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which, though partially established on mutual compacts, agreements, and treaties, is principally founded upon the indefinable results of circumstances, and not upon the will of any universal dictator or ruler among nations, and which is, therefore, called the Law of Nature, and the Law of Nations. All States are governed by these two systems of laws; and by studying to observe both, they maintain at once their own independence and the general union, without submitting to any universal Sovereign, as the originator of universal political law. Just so should it be with Churches. As it is with men politically, so should it be with men ecclesiastically. Every Church, like every State, should be governed by its own self-decreed regulations ; while every Church should deem itself to be a member of one universal Church, bound together partly on the basis of mutual compacts, agreements, and treaties,—but principally upon the resolution and desire to seek for peace, communion, and love, on the basis of the will of God, without submission to the command of any universal ruler of the Churches. The union of Christians is the peace and intercourse of Churches, preserving their independence, studying truth, and commending their conclusions to each other without claiming authority over each other. It should be with Churches, as it is with States. When any very great difficulty arises, which the aggregate of the States may deem it to be advisable and useful to submit to the consideration of an assembly or congress of delegates and representatives, the decisions and conclusions of those assemblies or congresses form a portion of international law, until they are rescinded by other assemblies and other congresses. So also have the independent Churches of the Holy Catholic Church submitted to the consideration of ecclesiastical assemblies or congresses, which are more generally called the Councils of the Universal Church, many questions of faith, and discipline. Upon these questions the ancient Councils have decided. To those decisions the independent Churches of the Universal Church have submitted, and do submit, and will continue to submit, till other congresses and councils have rescinded their decrees. To these future councils the Churches of the Catholic Church may still look forward, and thus preserve their independence while they seek for union. Such is the union which the harassed Churches of Christ's Holy Catholic Church require; and the titles which are borne by the Sovereign of Great Britain lead me to hope that the Head of the Church will confer on the chief Ruler of this people the exceeding great honour of proposing and commencing this great design.
4 Quod naturalis ratio inter omnes homines constituit, vocatur Jus Gentium,
The title, Defender of the Faith, was assumed by our Kings before it was given by
Leo X. to Henry VIII. It implies the maintaining the independence of the National Church, and the desire of the decision of Councils upon the divisions of Christians. The more express conferring of the title by Leo X. does not destroy its first meaning.
The expression, “Defender of the Faith,” was assumed by the Kings of England, to describe their attachment to the common Christianity, many years before the appellation was granted as a title by Leo X. to Henry VIII. It was used by Richard II. both in his proclamation from Westminster (July 3, 1382) against the opinions of Wycliffe, and the disturbances resulting from their discussion, as well as on other occasions. Though the faith which was then defended contained many articles of belief which the Church of England has since rejected', and though such articles were protected by the cruel and atrocious laws which punished errors in religion with death o, yet the two points of
5 Rex &c. zelo fidei Christianæ (cujus sumus, et semper esse volumus defensores) moti salubriter, &c. &c. Ap. Rymer. tom. vii. p. 363. Wilkins Concil. Mag. Britan, vol. iii. Pp. 204. 266.
6 There is no doubt that the bishops had, by the ancient common law of the Church, the judging of, and convicting for heresy, schism, and errors in religion, according to the king's ecclesiastical laws! The generality of our historians, however, supposed heresy not to have been punished here with death, before the second of Henry IV., and that Sawtre was the first who was executed on account of religion. We are expressly told so by Fuller 2 and Collier, as well as by Bishop Burnet, who says that “ England was not so tame as to bear the severity of those laws, which were settled and put in execution in other kingdoms.” But Chief Justice Coke was better acquainted with our constitution. “ It appeareth,” says he, “ by Bracton, Briton, Fleta, Stanford, and all our books, that he who is duly convicted of heresy shall be burned to death 3.” And accordingly, we read of persons who so suffered for their religion long before Henry IV, Cardinal Langton, in a synod held at Oxford in 1222, condemned three persons, and delivered them over to the secular power. Two of them were immured to death between four walls “, and the other (a deacon who, out of love to a Jewish woman, had renounced Christianity,) was tied to a stake and burnt.
