FOR the understanding of power ecclesiastical, what and in whom it is, we are to distinguish the time from the ascension of our Saviour into two parts; one before the conversion of kings and men endued with sovereign civil power; the other after their conversion. For it was long after the ascension before any king or civil sovereign embraced and publicly allowed the teaching of Christian religion.
And for the time between, it is manifest that the power ecclesiastical was in the Apostles; and after them in such as were by them ordained to preach the gospel, and to convert men to Christianity; and to direct them that were converted in the way of salvation; and after these the power was delivered again to others by these ordained, and this was done by imposition of hands upon such as were ordained; by which was signified the giving of the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of God, to those whom they ordained ministers of God, to advance His kingdom. So that imposition of hands was nothing else but the seal of their commission to preach Christ and teach his doctrine; and the giving of the Holy Ghost by that ceremony of imposition of hands was an imitation of that which Moses did. For Moses used the same ceremony to his minister Joshua, as we read, Deuteronomy, 34. 9, "And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him." Our Saviour therefore between his resurrection and ascension gave his spirit to the Apostles; first, by breathing on them, and saying, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit";255 and after his ascension by sending down upon them a "mighty wind, and cloven tongues of fire";256 and not by imposition of hands; as neither did God lay His hands on Moses: and his Apostles afterward transmitted the same spirit by imposition of hands, as Moses did to Joshua. So that it is manifest hereby in whom the power ecclesiastical continually remained in those first times where there was not any Christian Commonwealth; namely, in them that received the same from the Apostles, by successive laying on of hands.
255 John, 20. 22
256 Acts, 2. 2, 3
Here we have the person of God born now the third time. For Moses and the high priests were God's representative in the Old Testament; and our Saviour himself, as man, during his abode on earth: so the Holy Ghost, that is to say, the Apostles and their successors, in the office of preaching and teaching, that had received the Holy Spirit, have represented him ever since. But a person (as I have shown before, Chapter thirteen) is he that is represented, as of as he is represented; and therefore God, who has been represented (that is, personated) thrice, may properly enough be said to be three persons; though neither the word Person nor Trinity be ascribed to him in the Bible. St. John indeed saith, "There be three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one":257 but this disagreeth not, but accordeth fitly with three persons in the proper signification of persons; which is that which is represented by another. For so God the Father, as represented by Moses, is one person; and as represented by His Son, another person; and as represented by the Apostles, and by the doctors that taught by authority from them derived, is a third person; and yet every person here is the person of one and the same God. But a man may here ask what it was whereof these three bore witness. St. John therefore tells us that they bear witness that "God hath given us eternal life in His Son." Again, if it should be asked wherein that testimony appeareth, the answer is easy; for He hath testified the same by the miracles He wrought, first by Moses; secondly, by His Son himself; and lastly by His Apostles that had received the Holy Spirit; all which in their times represented the person of God, and either prophesied or preached Jesus Christ. And as for the Apostles, it was the character of the apostleship, in the twelve first and great Apostles, to bear witness of his resurrection, as appeareth expressly where St. Peter, when a new Apostle was to be chosen in the place of Judas Iscariot, useth these words, "Of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out amongst us, beginning at the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection":258 which words interpret the "bearing of witness" mentioned by St. John. There is in the same place mentioned another Trinity of witnesses in earth. For he saith, "there are three that bear witness in earth; the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one":259 that is to say, the graces of God's Spirit, and the two sacraments, baptism and the Lord's Supper, which all agree in one testimony to assure the consciences of believers of eternal life; of which testimony he saith, "He that believeth on the Son of Man hath the witness in himself."260 In this Trinity on earth, the unity is not of the thing; for the spirit, the water, and the blood are not the same substance, though they give the same testimony: but in the Trinity of heaven, the persons are the persons of one and the same God, though represented in three different times and occasions. To conclude, the doctrine of the Trinity, as far as can be gathered directly from the Scripture, is in substance this: that God, who is always one and the same, was the person represented by Moses; the person represented by his Son incarnate; and the person represented by the Apostles. As represented by the Apostles, the Holy Spirit by which they spoke is God; as represented by His Son, that was God and man, the Son is that God; as represented by Moses and the high priests, the Father, that is to say, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is that God: from whence we may gather the reason those names Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in the signification of the godhead, are never used in the Old Testament: for they are persons, that is, they have their names from representing; which could not be till diverse men had represented God's person in ruling or in directing under Him.
257 Luke, 5. 11
258 Acts, 1. 21, 22
259 Ibid., 1. 8
260 Ibid., 1. 10
Thus we see how the power ecclesiastical was left by our Saviour to the Apostles; and how they were (to the end they might the better exercise that power) endued with the Holy Spirit, which is therefore called sometimes in the New Testament paracletus, which signifieth an assister, or one called to for help, though it be commonly translated a comforter. Let us now consider the power itself, what it was, and over whom.
Cardinal Bellarmine, in his third general controversy, hath handled a great many questions concerning the ecclesiastical power of the Pope of Rome, and begins with this, whether it ought to be monarchical, aristocratical, or democratical. All which sorts of power are sovereign and coercive. If now it should appear that there is no coercive power left them by our Saviour, but only a power to proclaim the kingdom of Christ, and to persuade men to submit themselves there unto; and, by precepts and good counsel, to teach them that have submitted what they are to do, that they may be received into the kingdom of God when it comes; and that the Apostles, and other ministers of the Gospel, are our schoolmasters, and not our commanders, and their precepts not laws, but wholesome counsels; then were all that dispute in vain.
I have shown already, in the last chapter, that the kingdom of Christ is not of this world: therefore neither can his ministers, unless they be kings, require obedience in his name. For if the Supreme King have not his regal power in this world; by what authority can obedience be required to his officers? "As my Father sent me," so saith our Saviour, "I send you."261 But our Saviour was sent to persuade the Jews to return to, and to invite the Gentiles to receive, the kingdom of his Father, and not to reign in majesty, no not as his Father's lieutenant till the day of judgement.
261 John, 20. 21
The time between the ascension and the general resurrection is called, not a reigning, but a regeneration; that is, a preparation of men for the second and glorious coming of Christ at the day of judgement, as appeareth by the words of our Saviour, "You that have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, you shall also sit upon twelve thrones";262 and of St. Paul, "Having your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace";263 and is compared by our Saviour to fishing; that is, to winning men to obedience, not by coercion and punishing, but by persuasion. And therefore he said not to his Apostles he would make them so many Nimrods, hunters of men; but fishers of men. It is compared also to leaven, to sowing of seed, and to the multiplication of a grain of mustard-seed; by all which compulsion is excluded; and consequently there can in that time be no actual reigning. The work of Christ's ministers is evangelization; that is, a proclamation of Christ, and a preparation for his second coming; as the evangelization of John the Baptist was a preparation to his first coming.
262 Matthew, 19. 28
263 Ephesians, 6. 15
Again, the office of Christ's ministers in this world is to make men believe and have faith in Christ: but faith hath no relation to, nor dependence at all upon, compulsion or commandment; but only upon certainty, or probability of arguments drawn from reason, or from something men believe already. Therefore the ministers of Christ in this world have no power by that title to punish any man for not believing or for contradicting what they say: they have, I say, no power by that title of Christ's ministers to punish such; but if they have sovereign civil power, by politic institution, then they may indeed lawfully punish any contradiction to their laws whatsoever: and St. Paul, of himself and other the then preachers of the Gospel, saith in express words, "We have no dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy."264
264 II Corinthians, 1. 24
Another argument, that the ministers of Christ in this present world have no right of commanding, may be drawn from the lawful authority which Christ hath left to all princes, as well Christians as infidels. St. Paul saith, "Children, obey your parents in all things; for this is well pleasing to the Lord."265 And, "Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, as fearing the Lord":266 this is spoken to them whose masters were infidels; and yet they are bidden to obey them in all things. And again, concerning obedience to princes, exhorting "to be subject to the higher powers," he saith, "that all power is ordained of God"; and "that we ought to subject to them not only for" fear of incurring their "wrath, but also for conscience sake."267 And St. Peter, "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the king, as supreme, or unto governors, as to them that be sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well; for so is the will of God."268 And again St. Paul, "Put men in mind to be subject to principalities, and powers, and to obey magistrates."269 These princes and powers whereof St. Peter and St. Paul here speak were all infidels: much more therefore we are to obey those Christians whom God hath ordained to have sovereign power over us. How then can we be obliged to obey any minister of Christ if he should command us to do anything contrary to the command of the king or other sovereign representant of the Commonwealth whereof we are members, and by whom we look to be protected? It is therefore manifest that Christ hath not left to his ministers in this world, unless they be also endued with civil authority, any authority to command other men.
265 Colossians, 3. 20
266 Ibid., 3. 22
267 Romans, 13. 1-6
268 I Peter, 2. 13, 14, 15
269 Titus, 3. 1
But what, may some object, if a king, or a senate, or other sovereign person forbid us to believe in Christ? To this I answer that such forbidding is of no effect; because belief and unbelief never follow men's commands. Faith is a gift of God which man can neither give nor take away by promise of rewards or menaces of torture. And, if it be further asked, what if we be commanded by our lawful prince to say with our tongue we believe not; must we obey such command? Profession with the tongue is but an external thing, and no more than any other gesture whereby we signify our obedience; and wherein a Christian, holding firmly in his heart the faith of Christ, hath the same liberty which the prophet Elisha allowed to Naaman the Syrian. Naaman was converted in his heart to the God of Israel, for he saith, "Thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord. In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon; when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing."270 This the Prophet approved, and bid him "Go in peace." Here Naaman believed in his heart; but by bowing before the idol Rimmon, he denied the true God in effect as much as if he had done it with his lips. But then what shall we answer to our Saviour's saying, "Whosoever denieth me before men, I will deny him before my Father which is in heaven?"271 This we may say, that whatsoever a subject, as Naaman was, is compelled to in obedience to his sovereign, and doth it not in order to his own mind, but in order to the laws of his country, that action is not his, but his sovereign's; nor is it he that in this case denieth Christ before men, but his governor, and the law of his country. If any man shall accuse this doctrine as repugnant to true and unfeigned Christianity, I ask him, in case there should be a subject in any Christian Commonwealth that should be inwardly in his heart of the Mahomedan religion, whether if his sovereign command him to be present at the divine service of the Christian church, and that on pain of death, he think that Mahomedan obliged in conscience to suffer death for that cause, rather than to obey that command of his lawful prince. If he say he ought rather to suffer death, then he authorizeth all private men to disobey their princes in maintenance of their religion, true or false: if he say he ought to be obedient, then he alloweth to himself that which he denieth to another, contrary to the words of our Saviour, "Whatsoever you would that men should do unto you, that do ye unto them";272 and contrary to the law of nature (which is the indubitable everlasting law of God), "Do not to another that which thou wouldest not he should do unto thee."
270 II Kings, 5. 17, 18
271 Matthew, 10. 33
272 Luke, 6. 31
But what then shall we say of all those martyrs we read of in the history of the Church, that they have needlessly cast away their lives? For answer hereunto, we are to distinguish the persons that have been for that cause put to death; whereof some have received a calling to preach and profess the profess the kingdom of Christ openly; others have had no such calling, nor more has been required of them than their own faith. The former sort, if they have been put to death for bearing witness to this point, that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, were true martyrs; for a martyr is, to give the true definition of the word, a witness of the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah; which none can be but those that those that conversed with him on earth, and saw him after he was risen: for a witness must have seen what he testifieth, or else his testimony is not good. And that none but such can properly be called martyrs of Christ is manifest out of the words of St. Peter, "Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out amongst us, beginning from the baptism of John unto that same day he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a martyr" (that is, a witness) "with us of his resurrection":273 where we may observe that he which is to be a witness of truth of the resurrection of Christ, that is to say, of the truth of this fundamental article of Christian religion, that Jesus was the Christ, must be some Disciple that conversed with him, and saw him before and after his resurrection; and consequently must be one of his original Disciples: whereas they which were not so can witness no more, but that their antecessors said it, and are therefore but witnesses of other men's testimony, and are but second martyrs, or martyrs of Christ's witnesses.
273 Acts, 1. 21, 22
He that to maintain every doctrine which he himself draweth out of the history of our Saviour's life, and of the Acts or Epistles of the Apostles, or which he believeth, upon the authority of a private man, will oppose the laws and authority of the civil state, is very far from being a martyr of Christ, or a martyr of his martyrs. It is one article only, which to die for meriteth so honourable a name, and that article is this, that Jesus is the Christ; that is to say, he that hath redeemed us, and shall come again to give us salvation, and eternal life in his glorious kingdom. To die for every tenet that serveth the ambition or profit of the clergy is not required; nor is it the death of the witness, but the testimony itself that makes the martyr: for the word signifieth nothing else but the man that beareth witness, whether he be put to death for his testimony, or not.
Also he that is not sent to preach this fundamental article, but taketh it upon him of his private authority, though he be a witness, and consequently a martyr, either primary of Christ, or secondary of his Apostles, Disciples, or their successors; yet is he not obliged to suffer death for that cause, because being not called thereto, it is not required at his hands; nor ought he to complain if he loseth the reward he expecteth from those that never set him on work. None therefore can be a martyr, neither of the first nor second degree, that have not a warrant to preach Christ come in the flesh; that is to say, none but such as are sent to the conversion of infidels. For no man is a witness to him that already believeth, and therefore needs no witness; but to them that deny, or doubt, or have not heard it. Christ sent his Apostles and his seventy Disciples with authority to preach; he sent not all that believed. And he sent them to unbelievers; "I send you," saith he, "as sheep amongst wolves";274 not as sheep to other sheep.
274 Matthew, 10. 16
Lastly, the points of their commission, as they are expressly set down in the gospel, contain none of them any authority over the congregation.
We have first that the twelve Apostles were sent "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," and commanded to preach "that the kingdom of God was at hand."275 Now preaching, in the original, is that act which a crier, herald, or other officer useth to do publicly in proclaiming of a king. But a crier hath not right to command any man. And the seventy Disciples are sent out as "Labourers, not as lords of the harvest";276 and are bidden to say, "The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you";277 and by kingdom here is meant, not the kingdom of grace, but the kingdom of glory; for they are bidden to denounce it to those cities which shall not receive them, as a threatening, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for such a city.278 And our Saviour telleth his Disciples, that sought priority of place, their office was to minister, even as the Son of Man came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister.279 Preachers therefore have not magisterial, but ministerial power: "Be not called masters," saith our Saviour, "for one is your master, even Christ."280
275 Matthew, 10. 6, 7
276 Luke, 10. 2
277 Ibid., 10. 9
278 Ibid., 10. 11
279 Matthew, 20. 28
280 Ibid., 23. 10
Another point of their commission is to "teach all nations"; as it is in Matthew, 28. 19, or as in St. Mark, 16. 15, "Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Teaching, therefore, and preaching is the same thing. For they that proclaim the coming of a king must withal make known by what right he cometh, if they mean men shall submit themselves unto him: as St. Paul did to the Jews of Thessalonica, when "three Sabbath days he reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead, and that this Jesus is Christ."281 But to teach out of the Old Testament that Jesus was Christ, that is to say, king, and risen from the dead, is not to say that men are bound, after they believe it, to obey those that tell them so, against the laws and commands of their sovereigns; but that they shall do wisely to expect the coming of Christ hereafter, in patience and faith, with obedience to their present magistrates.
