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such authoritie ouer themselues, if he had no right thereunto at all.”
I cite these quotations, not for the sake of the reasoning or argument contained in them, but merely to prove, that the authority of the fee of Rome, in all spiritual matters, was in fact freely submitted to by the community of this realm, before the reformation. For nobody will suspect King Henry VIII. of submitting tamely, and with full reflection, to any usurped or assumed authority whatsoever,
We are now to examine what this primacy What the fuwas, which was supposed to be transferred from premacy is. the pope to the king, in order to determine what the supremacy of the king over the church of England is at this hour. Sir Edward Coke, partly from official pomp and rigour, and partly from natural pedantry and pride, has undertaken to rest the title of his sovereign to this prerogative of spiritual supremacy upon such grounds, as never can stand the test of a cool dispassionate enquiry. * « The kingdom of England being an absolute empire and monarchy, consisting of one head, which is the king, and of a body politicke divided into two general parts, the clergy and the laity ; both of them, next un
* Rep. iv. fol. 9.
der God, must be subject and obedient to the
constitution, without the superaddition of spi-
of Worcetter, as the efficient cause of that
cause of its ex
* I have never met with any writer, who has pretended to deny, that every English clergyman is a subject of our king, and subject to all the laws of the realm. If the clergy have in any age claimed indulgences, exemptions, or dispensations, they claimed them no otherwise, than from the legislative power, which alone could
+ Dr. Hurd's Moral and Political Dialogues, vol. ii. p. 284, and feq.
for the superstructure of despotic power in all its branches. But I now haften to the particulars, which demonstrate, that this use was actually made of that title.
“ And, first, let me observe, that it gave Court of high birth to that great and formidable court of the high commission, which brought so mighty an accession of power to the crown, that, as experience afterwards shewed, no security could be had for the people's liberties, till it was totally abolished. The necessity of the times was a good plea for the first institution of so dangerous a tribunal. The restless endeavours of papists and puritans against the ecclefiaftical establishment gave a colour for the continuance of it. But as all matters, that regarded religion or conscience were subjected to its sole cognizance and inspection, it was presently seen how wide an entrance it gave to the most tyrannical usurpations.
“ It was further natural, that the king's Court of star power in civil causes should keep pace with his authority in spiritual; and fortunately for the advancement of his prerogative, there was already erected within the kingdom another court of the like dangerous nature, of ancient date, and venerable estimation, under the name of the court of star chamber, which brought every thing under the direction of
the crown, that could not so properly be deter-
and in the highest sense, of which the words
tainly warranted in attributing these effects to this translation of spiritual power from the pope to the king ; but no individual is war- Right of the
community to ranted to revile or traduce the community, increase the
prerogative. much less to rise up against it, because at any particular time, they thought proper to increase the proportion of prerogative or power, which the constitution had formerly annexed to the executive branch of the legislature. Blessed is the nation at this day in a monarch, to whom this extension of prerogative is but an increase of his people's happiness. The constitution formerly did, and still does, admit of this general division of the people into clergy and laity; and the ecclesiastical or spiritual rights and liberties of the former seem anciently to have been more generally understood and admitted, than the civil or temporal rights and liberties of the latter. Thus, in the first legislative act of the community, that has been handed down to us the church
granted by the in writing, which is called Magna Charta, the nation. great charter of our liberties, and which was passed in the 19th year of Hen. III. about the year of our Lord 1225, we find the first care and security is had of the church, viz. that the church of England shall be free, and shall have all ber whole rights and liberties inviolable. Had thefe been either dubious or
The liberties of