The Chronicles of London, too, mentions one of the Albigenses who was burnt there a.d. 1210. Camden, in noticing the barbarities on account of religion in Queen Mary's reign, fixes the rise of this cruelty to King John's time. “Plures ex omni ordine,” he says, “ episcopos, verbi ministros, et plebeios hoc diro supplicio quinquennio absumpserunt, quam (ut quidam observarunt) Henricus VIII. totis 37 annis, vel Anglia viderit, ex quo regnante Joanne, Christiani in Christianos apud nos flammis sævire cæperint 6.” But before the reign of that prince, at a Council held at Oxford A.D. 1159, thirty German hereticks called publicans were delivered over to the secular power, marked with a red-hot iron on the forehead, whipped, and then
1 See Cawdrey's case.
2 Church History of Britain, p. 155. 3 3 Inst. p. 43.
4 Matt. Westm. ad An. 1222. * The preface to Bale's Cronycle of Sir John Oldcastle. • In Apparat. ad Eliz. ad finem.
ecclesiastical independence, and acknowledgment of the authority of General Councils, were universally received in England as a portion of the faith, both of the King and of the people. There was no Creed founded on one bull of the Bishop of Rome, to which the clergy or the laity swore their attachment. The Church, Sovereign, and people of England strenuously and uniformly resisted, though sometimes with partial success, the attempts of the Church of Rome to destroy the independence of the Church of England. “The Sovereign claimed
a power in ecclesiastical matters, equal to that which the Roman Emperors “possessed in their Empire?” The indignant and successful opposition to the claims of superintendence or supremacy over the independent Church of England by all our Kings, from the very earliest period, in which the Bishop of Rome, Eleutherius, gave to the British King Lucius the title of Vicar of God in his own kingdom ®; from the time of the laws of our Anglo-Saxon Kings, Canute, Ethelred, Edmund, Edgar, Athelstan, and Ina, who affirmed the supremacy of the Witenagemot ;—the rejection of the Papal supremacy by William I. ;—the contests between Henry II. and Becket;—the enactments of Edward I. against the Papal pretensions ;-the enactments of Edward III. against the further encroachments and usurpations, which required the subjects of England to appear in the Papal courts ;—with the confirmation of those enactments by Richard II. at the very time when he called himself Defender of the Faith, demonstrate the ancient meaning of the title. All these sovereigns believed in the authority of Councils, while they maintained the independence of their Church. Though they were in communion with Rome, they were neither its subjects nor its slaves. They knew nothing of the creed of Pope Pius, which is now the constituted faith of the Bishop of Rome and his adherents. The continuation, therefore, of the ancient title of Defender of the Faith, if it be considered with reference to its original assumption, before the conferring of the title by Leo X., pledges your Majesty to the upholding only of those principles, the adoption of which by all Churches is the only hope of the reunion of Christians ;
turned out of doors in the midst of winter, where they died with cold and hunger, no man daring, it being expressly forbid, to relieve them ?.
We must observe, however, that the crime, which our common law punished with burning, was apostasy, not what we now mean by heresy. “In case of apostasy,” says Bishop Stillingfleet 8, " i. e. renouncing Christianity, Bractono saith, the person convict is to be burned ; and “ he instanceth it in the deacon who turned Jew, in the Council of Oxford : and Fleta speaks 1
only of apostates, whether clerks or others; and those are the miscreants in Briton ? and in “ Horn'. Heresy was then the same as renouncing Baptism, or turning Jew or Turk, or using sorcery ;
but after Wycliffe's time, the ordinaries enlarged the notion of heresy, and “ took upon themselves to be sole judges of it.”
? The whole question is discussed in the last edition of De Lolme, by Mr. Stephens, vol. i.
? Mr. Tyrrell's Hist. ad An. 1159.
1 Fleta, lib. i. c. xxix. n. 7. ? Briton, c. ix. 3 Horn, c. i. $ 22.
4 Young on Idolatry, vol. ii. p. 299.
namely, the maintaining the general Christianity without receiving the Creed of Pope Pius, the assertion of the independence of the National Church, and the willingness to form a part of any General Council, which might be once more assembled under the authority of Sovereigns, to lessen the hatreds, and to promote the union of Christians.
But the conferring of the title of Defender of the Faith upon an English King by the Roman Bishop, without reference to the former assumption of the title, has been urged as a proof that the Sovereign who bears it is not only pledged thereby to the support of the Papal supremacy which granted it, and to the defence also of the faith and doctrines of the Church of Rome; but, also, that the Sovereign and People of England will only look for the union of Christians, in submission to the Papal supremacy; and not by the upholding the independence of their Church, or the purity of an antipapal creed, or the authority of a General Council.