281 Acts, 17. 2, 3
Another point of their commission is to "baptize, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." What is baptism? Dipping into water. But what is it to dip a man into the water in the name of anything? The meaning of these words of baptism is this. He that is baptized is dipped or washed as a sign of becoming a new man and a loyal subject to that God whose person was represented in old time by Moses, and the high priests, when He reigned over the Jews; and to Jesus Christ, His Son, God and Man, that hath redeemed us, and shall in his human nature represent his Father's person in his eternal kingdom after the resurrection; and to acknowledge the doctrine of the Apostles, who, assisted by the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, were left for guides to bring us into that kingdom, to be the only and assured way thereunto. This being our promise in baptism; and the authority of earthly sovereigns being not to be put down till the day of judgement; for that is expressly affirmed by St. Paul, where he saith, "As in Adam all die, so in Christ all shall be made alive. But every man in his own order, Christ the first fruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his coming; then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power."282 It is manifest that we do not in baptism constitute over us another authority by which our external actions are to be governed in this life, but promise to take the doctrine of the Apostles for our direction in the way to life eternal.
282 I Corinthians, 15. 22, 23, 24
The power of remission and retention of sins, called also the power of loosing and binding, and sometimes the keys of the kingdom of heaven is a consequence of the authority to baptize or refuse to baptize. For baptism is the sacrament of allegiance of them that are to be received into the kingdom of God; that is to say, into eternal life; that is to say, to remission of sin: for as eternal life was lost by the committing, so it is recovered by the remitting of men's sins. The end of baptism is remission of sins: therefore St. Peter, when they that were converted by his sermon on the day of Pentecost asked what they were to do, advised them to "repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus, for the remission of sins."283 And therefore, seeing to baptize is to declare the reception of men into God's kingdom, and to refuse to baptize is to declare their exclusion, it followeth that the power to declare them cast out, or retained in it, was given to the same Apostles, and their substitutes and successors. And therefore after our Saviour had breathed upon them, saying, "Receive the Holy Ghost,"284 he addeth in the next verse, "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained." By which words is not granted an authority to forgive or retain sins, simply and absolutely, as God forgiveth or retaineth them, Who knoweth the heart of man and truth of his penitence and conversion; but conditionally, to the penitent: and this forgiveness, or absolution, in case the absolved have but a feigned repentance, is thereby, without other act or sentence of the absolved, made void, and hath no effect at all to salvation, but, on the contrary, to the aggravation of his sin. Therefore the Apostles and their successors are to follow but the outward marks of repentance; which appearing, they have no authority to deny absolution; and if they appear not, they have no authority to absolve. The same also is to be observed in baptism: for to a converted Jew or Gentile, the Apostles had not the power to deny baptism, nor to grant it to the unpenitent. But seeing no man is able to discern the truth of another man's repentance, further than by external marks taken from his words and actions, which are subject to hypocrisy, another question will arise: who is it that is constituted judge of those marks? And this question is decided by our Saviour himself: "If thy brother," saith he, "shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church; but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."285 By which it is manifest that the judgement concerning the truth of repentance belonged not to any one man, but to the Church, that is, to the assembly of the faithful, or to them that have authority to be their representant. But besides the judgement, there is necessary also the pronouncing of sentence: and this belonged always to the Apostle, or some pastor of the Church, as prolocutor; and of this our Saviour speaketh in the eighteenth verse, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." And conformable hereunto was the practice of St. Paul where he saith, "For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have determined already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed; in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such a one to Satan";286 that is to say, to cast him out of the Church, as a man whose sins are not forgiven. Paul here pronounceth the sentence, but the assembly was first to hear the cause (for St. Paul was absent), and by consequence to condemn him. But in the same chapter the judgement in such a case is more expressly attributed to the assembly: "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator," etc., "with such a one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within?"287 The sentence therefore by which a man was put out of the Church was pronounced by the Apostle or pastor; but the judgement concerning the merit of the cause was in the Church; that is to say, as the times were before the conversion of kings, and men that had sovereign authority in the Commonwealth, the assembly of the Christians dwelling in the same city; as in Corinth, in the assembly of the Christians of Corinth.
283 Acts, 2. 38
284 John, 20. 22
285 Matthew, 18. 15, 16, 17
286 I Corinthians, 5. 3, 4, 5
287 Ibid., 5. 11, 12
This part of the power of the keys by which men were thrust out from the kingdom of God is that which is called excommunication and to excommunicate is, in the original, aposunagogon poiein, to cast out of the synagogue; that is, out of the place of divine service; a word drawn from the custom of the Jews, to cast out of their synagogues such as they thought in manners or doctrine contagious, as lepers were by the law of Moses separated from the congregation of Israel till such time as they should be by the priest pronounced clean.
The use and effect of excommunication, whilst it was not yet strengthened with the civil power, was no more than that they who were not excommunicate were to avoid the company of them that were. It was not enough to repute them as heathen, that never had been Christians; for with such they might eat and drink, which with excommunicate persons they might not do, as appeareth by the words of St. Paul where he telleth them he had formerly forbidden them to "company with fornicators";288 but, because that could not be without going out of the world, he restraineth it to such fornicators and otherwise vicious persons as were of the brethren; "with such a one," he saith, they ought not to keep company, "no not to eat." And this is no more than our Saviour saith, "Let him be to thee as a heathen, and as a publican."289 For publicans (which signifieth farmers and receivers of the revenue of the Commonwealth) were so hated and detested by the Jews that were to pay it, as that publican and sinner were taken amongst them for the same thing; insomuch as when our Saviour accepted the invitation of Zacchaeus a publican, though it were to convert him, yet it was objected to him as a crime. And therefore, when our Saviour, to heathen, added publican, he did forbid them to eat with a man excommunicate.
288 I Corinthians, 5. 9, 10, etc.
289 Matthew, 18. 17
As for keeping them out of their synagogues, or places of assembly, they had no power to do it but that of the owner of the place, whether he were Christian or heathen. And because all places are by right in the dominion of the Commonwealth, as well he that was excommunicated as he that never was baptized, might enter into them by commission from the civil magistrate; as Paul before his conversion entered into their synagogues at Damascus, to apprehend Christians, men and women, and to carry them bound to Jerusalem, by commission from the high priest.290
290 Acts, 9. 2
By which it appears that upon a Christian that should become an apostate, in a place where the civil power did persecute or not assist the Church, the effect of excommunication had nothing in it, neither of damage in this world nor of terror: not of terror, because of their unbelief; nor of damage, because they returned thereby into the favour of the world; and in the world to come were to be in no worse estate than they which never had believed. The damage redounded rather to the Church, by provocation of them they cast out to a freer execution of their malice.
Excommunication therefore had its effect only upon those that believed that Jesus Christ was to come again in glory to reign over and to judge both the quick and the dead, and should therefore refuse entrance into his kingdom to those whose sins were retained; that is, to those that were excommunicated by the Church. And thence it is that St. Paul calleth excommunication a delivery of the excommunicate person to Satan. For without the kingdom of Christ, all other kingdoms after judgement are comprehended in the kingdom of Satan. This is it that the faithful stood in fear of, as long as they stood excommunicate, that is to say, in an estate wherein their sins were not forgiven. Whereby we may understand that excommunication in the time that Christian religion was not authorized by the civil power was used only for a correction of manners, not of errors in opinion: for it is a punishment whereof none could be sensible but such as believed and expected the coming again of our Saviour to judge the world; and they who so believed needed no other opinion, but only uprightness of life, to be saved.
There lieth excommunication for injustice; as, if thy brother offend thee, tell it him privately, then with witnesses; lastly, tell the Church, and then if he obey not, "Let him be to thee as an heathen man, and a publican."291 And there lieth excommunication for a scandalous life, as "If any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, with such a one ye are not to eat."292 But to excommunicate a man that held this foundation, that Jesus was the Christ, for difference of opinion in other points by which that foundation was not destroyed, there appeareth no authority in the Scripture, nor example in the Apostles. There is indeed in St. Paul a text that seemeth to be to the contrary: "A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject."293 For a heretic is he that, being a member of the Church, teacheth nevertheless some private opinion which the Church has forbidden: and such a one, St. Paul adviseth Titus after the first and second admonition, to reject. But to reject in this place is not to excommunicate the man; but to give over admonishing him, to let him alone, to set by disputing with him, as one that is to be convinced only by himself. The same Apostle saith, "Foolish and unlearned questions avoid":294 The word avoid in this place, and reject in the former, is the same in the original, paraitou, but foolish questions may be set by without excommunication. And again, "Avoid foolish questions,:295 where the original periistaso (set them by) is equivalent to the former word, reject. There is no other place that can so much as colourably be drawn to countenance the casting out of the Church faithful men, such as believed the foundation, only for a singular superstructure of their own, proceeding perhaps from a good and pious conscience. But, on the contrary, all such places as command avoiding such disputes are written for a lesson to pastors, such as Timothy and Titus were, not to make new articles of faith by determining every small controversy, which oblige men to a needless burden of conscience, or provoke them to break the union of the Church. Which lesson the Apostles themselves observed well. St. Peter and St. Paul, though their controversy were great, as we may read in Galatians, 2. 11, yet they did not cast one another out of the Church. Nevertheless, during the Apostles' times, there were other pastors that observed it not; as Diotrephes who cast out of the Church such as St. John himself thought fit to be received into it, out of a pride he took in pre-eminence:296 so early it was that vainglory and ambition had found entrance into the Church of Christ.
291 Matthew, 18. 15, 16, 17
292 I Corinthians, 5. 3, 4, 5
293 Ibid., 5. 11, 12
294 II Timothy, 2. 23
295 Titus, 3. 9
296 3 John, 9, etc.
That a man be liable to excommunication, there be many conditions requisite; as first, that he be a member of some commonalty, that is to say, of some lawful assembly, that is to say, of some Christian Church that hath power to judge of the cause for which he is to be excommunicated. For where there is no community, there can be no excommunication; nor where there is no power to judge, can there be any power to give sentence.
From hence it followeth that one Church cannot be excommunicated by another: for either they have equal power to excommunicate each other, in which case excommunication is not discipline, nor an act of authority, but schism, and dissolution of charity; or one is so subordinate to the other as that they both have but one voice, and then they be but one Church; and the part excommunicated is no more a Church, but a dissolute number of individual persons.
And because the sentence of excommunication importeth an advice not to keep company nor so much as to eat with him that is excommunicate, if a sovereign prince or assembly be excommunicate, the sentence is of no effect. For all subjects are bound to be in the company and presence of their own sovereign, when he requireth it, by the law of nature; nor can they lawfully either expel him from any place of his own dominion, whether profane or holy; nor go out of his dominion without his leave; much less, if he call them to that honour, refuse to eat with him. And as to other princes and states, because they are not parts of one and the same congregation, they need not any other sentence to keep them from keeping company with the state excommunicate: for the very institution, as it uniteth many men into one community, so it dissociateth one community from another: so that excommunication is not needful for keeping kings and states asunder; nor has any further effect than is in the nature of policy itself, unless it be to instigate princes to war upon one another.
Nor is the excommunication of a Christian subject that obeyeth the laws of his own sovereign, whether Christian or heathen, of any effect. For if he believe that "Jesus is the Christ, he hath the Spirit of God,"297 "and God dwelleth in him, and he in God."298 But he that hath the Spirit of God; he that dwelleth in God; he in whom God dwelleth, can receive no harm by the excommunication of men. Therefore, he that believeth Jesus to be the Christ is free from all the dangers threatened to persons excommunicate. He that believeth it not is no Christian. Therefore a true and unfeigned Christian is not liable to excommunication: nor he also that is a professed Christian, till his hypocrisy appear in his manners; that is, till his behaviour be contrary to the law of his sovereign, which is the rule of manners, and which Christ and his Apostles have commanded us to be subject to. For the Church cannot judge of manners but by external actions, which actions can never be unlawful but when they are against the law of the Commonwealth.
297 John, 5. 1
298 Ibid., 4. 15
If a man's father, or mother, or master be excommunicate, yet are not the children forbidden to keep them company, nor to eat with them; for that were, for the most part, to oblige them not to eat at all, for want of means to get food; and to authorize them to disobey their parents and masters, contrary to the precept of the Apostles.
In sum, the power of excommunication cannot be extended further than to the end for which the Apostles and pastors of the Church have their commission from our Saviour; which is not to rule by command and coercion, but by teaching and direction of men in the way of salvation in the world to come. And as a master in any science may abandon his scholar when he obstinately neglecteth the practice of his rules, but not accuse him of injustice, because he was never bound to obey him: so a teacher of Christian doctrine may abandon his disciples that obstinately continue in an unchristian life; but he cannot say they do him wrong, because they are not obliged to obey him: for to a teacher that shall so complain may be applied the answer of God to Samuel in the like place, "They have not rejected thee, but me."299 Excommunication therefore, when it wanteth the assistance of the civil power, as it doth when a Christian state or prince is excommunicate by a foreign authority, is without effect, and consequently ought to be without terror. The name of fulmen excommunicationis (that is, the thunderbolt of excommunication) proceeded from an imagination of the Bishop of Rome, which first used it, that he was king of kings, as the heathen made Jupiter king of the gods; and assigned him, in their poems and pictures, a thunderbolt wherewith to subdue and punish the giants that should dare to deny his power: which imagination was grounded on two errors; one, that the kingdom of Christ is of this world, contrary to our Saviour's own words, "My kingdom is not of this world";300 the other, that he is Christ's vicar, not only over his own subjects, but over all the Christians of the world; whereof there is no ground in Scripture, and the contrary shall be proved in its due place.
299 I Samuel, 8. 7
300 John, 18. 36
St. Paul coming to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews, "as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus whom he preached was the Christ."301 The Scriptures here mentioned were the Scriptures of the Jews, that is, the Old Testament. The men to whom he was to prove that Jesus was the Christ, and risen again from the dead, were also Jews, and did believe already that they were the word of God. Hereupon, as it is in the fourth verse some of them believed, and, as it is in the fifth verse, some believed not. What was the reason, when they all believed the Scripture, that they did not all believe alike, but that some approved, others disapproved, the interpretation of St. Paul that cited them, and every one interpreted them to himself? It was this: St. Paul came to them without any legal commission, and in the manner of one that would not command, but persuade; which he must needs do, either by miracles, as Moses did to the Israelites in Egypt, that they might see his authority in God's works; or by reasoning from the already received Scripture, that they might see the truth of his doctrine in God's word. But whosoever persuadeth by reasoning from principles written maketh him to whom he speaketh judge; both of the meaning of those principles and also of the force of his inferences upon them. If these Jews of Thessalonica were not, who else was the judge of what St. Paul alleged out of Scripture? If St. Paul, what needed he to quote any places to prove his doctrine? It had been enough to have said, "I find it so in Scripture; that is to say, in your laws, of which I am interpreter, as sent by Christ." The interpreter therefore of the Scripture, to whose interpretation the Jews of Thessalonica were bound to stand, could be none: every one might believe or not believe, according as the allegations seemed to himself to be agreeable or not agreeable to the meaning of the places alleged. And generally in all cases of the world he that pretendeth any proof maketh judge of his proof him to whom he addresseth his speech. And as to the case of the Jews in particular, they were bound by express words to receive the determination of all hard questions from the priests and judges of Israel for the time being.302 But this is to be understood of the Jews that were yet unconverted.
