in tlie adminiflration of ecclefiaflical cenfures. If the
encomium Ihould be applied to the ailualexercifeo^^\i<i\'^X\XiCy
upon the prophane and licentious, her generofity mufl confift>
in a general negligence ; and fo I apprehend there is a great,
impropriety in the expreflion. But if it be meant of her
difcipline, as delineated in the ecckjiajiical Lanvsy generofity
and benevolence miift be fet at an irreconcileable, and moft
unnatural variance. For the Canons breathe a fpirit of
cruel fevericy, efpecially againft all who are enemies to
human inventions in matters of religion ; and with the moft
unmerciful generofity to the Prince of darknefs, devote '
immortal fouls to everlaiting deftruclion, for the moft trivial
offences againft the authority of the Church. A fimilar
generofity to this, appears in the Office oi orthodox Sxxndiiy,
ufed in the Greek Church. See Dr. John Glen King's Rites
and Ceremonies of the Grtek Churchy p. 271, 404.

3 Houfc

Art. xxxiii. i^ommutatien of Penance. 145

Houfe of Convocation, A. D. 1 580, fo as exaflly
to anfwer Dr. Nichols's account of it, as intended
for perfons of great value or dignity — a truly-
great and urgent, caufe. Another regulation
provided, that it fliould be made only by the
privity and advice of the Bifhop. Another, that
the money (hould be applied to pious or chari-
table ufea. Another, that if the crime was
publick and notorious, the fatisfaftion made to
the Church, fliould be fignified to the Congre-
gation where the Offender dwelt -, with publiclc
profefTions of his fubmifTiOfi and repentance.
And another, that the favour of Commutation
fhould not be granted a fecond tirne, to the fame
perfon, for the fame fault *.

^ Thefe regulations feem however to have been
very little regarded j fo that the great abufes
which prevailed in the management of this
bufinefs, induced Archbifhop Tenntfon to apply
to King William^ to inforce an attention to them,
by inierting an Injunflion to this purpofe,
among the reft which were publiflied in the
year 1694-1-. In the reign of Qtieen y^;W(?, the

* See the Artkuli pro Clero, A. D. 1584, & Conjiitutiones
EccleJiafticeEy A. D. 1597. T)e moderanda folennis Paenitentia
cofnmutatione : in Bp. Sparro - vfs Collection of Articles, &c.
And alfo Bp. Gibfon's Codex, Tom. 2. Tit. 46. Cap. 3.
Note (t.)

t See Injunftion 17, and the Life of Abp. Temii/otif
p. 41, Edit, 2,

L 3 Convo-

icQ , Ex lent of the Art. xxxiii.

Convocation made fome farther trifling regula-
tions. But the Reader fliould be informed, that
none of thefe reguiaiions whether more ancient
or modern, are held to be in force at this day^
So fays Bifhop Gibfon. However I am inclined
to think, that one or two of the more ancient,
which ftand upon a different authority from thd
reft, muft be conlidered as ftill binding upon
all Ordinaries. I refer particularly to one of
Bp. Stratfcrd's Conftitutjons, which prohibits
the repetition of the Grant as above fpecified,
and decrees that a certain moderation fbould be
ufed, for the honour of the Judge, and the eafe of
the OfFehder •, or that, in the words of the Confti-
tution, " the Receiver may not be thought rapa-
** cious, nor the Giver too much aggrieved *.'*
But however well this regulation was intended,
it is liable to an interpretation, which no mart
who has any juft fenfe of moral obligations, can
reflect on without deteftation. For if it means
any thing, it imports, that the fpiritual market
ihould be kept low, and guards againft putting
too high a price upon the pardon of fin.

The candid and confiderate Reader will natu-
rally indulge the hope or prefumption, that this
Commutation is never allowed, excepting in cafes'
of very flight ofl^cnce againft the authority of the
Church. Or he will probably conclude, that

* Ziratfordh Extrav. '342. Ex. 9.


