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court of the Church. For in both these courts, the power of the keys hath place, but not in both after the same manner. The power which is exercised in the court of conscience, for binding and loosing, is solely from ordination. But that power which is exercised in the court of the Church, is partly from the sovereign magistrate. It is not then the power of the keys, or any part or branch thereof, in the exercise of Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, even in the exterior court of the Church, which is derived from the Crown. But it is coercive, compulsory, and corrobatory power; it is the application of the matter; it is the regulating of the exercise of actual Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction in the court of the Church, to prevent the oppression of the subjects, and to provide for the tranquility of the Commonwealth, which belongs to Sovereign Princes."
And that this is no after-thought of Bramhall's, is proved by the "Institutions of a Christian Man," published in 1537, with the approval of the King himself. It is there maintained, "that God's law committed to bishops or priests the or priests the power of jurisdiction in excommunicating and absolving offenders, but without corporeal restraint or violence," this must come from the State," in ordaining and nominating ministers, and in making canons concerning discipline, rites, and so forth; and it limits the jurisdiction of princes conferred on them by the Church, to corporal and legal powers, and to certain privileges in matters of a temporal and civil nature; and acknowledges that it is lawful for princes to revoke and recall again into their own hands, or otherwise to restrain, all the power and jurisdiction which was given and assigned unto priests and bishops, by the license, consent, sufferance, and authority, of said Kings, and not by the authority of God and His Gospel." Add to this that Henry never claimed exemption from the authority of the Church, either in the court of conscience or the exterior court, and that Edward and Elizabeth claimed as little, and it appears, we think, that these Sovereigns took no such view of the Regal Supremacy, as that which puritan and political historians endeavor to impose upon' their readers.*
And how did the Clergy receive it? That question is
* The distinction set forth above, explains an apparent contradiction between one of Cranmer's statements, and the thirty-seventh Article, on which Mr. Macaulay dwells very triumphantly. Cranmer refers to the coercive power, and says that "the administration of God's word for the cure of souls, belongs to Christian princes." The Article refers to the spiritual power, and says that "the ministering of God's word does not belong to princes." Whether we admit the former proposition or not, there is at least no contradiction.
abundantly answered by the fact, that the very Convocation which accepted the title of Supreme Head, did it under the express limitation, "quantum per Christi legem licet;" a limitation most obviously designed to save intact the spirituals of the Church. Against this, however, Mr. Macaulay will alledge, of course, the commissions to exercise jurisdiction, granted to the Bishops, and taken out by Cranmer after Henry's death, in his own case. The distinction between spiritual jurisdiction, and jurisdiction legally coercive, explains however this step, on the part of all persons concerned. Spiritually, according to the Institution of a Christian Man, the law of God gave disciplinary powers to the Clergy, which however could not be exercised legally and coercively over the subjects, without the King's authority. Such legal coercion was then considered essential to give spiritual powers their full measure of authority, and hence came these Commissions; which did not at all, as Mr. Macaulay intimates, reduce the Bishops to be the King's Lieutenants quoad sacra, but only added to their spiritual authority, the legal coerciveness of the secular arm. The theory which required this, may have been wrong; no doubt indeed it was; but it is still a widely different thing to take such a commission of jurisdiction from the King, for the exercise of an authority derived elsewhere, and to acknowledge the King as the fountain of such authority. The only such commission taken out in the reign of Henry, was that of Bonner, Bishop of London. In the first year of Edward VI. all the Bishops were required to take them. But so soon as it was found that the enemies of the Reformation affixed that interpretation to them, which Mr. Macaulay now endeavors to give them, they were discontinued. This step would certainly not have been taken, had they really meant what ancient and modern enemies of the English Reformation have striven to make them. It is important to add here, that Cranmer did not, as Mr. Macaulay implies, take out any such commission from King Henry.
In concluding this part of our subject, we may be permitted to notice one other statement made by our author, in relation to Archbishop Cranmer, which has an important bearing on these questions, and which helps to brand his whole. character of that venerated Martyr, as a piece of malignant falsehood. He twice repeats the assertion that Cranmer held that the imposition of hands was altogether unnecessary, and that the nomination of the Sovereign could make a priest. Now that Cranmer, at one time in his life, may have entertained loose notions concerning the ministry, we are willing to
grant; but that his final and settled conviction was any thing like that which Mr. Macaulay attributes to him, we utterly deny. We might refer to the distinct statements of the Ordinal, as being quite sufficient to settle this question: for they are the solemn declarations of the Church of England, to which Cranmer's deliberate judgment assented. But we have even more than this. In the third year of Edward VI. a commission was issued to two and thirty persons, with Cranmer at their head, to settle a Reformation of the Ecclesiastical Law of the Realm, which had been proposed, but not made in the preceding reign. The work, however, languished, and in 1551, eight persons, of whom the Archbishop was one, were ordered to prepare a draught of these Laws to submit to the larger body. Cranmer, however, did nearly all the work himself; and in 1552, the Digest was prepared. Nothing but the death of King Edward prevented its adoption, and after the accession of Elizabeth, though it was printed, no formal steps were taken in relation to it. It expresses, therefore, Cranmer's deliberate and solemn judgment, and must, of course, outweigh any hasty or ill-considered positions of an earlier period. Two of the chapters run as follows.
