Imatges de pÓgina
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pointed without the consent of the people, which Leo the first expressly confirms. Hence the following injunctions: “ Let him be chosen who shall be called for by the clergy and people, or at least by the majority of them.” Again, “Let him who is to preside over all, be chosen by all." For he who is appointed without having been previously known and examined, must of necessity be intruded by force. Again, “ Let him be elected who shall have been chosen by the clergy and desired by the people; and let him be consecrated by the bishops of that province, with the authority of the metropolitan.” So careful were the holy fathers that this liberty of the people should not by any means be infringed, that when the general council assembled at Constantinople appointed Nectarius, they would not do it without the approbation of all the clergy and people; as is evident from their epistle to the council of Rome. Wherefore when any bishop appointed his successor, the appointment was not confirmed but by the suffrages of all the people. Of such a circumstance we have not only an example, but the particular form in Augustine's nomination of Eradius. And Theodoret, when he states that Peter was nominated by Athanasius, as his successor, immediately adds, that this was confirmed by the clergy, and ratified by the acclamations of the magistracy, the nobility, and all the people.

XII. I confess that there was the greatest propriety in the decree of the council of Laodicea, that the election should not be left to the populace. For it scarcely ever happens that so many heads concur in one opinion for the settlement of

any business; and almost every case verifies the observation, that the uncertain vulgar are divided by contrary inclinations. But to this danger was applied an excellent remedy. For in the first place, the clergy alone made their choice, and presented the person they had chosen to the magistracy, or to the senate and governors. They deliberated on the election, and if it appeared to them a proper one, confirmed it, or otherwise chose another person whom they preferred. Then the business was referred to the multitude, who, though they were not bound to concur in these previous opinions, yet were less likely to be thrown into disorder,

Or if the business commenced with the multitude, this method was adopted in order to discover who was the principal object of their wishes; and after hearing the wishes of the people, the clergy proceeded to the election. Thus the clergy were neither at liberty to elect whom they pleased, nor under a necessity of complying with the foolish desires of the people. This order is stated by Leo in another place, when he says, “ It is requisite to have the votes of the citizens, the testimonies of the people, the authority of the governors, and the election of the clergy.” Again, “Let there be the testimony of the governors, the subscription of the clergy, the consent of the senate and people. Reason permits it not to be done in any other way.” Nor is there any

other meaning in that decree of the council of Laodicea, than that the clergy and governors should not suffer themselves to be carried away by the inconsiderate multitude, but by their prudence and gravity should check, on every necessary occasion, the folly and violence of popular desires.

XIII. This mode of election was still practised in the time of Gregory, and it is probable that it continued long after. There are many of his epistles which furnish sufficient evidence of this fact. For in every case relating to the creation of a new bishop in any place, he was accustomed to write to the clergy, the senate, and the people, and sometimes to the duke, according to the constitution of the government in the place to which he was writing. And if, on account of disturbances or dissentions in any Church, he confides the superintendance of the election to some neighbouring bishop, yet he invariably requires a solemn decree confirmed by the subscriptions of all. Even when one Constantius was created bishop of Milan, and on account of the incursions of the barbarians many of the Milanese had retired to Genoa, he thought the election would not be legitimate, unless they also were called together and gave their united consent. And what is more, it was within the last five hundred years that Pope Nicholas made this decree respecting the election of the Roman Pontiff; that the cardinals should take the lead, that in the next place they should unite with them the rest of the clergy, and lastly that the election should be confirmed by the consent of

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THE [BOOK IV. the people. And at the conclusion he recites that decree of Leo, which I have just quoted, and commands it to be observed in future. If the cabals of the wicked should go to such a length as to constrain the clergy to quit the city in order to make a proper election, still he ordains that some of the people should be present at the same time. The consent of the emperor, as far as I can discover, was required only in two Churches, at Rome and at Constantinople, because they were the two capitals of the empire. For when Ambrose was sent to Milan with authority from Valentinian to preside at the election of a new bishop, that was an extraordinary measure, in consequence of the grievous factions which raged among the citizens. At Rome the authority of the emperor had anciently so much influence in the creation of a bishop, that Gregory speaks of himself as having been appointed to the government of the Church by the sole command of the emperor, notwithstanding he had been formally chosen by the people. But the custom was, that when any one had been chosen by the senate, clergy, and people, it was immediately reported to the emperor, that he might either ratify the election by his approbation, or rescind it by his negative. Nor is there any thing repugnant to this custom in the decrees collected by Gratian; which only say, that it is by no means to be suffered that a king should supersede all canonical election be appointing a bishop at his own pleasure, and that the metropolitans ought not to consecrate any one who shall thus have been promoted by the violence of power. For it is one thing, to spoil the Church of its right by transferring the whole to the caprice of an individual; and another, to give a king or an emperor the honour of confirming a legitimate election by his authority.