Art. xxxiii. Commutation of Penance, 151

however far it might be extended in times of
Popifli darknefs, it could never be carried to any
length fince the Reformation. What his fen-
timents and reflexions will be, when he finds
there is evidence to the contrary, I know not.
But left my own veracity fiiould be called in
queftion, by barely aflerting a thing fo incredible
in itfelf, I Ihall infert at length, the Letters
teftimonial ifTiied by Archbifhop Abbot, to
certify the commutation of Penance, as accepted
by Dr. Ridley^ his Vicar General, in the cafe of
one James Gates of Siddlejham iq t|ie County of
SuffeXy who was cpnvidled of having committed
adultery or fornication with one Joanna Pratt^
wl^o had formerly been his maid fervant *. This


* Univerfis & finguHs Chrifli fidelibus, prxfentes Literas
noftras Teftimoniales vifuris, Icdluris, vel audituris, aut
quos ipfrafcripta tangunt feu tangere poterint quomodolibet
in futurum Georgius, Sec. Salutem in Domino fempiternam
ac fidem indubiam prsefentibus adhiberi. Ad Univerfitatis
veftrae notitiam deducimus, U deduci volumus per prafentes.
Quod dileflus nobis in Chriflo Magifter Thomas Ridley,
Legiim Dodlor Vicarius in Spiritualibus Generalis & OfH-
cialis principalis legitime conftitutus, in quodam negotio
Correftionis five Reformationis contra Jacobum Gates de
SiddleOiam in Comitatu Suflex', Ciceftrenfis Diaecefis
prasdift' noftrseque Cantuarienfis Provincia:, propter adul-
terium live fomicationem cum quadam Joanna Pratt ejus
nuper famula per eum commifT' & perpetrat' ex officio fuo
mere rite & legitime procedens (audito prius per eura difto
negotio, ac confideratis Circumftantiis ejufdem) tandem dif
^(' prjffentium, ex certis caufis & confiderationibus eum

L 4 *:

i^i Defcription cf the Art. xxxiii.

certificate was granted, above fifty years after the
prcfent Articles were compiled, and is therefore
an abundant proof, what was the invariable
judgment of the Church concerning the efficacy
of Commutation, and the extent of it's applica-
tion ; and fliews us the fenfe of the Article nov?"
imder ccnfideration, as to the methods of recon-
ciling fpiritual Delinquents.

Before we difmifs this Article, it will be proper
to invelligate the meaning of the lafl: claule"^
When' the Offender is reconciled by Penance, he
is'to be received into the Church, by a '■^ Judge
** that hath authority thereunto/* Now unlefs"
a man would fubfcribe blindfold, he will naturally
^flc, Pi^y who is he ? ^*^ '-[' - '• •■

The defcription of this Judge as laid down in
many ecclefiaftical Conftitiitions, will not give?
the generality of readers, any diftinft or proper

& ejus animum in Iiac parte legitime moven' Posnitentiam
publicam, alias dido Jacobo Gates pro Crimine prsedifto
injundam, in muldam & pcenam pcecuniariam in pios'
& Charitativos ufus, juxta juris exigentiam, & Canonem
dadum in ea parte edit' & promulgat' diftribuend' & ero-'
gand. commutavit ; prout ex Regiilro nollro Principali
plenius liquet &. apparet. In cujus rei teftimonium, Sigillum
quo in hac parte utiinur prxfentibus apponi fecimus. I>at*
Decimo ftxto die menfis, Junii, ^nno Domini millefimo
f'excentefimo decimo quinto & noftrae Tranflationis Anna
«i»iinto. Vide G/^w Cod. Jur. Tom. II. Append. § xix. ■


Art. xxxii], authorized Judge. 159

ideas of the fevcral offices comprehended under
It. For in the more ufual language of the Canon
Law, this Judge is called the Ordinary^ or Perfon
exerciling of right epifcopal jurifdidion. The
acceptation of this term in the Common L,aw,
feems to reftrain it to fuch, as have ordinary
jurifdiclion in caufes eqclefiaftical immediate to
the King.' "Whence it is moll properly, and
primarily to be underflood of the Bilhop of th^
Diocefe; who is faid to have fuch a jurifdidion
jure propria, ^ non -per deputationem. But in the
■Civil Law, whence the word Ordinarius is taken,
it fignifies any Judge authorized to take cog-
nizance of caufes propria fuo jure, as he is a
magiftrate, and not by way of deputation oc
delegation. And it is certain, that in the Ca7wn
Law it comprehends all thofe, who under the
Bilhop exercife any ecclefiaftical jurifdi(5lion,
whether hy right, by privilege, ox cuftom. And
thus we are to underfland the defcription of an.
authorized judge in the Article, as intending
not only t1ie Bifhop, but alfo Vicars General,
Chancellors, CommiflarieSj Archdeacons, and

I would gladly refer the Reader to fome
pafiages in fcripture, for an account of the
charader and claims of thefe Officers in the
Apoftolical Church of England. But as I cannot
find any account of their Inftitution, in the
- original

'54 0/ the Chancellor. Art. xxxiir.

original records of the Chriftian Church, wc
muft look into the Canon Law, in order to under-
Hand their feveral claims and diftin(5i:ions *.