301 Acts, 17. 2, 3
302 Deuteronomy, 17
For the conversion of the Gentiles, there was no use of alleging the Scriptures, which they believed not. The Apostles therefore laboured by reason to confute their idolatry; and that done, to persuade them to the faith of Christ by their testimony of his life and resurrection. So that there could not yet be any controversy concerning the authority to interpret Scripture; seeing no man was obliged, during his infidelity, to follow any man's interpretation of any Scripture except his sovereign's interpretation of the laws of his country.
Let us now consider the conversion itself, and see what there was therein that could be cause of such an obligation. Men were converted to no other thing than to the belief of that which the Apostles preached: and the Apostles preached nothing but that Jesus was the Christ, that is to say, the King that was to save them and reign over them eternally in the world to come; and consequently that he was not dead, but risen again from the dead, and gone up into heaven, and should come again one day to judge the world (which also should rise again to be judged), and reward every man according to his works. None of them preached that himself, or any other Apostle, was such an interpreter of the Scripture as all that became Christians ought to take their interpretation for law. For to interpret the laws is part of the administration of a present kingdom, which the Apostles had not. They prayed then, and all other pastors since, "Let thy kingdom come"; and exhorted their converts to obey their then ethnic princes. The New Testament was not yet published in one body. Every of the evangelists was interpreter of his own gospel, and every Apostle of his own epistle; and of the Old Testament our Saviour himself saith to the Jews, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think to have eternal life, and they are they that testify of me."303 If he had not meant they should interpret them, he would not have bidden them take thence the proof of his being the Christ: he would either have interpreted them himself, or referred them to the interpretation of the priests.
303 John, 5. 39
When a difficulty arose, the Apostles and elders of the Church assembled themselves together, and determined what should be preached and taught, and how they should interpret the Scriptures to the people, but took not from the people the liberty to read and interpret them to themselves. The Apostles sent diverse letters to the Churches, and other writings for their instruction; which had been in vain if they had not allowed them to interpret, that is, to consider the meaning of them. And as it was in the Apostles' time, it must be till such time as there should be pastors that could authorize an interpreter whose interpretation should generally be stood to: but that could not be till kings were pastors, or pastors kings.
There be two senses wherein a writing may be said to be canonical: for canon signifieth a rule; and a rule is a precept by which a man is guided and directed in any action whatsoever. Such precepts, though given by a teacher to his disciple, or a counsellor to his friend, without power to compel him to observe them, are nevertheless canons, because they are rules. But when they are given by one whom he that receiveth them is bound to obey, then are those canons not only rules, but laws: the question therefore here is of the power to make the Scriptures, which are the rules of Christian faith, laws.
That part of the Scripture which was first law was the Ten Commandments, written in two tables of stone and delivered by God Himself to Moses, and by Moses made known to the people. Before that time there was no written law of God, who, as yet having not chosen any people to be His peculiar kingdom, had given no law to men, but the law of nature, that is to say, the precepts of natural reason, written in every man's own heart. Of these two tables, the first containeth the law of sovereignty: 1. That they should not obey nor honour the gods of other nations, in these words, Non habebis deos alienos coram me; that is, "Thou shalt not have for gods, the gods that other nations worship, but only me": whereby they were forbidden to obey or honour as their king and governor any other God than Him that spake unto them by Moses, and afterwards by the high priest. 2. That they "should not make any image to represent Him"; that is to say, they were not to choose to themselves, neither in heaven nor in earth, any representative of their own fancying, but obey Moses and Aaron, whom He had appointed to that office. 3. That "they should not take the name of God in vain"; that is, they should not speak rashly of their King, nor dispute his right, nor the commissions of Moses and Aaron, His lieutenants. 4. That "they should every seventh day abstain from their ordinary labour," and employ that time in doing Him public honour. The second table containeth the duty of one man towards another, as "To honour parents"; "Not to kill"; "Not to commit adultery"; "Not to steal"; "Not to corrupt judgement by false witness"; and finally, "Not so much as to design in their heart the doing of any injury one to another." The question now is who it was that gave to these written tables the obligatory force of laws. There is no doubt but they were made laws by God Himself: but because a law obliges not, nor is law to any but to them that acknowledge it to be the act of the sovereign, how could the people of Israel, that were forbidden to approach the mountain to hear what God said to Moses, be obliged to obedience to all those laws which Moses propounded to them? Some of them were indeed the laws of nature, as all the second table, and therefore to be acknowledged for God's laws; not to the Israelites alone, but to all people: but of those that were peculiar to the Israelites, as those of the first table, the question remains, saving that they had obliged themselves, presently after the propounding of them, to obey Moses, in these words, "Speak thou to us, and we will hear thee; but let not God speak to us, lest we die."304 It was therefore only Moses then, and after him the high priest, whom, by Moses, God declared should administer this His peculiar kingdom, that had on earth the power to make this short Scripture of the Decalogue to be law in the commonwealth of Israel. But Moses, and Aaron, and the succeeding high priests were the civil sovereigns. Therefore hitherto the canonizing, or making of the Scripture law, belonged to the civil sovereign.
304 Exodus, 20. 19
The judicial law, that is to say, the laws that God prescribed to the magistrates of Israel for the rule of their administration of justice, and of the sentences or judgements they should pronounce in pleas between man and man; and the Levitical law, that is to say, the rule that God prescribed touching the rites and ceremonies of the priests and Levites, were all delivered to them by Moses only; and therefore also became laws by virtue of the same promise of obedience to Moses. Whether these laws were then written, or not written, but dictated to the people by Moses, after his forty days being with God in the Mount, by word of mouth, is not expressed in the text; but they were all positive laws, and equivalent to Holy Scripture, and made canonical by Moses the civil sovereign.
After the Israelites were come into the plains of Moab over against Jericho, and ready to enter into the Land of Promise, Moses to the former laws added diverse others; which therefore are called Deuteronomy; that is, Second Laws; and are, as it is written, "the words of a covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel, besides the covenant which he made with them in Horeb."305 For having explained those former laws, in the beginning of the Book of Deuteronomy, he addeth others, that begin at the twelfth Chapter and continue to the end of the twenty-sixth of the same book. This law they were commanded to write upon great stones plastered over, at their passing over Jordan:306 this law also was written by Moses himself in a book, and delivered into the hands of the priests, and to the elders of Israel,307 and commanded "to be put in the side of the Ark";308 for in the Ark itself was nothing but the Ten Commandments. This was the law which Moses commanded the kings of Israel should keep a copy of:309 and this is the law which, having been long time lost, was found again in the Temple in the time of Josiah, and by his authority received for the law of God. But both Moses at the writing and Josiah at the recovery thereof had both of them the civil sovereignty. Hitherto therefore the power of making Scripture canonical was in the civil sovereign.
305 Deuteronomy, 29. 1
306 Ibid., 27
307 Ibid., 31. 9
308 Ibid., 31. 26
309 Ibid., 17. 18
Besides this Book of the Law, there was no other book, from the time of Moses till after the Captivity, received amongst the Jews for the law of God. For the prophets, except a few, lived in the time of the Captivity itself; and the rest lived but a little before it, and were so far from having their prophecies generally received for laws as that their persons were persecuted, partly by false prophets, and partly by the kings were seduced by them. And this book itself, which was confirmed by Josiah for the law of God, and with it all the history of the works of God, was lost in the Captivity, and sack of the city of Jerusalem, as appears by that of II Esdras, 14. 21, "Thy law is burnt; therefore no man knoweth the things that are done of Thee, or the works that shall begin." And before the Captivity, between the time when the law was lost (which is not mentioned in the Scripture, but may probably be thought to be the time of Rehoboam when Shishak, King of Egypt, took the spoil of the Temple310) and the time of Josiah, when it was found again, they had no written word of God, but ruled according to their own discretion, or by the direction of such as each of them esteemed prophets.
310 I Kings, 14. 26
From hence we may infer that the Scriptures of the Old Testament, which we have at this day, were not canonical, nor a law unto the Jews, till the renovation of their covenant with God at their return from the Captivity, and restoration of their Commonwealth under Esdras. But from that time forward they were accounted the law of the Jews, and for such translated into Greek by seventy elders of Judaea, and put into the library of Ptolemy at Alexandria, and approved for the word of God. Now seeing Esdras was the high priest, and the high priest was their civil sovereign, it is manifest that the Scriptures were never made laws, but by the sovereign civil power.
By the writings of the Fathers that lived in the time before that Christian religion was received and authorized by Constantine the Emperor, we may find that the books we now have of the New Testament were held by the Christians of that time (except a few, in respect of whose paucity the rest were called the Catholic Church, and others heretics) for the dictates of the Holy Ghost; and consequently for the canon, or rule of faith: such was the reverence and opinion they had of their teachers; as generally the reverence that the disciples bear to their first masters in all manner of doctrine they receive from them is not small. Therefore there is no doubt but when St. Paul wrote to the churches he had converted; or any other Apostle or Disciple of Christ, to those which had then embraced Christ; they received those their writings for the true Christian doctrine. But in that time when not the power and authority of the teacher, but the faith of the hearer, caused them to receive it, it was not the Apostles that made their own writings canonical, but every convert made them so to himself.
But the question here is not what any Christian made a law or canon to himself, which he might again reject by the same right he received it, but what was so made a canon to them as without injustice they could not do anything contrary thereunto. That the New Testament should in this sense be canonical, that is to say, a law in any place where the law of the Commonwealth had not made it so, is contrary to the nature of a law. For a law, as hath been already shown, is the commandment of that man, or assembly, to whom we have given sovereign authority to make such rules for the direction of our actions as he shall think fit, and to punish us when we do anything contrary to the same. When therefore any other man shall offer unto us any other rules, which the sovereign ruler hath not prescribed, they are but counsel and advice; which, whether good or bad, he that is counselled may without injustice refuse to observe; and when contrary to the laws already established, without injustice cannot observe, how good soever he conceiveth it to be. I say he cannot in this case observe the same in his actions, nor in his discourse with other men, though he may without blame believe his private teachers and wish he had the liberty to practise their advice, and that it were publicly received for law. For internal faith is in its own nature invisible, and consequently exempted from all human jurisdiction; whereas the words and actions that proceed from it, as breaches of our civil obedience, are injustice both before God and man. Seeing then our Saviour hath denied his kingdom to be in this world, seeing he hath said he came not to judge, but to save the world, he hath not subjected us to other laws than those of the Commonwealth; that is, the Jews to the law of Moses, which he saith he came not to destroy, but to fulfil;311 and other nations to the laws of their several sovereigns, and all men to the laws of nature; the observing whereof, both he himself and his Apostles have in their teaching recommended to us as a necessary condition of being admitted by him in the last day into his eternal kingdom, wherein shall be protection and life everlasting. Seeing then our Saviour and his Apostles left not new laws to oblige us in this world, but new doctrine to prepare us for the next, the books of the New Testament, which contain that doctrine, until obedience to them was commanded by them that God had given power to on earth to be legislators, were not obligatory canons, that is, laws, but only good and safe advice for the direction of sinners in the way to salvation, which every man might take and refuse at his own peril, without injustice.
311 Matthew, 5
Again, our Saviour Christ's commission to his Apostles and Disciples was to proclaim his kingdom, not present, but to come; and to teach all nations, and to baptize them that should believe; and to enter into the houses of them that should receive them; and where they were not received, to shake off the dust of their feet against them; but not to call for fire from heaven to destroy them, nor to compel them to obedience by the sword. In all which there is nothing of power, but of persuasion. He sent them out as sheep unto wolves, not as kings to their subjects. They had not in commission to make laws; but to obey and teach obedience to laws made; and consequently they could not make their writings obligatory canons, without the help of the sovereign civil power. And therefore the Scripture of the New Testament is there only law where the lawful civil power hath made it so. And there also the king, or sovereign, maketh it a law to himself; by which he subjecteth himself, not to the doctor or Apostle that converted him, but to God Himself, and His Son Jesus Christ, as immediately as did the Apostles themselves.
That which may seem to give the New Testament, in respect of those that have embraced Christian doctrine, the force of laws, in the times and places of persecution, is the decrees they made amongst themselves in their synods. For we read the style of the council of the Apostles, the elders, and the whole Church, in this manner, "It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things,"312 etc., which is a style that signifieth a power to lay a burden on them that had received their doctrine. Now "to lay a burden on another" seemeth the same as to oblige, and therefore the acts of that council were laws to the then Christians. Nevertheless, they were no more laws than are these other precepts, "Repent"; "Be baptized"; "Keep the Commandments"; "Believe the Gospel"; "Come unto me"; "Sell all that thou hast"; "Give it to the poor"; and "Follow me"; which are not commands, but invitations and callings of men to Christianity, like that of Isaiah, "Ho, every man that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, come, and buy wine and milk without money."313 For first, the Apostles' power was no other than that of our Saviour, to invite men to embrace the kingdom of God; which they themselves acknowledged for a kingdom, not present, but to come; and they that have no kingdom can make no laws. And secondly, if their acts of council were laws, they could not without sin be disobeyed. But we read not anywhere that they who received not the doctrine of Christ did therein sin, but that they died in their sins; that is, that their sins against the laws to which they owed obedience were not pardoned. And those laws were the laws of nature, and the civil laws of the state, whereto every Christian man had by pact submitted himself. And therefore by the burden which the Apostles might lay on such as they had converted are not to be understood laws, but conditions, proposed to those that sought salvation; which they might accept or refuse at their own peril, without a new sin, though not without the hazard of being condemned and excluded out of the kingdom of God for their sins past. And therefore of infidels, St. John saith not, the wrath of God shall come upon them, but the wrath of God remaineth upon them;314 and not that they shall he condemned, but that they are condemned already.315 Nor can it be conceived that the benefit of faith is remission of sins, unless we conceive withal that the damage of infidelity is the retention of the same sins.
312 Acts, 15. 28
313 Isaiah, 55. 1
314 John, 3. 36
315 Ibid., 3. 18
But to what end is it, may some man ask, that the Apostles and other pastors of the Church, after their time, should meet together to agree upon what doctrine should be taught, both for faith and manners, if no man were obliged to observe their decrees? To this may be answered that the Apostles and elders of that council were obliged, even by their entrance into it, to teach the doctrine therein concluded, and decreed to be taught, so far forth as no precedent law, to which they were obliged to yield obedience, was to the contrary; but not that all other Christians should be obliged to observe what they taught. For though they might deliberate what each of them should teach, yet they could not deliberate what others should do, unless their assembly had had a legislative power, which none could have but civil sovereigns. For though God be the sovereign of all the world, we are not bound to take for His law whatsoever is propounded by every man in His name; nor anything contrary to the civil law, which God hath expressly commanded us to obey.
Seeing then the acts of council of the Apostles were then no laws, but counsels; much less are laws the acts of any other doctors or councils since, if assembled without the authority of the civil sovereign. And consequently, the books of the New Testament, though most perfect rules of Christian doctrine, could not be made laws by any other authority than that of kings or sovereign assemblies.