The title, we answer, though conferred by the Bishop of Rome, could not do more than imply the conviction of the conferrer that the receiver of the title should uphold the general faith of the period when the title was granted. That faith, as I have already shown, included neither the Creed of Pope Pius , nor denied to the independent Churches the right of appealing to a future Council. The Papal supremacy, the only chief dogma, which inflicts and continues the deadly alienation of man from man, and heart from heart, throughout the Universal Church, was, at the time of the conferring of the title, affirmed by some, controverted by others, denied by a third party, questioned as to its nature, extent, and authority by all, and formed no part of the Creeds of the Church. The Papal title, therefore, could not bind the acceptor of it to the upholding of that supremacy. The Catholic Church, it is true, abounded then, as it has ever done, with controversialists; but it was not yet divided into Papist and Protestant. The ultimate rule of faith, next to Scripture and antiquity, to which all professed adherence, was the decision of Councils, whether with or without the sanction and concurrence of the Bishop of Rome. Councils were to the Universal Church, what the Parliaments of Great Britain are to this empire. As the Parliaments in former ages have decreed many absurd, cruel, unjust enactments, but the power of repealing them exists with the future Parliaments, without destroying the authority of the senate because of any real or supposed inconsistency; so it was with the Councils of the Church. They may have decreed many unadvisable opinions in doctrine, and practices in discipline ; but so long as Councils continued to meet, there was a remedy for the evil, and hope for the Churches. The power of ambitious or arbitrary Sovereigns has frequently rendered the efforts of Parliaments nugatory; and the usurpation of the Bishop of Rome, and his exercise of supremacy over the Councils of the Church, and especially over those of Lateran and Trent, rendered the Councils of the Church, for a time, the mere chambers of registry of the Papal decrees. Yet the continued meetings of Councils, (if the Princes of Europe, as they ought to have done, had insisted upon their continuance,) would have rectified in one age, the errors of any
9 In the dedication of Part III. of this work to the Bishop of Rome, I have shown that this creed was not imposed by a Council ; but that it is commanded only by an arbitrary act of authority, and that it may be rescinded by the power which made it.
I have shown also, that the chief obstacle to reunion of Christians is the Bull which enacts the reception of the creed of Pope Pius by all the members of the Catholic Church.
age. Improvement, reform, the removal of abuses, the rescinding of errors, the preservation of discipline, could have been alike maintained ; and the first, the very first attempt on the part of the governments of the civilized world to promote the reunion of Christians, must be the revival, in some form, of these deliberative synods of the Universal Church of Christ. The great Councils of Constance, 1414– 1418; of Basle, 1431 ; and of Pisa, 1511, at the time of the conferring of this title upon the King of England, had decided and had acted upon the theory that a General Council is superior to the Pope. Their decisions and decrees may be justly called, therefore, a part of the Catholic faith, at the time when Leo gave the title to Henry; and the acknowledgment, therefore, of the Papal supremacy over the Councils of the Church at that time is not implied in the acceptance of that title. That acceptance proved only the desire of communion with Rome, but not submission to its supremacy. It was consistent with the power of self-legislation within the King's own Church. The King never designed to yield the independence, which the nation and his ancestors have so generally exercised. He pledged himself to the preservation of the Catholic faith in general, subjected to the self-legislation of his own Church, and to the decisions of
future General Councils, which should be summoned, not by the Bishop of Rome, but by the representatives of the ancient imperial head of the Universal Church. If your Majesty, therefore, were even bound by the title Defender of the Faith to execute the real or supposed conditions on which the favour of Leo X. had been originally granted, such obligations could not preclude or destroy the power of selflegislation within the power of the Church of England; nor the right of the Sovereign to appeal to, or to assist in calling, a General Council of the Universal Church.
The terms of the Bull itself imply also the existence and continuance of this power on the part of the Sovereigns of England. The King had answered Luther in a treatise on the Seven Sacraments. Little or nothing is said in this book on the Papal supremacy . The Bull, too, which conferred the title, was dated 11th Oct. 1521'; that is, twenty-four years before the first meeting of the Council of Trent", forty-two years before its conclusion, and forty-four years before the publication of the objectionable Creed of Pope Pius. It was granted by a conclave of Cardinals, and by the Bishop of Rome, Leo X., after a solemn discussion, " whether the King should be called Protector and Defender “ of the Roman Church ; of the apostolical chair ; or apostolical, or orthodox
10 A good analysis of Henry's treatise is given by Collier, Eccles. Hist. vol. ii. p. 12–17, fol. ed. London, 1714.
1 The fifth of the Ides of October.
* The first meeting of this Council was on the 13th of December, 1545, and the last on the 3rd of December, 1563.