Front Page Titles (by Subject) Number XIV.: The Clergy proved to be Creatures of the Civil Power, by the Canons, and their own public Acts. - The Independent Whig, vol. 1 (7th ed. 1743)
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Number XIV.: The Clergy proved to be Creatures of the Civil Power, by the Canons, and their own public Acts. - Thomas Gordon, The Independent Whig, vol. 1 (7th ed. 1743) 
The Independent Whig: or, a Defence of Primitive Christianity, And of Our Ecclesiastical Establishment, against The Exorbitant Claims and Encroachments of Fanatical and Disaffected Clergymen. The Seventh Edition, with Additions and Amendments (London: J. Peele, 1743). Vol. 1.
Part of: The Independent Whig, 4 vols.
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The Clergy proved to be Creatures of the Civil Power, by the Canons, and their own public Acts.
Wednesday, April 20. 1720.
IN my last Discourse, I have shewn what is meant by the Supremacy of the Crown of England; by virtue of which, our Kings sometimes with, and sometimes without their Parliaments, have governed and modelled the Ecclesiastical State, ever since the Reformation. Bishops, as well as inferior Clergymen, have been often suspended and deprived by the King’s Authority; and, in the Instance of Archbishop Abbot, for his Pleasure. The Popish Bishops were all deprived by Queen Elizabeth, and some Thousands of the Parochial Clergy were ejected by the Act of Uniformity; and many also of all Orders were deprived at the Revolution.
I shall now proceed to shew what have been the Opinions and Practice of the whole Body of Ecclesiastics, since the making of these Laws; in doing which, I shall take notice only of their public and authentic Acts: For as to the Whimsies of private Doctors, I think them of so little Weight, that I shall be ashamed to quote them on either side of the Question.
Upon the Clergy’s owning the King Head of the Church at the Reformation, all the Bishops took out Commissions for the exercising their Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction; which were renewed again upon his Son’s coming to the Throne. In these Commissions, all Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction is owned to proceed from the Crown, as from a supreme Head, and Fountain, and Spring of all Magistracy in the Kingdom; and they acknowledge, that they executed it formerly only ex precario, and that now with grateful Minds they accepted the Favour from the King’s Liberality and Indulgence; and would be always ready to yield it up again, when his Majesty pleased to require it.
These Commissions recited, amongst other Particulars of Spiritual Power, That of Ordaining Presbyters, and of Ecclesiastical Correction.
The 2d Canon excommunicates every one who shall endeavour to hurt or extenuate the King’s Authority in Ecclesiastical Cases, as it is settled by the Laws of the Kingdom; and declares he shall not be restored till he has publicly recanted such impious Errors.
The 37th Canon obliges all Persons, to their utmost, to keep and observe all and every one of the Statutes and Laws made for restoring to the Crown, the antient Jurisdiction it had over the Ecclesiastical State.
The 12th of King James’s Canons declares, That whoever shall affirm, that it is lawful for the Order either of Ministers or Laics to make Canons, Decrees, or Constitutions in Ecclesiastical Matters, without the King’s Authority, and submits himself to be governed by them, is, ipso facto, excommunicated, and is not to be absolved before he has publicly repented and renounced these Anabaptistical Errors.
ArchbishopBancroft, when, at the Head of all the Bishops in England, he delivered Articles to King James against the Secular Courts, for encroaching upon the Ecclesiastical, owns, that all Jurisdictions, Ecclesiastical as well as Civil, are annexed to the Imperial Crown of this Realm, as may be read more at large in the Lord Coke’s Third Institute; which I would recommend to the Perusal of every one, as a Specimen of the Difference between Ecclesiastics and Laymen.
I shall think it necessary only here to add, that the Clergy have never presumed, by any public Act, directly to controvert this Prerogative, or indeed even to nibble at it, unless in one Instance during the last Reign; which the Queen resented highly, and let the Convocation know, by a Letter to the Archbishop, that she was resolved to maintain her Supremacy, as a Fundamental Part of the Constitution of the Church of England.