The first council that made the Scriptures we now have canon is not extant: for that collection of the canons of the Apostles, attributed to Clemens, the first bishop of Rome after St. Peter, is subject to question: for though the canonical books be there reckoned up; yet these words, Sint vobis omnibus Clericis & Laicis Libri venerandi, etc., contain a distinction of clergy and laity that was not in use so near St. Peter's time. The first council for settling the canonical Scripture that is extant is that of Laodicea, Can. 59, which forbids the reading of other books than those in the churches; which is a mandate that is not addressed to every Christian, but to those only that had authority to read anything publicly in the Church; that is, to ecclesiastics only.
Of ecclesiastical officers in the time of the Apostles, some were magisterial, some ministerial. Magisterial were the offices of preaching of the gospel of the kingdom of God to infidels; of administering the sacraments and divine service; and of teaching the rules of faith and manners to those that were converted. Ministerial was the office of deacons, that is, of them that were appointed to the administration of the secular necessities of the Church, at such time as they lived upon a common stock of money, raised out of the voluntary contributions of the faithful.
Amongst the officers Amongst the officer magisterial, the first and principal were the Apostles, whereof there were at first but twelve; and these were chosen and constituted by our Saviour himself; and their office was not only to preach, teach, and baptize, but also to be martyrs (witnesses of our Saviour's resurrection). This testimony was the specifical and essential mark whereby the apostleship was distinguished from other magistracy ecclesiastical; as being necessary for an Apostle either to have seen our Saviour after his resurrection or to have conversed with him before, and seen his works, and other arguments of his divinity, whereby they might be taken for sufficient witnesses. And therefore at the election of a new Apostle in the place of Judas Iscariot, St. Peter saith, "Of these men that have companied with us, all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection":316 where by this word must is implied a necessary property of an Apostle, to have companied with the first and prime Apostles in the time that our Saviour manifested himself in the flesh.
316 Acts, 1. 21, 22
The first Apostle of those which were not constituted by Christ in the time he was upon the earth was Matthias, chosen in this manner: there were assembled together in Jerusalem about one hundred and twenty Christians.317 These appointed two, Joseph the Just and Matthias,318 and caused lots to be drawn; "and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the apostles."319 So that here we see the ordination of this Apostle was the act of the congregation, and not of St. Peter, nor of the eleven, otherwise than as members of the assembly.
317 Acts, 1. 15
318 Ibid., 1. 23
319 Ibid., 1. 26
After him there was never any other Apostle ordained, but Paul and Barnabas, which was done, as we read, in this manner: "There were in the church that was at Antioch, certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen; which had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered unto the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted, and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away."320
320 Acts, 13. 1, 2, 3
By which it is manifest that though they were called by the Holy Ghost, their calling was declared unto them, and their mission authorized by the particular church of Antioch. And that this their calling was to the apostleship is apparent by that, that they are both called Apostles:321 and that it was by virtue of this act of the church of Antioch that they were Apostles, St. Paul declareth plainly in that he useth the word, which the Holy Ghost used at his calling, for he styleth himself, "An apostle separated unto the gospel of God,"322 alluding to the words of the Holy Ghost, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul," etc. But seeing the work of an Apostle was to be a witness of the resurrection of Christ, a man may here ask how St. Paul, that conversed not with our Saviour before his Passion, could know he was risen. To which is easily answered that our Saviour himself appeared to him in the way to Damascus, from heaven, after his ascension; "and chose him for a vessel to bear his name before the Gentiles, and kings, and children of Israel"; and consequently, having seen the Lord after his Passion, was a competent witness of his resurrection: and as for Barnabas, he was a disciple before the Passion. It is therefore evident that Paul and Barnabas were Apostles, and yet chosen and authorized, not by the first Apostles alone, but by the Church of Antioch; as Matthias was chosen and authorized by the Church of Jerusalem.
321 Acts, 14. 14
322 Romans, 1. 1
Bishop, a word formed in our language out of the Greek episcopus, signifieth an overseer or superintendent of any business, and particularly a pastor or shepherd; and thence by metaphor was taken, not only amongst the Jews that were originally shepherds, but also amongst the heathen, to signify the office of a king, or any other ruler or guide of people, whether he ruled by laws or doctrine. And so the Apostles were the first Christian bishops, instituted by Christ himself: in which sense the apostleship of Judas is called "his bishoprick."323 And afterwards, when there were constituted elders in the Christian churches, with charge to guide Christ's flock by their doctrine and advice, these elders were also called bishops. Timothy was an elder (which word elder, in the New Testament, is a name of office as well as of age); yet he was also a bishop. And bishops were then content with the title of elders. Nay, St. John himself, the Apostle beloved of our Lord, beginneth his Second Epistle with these words, "The elder to the elect lady." By which it is evident that bishop, pastor, elder, doctor, that is to say, teacher, were but so many diverse names of the same office in the time of the Apostles. For there was then no government by coercion, but only by doctrine and persuading. The kingdom of God was yet to come, in a new world; so that there could be no authority to compel in any church till the Commonwealth had embraced the Christian faith; and consequently no diversity of authority, though there were diversity of employments.
323 Acts, 1. 20
Besides these magisterial employments in the Church; namely, apostles, bishops, elders, pastors, and doctors, whose calling was to proclaim Christ to the Jews and infidels, and to direct and teach those that believed, we read in the New Testament of no other. For by the names of evangelists and prophets is not signified any office, but several gifts by which several men were profitable to the Church: as evangelists, by writing the life and acts of our Saviour; such as were St. Matthew and St. John Apostles, and St. Mark and St. Luke Disciples, and whosoever else wrote of that subject (as St. Thomas and St. Barnabas are said to have done, though the Church have not received the books that have gone under their names); and as prophets, by the gift of interpreting the Old Testament, and sometimes by declaring their special revelations to the Church. For neither these gifts, nor the gifts of languages, nor the gift of casting out devils, nor of curing other diseases, nor anything else did make an officer in the save only the due calling and election to the charge of teaching.
As the Apostles Matthias, Paul, and Barnabas were not made by our Saviour himself, but were elected by the Church, that is, by the assembly of Christians; namely, Matthias by the church of Jerusalem, and Paul and Barnabas by the church of Antioch; so were also the presbyters and pastors in other cities, elected by the churches of those cities. For proof whereof, let us consider, first, how St. Paul proceeded in the ordination of presbyters in the cities where he had converted men to the Christian faith, immediately after he and Barnabas had received their apostleship. We read that "they ordained elders in every church";324 which at first sight may be taken for an argument that they themselves chose and gave them their authority: but if we consider the original text, it will be manifest that they were authorized and chosen by the assembly of the Christians of each city. For the words there are cheirotonesantes autois presbuterous kat ekklesian, that is, "when they had ordained them elders by the holding up of hands in every congregation." Now it is well enough known that in all those cities the manner of choosing magistrates and officers was by plurality of suffrages; and, because the ordinary way of distinguishing the affirmative votes from the negatives was by holding up of hands, to ordain an officer in any of the cities was no more but to bring the people together to elect them by plurality of votes, whether it were by plurality of elevated hands, or by plurality of voices, or plurality of balls, or beans, or small stones, of which every man cast in one, into a vessel marked for the affirmative or negative; for diverse cities had diverse customs in that point. It was therefore the assembly that elected their own elders: the Apostles were only presidents of the assembly to call them together for such election, and to pronounce them elected, and to give them the benediction, which now is called consecration. And for this cause they that were presidents of the assemblies, as in the absence of the Apostles the elders were, were called proestotes and in Latin antistites; which words signify the principal person of the assembly, whose office was to number the votes, and to declare thereby who was chosen; and where the votes were equal, to decide the matter in question by adding his own which is the office of a president in council. And, because all the churches had their presbyters ordained in the same manner, where the word is constitute, as ina katasteses kata polin presbuterous, "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest constitute elders in every city,"325 we are to understand the same thing; namely, that he should call the faithful together, and ordain them presbyters by plurality of suffrages. It had been a strange thing if in a town where men perhaps had never seen any magistrate otherwise chosen than by an assembly, those of the town, becoming Christians, should so much as have thought on any other way of election of their teachers and guides, that is to say, of their presbyters (otherwise called bishops), than this of plurality of suffrages, intimated by St. Paul in the word cheirotonesantes.326 Nor was there ever any choosing of bishops, before the emperors found it necessary to regulate them in order to the keeping of the peace amongst them, but by the assemblies of the Christians in every several town.
324 Acts, 14. 23
325 Titus, 1. 5
326 Acts, 14. 23
The same is also confirmed by the continual practice even to this day in the election of the bishops of Rome. For if the bishop of any place had the right of choosing another to the succession of the pastoral office, in any city, at such time as he went from thence to plant the same in another place; much more had he had the right to appoint his successor in that place in which he last resided and died: and we find not that ever any bishop of Rome appointed his successor. For they were a long time chosen by the people, as we may see by the sedition raised about the election between Damasus and Ursinus; which Ammianus Marcellinus saith was so great that Juventius the Praefect, unable to keep the peace between them, was forced to go out of the city; and that there were above a hundred men found dead upon that occasion in the church itself. And though they afterwards were chosen, first, by the whole clergy of Rome, and afterwards by the cardinals; yet never any was appointed to the succession by his predecessor. If therefore they pretended no right to appoint their own successors, I think I may reasonably conclude they had no right to appoint the successors of other bishops without receiving some new power; which none could take from the Church to bestow on them, but such as had a lawful authority, not only to teach, but to command the Church, which none could do but the civil sovereign.
The word minister in the original, diakonos, signifieth one that voluntarily doth the business of another man, and differeth from a servant only in this, that servants are obliged by their condition to what is commanded them; whereas ministers are obliged only by their undertaking, and bound therefore to no more than that they have undertaken: so that both they that teach the word of God and they that administer the secular affairs of the Church are both ministers, but they are ministers of different persons. For the pastors of the Church, called "the ministers of the word,"327 are ministers of Christ, whose word it is: but the ministry of a deacon, which is called "serving of tables,"328 is a service done to the church or congregation: so that neither any one man nor the whole Church could ever of their pastor say he was their minister; but of a deacon, whether the charge he undertook were to serve tables or distribute maintenance to the Christians when they lived in each city on a common stock, or upon collections, as in the first times, or to take a care of the house of prayer, or of the revenue, or other worldly business of the Church, the whole congregation might properly call him their minister.
327 Acts, 6. 4
328 Ibid., 6. 2
For their employment as deacons was to serve the congregation, though upon occasion they omitted not to preach the Gospel, and maintain the doctrine of Christ, every one according to his gifts, as St. Stephen did; and both to preach and baptize, as Philip did: for that Philip, which preached the Gospel at Samaria,329 and baptized the eunuch,330 was Philip the Deacon, not Philip the Apostle. For it is manifest that when Philip preached in Samaria, the Apostles were at Jerusalem,331 and "when they heard that Samaria had received the word of God, sent Peter and John to them";332 by imposition of whose hands they that were baptized received (which before by the baptism of Philip they had not received) the Holy Ghost.333 For it was necessary for the conferring of the Holy Ghost that their baptism should be administered or confirmed by a minister of the word, not by a minister of the Church. And therefore to confirm the baptism of those that Philip the Deacon had baptized, the Apostles sent out of their own number from Jerusalem to Samaria, Peter and John, who conferred on them that before were but baptized, those graces that were signs of the Holy Spirit, which at that time did accompany all true believers; which what they were may be understood by that which St. Mark saith, "These signs follow them that believe in my name; they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."334 This to do was it that Philip could not give, but the Apostles could and, as appears by this place, effectually did to every man that truly believed, and was by a minister of Christ himself baptized: which power either Christ's ministers in this age cannot confer, or else there are very few true believers, or Christ hath very few ministers.
329 Acts, 8. 5
330 Ibid., 8. 38
331 Ibid., 8. 1
332 Ibid., 8. 14
333 Ibid., 8. 15
334 Mark, 16. 17
That the first deacons were chosen, not by the Apostles, but by a congregation of the disciples; that is, of Christian men of all sorts, is manifest out of Acts, 6, where we read that the Twelve, after the number of disciples was multiplied, called them together, and having told them that it was not fit that the Apostles should leave the word of God, and serve tables, said unto them, "Brethren look you out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost, and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business."335 Here it is manifest that though the Apostles declared them elected, yet the congregation chose them; which also is more expressly said where it is written that "the saying pleased the whole multitude, and they seven," etc.336
335 Acts, 6. 3
336 Ibid., 6. 5
Under the Old Testament, the tribe of Levi were only capable of the priesthood and other inferior offices of the Church. The land was divided amongst the other tribes, Levi excepted, which by the subdivision of the tribe of Joseph into Ephraim and Manasseh were still twelve. To the tribe of Levi were assigned certain cities for their habitation, with the suburbs for their cattle; but for their portion they were to have the tenth of the fruits of the land of their brethren. Again, the priests for their maintenance had the tenth of that tenth, together with part of the oblations and sacrifices. For God had said to Aaron, "Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part amongst them; I am thy part and thine inheritance amongst the children of Israel."337 For God being then King, and having constituted the tribe of Levi to be His public ministers, He allowed them for their maintenance the public revenue, that is to say, the part that God had reserved to Himself; which were tithes and offerings: and that is it which is meant where God saith, "I am thine inheritance." And therefore to the Levites might not unfitly be attributed the name of clergy, from Kleros, which signifieth lot or inheritance; not that they were heirs of the kingdom of God, more than other; but that God's inheritance was their maintenance. Now seeing in this time God Himself was their King, and Moses, Aaron, and the succeeding high priests were His lieutenants; it is manifest that the right of tithes and offerings was constituted by the civil power.
337 Numbers, 18. 20
After their rejection of God in the demanding of a king, they enjoyed still the same revenue; but the right thereof was derived from that, that the kings did never take it from them: for the public revenue was at the disposing of him that was the public person; and that, till the Captivity, was the king. And again, after the return from the Captivity, they paid their tithes as before to the priest. Hitherto therefore Church livings were determined by the civil sovereign.
Of the maintenance of our Saviour and his Apostles, we read only they had a purse (which was carried by Judas Iscariot); and that of the Apostles such as were fishermen did sometimes use their trade; and that when our Saviour sent the twelve Apostles to preach, he forbade them to carry gold, and silver, and brass in their purses, "for that the workman is worthy of his hire":338 by which it is probable their ordinary maintenance was not unsuitable to their employment; for their employment was "freely to give, because they had freely received";339 and their maintenance was the free gift of those that believed the good tiding they carried about of the coming of the Messiah their Saviour. To which we may add that which was contributed out of gratitude by such as our Saviour had healed of diseases; of which are mentioned "certain women which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities; Mary Magdalen, out of whom went seven devils; and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward; and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance."340
338 Matthew, 10. 9, 10
339 Ibid., 10. 8
340 Luke, 8. 2, 3
After our Saviour's ascension, the Christians of every city lived in common upon the money which was made of the sale of their lands and possessions, and laid down at the feet of the Apostles, of good will, not of duty;341 for "whilst the land remained." saith St. Peter to Ananias, "was it not thine? And after it was sold, was it not in thy power?"342 Which showeth he needed not have saved his land, nor his money by lying, as not being bound to contribute anything at all unless he had pleased. And as in the time of the Apostles, so also all the time downward, till after Constantine the Great, we shall find that the maintenance of the bishops and pastors of the Christian Church was nothing but the voluntary contribution of them that had embraced their doctrine. There was yet no mention of tithes: but such was in the time of Constantine and his sons the affection of Christians to their pastors, as Ammianus Marcellinus saith, describing the sedition of Damasus and Ursinus about the bishopric, that it was worth their contention, in that the bishops of those times by the liberality of their flock, and especially of matrons, lived splendidly, were carried in coaches, and were sumptuous in their fare and apparel.