The Chancellor of a Diocefe is a Church
Lawyer, or the Bifhop's Lawyer, whofe jurif-
didion extends throughout the whole Diocefe,
and who fupplies the Bifhop's abfence in all
matters and caufes ecclefiaftical. By this Chan-
cellor, the Biihop keeps his Court according to
the ecclefiaftical Laws, in all matters pertaining
to his jurifdiftion. And as his authority is the
fame with the Biihop's, and extended throughout
the whole Diocefe, he is called the Bifhop*s
Vicar General, and was alfo anciently intitled
Oculus Epifcopi. This is faid to be the fame office
formerly held by the perfons, whom the Law
calls Ecclefiecdici, or Epifcoporum Ecdici. By the
ancient Canon Law, a Layman was excluded the
office of a fpiritual Judge. But by an A61 of
Parliament at the Reformation -f", Dodors of
Law were allowed to exercifc all manner of
ecclefiafl ical jurifdiflion. So that the office of
Chancellor is now moft commonly held by

• For a more particular account, of the diflinft ch^rafters
and powers of thefe ecclefiaftical Officers, 1 refer the Reader,
to Lyndxuood's Provinciale, Dr. Ridley''^ View of the Civil
and Ecclefiaftical Law, Godolphms Repertorium Canonicum,
Bp. Gih/ons, Introduftion to his Codex, &c. and Dr. Burn'i
Ecclefiaftical Law.

t n Hen.Wlh Cap. 17.

' ' Civi-

^rt. xxxiii. Of the Commijfary, 155

Civilians, who are Laymen •, though CIcrgymea
who have been bred to the ftudy of the Civil
Law, are by no means excluded from holding
the office. And fome fuch Chancellors there
how are.

A Commijfary is a title of ecclefiaftical jurif-
didion, applied to fuch as exercife it in Ibme
remote pirts of a Diocefe, fo far diftant from
the Bifhop's chief Confiflory, that his Chancellor
cannot without great inconvenience, call the
fubjefts before him in that Court. Likewifc
fuch parifhes as are the Bifhop's Peculiars, and
exempt from the Archdeacon's jurifdiflion, fall
under the cognizance of the Commiflaries.
Their authority is reftrained to fome certain
parts of the Diocefe ; and to fome certain
caiifes of the jurifdiftion, limited to them by the
Bifhops. For which reafon, it is faid, the Law
calls thesn Officiales Foranei, quaji Officiaks
afiri5li cuidam foro Di^cefecs tantum. Thus arc
they diftinguifhed from Chancellors. By the
flat. 21 Hen. VIIL and ^y Hen. VIII. Dodors
of the Civil Law may hold the office of 4

An Archdeacon is defcribed in the Canon Law,
to be one who hath obtained a dignity in a
Cathedral Church, who has the priority among
the Deacons, and is firft in jurifdidion ne:it after
the Biihop. He hath fome jurifdidion of


1^6 Of the Archdeacon-. Art. xxxiiL

common right, though it may vary according
to circumftances, and the cuftom of the place-,
and therefore in fome cafes it is faid to be
Jurifdi^io Ordinaria., and in others 'Dekgata.
It does nbt however like the Chancellor's extend
throughout the Diocefe, but is limited within
the bounds of his Archdeaconry. But fo far as
his authority reaches, in omnihus vicem Epifcopi
gerit. On this account, he was alfo anciently
dignified with the title of Oculus Epifcdpi, or the
Bifhop's Eye *. Hence alfo he has under the
Bifliop a power of Excommunication, and in-
junftion of Penances, &c. Some of the Arch-
deacons hold their ofEce by Prefcription, fomc
by Law^ and fome by Covenant. Where the
jurifdiflion of the Archdeacon is by Prefcription,
or de jure^ it operates in law to the exclufion of
the jurifdidion of the Bifhop himfelf. So that
a prohibition will lie for fuch an Archdeacon,

* As the title of Oculus Epifcopi was formerly given both
to the Chancellor and Archdeacon, we may charitably
conclude that the cenfures of fome well-meaning perfons,
who reproach the Bifhops with negligence in the duties of
paftoral infpedlion, are not fo well founded as they imagine.
For fince the Canon Law has given them tnvo eyes in the
perfons of thefe their reprefentatives, they may be allowed
to fave their own ; feeing the God of nature has thought
two fufficient for one man, of whatever rank or dignity.
At lead the Chancellors and Archdeacons fhould have their
fhare of th* blame, too juftly due to the prevailing neg-
Jigence of inquiry into the preaching, and lives [of the


Art. xxxiii. Of Officials. i^f

againft the Bifliop, if he intermeddles juridically
with any matters or things within fuch Arch-
deaconries. But a prohibition will not lie where
the Archdeacon's jurifdi(ftion is only by Contrad',
or Covenant.