This is the Supremacy of the Crown; these are the genuine Principles of the Church of England; which whoever denies, may be a Papist, a Presbyterian, a Muggletonian, a Fifth-Monarchy Man, or any thing else, besides a Member of our Communion. This Doctrine, and these Opinions, have been acknowledged and sworn to by every Ecclesiastic since the Reformation; and we daily see they are All ready to swear them over again upon any fresh Motives of Advantage; and sure no one will suggest, that the Whole Clergy of England have lived in the State of Perjury for near Two hundred Years: I am sure, if this be the Case, it is not their Interest to let us know it, since their Authority must be of very little Weight in any thing else.
We have it here upon Oath, that all Jurisdiction, Power and Authority, Spiritual or Ecclesiastical, of what Kind or Sort soever it be, does flow from, and is derived from, the King’s Majesty; and I readily allow them to have all the rest by Divine Right. They have been always very happy at Distinctions and Discoveries; and therefore if they can find out any Power or Authority, which is of no Kind or Sort whatsoever, I think they ought to have it for their Pains; I wish them much Joy with it; and shall own it always to be Sacrilege in any one who shall attempt to take it from them: but, if there be any such Thing, it is plain, that it belongs to them as Governors of the Invisible Church, and is of a Nature which we know nothing of.
For it is certain, that Archbishops and Bishops are Creatures of the Civil Power, and derive their Being and Existence from it. They are chosen by the Direction of one Act of Parliament, and ordained and consecrated according to a Model prescribed by another; in which those who officiate, act only ministerially; and all other Methods of chusing them which the Clergy can devise, are declared void and ineffectual, and will not convey any Spiritual Power at all: Nor, I dare say, will any Clergyman in England pay Submission to such a Choice, if he do not like the Man; nor if he do, provided he thinks, that he shall lose any thing by it. If the Bishops have no Power but what they derive from the Crown, they can convey none but of the same sort to the Inferior Clergy.
I durst not have stood the Imputation of Calumny, in charging any of the present Clergy with Principles or Practices so directly in Defiance of these glaring and notorious Declarations of the whole Body, as well as their own repeated Oaths and Subscriptions, if I had not the Authority of the brightest Luminary of the present Church and Age (our great Metropolitan) to bear me out, who assures us in his Appeal, “That a new Sort of Disciplinarians are arisen up from amongst ourselves, who seem to comply with the Government of the Church, much upon the same Account as others do with that of the State; not out of Conscience to their Duty, or any Love they have for it, but because it is the Established Church, and they cannot keep their Preferments without it: They hate our Constitution, and All who stand up in good earnest for it; but for all that, they hold fast to it; and so go on to subscribe and rail..”
To these wild and enthusiastic Notions we owe the present Disaffection; and most, if not all the Calamities and public Disturbances that have happened since the Revolution; and yet (which is amazing to think of) they have prevailed so far amongst the corrupt Part of the Ecclesiastics, that I wish we could find more even of the Low-Church Clergymen, who dare thoroughly to renounce these Impious and Anabaptistical Errors, as their own Canons call them.
DOMINION! Dominion is the loud Cry; which, as it has already produced all the Cruelties and Absurdities of Popery, so it is still teeming with, or bringing forth, new Monsters; and what other Issue can be expected from so unnatural a Copulation as that of the Christian Priesthood with worldly Power?
To this we are beholden for all the Corruptions and Fopperies brought into religious Worship, as well as the ill-shapen and ungainly Brats of Passive Obedience; the Divine Right of Kings and Bishops; the uninterrupted Succession; the Priests Power of the Keys; of Binding and Loosing; Remitting and Retaining Sins; the Real Presence in the Sacrament; the Altar and Unbloody Sacrifice upon it; the giving the Holy Ghost; of Excommunication, as laid Claim to; and Consecration of Churches, and Church-yards; the Reconciliation of God’s knowing what we shall do, with a Power in us not to do it; of Persecution for Opinions, and the Tritheistical Charity; with a long Train of Monkish Fooleries besides: All, or any Part of which, could never have entered into the Heart of one Layman, or Clergyman either, if nothing had been to be got by them.