341 Acts, 4. 34, 35
342 Ibid., 5. 4
But here may some ask whether the pastor were then bound to live upon voluntary contribution, as upon alms, "For who," saith St. Paul, "goeth to war at his own charges? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?"343 And again, "Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the Temple; and they which wait at the altar partake with the altar";344 that is to say, have part of that which is offered at the altar for their maintenance? And then he concludeth, "Even so hath the Lord appointed that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." From which place may be inferred, indeed, that the pastors of the Church ought to be maintained by their flocks; but not that the pastors were to determine either the quantity or the kind of their own allowance, and be, as it were, their own carvers. Their allowance must needs therefore be determined either by the gratitude and liberality of every particular man of their flock or by the whole congregation. By the whole congregation it could not be, because their acts were then no laws: therefore the maintenance of pastors before emperors and civil sovereigns had made laws to settle it was nothing but benevolence. They that served at the altar lived on what was offered. So may the pastors also take what is offered them by their flock, but not exact what is not offered. In what court should they sue for it who had no tribunals? Or if they had arbitrators amongst themselves, who should execute their judgements when they had no power to arm their officers? It remaineth therefore that there could be no certain maintenance assigned to any pastors of the Church, but by the whole congregation; and then only when their decrees should have the force, not only of canons, but also of laws; which laws could not be made but by emperors, kings, or other civil sovereigns. The right of tithes in Moses' Law could not be applied to then ministers of the Gospel, because Moses and the high priests were the civil sovereigns of the people under God, whose kingdom amongst the Jews was present; whereas the kingdom of God by Christ is yet to come.
343 I Corinthians, 9. 7
344 Ibid., 9. 13
Hitherto hath been shown what the pastors of the Church are; what are the points of their commission, as that they were to preach, to teach, to baptize, to be presidents in their several congregations; what is ecclesiastical censure, viz., excommunication, that is to say, in those places where Christianity was forbidden by the civil laws, a putting of themselves out of the company of the excommunicate, and where Christianity was by the civil law commanded, a putting the excommunicate out of the congregations of Christians; who elected the pastors and of the Church, that it the congregation; who consecrated and blessed them, that it was the pastor; what was their due revenue, that it was none but their own possessions, and their own labour, and the voluntary contributions of devout and grateful Christians. We are to consider now what office in the Church those persons have who, being civil sovereigns, have embraced also the Christian faith.
And first, we are to remember that the right of judging what doctrines are fit for peace, and to be taught the subjects, is in all Commonwealths inseparably annexed (as hath been already proved, Chapter eighteen) to the sovereign power civil, whether it be in one man or in one assembly of men. For it is evident to the meanest capacity that men's actions are derived from the opinions they have of the good or evil which from those actions redound unto themselves; and consequently, men that are once possessed of an opinion that their obedience to the sovereign power will be more hurtful to them than their disobedience will disobey the laws, and thereby overthrow the Commonwealth, and introduce confusion and civil war; for the avoiding whereof, all civil government was ordained. And therefore in all Commonwealths of the heathen, the sovereigns have had the name of pastors of the people, because there was no subject that could lawfully teach the people, but by their permission and authority.
This right of the heathen kings cannot be thought taken from them by their conversion to the faith of Christ, who never ordained that kings, for believing in him, should be deposed, that is, subjected to any but himself, or, which is all one, be deprived of the power necessary for the conservation of peace amongst their subjects and for their defence against foreign enemies. And therefore Christian kings are still the supreme pastors of their people, and have power to ordain what pastors they please, to teach the Church, that is, to teach the people committed to their charge.
Again, let the right of choosing them be, as before the conversion of kings, in the Church, for so it was in the time of the Apostles themselves (as hath been shown already in this chapter); even so also the right will be in the civil sovereign, Christian. For in that he is a Christian, he allows the teaching; and in that he is the sovereign (which is as much as to say, the Church by representation), the teachers he elects are elected by the Church. And when an assembly of Christians choose their pastor in a Christian Commonwealth, it is the sovereign that electeth him, because it is done by his authority; in the same manner as when a town choose their mayor, it is the act of him that hath the sovereign power: for every act done is the act of him without whose consent it is invalid. And therefore whatsoever examples may be drawn out of history concerning the election of pastors by the people or by the clergy, they are no arguments against the right of any civil sovereign, because they that elected them did it by his authority.
Seeing then in every Christian Commonwealth the civil sovereign is the supreme pastor, to whose charge the whole flock of his subjects is committed, and consequently that it is by his authority that all other pastors are made, and have power to teach and perform all other pastoral offices, it followeth also that it is from the civil sovereign that all other pastors derive their right of teaching, preaching, and other functions pertaining to that office, and that they are but his ministers; in the same manner as magistrates of towns, judges in courts of justice, and commanders of armies are all but ministers of him that is the magistrate of the whole Commonwealth, judge of all causes, and commander of the whole militia, which is always the civil sovereign. And the reason hereof is not because they that teach, but because they that are to learn, are his subjects. For let it be supposed that a Christian king commit the authority of ordaining pastors in his dominions to another king (as diverse Christian kings allow that power to the Pope), he doth not thereby constitute a pastor over himself, nor a sovereign pastor over his people; for that were to deprive himself of the civil power; which, depending on the opinion men have of their duty to him, and the fear they have of punishment in another world, would depend also on the skill and loyalty of doctors who are no less subject, not only to ambition, but also to ignorance, than any other sort of men. So that where a stranger hath authority to appoint teachers, it is given him by the sovereign in whose dominions he teacheth. Christian doctors are our schoolmasters to Christianity; but kings are fathers of families, and may receive schoolmasters for their subjects from the recommendation of a stranger, but not from the command; especially when the ill teaching them shall redound to the great and manifest profit of him that recommends them: nor can they be obliged to retain them longer than it is for the public good, the care of which they stand so long charged withal as they retain any other essential right of the sovereignty.
If a man therefore should ask a pastor, in the execution of his office, as the chief priests and elders of the people asked our Saviour, "By what authority doest thou these things, and who gave thee this authority?":345 he can make no other just answer but that he doth it by the authority of the Commonwealth, given him by the king or assembly that representeth it. All pastors, except the supreme, execute their charges in the right, that is, by the authority of the civil sovereign, that is, jure civili. But the king, and every other sovereign, executeth his office of supreme pastor by immediate authority from God, that is to say, in God's right, or jure divino. And therefore none but kings can put into their titles, a mark of their submission to God only, Dei gratia Rex, etc. Bishops ought to say in the beginning of their mandates, "By the favour of the King's Majesty, Bishop of such a diocese"; or as civil ministers, "In His Majesty's name." For in saying, Divina providentia, which is the same with Dei gratia, though disguised, they deny to have received their authority from the civil state, and slyly slip off the collar of their civil subjection, contrary to the unity and defence of the Commonwealth.
345 Matthew, 21. 23
But if every Christian sovereign be the supreme pastor of his own subjects, it seemeth that he hath also the authority, not only to preach, which perhaps no man will deny, but also to baptize, and to administer sacrament of administer the sacrament of the Lord's Supper and to consecrate both temples and pastors to God's service; which most men deny, partly because they use not to do it, and partly because the administration of sacraments, and consecration of persons and places to holy uses, requireth the imposition of such men's hands as by the like imposition successively from the time of the Apostles have been ordained to the like ministry. For proof therefore that Christian kings have power to baptize and to consecrate, I am to render a reason both why they use not to do it, and how, without the ordinary ceremony of imposition of hands, they are made capable of doing it when they will.
There is no doubt but any king, in case he were skilful in the sciences, might by the same right of his office read lectures of them himself by which he authorizeth others to read them in the universities. Nevertheless, because the care of the sum of the business of the Commonwealth taketh up his whole time, it were not convenient for him to apply himself in person to that particular. A king may also, if he please, sit in judgement to hear and determine all manner of causes, as well as give others authority to do it in his name; but that the charge that lieth upon him of command and government constrain him to be continually at the helm, and to commit the ministerial offices to others under him. In the like manner our Saviour, who surely had power to baptize, baptized none himself, but sent his Apostles and Disciples to baptize.346 So also St. Paul, by the necessity of preaching in diverse and far distant places, baptized few: amongst all the Corinthians he baptized only Crispus, Gaius, and Stephanas;347 and the reason was because his principal charge was to preach.348 Whereby it is manifest that the greater charge, such as is the government of the Church, is a dispensation for the less. The reason therefore why Christian kings use not to baptize is evident, and the same for which at this day there are few baptized by bishops, and by the Pope fewer.
346 John, 4. 2
347 I Corinthians, 1. 14, 16
348 Ibid., 1. 17
And as concerning imposition of hands, whether it be needful for the authorizing of a king to baptize and consecrate, we may consider thus.
Imposition of hands was a most ancient public ceremony amongst the Jews, by which was designed, and made certain, the person or other thing intended in a man's prayer, blessing, sacrifice, consecration, condemnation, or other speech. So Jacob, in blessing the children of Joseph, "Laid his right hand on Ephraim the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh the firstborn";349 and this he did wittingly (though they were so presented to him by Joseph as he was forced in doing it to stretch out his arms across) to design to whom he whom he intended the greater blessing. So also in the sacrificing of the burnt offering, Aaron is commanded "to lay his hands on the head of the bullock";350 and "to lay his hand on the head of the ram."351 The same is also said again, Leviticus, 1. 4, and 8. 14. Likewise Moses when he ordained Joshua to be captain of the Israelites, that is, consecrated him to God's service, "laid his hands upon him, and gave him his charge,"352 designing and rendering certain who it was they were to obey in war. And in the consecration of the Levites God commanded that "the children of Israel should put their hands the Levites."353 And in the condemnation of him that had blasphemed the Lord, God commanded that "all that heard him should lay their hands on his head, and that all the congregation should stone him."354 And why should they only that heard him lay their hands upon him, and not rather a priest, Levite, or other minister of justice, but that none else were able to design and demonstrate to the eyes of the congregation who it was that had blasphemed and ought to die? And to design a man, or any other thing, by the hand to the eye is less subject to mistake than when it is done to the ear by a name.
349 Genesis, 48. 14
350 Exodus, 29. 10
351 Ibid., 29. 15
352 Numbers, 27. 23
353 Ibid., 8. 10
354 Leviticus, 24. 14
And so much was this ceremony observed that in blessing the whole congregation at once, which cannot be done by laying on of hands, yet Aaron "did lift up his hand towards the people when he blessed them."355 And we read also of the like ceremony of consecration of temples amongst the heathen, as that the priest laid his hands on some post of the temple, all the while he was uttering the words of consecration. So natural it is to design any individual thing rather by the hand, to assure the eyes, than by words to inform the ear, in matters of God's public service.
355 Leviticus, 9. 22
This ceremony was not therefore new in our Saviour's time. For Jairus, whose daughter was sick, besought our Saviour not to heal her, but "to lay his hands upon her, that she might be healed."356 And "they brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray."357
356 Mark, 5. 23
357 Matthew, 19. 13
According to this ancient rite, the Apostles and presbyters and the presbytery itself laid hands on them whom they ordained pastors, and withal prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost; and that not only once, but sometimes oftener, when a new occasion was presented: but the end was still the same, namely a punctual and religious designation of the person ordained either to the pastoral charge in general or to a particular mission. So "The Apostles prayed, and laid their hands"358 on the seven deacons; which was done, not to give them the Holy Ghost (for they were full of the Holy Ghost before they were chosen, as appeareth immediately before359), but to design them to that office. And after Philip the Deacon had converted certain persons in Samaria, Peter and John went down "and laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost."360 And not only an Apostle, but a presbyter had this power: for St. Paul adviseth Timothy, "Lay hands suddenly on no man";361 that is, design no man rashly to the office of a pastor. The whole presbytery laid their hands on Timothy, as we read, I Timothy, 4. 14, but this is to be understood as that some did it by the appointment of the presbytery, and most likely their proestos, or prolocutor, which it may be was St. Paul himself. For in his second Epistle to Timothy, verse 6, he saith to him, "Stir up the gift of God which is in thee, by the laying on of my hands": where note, by the way, that by the Holy Ghost is not meant the third person in the Trinity, but the gifts necessary to the pastoral office. We read also that St. Paul had imposition of hands twice; once from Ananias at Damascus at the time of his baptism;362 and again at Antioch, when he was first sent out to preach.363 The use then of this ceremony considered in the ordination of pastors was to design the person to whom they gave such power. But if there had been then any Christian that had had the power of teaching before, the baptizing of him, that is, the making him a Christian, had given him no new power, but had only caused him to preach true doctrine, that is, to use his power aright; and therefore the imposition of hands had been unnecessary; baptism itself had been sufficient. But every sovereign, before Christianity, had the power of teaching and ordaining teachers; and therefore Christianity gave them no new right, but only directed them in the way of teaching truth; and consequently they needed no imposition of hands (besides that which is done in baptism) to authorize them to exercise any part of the pastoral function, as namely, to baptize and consecrate. And in the Old Testament, though the priest only had right to consecrate, during the time that the sovereignty was in the high priest, yet it was not so when the sovereignty was in the king: for we read that Solomon blessed the people, consecrated the Temple, and pronounced that public prayer,364 which is the pattern now for consecration of all Christian churches and chapels: whereby it appears he had not only the right of ecclesiastical government, but also of exercising ecclesiastical functions.
358 Acts, 6. 6
359 Ibid., 6. 3
360 Ibid., 8. 17
361 I Timothy, 5. 22
362 Acts, 9. 17, 18
363 Ibid., 13. 3
364 I Kings, 8
From this consolidation of the right politic and ecclesiastic in Christian sovereigns, it is evident they have all manner of power over their subjects that can be given to man for the government of men's external actions, both in policy and religion, and may make such laws as themselves shall judge fittest, for the government of their own subjects, both as they are the Commonwealth and as they are the Church: for both State and Church are the same men.
If they please, therefore, they may, as many Christian kings now do, commit the government of their subjects in matters of religion to the Pope; but then the Pope is in that point subordinate to them, and exerciseth that charge in another's dominion jure civili, in the right of the civil sovereign; not jure divino, in God's right; and may therefore be discharged of that office when the sovereign for the good of his subjects shall think it necessary. They may also, if they please, commit the care of religion to one supreme pastor, or to an assembly of pastors, and give them what power over the Church, or one over another, they think most convenient; and what titles of honor, as of bishops, archbishops, priests, or presbyters, they will; and make such laws for their maintenance, either by tithes or otherwise, as they please, so they do it out of a sincere conscience, of which God only is the judge. It is the civil sovereign that is to appoint judges and interpreters of the canonical scriptures; for it is he that maketh them laws. It is he also that giveth strength to excommunications; which but for such laws and punishments as may humble obstinate libertines, and reduce them to union with the rest of the Church, would be contemned. In sum, he hath the supreme power in all causes, as well ecclesiastical as civil, as far as concerneth actions and words, for those only are known and may be accused; and of that which cannot be accused, there is no judge at all, but God, that knoweth the heart. And these rights are incident to all sovereigns, whether monarchs or assemblies: for they that are the representants of a Christian people are representants of the Church: for a Church and a Commonwealth of Christian people are the same thing.