The term Official is applied in common td
the Chancellor, who is Official principal^ and to
the Commiflaries, and Archdeacons, as fevcrally
officiating in the exercife of epifcopal jurif^
diftion. In like manner, a perfon duly authorized
by the Archdeacon to aft in his place, is alfo
called his Official, and flands in the fame relation
to the Archdeacon, as the Chancellor does to the
Bifhop. Thus this charafter is commonly united
with the preceding, in the exercife of the power
annexed to it -, though it is diftinguifhed in the
commiffion. So far however as the proper duty '
of an Official, is to be confidered as diftinft from
that of Chancellors, CommifTaries, and Arch-
deacons, it fimply refpefts thofe matters of
temporal cognizance^ which have been granted to
the ecclefiaftical Courts, by the conceffion of*
Princes. But the diftinftioh has long fince been
fet afide,and with very good reafon, as Temporals
and Spirituals are blended together, throughout
the whole conftitution of the Church.

Such is the general view given us in the Canon
Law, oi the feveral offices above confidered. It


158 The Origin of thefe Aft. xxxfii:

is foreign to my purpofe, to enter into a more
minute explication of them, or to confider the
difputes about the degrees of their fubordinationl.
to the Bifliop, and other points of ceremony, of
which the diftincflion between ordinary^ and dele-
gated jurifdidion, has been a fruitful fource.
But it may not be amifs juft to inquire into their
origin. The great Bifhop Stillingfleet, has givert
us a very honeft and particular account of this,'
in his treatife Of the Duties and Rights of the
Parochial Clergy.

*' Lanfranc was the firfl: who made an Arch-
*' deacon with jurifdifbion in his See. And
'' Thomas firft Archbilhop of Tork, after the
*' Conqueft, was the firft who divided his Diocefe
*' into Archdeaconries ; and fo did Remigius^
*' Bi(hop of Lincoln^ his large Diocefe into feven
*' Archdeaconries, faith H. of Huntingdon. And
" fo it was with the reft ; of which there were
" two occafions, i. the laying afide the Core-
** pifcopi in the Weftern parts, as affuming too
*' much to themfelves. 2. The publick fervices
" which the Bilhops were more ftridly tied to,
*' as the King's Barons in the Norman times j
" which was the reafon not only of taking in
" Archdeacons, but likewife of Archprefbyters
*' or rural Deans, who had fome infpedlion into
*' the feveral Deanaries, and alTifted the Bifhop
**.in fuch things, as they were appointed to do;^

" and

Art. xxxili. Eulefiafiical Judgei, 1 59

*' and then came in the other ecclefiaftical
*' Officers, as Vicars General, Chancellors, Com-
" mijfaries, &c. for we read not of them here
" at all in the Saxcn times ; but about the time
" of Henry the II. the Bifhops took them for
" their afliftance in difpatch of caufes, when
*' the King required their ftrift attendance on
" the publick affairs in the fupreme Court of
« Parliament*."

Here it is plainly allowed, that whatever
claims thcfe Officers may now have to the exercife
of their authority dejiire Communis they have none
de jure Divino -, though we naturally look for
the latter, in the Officers of an Apofiolual
Church. But on the contrary, when the Biffiops
became too much entangled with the affiiirs of
Legiflation, to purfue their fpiritual Warfare,
one corruption proved the parent of another.

If the power of thefe fubordinate Judges
had been abfolutely unlimited, fome important
diftin<ftions of the Hierarchy, might have loft
the refpeft which is due to their pre-eminence.
The Canon Law has therefore made ample
provifion againft any inconvenience of this
kind. It fecms to be univerfally agreed by the
Canonifts, that Archdeacons cannot inflid: pecu-
niary Penance, unlefs warranted by prefcrip-

• Stillingfleet\ Ecclefiaftical Cafes, p. 146.


i^o Limltattons of their Power Art. xxxiii.

tion. The Legatine Conftltutions of Othohon^
66 ej^prefly prohibit them from taking any^
money, for any crime that is mortal and noto-
rious, or which may occafion fcandal ; and
ordain that they fhould punifli all fuch offences,.