XIV. It remains for us to state, by what ceremony the ministers of the ancient Church, after their election, were initiated into their office. This the Latins have called ordination, or consecration. The Greeks have called it xupoloviæ, extension or elevation of hands, and sometimes Zoogo.fooie, imposition of hands; though the former word properly signifies that kind of election in which the suffrages are declared by the lifting up of the hands. There is a decree of the council of Nice, that the metropolitan should meet with all the bishops of the province to ordain him who shall have been elected; but that if any of them be prevented by the length of the journey, by sickness, or by any other necessary cause, at least three should meet, and those who are absent should testify their consent by letters. And when this canon from disuse had grown obsolete, it was renewed in various councils. Now the reason why all, or at least as many as had no sufficient excuse, were commanded to be present, was that there might be a more solemn examination into the learning and morals of the person to be ordained; for the business was not completed without examination. And it appears from the epistles of Cyprian, that in the beginning the bishops were not invited after the election, but used to be present at the election, and that for the purpose of acting as moderators, that nothing turbulent might take place among the multitude. For after having said that the people have the power either to choose the worthy for priests, or to reject the unworthy, he adds, “Wherefore it is to be carefully held and observed as a divine and apostolical tradition (which is observed among us, and in almost all the provinces) that for the due performance of ordinations, all the neighbouring bishops of the same province should meet with the people over whom a bishop is to be ordained, and that the bishop should be chosen in the presence of the people.” But because such an assembly was sometimes very slowly collected, and there was danger that such a delay might be abused by some for the purposes of intrigue, it was deemed sufficient, if they assembled after the election was made, and upon due examination consecrated the person who had been chosen.

xv. This was the universal practice without any exception. By degrees a different custom was introduced, and the persons elected went to the metropolitan city to seek ordination. This change arose from ambition and a corruption of the ancient institution, rather than from any good reason. And not long after, when the authority of the see of Rome had increased, another custom obtained, which was still worse; almost all the bishops of Italy went to Rome to be consecrated. This may be seen by the epistles of Gregory. Only a few cities, which did not so easily yield, preserved their ancient right; of which there is an example recorded by him in the case of Milan. Perhaps the metropolitan cities were the only ones that retained their privilege. For almost all the provincial bishops used to assemble in the metropolitan city to consecrate their archbishop. The ceremony was imposition of hands. For I read of no other ceremony practised, except that in the public assembly the bishops had some dress to distinguish them from the rest of the presbyters. Presbyters and deacons also were ordained solely by imposition of hands. But every bishop ordained his own presbyters, in conjunction with the assembly of the other presbyters of his diocese. Now though they all united in the same act, yet because the bishop took the lead, and the ceremony was performed under his direction, therefore, it was called his ordination. Wherefore it is often remarked by the ancient writers, that a presbyter differs from a bishop in no other respect, than that he does not possess the power of ordination.

CHAPTER V.

The ancient Form of Government entirely subverted by the

Papal Tyranny. Now it is proper to exhibit the system of ecclesiastical government at present maintained by the see of Rome, and all its dependencies, with a full view of that hierarchy which is perpetually in their mouths, and to compare it with the description we have given of the primitive and ancient Church. This comparison will shew what kind of a Church there is among those who arrogate this exclusive title, and try to oppress, or rather to overwhelm us, with their fury. Now it is best to begin with the vocation, that we may see who and what kind of men are called to the ministry, and how they are introduced to it. We shall then consider how faithfully they discharge their duty. We shall give the first

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