Though this that I have here said, and in other places of this book, seem clear enough for the asserting of the supreme ecclesiastical power to Christian sovereigns, yet because the Pope of Rome's challenge to that power universally hath been maintained chiefly, and I think as strongly as is possible, by Cardinal Bellarmine in his controversy DeSummo Pontifice, I have thought it necessary, as briefly as I can, to examine the grounds and strength of his discourse.
Of five books he hath written of this subject, the first containeth three questions: one, which is simply the best government, monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy, and concludeth for neither, but for a government mixed of all three; another, which of these is the best government of the Church, and concludeth for the mixed, but which should most participate of monarchy; the third, whether in this mixed monarchy, St. Peter had the place of monarch. Concerning his first conclusion, I have already sufficiently proved (Chapter eighteen) that all governments, which men are bound to obey, are simple and absolute. In monarchy there is but one man supreme, and all other men that have any kind of power in the state have it by his commission, during his pleasure, and execute it in his name; and in aristocracy and democracy, but one supreme assembly, with the same power that in monarchy belongeth to the monarch, which is not a mixed, but an absolute sovereignty. And of the three sorts, which is the best is not to be disputed where any one of them is already established; but the present ought always to be preferred, maintained, and accounted best, because it is against both the law of nature and the divine positive law to do anything tending to the subversion thereof. Besides, it maketh nothing to the power of any pastor (unless he have the civil sovereignty) what kind of government is the best, because their calling is not to govern men by commandment, but to teach them and persuade them by arguments, and leave it to them to consider whether they shall embrace or reject the doctrine taught. For monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy do mark out unto us three sorts of sovereigns, not of pastors; or, as we may say, three sorts of masters of families, not three sorts of schoolmasters for their children.
And therefore the second conclusion, concerning the best form of government of the Church, is nothing to the question of the Pope's power without his own dominions: for in all other Commonwealths his power, if he have any at all, is that of the schoolmaster only, and not of the master of the family.
For the third conclusion, which is that St. Peter was monarch of the Church, he bringeth for his chief argument the place of St. Matthew, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church," etc. "And I will give thee the keys of heaven; whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."365 Which place, well considered, proveth no more but that the Church of Christ hath for foundation one only article; namely, that which Peter, in the name of all the Apostles professing, gave occasion to our Saviour to speak the words here cited. Which that we may clearly understand, we are to consider, that our Saviour preached by himself, by John Baptist, and by his Apostles, nothing but this article of faith, "that he was the Christ"; all other articles requiring faith no otherwise than as founded on that. John began first, preaching only this, "The kingdom of God is at hand."366 Then our Saviour himself preached the same:367 and to his twelve Apostles, when he gave them their commission, there is no mention of preaching any other article but that.368 This was the fundamental article, that is the foundation of the Church's faith. Afterwards the Apostles being returned to him, he asketh them all, not Peter only, who men said he was; and they answered that some said he was John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the Prophets;369 then he asked them all again, not Peter only, "Whom say ye that I am?"370 Therefore St. Peter answered for them all, "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God"; which I said is the foundation of the faith of the whole Church; from which our Saviour takes the occasion of saying, "upon this stone I will build my Church": by which it is manifest that by the foundation-stone of the Church was meant the fundamental article of the Church's faith. But why then, will some object, doth our Saviour interpose these words, "Thou art Peter"? If the original of this text had been rigidly the reason would easily have appeared. We are therefore to consider that the Apostle Simon was surnamed Stone (which is the signification of the Syriac word cephas, and of the Greek word petrus). Our Saviour therefore after the confession of that fundamental article, alluding to his name, said (as if it were in English) thus, "Thou art Stone, and upon this Stone I will build my Church": which is as much as to say, "This article, that I am the Christ, is the foundation of all the faith I require in those that are to be members my Church." Neither is this allusion to a name an unusual thing in common speech: but it had been a strange and obscure speech, if our Saviour, intending to build his Church on the person of St. Peter, had said, "Thou art a stone, and upon this stone I will build my Church," when it was so obvious, without ambiguity, to have said, "I will build my Church on thee"; and yet there had been still the same allusion to his name.
365 Matthew, 16. 18, 19
366 Ibid., 3. 2
367 Matthew, 4. 17
368 Ibid., 10. 7
369 Ibid., 16. 13
370 Ibid., 16. 15
And for the following words, "I will give thee the keys of heaven," etc., it is no more than what our Saviour gave also to all the rest of his Disciples, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. And whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."371 But howsoever this be interpreted, there is no doubt but the power here granted belongs to all supreme pastors; such as are all Christian civil sovereigns in their own dominions. Insomuch as if St. Peter, or our Saviour himself, had converted any of them to believe him and to acknowledge his kingdom; yet because his kingdom is not of this world, he had left the supreme care of converting his subjects to none but him; or else he must have deprived him of the sovereignty to which the right of teaching is inseparably annexed. And thus much in refutation of his first book, wherein he would prove St. Peter to have been the monarch universal of the Church, that is to say, of all the Christians in the world.
371 Matthew, 18. 18
The second book hath two conclusions: one, that St. Peter was Bishop of Rome, and there died; the other, that the Popes of Rome are his successors; both which have been disputed by others. But supposing them true; yet if by Bishop of Rome be understood either the monarch of the Church, or the supreme pastor of it, not Silvester, but Constantine (who was the first Christian emperor) was that bishop; and as Constantine, so all other Christian emperors were of right supreme bishops of the Roman Empire. I say, of the Roman Empire, not of all Christendom, for other Christian sovereigns had the same right in their several territories, as to an office essentially adherent to their sovereignty: which shall serve for answer to his second book.
In the third book he handleth the question whether the Pope be Antichrist. For my part, I see no argument that proves he is so, in that sense the Scripture useth the name: nor will I take any argument from the quality of Antichrist to contradict the authority he exerciseth, or hath heretofore exercised, in the dominions of any other prince or state.
It is evident that the prophets of the Old Testament foretold, and the Jews expected, a Messiah, that is, a Christ, that should re-establish amongst them the kingdom of God, which had been rejected by them in the time of Samuel when they required a king after the manner of other nations. This expectation of theirs made them obnoxious to the imposture of all such as had both the ambition to attempt the attaining of the kingdom, and the art to deceive the people by counterfeit miracles, by hypocritical life, or by orations and doctrine plausible. Our Saviour therefore, and his Apostles, forewarned men of false prophets and of false Christs. False Christs are such as pretend to be the Christ, but are not, and are called properly Antichrists, in such sense as when there happeneth a schism in the Church by the election of two Popes, the one the one calleth the other Antipapa, or the false Pope. And therefore Antichrist in the proper signification hath two essential marks: one, that he denieth Jesus to be Christ; and another that he professeth himself to be Christ. The first mark is set down by St. John in his first Epistle, 4. 3, "Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God; and this is the spirit of Antichrist." The other mark is expressed in the words of our Saviour, "Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ";372 and again, "If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, there is Christ, believe it not." And therefore Antichrist must be a false Christ; that is, some one of them that shall pretend themselves to be Christ. And out of these two marks, to deny Jesus to be the Christ and to affirm himself to be the Christ, it followeth that he must also be an adversary of Jesus the true Christ, which is another usual signification of the word Antichrist. But of these many Antichrists, there is one special one, o Antichristos, the Antichrist, or Antichrist definitely, as one certain person; not indefinitely an Antichrist. Now seeing the Pope of Rome neither pretendeth himself, nor denieth Jesus to be the Christ, I perceive not how he can be called Antichrist; by which word is not meant one that falsely pretendeth to be his lieutenant, or vicar general, but to be He. There is also some mark of the time of this special Antichrist, as when that abominable destroyer, spoken of by Daniel,373 shall stand in the holy place,374 and such tribulation as was not since the beginning of the world, nor ever shall be again, insomuch as if it were to last long, no flesh could be saved; but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened,"375 (made fewer). But that tribulation is not yet come; for it is to be followed immediately by a darkening of the sun and moon, a falling of the stars, a concussion of the heavens, and the glorious coming again of our Saviour in the clouds.376 And therefore the Antichrist is not yet come; whereas many Popes are both come and gone. It is true, the Pope, in taking upon him to give laws to all Christian kings and nations, usurpeth a kingdom in this world, which Christ took not on him: but he doth it not as Christ, but as for Christ, wherein there is nothing of the Antichrist.
372 Matthew, 24. 5
373 Daniel, 9. 27
374 Matthew, 24. 15
375 Ibid., 24. 22
376 Ibid., 24. 29
In the fourth book, to prove the Pope to be the supreme judge in all questions of faith and manners, which is as much as to be the absolute monarch of all Christians in the world, he bringeth three propositions: the first, that his judgements are infallible; the second, that he can make very laws, and punish those that observe them not; the third, that our Saviour conferred all jurisdiction ecclesiastical on the Pope of Rome.
For the infallibility of his judgements, he allegeth the Scriptures: the first, that of Luke, 22. 31, "Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired you that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." This, according to Bellarmine's exposition, is that Christ gave here to Simon Peter two privileges: one, that neither his faith should fail, nor the faith of any of his successors; the other, that neither he nor any of his successors should ever define any point concerning faith or manners erroneously, or contrary to the definition of a former Pope: which is a strange and very much strained interpretation. But he that with attention readeth that chapter shall find there is no place in the whole Scripture that maketh more against the Pope's authority than this very place. The priests and scribes, seeking to kill our Saviour at the Passover, and Judas possessed with a resolution to betray him, and the day of killing the Passover being come, our Saviour celebrated the same with his Apostles, which he said, till the kingdom of God was come he would do no more, and withal told them that one of them was to betray him. Hereupon they questioned which of them it should be; and withal, seeing the next Passover their master would celebrate should be when he was king, entered into a contention who should then be the greatest man. Our Saviour therefore told them that the kings of the nations had dominion over their subjects, and are called by a name in Hebrew that signifies bountiful; "but I cannot be so to you; you must endeavour to serve one another; I ordain you a kingdom, but it is such as my Father hath ordained me; a kingdom that I am now to purchase with my blood, and not to possess till my second coming; then ye shall eat and drink at my table, and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." And then addressing himself to St. Peter, he saith, "Simon, Simon, Satan seeks, by suggesting a present domination, to weaken your faith of the future; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith shall not fail; thou therefore note this: being converted, and understanding my kingdom as of another world, confirm the same faith in thy brethren." To which St. Peter answered (as one that no more expected any authority in this world), "Lord, I am ready to go with thee, not only to prison, but to death." Whereby it is manifest, St. Peter had not only no jurisdiction given him in this world, but a charge to teach all the other Apostles that they also should have none. And for the infallibility of St. Peter's sentence definitive in matter of faith, there is no more to be attributed to it out of this text than that Peter should continue in the belief of this point, namely, that Christ should come again and possess the kingdom at the day of judgement; which was not given by this text to all his successors; for we see they claim it in the world that now is.
The second place is that of Matthew 16. 18, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." By which, as I have already shown in this chapter, is proved no more than that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the confession of Peter, which gave occasion to that speech; namely this, that Jesus is Christ the Son of God.
The third text is John, 21. 16, 17, "Feed my sheep"; which contains no more but a commission of teaching. And if we grant the rest of the Apostles to be contained in that name of sheep, then it is the supreme power of teaching: but it was only for the time that there were no Christian sovereigns already possessed of that supremacy. But I have already proved that Christian sovereigns are in their own dominions the supreme pastors, and instituted thereto by virtue of their being baptized, though without other imposition of hands. For such imposition, being a ceremony of designing the person, is needless when he is already designed to the power of teaching what doctrine he will, by his institution to an absolute power over his subjects. For as I have proved before, sovereigns are supreme teachers, in general, by their office, and therefore oblige themselves, by their baptism, to teach the doctrine of Christ: and when they suffer others to teach their people, they do it at the peril of their own souls; for it is at the hands of the heads of families that God will require the account of the instruction of His children and servants. It is of Abraham himself, not of a hireling, that God saith, "I know him that he will command his children, and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, and do justice and judgement."377
377 Genesis, 18. 19
The fourth place is that of Exodus, 28. 30, "Thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgement, the Urim and the Thummim": which he saith is interpreted by the Septuagint, delosin kai aletheian, that is, evidence and truth: and thence concludeth, God hath given evidence and truth, which is almost infallibility, to the high priest. But be it evidence and truth itself that was given; or be it but admonition to the priest to endeavour to inform himself clearly, and give judgement uprightly; yet in that it was given to the high priest, it was given to the civil sovereign (for such next under God was the high priest in the Commonwealth of Israel), and is an argument for evidence and truth, that is, for the ecclesiastical supremacy of civil sovereigns over their own subjects, against the pretended power of the Pope. These are all the texts he bringeth for the infallibility of the judgement of the Pope, in point of faith.
For the infallibility of his judgement concerning manners, he bringeth one text, which is that of John, 16. 13, "When the Spirit of truth is come, he will lead you into all truth": where, saith he, by all truth is meant, at least, all truth necessary to salvation. But with this mitigation, he attributeth no more infallibility to the Pope than to any man that professeth Christianity, and is not to be damned: for if any man err in any point, wherein not to err is necessary to salvation, it is impossible he should be saved; for that only is necessary to salvation without which to be saved is impossible. What points these are I shall declare out of the Scripture in the chapter following. In this place I say no more but that though it were granted the Pope could not possibly teach any error at all, yet doth not this entitle him to any jurisdiction in the dominions of another prince, unless we shall also say a man is obliged in conscience to set on work upon all occasions the best workman, even then also when he hath formerly promised his work to another.
Besides the text, he argueth from reason, thus. If the Pope could err in necessaries, then Christ hath not sufficiently provided for the Church's salvation, because he hath commanded her to follow the Pope's directions. But this reason is invalid, unless he show when and where Christ commanded that, or took at all any notice of a Pope. Nay, granting whatsoever was given to St. Peter was given to the Pope, yet seeing there is in the Scripture no command to any man to obeyeth him when his commands are contrary to those of his lawful sovereign.
Lastly, it hath not been declared by the Church, nor by the Pope himself, that he is the civil of all the Christians in the world; and therefore all Christians are not bound to acknowledge his jurisdiction in point of manners. For the civil sovereignty, and supreme judicature in controversies of manners, are the same thing: and the makers of civil laws are not only declarers, but also makers of the justice and injustice of actions; there being nothing in men's manners that makes them righteous or unrighteous, but their conformity with the law of the sovereign. And therefore when the Pope challengeth supremacy in controversies of manners, he teacheth men to disobey the civil sovereign; which is an erroneous doctrine, contrary to the many precepts of our Saviour and his Apostles delivered to us in the Scripture.
To prove the Pope has power to make laws, he allegeth many places; as first, Deuteronomy, 17. 12, "The man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest, that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die, and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel." For answer whereunto we are to remember that the high priest, next and immediately under God, was the civil sovereign; and all judges were to be constituted by him. The words alleged sound therefore thus, "The man that will presume to disobey the civil sovereign for the time being, or any of his officers, in the execution of their places, that man shall die," etc., which is clearly for the civil sovereignty, against the universal power of the Pope.