In enumerating various heresies, we find reckoned as such, "The madness of those, who separate the institution of ministers from the Church, denying that in certain places should be established doctors, pastors, and ministers; not admitting lawful callings, nor the solemn imposition of hands; but scattering the power of publicly teaching to all men, who are in any degree versed in Scriptures, and challenge to themselves the Holy Ghost, permitting indeed, such persons not only to teach, but also to rule the Church, and to minister the sacraments; all which is manifestly repugnant to the writings of the Apostles." And again we find the following canon: In ordaining the ministers of the Church, (that is, Deacons, Priests, and Bishops,) let the ceremony of the imposition of hands be retained, since it is spoken of in Holy Scripture, and hath ever been used in the Church." Coupling these declarations with the provisions of the Ordinals, he must be a bold man, who can say as Mr. Macaulay does, that Cranmer did not hold to Episcopacy, and denied the necessity of the imposition of hands. At one time in his life he may have held loose views on these matters, but such were not his deliberate judgments, herein solemnly expressed. And that Historian does not deserve the name, who either does not know, or else is willing to overlook them.
It appears then, we trust, that there was a natural and ne
cessary reason why the Reformation in England ran in a civil as well as a religious line: that on whatever mistaken views of the true relations of Church and State, the restitution of powers to the King was founded, it still was a restitution and involved no compromise; that the Regal Supremacy was never what Papists then, and Puritans, and soi disant philosophers since, would have it to be; and that neither Cranmer nor his brethren took that servile and sycophantic view of their position, which in the face of all truth and reason, Mr. Macaulay attributes to them.
We are thus brought to the second of Mr. Macaulay's misapprehensions, out of which springs his notion of a compromise Church. It is certainly a misapprehension into which a person conversant with political intrigue, and the trimming and maneuvering of cabinets, is very liable to fall. For to the mind of an ordinary politician, we suppose there could suggest itself only one solution of a problem like the following: Given three bodies or associations of men, the one of which occupies a position, not it may be quite midway, but still between the other two, who are so totally opposite to each other, as to be continually realizing the old proverb, that extremes meet; the question is, how came it there? Now undoubtedly a mere politician, accustomed continually to the craft and machinery of state intrigue, would look upon such a position only as the result of a cunning compromise, and a crafty plan for getting a hold on as many persons as possible. It would probably never occur to him that there could be any other exposition of the status of such a body. Great, therefore, would be the virtuous indignation which he would outwardly manifest at such a truckling and time-serving policy; equalled only perhaps, by his inward wish, that such a safe tertium quid, could be found out in politics, a really secure midway, where the strong conservative principle might clothe one-half the face in sternness, and as strong radicalism might array the other in condescending smiles. Mr. Macaulay's view of the position of the Church of England, is therefore just what we should expect.
Still, to a person accustomed to view things through another than a political medium, it might just occur as possible, that there could be another explanation of the difficulty. If there were some ancient and common ground of truth, from which one set of persons had departed in one direction, and, in process of time, another had departed in another and if at some period intervening, it may be between these two departures, a third set of persons had placed themselves distinct
ly on this ancient ground, their position would certainly be a Via Media, but not a Via Media in which there would be involved any idea whatever, of compromise, craft, management, or in short, any thing but the most positive, direct and straightforward action.
Now it is almost an insult to our readers, to suppose it necessary to add, that the position of the Church of England is just that which is here described. The very circumstances of the case, even were there nothing else to prove it, would suffice to prove that there was and could be nothing like a compromise. It was a plain and simple step, which our Reformers took. It was moreover a positive step. It was not taken after balancing probabilities, and calculating chances, but directly and at once. It consisted not in nicely adjusting a mid way position of conciliation and compromise between Rome and Geneva, for Geneva was scarcely yet in existence; but in boldly taking stand on the ground of Primitive Antiquity. Which ground, as matters turned out, did become a sort of Via Media, a middle ground between two extremes. Whether, then, Mr. Macaulay, or any one else, declaims against the idea, that truth is a middle ground between errors, we certainly shall not dispute the point with them. Very often, indeed, it is not, and always perhaps, we might say, that a man or a body of men who undertook to find out such a position for themselves would be most liable to run into error. But all this affects not the English Church. She sought no Via Media as such. She struck no balances, and made no crafty plans. She merely assumed a positive, distinct, and real ground; a ground more ancient than any error, the ground of Primitive Catholicity, and on that ground she has kept herself for upwards of three centuries. It is no shifting position of man's devising, no cunningly planned retreat for alluring the easy and the careless. But who can wonder, that Romish and Dissenting controversialists will not, and that history-writing politicians cannot, appreciate it?
Let, then, our readers, in following Mr. Macaulay's statements, not forget, that what he calls the "middle course" of the English Church, was not sought for as being such a middle course, was not adopted on any such ground, or with any such idea. Far higher principles, far higher views, had they, who sought and found it. It matters little what Henry looked for. The Reformation, except in its political line, was connected with him no more than incidentally. And they who really wrought it, sought and found that Primitive ground of Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship, which to the worldly and time-serving