with a iuft animadverfion. The reafons affigned

' < ... '^-^ '

for this prohibition are very fubftantial and

fcriptural. Becaufe, fays one of the Conftitutions,

*' God Almighty, whofe are all things, accepts no

" price for any crime, neither.requiresan holocauft

*' for fin.- -Becaufe the finner fears no crime,

" which he thinks he can redeem with money. —

'' And by this means the evilinclination is not

'^ diminiflied, but rather an authority and licence

" is thereby granted to fm *.'*

This was certainly found docflrine, though
delivered and confirmed by a Legate from the
Apoftolick See of Ro?ne. I only lament that the
Canonifts have not informed us, why the fame
reafons do not equally apply to Bifliops, as to
Airchdeacons ; for I am utterly at a lofs to
conceive, that the payment of conuderation
rrtoney for fin, fliould be more acceptable to
God, when injoined by a Bifiiop, than if it had
only the Archdeacon's warrant. L)ndwood in
his glofs upon this Cohftitut-'ion, afiTures us that
thefe reafons are not to be applied to Bifliops *,
but has left us wholly in the dark, as to the

* Conflit. Provi-nc. Domini Qtbobcniy Tit 19.


Art. Jcxkiii. in Favour of Bifiops", iSi

rationality of the diftinftion. It is to be re-
membered, he was himfelf a Bifhop.

A fimilar refpedl was paid to the fuperior
authority of the epifcopal Office, in granting
pecuniary abfolutions, by the Canons of 1571 ;
which do alfo explicitly exclude other eccle-
fiaftical Judges, befides the Archdeacon, frotn
the right of commuting Penance, unlefs by
fpecial commiffion, in the following words.

Commutationem autem injunflse poenitentijp^
nee Cancellarius faciet, nee Archidiaconus, nee
Officialisj nee Commiflarius. Ea poteftas multis.
gravibus de caufis Epifcopo foli relervabitur,
aut fi quern alium Epifcopus ad eum ufum
fpeciali mandato defignabit *.

Several other Injundions of the Church per-
fe<flly harmonize with the preceding declarations.
But befides the various limitations in favour of
the Bifliops, many of the Canons have alfo
referved to the Archbishop, as was hinted
above, the fole exclufive power and authority of
reftoring the moft heinous Offenders +. To him
fome fpecial powers of abfolution are likewile
granted by tke ftatute Law of the Land. For
when the payment of Peter-pence, and other

* Liber quorujidam Canonum, I57i> p» 230, in
Bp. Sparrow^ s Colledlion.
t Seej)age 137.

M Papal

tSi The Prerogalive of the Art. xxxii/..

Papal exadlions were abolifhed -, the pov/er of
Difpenfations was taken from the Pope, and
veiled in the Archbifl^iop of Canterbury by
25 Hcn.YlW, Cap. 21. Inftead of fuing to
Rome for any Difpenfations, or other Inftrumencs
whatever, it was provided by that Statute, that
they llioiild be " had and obtained in manner
*' and form following, and none otherwife.
" That is to fay, the Archbifliop of Canterbury
" for the time being, and his Succeflbrs, fhali
" have power and authority from time to time
*' by their difcretions, to give, grant and difpofe,
" by an Inftrument under the Seal of the faid
*' Archbifliop, unto your Majefty, and to your
" Heirs and SuccefTors, Kings of this Realm,
*' as well all manner fuch licences, difpenfa-
" tions, compofitions, faculties, grants, refcripts,
" delegacies, inftruments, and other writings,
" for caufes not being contrary or repugnant
" to the Holy Scriptures, and laws of God, as
*' heretofore has been ufed and accuftomed to
*' be had and obtained by your Highnefs, or
" any your moft noble Progenitors, or any of
" your or their Subjects, at the See of Romt^
" or any perfon or perfons by authority of tlie
" fame; and all other licences, difpenfations,
*' faculties, compofitions, grants, refcripts, de-
*' legacies, inftrument?^ and other writings in,
" for, and upon all fuch caufes and matters,
*' as fhall be convenient and neceifary to be
7 > • " had,-

Arf, xxxiii. Jrchhijhop of Qant.cxhury. i6g

** had, for the honour and furety of your
*' Highnefs, your Heirs and SuccefTors, and

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12 13 14 15

Online LibrarySamuel WiltonA review of some of the articles of the Church of England, : to which a subscription is required of protestant dissenting ministers. → online text (page 10 of 15)