Secondly, he allegeth that of Matthew, 16, "Whatsoever ye shall bind," etc., and interpreteth it for such binding as is attributed to the Scribes and Pharisees, "They bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders";378 by which is meant, he says, making of laws; and concludes thence that the Pope can make laws. But this also maketh only for the legislative power of civil sovereigns: for the Scribes and Pharisees sat in Moses' chair, but Moses next under God was sovereign of the people of Israel: and therefore our Saviour commanded them to do all that they should say, but not all that they should do; that is, to obey their laws, but not follow their example.
378 Matthew, 23. 4
The third place is John, 21. 16, "Feed my sheep"; which is not a power to make laws, but a command to teach. Making laws belongs to the lord of the family, who by his own discretion chooseth his chaplain, as also a schoolmaster to teach his children.
The fourth place, John, 20. 21, is against him. The words are, "As my Father sent me, so send I you." But our Saviour was sent to redeem by his death such as should believe; and by his own and his Apostles' preaching to prepare them for their entrance into his kingdom; which he himself saith is not of this world, and hath taught us to pray for the coming of it hereafter, though he refused to tell his Apostles when it should come;379 and in which, when it comes, the twelve Apostles shall sit on twelve thrones (every one perhaps as high as that of St. Peter), to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. Seeing then God the Father sent not our Saviour to make laws in this present world, we may conclude from the text that neither did our Saviour send St. Peter to make laws here, but to persuade men to expect his second coming with a steadfast faith; and in the meantime, if subjects, to obey their princes; and if princes, both to believe it themselves and to do their best to make their subjects do the same, which is the office of a bishop. Therefore this place maketh most strongly for the joining of the ecclesiastical supremacy to the civil sovereignty, contrary to that which Cardinal Bellarmine allegeth it for.
379 Acts, 1. 6, 7
The fifth is Acts, 15. 28, "It hath seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things, that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication." Here he notes the word "laying of burdens" for the legislative power. But who is there that, reading this text, can say this style of the Apostles may not as properly be used in giving counsel as in making laws? The style of a law is, "we command": but, "we think good," is the ordinary style of them that but give advice; and they lay a burden that give advice, though it be conditional, that is, if they to whom they give it will attain their ends: and such is the burden of abstaining from things strangled, and from blood, not absolute, but in case they will not err. I have shown before (Chapter twenty-five) that law is distinguished from counsel in this, that the reason of a law is taken from the design and benefit of him that prescribeth it; but the reason of a counsel, from the design and benefit of him to whom the counsel is given. But here, the Apostles aim only at the benefit of the converted Gentiles, namely, their salvation; not at their own benefit; for having done their endeavour, they shall have their reward, whether they be obeyed or not. And therefore the acts of this council were not laws, but counsels.
The sixth place is that of Romans, 13, "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers, for there is no power but of God"; which is meant, he saith, not only of secular, but also of ecclesiastical princes. To which I answer, first, that there are no ecclesiastical princes but those that are also civil sovereigns, and their principalities exceed not the compass of their civil sovereignty; without those bounds, though they may be received for doctors, they cannot be acknowledged for princes. For if the Apostle had meant we should be subject both to our own princes and also to the Pope, he had taught us a doctrine which Christ himself hath told us is impossible, namely, to serve two masters. And though the Apostle say in another place, "I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me";380 it is not that he challenged a power either to put to death, imprison, banish, whip, or fine any of them, which are punishments; but only to excommunicate, which, without the civil power, is no more but a leaving of their company, and having no more to do with them than with a heathen man or a publican; which in many occasions might be a greater pain to the excommunicant than to the excommunicate.
380 II Corinthians, 13. 10
The seventh place is I Corinthians, 4. 21, "Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and the spirit of lenity?" But here again, it is not the power of a magistrate to punish offenders, that is meant by a rod; but only the power of excommunication, which is not in its own nature a punishment, but only a denouncing of punishment, that Christ shall inflict, when he shall be in possession of his kingdom, at the day of judgement. Nor then also shall it be properly a punishment, as upon a subject that hath broken the law; but a revenge, as upon an enemy, or revolter, that denyeth the right of our saviour to the kingdom: and therefore this proveth not the legislative power of any bishop that has not also the civil power.
The eighth place is Timothy, 3. 2, "A bishop must be the husband but of one wife, vigilant, sober," etc., which he saith was a law. I thought that none could make a law in the Church but the monarch of the Church, St. Peter. But suppose this precept made by the authority of St. Peter; yet I see no reason why to call it a law, rather than an advice, seeing Timothy was not a subject, but a disciple of St. Paul; nor the flock under the charge of Timothy, his subjects in the kingdom, but his scholars in the school of Christ. If all the precepts he giveth Timothy be laws, why is not this also a law, "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for health's sake"? And why are not also the precepts of good physicians so many laws, but that it is not the imperative manner of speaking, but an absolute subjection to a person, that maketh his precepts laws?
In like manner, the ninth place, I Timothy, 5. 19, "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses," is a wise precept, but not a law.
The tenth place is Luke, 10. 16, "He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me." And there is no doubt but he that despiseth the counsel of those that are sent by Christ despiseth the counsel of Christ himself. But who are those now that are sent by Christ but such as are ordained pastors by lawful authority? And who are lawfully ordained that are not ordained by the sovereign pastor? And who is ordained by the sovereign pastor in a Christian Commonwealth that is not ordained by the authority of the sovereign thereof? Out of this place therefore it followeth that he which heareth his sovereign, being a Christian, heareth Christ; and he that despiseth the doctrine which his king, being a Christian, authorizeth despiseth the doctrine of Christ, which is not that which Bellarmine intendeth here to prove, but the contrary. But all this is nothing to a law. Nay more, a Christian king, a pastor and teacher of his subjects makes not thereby his doctrines laws. He cannot oblige men to believe, though as a civil sovereign he may make laws suitable to his doctrine, which may oblige men to certain actions, and sometimes to such as they would not otherwise do, and which he ought not to command; and yet when they are commanded, they are laws; and the external actions done in obedience to them, without the inward approbation, are the actions of the sovereign, and not of the subject, which is in that case but as an instrument, without any motion of his own at all, because God hath commanded to obey them.
The eleventh is every place where the Apostle, for counsel, putteth some word by which men use to signify command, or calleth the following of his counsel by the name of obedience. And therefore they are alleged out of I Corinthians, 11. 2, "I commend you for keeping my precepts as I delivered them to you." The Greek is, "I commend you for keeping those things I delivered to you, as I delivered them": which is far from signifying that they were laws, or anything else, but good counsel. And that of I Thessalonians, 4. 2, "You know what commandments we gave you": where the Greek word is paraggelias edokamen, equivalent to paredokamen, "what we delivered to you," as in the place next before alleged, which does not prove the traditions of the Apostles to be any more than counsels; though as is said in the eighth verse, "he that despiseth them, despiseth not man, but God": for our Saviour himself came not to judge, that is, to be king in this world; but to sacrifice himself for sinners, and leave doctors in his Church, to lead, not to drive men to Christ, who never accepteth forced actions (which is all the law produceth), but the inward conversion of the heart, which is not the work of laws, but of counsel and doctrine.
And that of II Thessalonians, 3. 14, "If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed": where from the word obey, he would infer that this epistle was a law to the Thessalonians. The epistles of the emperors were indeed laws. If therefore the Epistle of St. Paul were also a law, they were to obey two masters. But the word obey, as it is in the Greek upakouei, signifieth hearkening to, or putting in practice, not only that which is commanded by him that has right to punish, but also that which is delivered in a way of counsel for our good; and therefore St. Paul does not bid kill him that disobeys; nor beat, nor imprison, nor amerce him, which legislators may all do; but avoid his company, that he may be ashamed: whereby it is evident it was not the empire of an Apostle, but his reputation amongst the faithful, which the Christians stood in awe of.
The last place is that of Hebrews, 13. 17, "Obey your leaders, and submit yourselves to them, for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account": and here also is intended by obedience, a following of their counsel: for the reason of our obedience is not drawn from the will and command of our pastors, but from our own benefit, as being the salvation of our souls they watch for, and not for the exaltation of their own power and authority. If it were meant here that all they teach were laws, then not only the Pope, but every pastor in his parish should have legislative power. Again, they that are bound to obey their pastors have no power to examine their commands. What then shall we say to St. John, who bids us "not to believe every spirit, but to try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world?"381 It is therefore manifest that we may dispute the doctrine of our pastors, but no man can dispute a law. The commands of civil sovereigns are on all sides granted to be laws: if any else can make a law besides himself, all Commonwealth, and consequently all peace and justice, must cease; which is contrary to all laws, both divine and human. Nothing therefore can be drawn from these or any other places of Scripture to prove the decrees of the Pope, where he has not also the civil sovereignty, to be laws.
381 I John, 4. 1
The last point he would prove is this, that our Saviour Christ has committed ecclesiastical jurisdiction immediately to none but the Pope. Wherein he handleth not the question of supremacy between the Pope and Christian kings, but between the Pope and other bishops. And first, he says it is agreed that the jurisdiction of bishops is at least in the general de jure divino, that is, in the right of God; for which he alleges St. Paul, Ephesians, 4. 11, where he says that Christ, after his ascension into heaven, "gave gifts to men, some Apostles, some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors, and some teachers"; and thence infers they have indeed their jurisdiction in God's right, but will not grant they have it immediately from God, but derived through the Pope. But if a man may be said to have his jurisdiction de jure divino, and yet not immediately; what lawful jurisdiction, though but civil, is there in a Christian Commonwealth that is not also de jure divino? For Christian kings have their civil power from God immediately; and the magistrates under Him exercise their several charges in virtue of His commission; wherein that which they do is no less de jure divino mediato than that which the bishops do in virtue of the Pope's ordination. All lawful power is of God, immediately in the supreme governor, and mediately in those that have authority under him: so that either he must grant every constable in the state to hold his office in the right of God, or he must not hold that any bishop holds his so, besides the Pope himself.
But this whole dispute, whether Christ left the jurisdiction to the Pope only, or to other bishops also, if considered out of those places where the Pope has the civil sovereignty, is a contention de lana caprina: for none of them, where they are not sovereigns, has any jurisdiction at all. For jurisdiction is the power of hearing and determining causes between man and man, and can belong to none but him that hath the power to prescribe the rules of right and wrong; that is, to make laws; and with the sword of justice to compel men to obey his decisions, pronounced either by himself or by the judges he ordaineth thereunto, which none can lawfully do but the civil sovereign.
Therefore when he allegeth, out of the sixth chapter of Luke, that our Saviour called his disciples together, and chose twelve of them, which he named Apostles, he proveth that he elected them (all, except Matthias, Paul, and Barnabas), and gave them power and command to preach, but not to judge of causes between man and man: for that is a power which he refused to take upon himself, saying, "Who made me a judge, or a divider, amongst you?" and in another place, "My kingdom is not of this world." But he that hath not the power to hear and determine causes between man and man cannot be said to have any jurisdiction at all. And yet this hinders not but that our Saviour gave them power to preach and baptize in all parts of the world, supposing they were not by their own lawful sovereign forbidden: for to our own sovereigns Christ himself and his Apostles have in sundry places expressly commanded us in all things to be obedient.
The arguments by which he would prove that bishops receive their jurisdiction from the Pope (seeing the Pope in the dominions of other princes hath no jurisdiction himself) are all in vain. Yet because they prove, on the contrary, that all bishops receive jurisdiction, when they have it, from their civil sovereigns, I will not omit the recital of them.
The first is from Numbers, 11, where Moses, not being able alone to undergo the whole burden of administering the affairs of the people of Israel, God commanded him to choose seventy elders, and took part of the spirit of Moses, to put it upon those seventy elders: by which is understood, not that God weakened the spirit of Moses, for that had not eased him at all, but that they had all of them their authority from him; wherein he doth truly and ingenuously interpret that place. But seeing Moses had the entire sovereignty in the Commonwealth of the Jews, it is manifest that it is thereby signified that they had their authority from the civil sovereign: and therefore that place proveth that bishops in every Christian Commonwealth have their authority from the civil sovereign; and from the Pope in his own territories only, and not in the territories of any other state.
The second argument is from the nature of monarchy, wherein all authority is in one man, and in others by derivation from him. But the government of the Church, he says, is monarchical. This also makes for Christian monarchs. For they are really monarchs of their own people; that is, of their own Church (for the Church is the same thing with a Christian people); whereas the power of the Pope, though he were St. Peter, is neither monarchy, nor hath anything of archical nor cratical, but only of didactical; for God accepteth not a forced, but a willing obedience.
The third is from that the See of St. Peter is called by St. Cyprian, the head, the source, the root, the sun, from whence the authority of bishops is derived. But by the law of nature, which is a better principle of right and wrong than the word of any doctor that is but a man, the civil sovereign in every Commonwealth is the head, the source, the root, and the sun, from which all jurisdiction is derived. And therefore the jurisdiction of bishops is derived from the civil sovereign.
The fourth is taken from the inequality of their jurisdictions: for if God, saith he, had given it them immediately, He had given as well equality of jurisdiction, as of order: but we see some are bishops but of one town, some of a hundred towns, and some of many whole provinces; which differences were not determined by the command of God: their jurisdiction therefore is not of God, but of man: and one has a greater, another a less, as it pleaseth the Prince of the Church. Which argument, if he had proved before that the Pope had had a universal jurisdiction over all Christians, had been for his purpose. But seeing that hath not been proved, and that it is notoriously known the large jurisdiction of the Pope was given him by those that had it, that is, by the emperors of Rome (for the Patriarch of Constantinople, upon the same title, namely, of being bishop of the capital city of the Empire, and seat of the emperor, claimed to be equal to him), it followeth that all other bishops have their jurisdiction from the sovereigns of the place wherein they exercise the same: and as for that cause they have not their authority de jure divino; so neither hath the Pope his de jure divino, except only where he is also the civil sovereign.
His fifth argument is this: "If bishops have their jurisdiction immediately from God, the Pope could not take it from them, for he can do nothing contrary to God's ordination"; and this consequence is good and well proved. "But," saith he, "the Pope can do this, and has done it." This also is granted, so he do it in his own dominions, or in the dominions of any other prince that hath given him that power; but not universally, in right of the popedom: for that power belongeth to every Christian sovereign, within the bounds of his own empire, and is inseparable from the sovereignty. Before the people of Israel had, by the commandment of God to Samuel, set over themselves a king, after the manner of other nations, the high priest had the civil government; and none but he could make nor depose an inferior priest. But that power was afterwards in the king, as may be proved by this same argument of Bellarmine; for if the priest, be he the high priest or any other, had his jurisdiction immediately from God, then the king could not take it from him; for he could do nothing contrary to God's ordinance. But it is certain that King Solomon deprived Abiathar the high priest of his office,382 and placed Zadok in his room.383 Kings therefore may in the like manner ordain and deprive bishops, as they shall think fit, for the well governing of their subjects.
382 I Kings, 2. 26, 27
383 Ibid., 2. 35
His sixth argument is this: if bishops have their jurisdiction de jure divino, that is, immediately from God, they that maintain it should bring some word of God to prove it: but they can bring none. The argument is good; I have therefore nothing to say against it. But it is an argument no less good to prove the Pope himself to have no jurisdiction in the dominion of any other prince.
Lastly, he bringeth for argument the testimony of two Popes, Innocent and Leo; and I doubt not but he might have alleged, with as good reason, the testimonies of all the Popes almost since St. Peter: for, considering the love of power naturally implanted in mankind, whosoever were made Pope, he would be tempted to uphold the same opinion. Nevertheless, they should therein but do as Innocent and Leo did, bear witness of themselves, and therefore their witness should not be good.
In the fifth book he hath four conclusions. The first is that the Pope is not lord of all the world; the second, that the Pope is not lord of all the Christian world; the third, that the Pope, without his own territory, has not any temporal jurisdiction directly. These three conclusions are easily granted. The fourth is that the Pope has, in the dominions of other princes, the supreme temporal power indirectly: which is denied; unless he mean by indirectly that he has gotten it by indirect means, then is that also granted. But I understand that when he saith he hath it indirectly, he means that such temporal jurisdiction belongeth to him of right, but that this right is but a consequence of his pastoral authority, the which he could not exercise, unless he have the other with it: and therefore to the pastoral power, which he calls spiritual, the supreme power civil is necessarily annexed; and that thereby he hath a right to change kingdoms, giving them to one, and taking them from another, when he shall think it conduces to the salvation of souls.
Before I come to consider the arguments by which he would prove this doctrine, it will not be amiss to lay open the consequences of it, that princes and states that have the civil sovereignty in their several Commonwealths may bethink themselves whether it be convenient for them, and conducing to the good of their subjects of whom they are to give an account at the day of judgement, to admit the same.
When it is said the Pope hath not, in the territories of other states, the supreme civil power directly, we are to understand he doth not challenge it, as other civil sovereigns do, from the original submission thereto of those that are to be governed. For it is evident, and has already been sufficiently in this treatise demonstrated, that the right of all sovereigns is derived originally from the consent of every one of those that are to be governed; whether they that choose him do it for it for their common defence against an enemy, as when they agree amongst themselves to appoint a man or an assembly of men to protect them, or whether they do it to save their lives, by submission to a conquering enemy. The Pope therefore, when he disclaimeth the supreme civil power over other states directly, denieth no more but that his right cometh to him by that way; he ceaseth not for all that to claim it another way; and that is, without the consent of them that are to be governed, by a right given him by God, which he calleth indirectly, in his assumption to the papacy. But by what way soever he pretend, the power is the same; and he may, if it be granted to be his right, depose princes and states, as often as it is for the salvation of souls, that is, as often as he will: for he claimeth also the sole power to judge whether it be to the salvation of men's souls, or not. And this is the doctrine, not only that Bellarmine here, and many other doctors teach in their sermons and books, but also that some councils have decreed, and the Popes have accordingly, when the occasion hath served them, put in practice. For the fourth council of Lateran, held under Pope Innocent the Third (in the third Chapter, De Haereticis), hath this canon: "If a king, at the Pope's admonition, do not purge his kingdom of heretics, and being excommunicate for the same, make not satisfaction within a year, his subjects are absolved of their obedience." And the practice hereof hath been seen on diverse occasions: as in the deposing of Childeric, King of France; in the translation of the Roman Empire to Charlemagne; in the oppression of John, King of England; in transferring the kingdom of Navarre; and of late years, in the league against Henry the Third of France, and in many more occurrences. I think there be few princes that consider not this as unjust and inconvenient; but I wish they would all resolve to be kings or subjects. Men cannot serve two masters. They ought therefore to ease them, either by holding the reins of government wholly in their own hands, or by wholly delivering them into the hands of the Pope, that such men as are willing to be obedient may be protected in their obedience. For this distinction of temporal and spiritual power is but words. Power is as really divided, and as dangerously to all purposes, by sharing with another indirect power, as with a direct one. But to come now to his arguments.
The first is this, "The civil power is subject to the spiritual: therefore he that hath the supreme power spiritual hath right to command temporal princes, and dispose of their temporals in order to the spiritual." As for the distinction of temporal and spiritual, let us consider in what sense it may be said intelligibly that the temporal or civil power is subject to the spiritual. There be but two ways that those words can be made sense. For when we say one power is subject to another power, the meaning either is that he which hath the one is subject to him that hath the other; or that the one power is to the other as the means to the end. For we cannot understand that one power hath power over another power; or that one power can have right or command over another: for subjection, command, right, and power are accidents, not of powers, but of persons. One power may be subordinate to another, as the art of a saddler to the art of a rider. If then it be granted that the civil government be ordained as a means to bring us to a spiritual felicity, yet it does not follow that if a king have the civil power, and the Pope the spiritual, that therefore the king is bound to obey the Pope, more than every saddler is bound to obey every rider. Therefore as from subordination of an art cannot be inferred the subjection of the professor; so from the subordination of a government cannot be inferred the subjection of the governor. When therefore he saith the civil power is subject to the spiritual, his meaning is that the civil sovereign is subject to the spiritual sovereign. And the argument stands thus: the civil sovereign is subject to the spiritual; therefore the spiritual prince may command temporal princes, (where the conclusion is the same with the antecedent he should have proved). But to prove it, he allegeth first, this reason, "Kings and popes, clergy and laity, make but one Commonwealth; that is to say, but one Church: and in all bodies the members depend one upon another: but things spiritual depend not of things temporal: therefore temporal depend on spiritual, and therefore are subject to them." In which argumentation there be two gross errors: one is that all Christian kings, popes, clergy, and all other Christian men make but one Commonwealth: for it is evident that France is one Commonwealth, Spain another, and Venice a third, etc. And these consist of Christians, and therefore also are several bodies of Christians; that is to say, several churches: and their several sovereigns represent them, whereby they are capable of commanding and obeying, of doing and suffering, as a natural man; which no general or universal Church is, till it have a representant, which it hath not on earth: for if it had, there is no doubt but that all Christendom were one Commonwealth, whose sovereign were that representant, both in things spiritual and temporal: and the Pope, to make himself this representant, wanteth three things that our Saviour hath not given him, to command, and to judge, and to punish, otherwise than, by excommunication, to run from those that will not learn of him: for though the Pope were Christ's only vicar, yet he cannot exercise his government till our Saviour's second coming: and then also it is not the Pope, but St. Peter himself, with the other Apostles, that are to be judges of the world.
The other error in this his first argument is that he says the members of every Commonwealth, as of a natural body, depend one of another. It is true they cohere together, but they depend only on the sovereign, which is the soul of the Commonwealth; which failing, the Commonwealth is dissolved into a civil war, no one man so much as cohering to another, for want of a common dependence on a known sovereign; just as the members of the natural body dissolve into earth for want of a soul to hold them together. Therefore there is nothing in this similitude from whence to infer a dependence of the laity on the clergy, or of the temporal officers on the spiritual, but of both on the civil sovereign; which ought indeed to direct his civil commands to the salvation of souls; but is not therefore subject to any but God Himself. And thus you see the laboured fallacy of the first argument, to deceive such men as distinguish not between the subordination of actions in the way to the end; and the subjection of persons one to another in the administration of the means. For to every end, the means are determined by nature, or by God Himself supernaturally: but the power to make men use the means is in every nation resigned, by the law of nature, which forbiddeth men to violate their faith given, to the civil sovereign.
His second argument is this: "Every Commonwealth, because it is supposed to be perfect and sufficient in itself, may command any other Commonwealth not subject to it, and force it to change the administration of the government; nay depose the prince, and set another in his room, if it cannot otherwise defend itself against the injuries he goes about to do them: much more may a spiritual Commonwealth command a temporal one to change the administration of their government, and may depose princes, and institute others, when they cannot otherwise defend the spiritual good."
That a Commonwealth, to defend itself against injuries, may lawfully do all that he hath here said is very true; and hath already in that which hath gone before been sufficiently demonstrated. And if it were also true that there is now in this world a spiritual Commonwealth, distinct from a civil Commonwealth, then might the prince thereof, upon injury done him, or upon want of caution that injury be not done him in time to come, repair and secure himself by war; which is, in sum, deposing, killing, or subduing, or doing any act of hostility. But by the same reason, it would be no less lawful for a civil sovereign, upon the like injuries done, or feared, to make war upon the spiritual sovereign; which I believe is more than Cardinal Bellarmine would have inferred from his own proposition.
But spiritual Commonwealth there is none in this world: for it is the same thing with the kingdom of Christ; which he himself saith is not of this world, but shall be in the next world, at the resurrection, when they that have lived justly, and believed that he was the Christ, shall, though they died natural bodies, rise spiritual bodies; and then it is that our Saviour shall judge the world, and conquer his adversaries, and make a spiritual Commonwealth. In the meantime, seeing there are no men on earth whose bodies are spiritual, there can be no spiritual Commonwealth amongst men that are yet in the flesh; unless we call preachers, that have commission to teach and prepare men for their reception into the kingdom of Christ at the resurrection, a Commonwealth; which I have proved already to be none.
The third argument is this: "It is not lawful for Christians to tolerate an infidel or heretical king, in case he endeavour to draw them to his heresy, or infidelity. But to judge whether a king draw his subjects to heresy, or not, belongeth to the Pope. Therefore hath the Pope right to determine whether the prince be to be deposed, or not deposed."
To this I answer that both these assertions false. For Christians, or men of what religion soever, if they tolerate not their king, whatsoever law he maketh, though it be concerning religion, do violate their faith, contrary to the divine law, both natural and positive: nor is there any judge of heresy amongst subjects but their own civil sovereign. For heresy is nothing else but a private opinion, obstinately maintained, contrary to the opinion which the public person (that is to say, the representant of the Commonwealth) hath commanded to be taught. By which it is manifest that an opinion publicly appointed to be taught cannot be heresy; nor the sovereign princes that authorize them, heretics. For heretics are none but private men that stubbornly defend some doctrine prohibited by their lawful sovereigns.
But to prove that Christians are not to tolerate infidel or heretical kings, he allegeth a place in Deuteronomy where God forbiddeth the Jews, when they shall set a king over themselves, to choose a stranger:384 and from thence inferreth that it is unlawful for a Christian to choose a king that is not a Christian. And it is true that he that is a Christian, that is, he that hath already obliged himself to receive our Saviour, when he shall come, for his king, shall tempt God too much in choosing for king in this world one that he knoweth will endeavour, both by terror and persuasion, to make him violate his faith. But, it is, saith he, the same danger to choose one that is not a Christian for king, and not to depose him when he is chosen. To this I say, the question is not of the danger of not deposing; but of the justice of deposing him. To choose him may in some cases be unjust; but to depose him, when he is chosen, is in no case just. For it is always violation of faith, and consequently against the law of nature, which is the eternal law of God. Nor do we read that any such doctrine was accounted Christian in the time of the Apostles; nor in the time of the Roman Emperors, till the popes had the civil sovereignty of Rome. But to this he hath replied that the Christians of old deposed not Nero, nor Dioclesian, nor Julian, nor Valens, an Arian, for this cause only, that they wanted temporal forces. Perhaps so. But did our Saviour, who for calling for might have had twelve legions of immortal, invulnerable angels to assist him, want forces to depose Caesar, or at least Pilate, that unjustly, without finding fault in him, delivered him to the Jews to be crucified? Or ff the Apostles wanted temporal forces to depose Nero, was it therefore necessary for them in their epistles to the new made Christians to teach them, as they did, to obey the powers constituted over them, whereof Nero in that time was one, and that they ought to obey them, not for fear of their wrath, but for conscience sake? Shall we say they did not only obey, but also teach what they meant not, for want of strength? It is not therefore for want of strength, but for conscience sake, that Christians are to tolerate their heathen princes, or princes (for I cannot call any one whose doctrine is the public doctrine, a heretic) that authorize the teaching of an error. And whereas for the temporal power of the Pope, he allegeth further that St. Paul appointed judges under the heathen princes of those times, such as were not ordained by those princes;385 it is not true. For St. Paul does but advise them to take some of their brethren to compound their differences, as arbitrators, rather than to go to law one with another before the heathen judges; which is a wholesome precept, and full of charity, fit to be practised also in the best Christian Commonwealths. And for the danger that may arise to religion, by the subjects tolerating of a heathen, or an erring prince, it is a point of which a subject is no competent judge; or if he be, the Pope's temporal subjects may judge also of the Pope's doctrine. For every Christian prince, as I have formerly proved, is no less supreme pastor of his own subjects than the Pope of his.
384 Deuteronomy, 17
385 I Corinthians, 6
The fourth argument is taken from the baptism of kings; wherein, that they may be made Christians, they submit their sceptres to Christ, and promise to keep and defend the Christian faith. This is true; for Christian kings are no more but Christ's subjects: but they may, for all that, be the Pope's fellows; for they are supreme pastors of their own subjects; and the Pope is no more but king and pastor, even in Rome itself.
The fifth argument is drawn from the words spoken by our Saviour, "Feed my sheep"; by which was given all power necessary for a pastor; as the power to chase away wolves, such as are heretics; the power to shut up rams, if they be mad, or push at the other sheep with their horns, such as are evil, though Christian, kings; and power to give the flock convenient food: from whence he inferreth that St. Peter had these three powers given him by Christ. To which I answer that the last of these powers is no more than the power, or rather command, to teach. For the first, which is to chase away wolves, that is, heretics, the place he quoteth is, "Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves."386 But neither are heretics false prophets, or at all prophets: nor (admitting heretics for the wolves there meant) were the Apostles commanded to kill them, or if they were kings, to depose them; but to beware of, fly, and avoid them. Nor was it to St. Peter, nor to any of the Apostles, but to the multitude of the Jews that followed him into the mountain, men for the most part not yet converted, that he gave this counsel, to beware of false prophets: which therefore, if it confer a power of chasing away kings, was given not only to private men, but to men that were not at all Christians. And as to the power of separating and shutting up of furious rams, by which he meaneth Christian kings that refuse to submit themselves to the Roman pastor, our Saviour refused to take upon him that power in this world himself, but advised to let the corn and tares grow up together till the day of judgement: much less did he give it to St. Peter, or can St. Peter give it to the Popes. St. Peter, and all other pastors, are bidden to esteem those Christians that disobey the Church, that is, that disobey the Christian sovereign, as heathen men and as publicans. Seeing then men challenge to the Pope no authority over heathen princes, they ought to challenge none over those that are to be esteemed as heathen.
386 Matthew, 7. 15
But from the power to teach only, he inferreth also a coercive power in the Pope over kings. The pastor, saith he, must give his flock convenient food: therefore food: therefore the pope may and ought to compel kings to do their duty. Out of which it followeth that the Pope, as pastor of Christian men, is king of kings: which all Christian kings ought indeed either to confess, or else they ought to take upon themselves the supreme pastoral charge, every one in his own dominion.
His sixth and last argument is from examples. To which I answer, first, that examples prove nothing; secondly, that the examples he allegeth make not so much as a probability of right. The fact of Jehoiada in killing Athaliah387 was either by the authority of King Joash, or it was a horrible crime in the high priest, which ever after the election of King Saul was a mere subject. The fact of St. Ambrose in excommunicating Theodosius the Emperor, if it were true he did so, was a capital crime. And for the Popes, Gregory I, Gregory II, Zachary, and Leo III, their judgements are void, as given in their own cause; and the acts done by them conformably to this doctrine are the greatest crimes, especially that of Zachary, that are incident to human nature. And thus much of power ecclesiastical; wherein I had been more brief, forbearing to examine these arguments of Bellarmine, if they had been his as a private man, and not as the champion of the Papacy against all other Christian princes and states.
387 II Kings, 11
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