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CH A P. X.
OF THE SUPREME HEAD OF THE CHURCH
macy vetru in
Shall follow the common order of affo
ciating our ideas of church and state, by first considering the king as supreme head of the church of England. Now, although in this discussion I shall rather consider, what the constitution now is, than what it heretofore was ; yet, as whatever ecclefiaftical supremacy ait:cal surreover the church of England is now vesed the king. by the constitution in the person of the king, is generally supposed to be vested in him by the continuance, recognition, revival, or transfer of an old power, and not by the creation, donation, and investiture of a new one, as I shall endeavour to make appear, it will be incumbent upon me to make some researches into the origin and establishment of Spiritual or ecclesiastical power in this country. I will presume it useless to repeat any thing I have heretofore faid, to prove that the majority of the community, who must conclude the whole, have not only an indefcafible
Right and duty right, but an indispensable obligation and of individu is duty to adopt that divine cult or worship, dictates o: Gude 7
which they shall conscientiously think God requires from them, and to countenance and support it with what civil sanctions they shall think proper. My examination therefore will not be, whether our ancestors excrcised their right, and fulfilled their duty more or less judiciously or perfectly than their fucceffors; but in what manner and to what extent they actually made a religious establishment an essential part of their civil conftitution. This discussion has often been a subject of such rancorous controversy, that I am not totally free from fear, left the liberality even of the present day, may be at first unequal to form a perfectly unbiassed judgment upon the subject. I am now to examine the truth, not the reason of facts.
As true as it is, that in the twenty-fourth year of the reign of king Henry VIII. the majority of the people of England did, by
the act of their representatives in parliament, Acknowledg renounce and throw off the Spiritual sument of the pope's spiritual premacy of the pope of Rome; so true is supremacy no usurpation.
it, that they had uninterruptedly acknowledged and submitted unto it for near one thousand years before the twenty-fourth of Henry VIII. A.D. 1532. It is frivolous in the extreme, to treat this fpiritual supremacy
of the pope as a papal usurpation; for who can be so simple as to believe, that such submission could have been forced upon the English nation, who were ever jealous of their liberty, against their consent, by one hundred and seventy-one popes, who during that space of time filled the papal see.
We must allow to our ancestors the same right and the same obligation of following the dictates of their consciences, which we claim and acknowledge ourselves. By the tenets of the religion, which they then profeffed, the spiritual primacy of the visible fucceffor of St. Peter was an effential article of their belief; their submission therefore to the bishop of Rome, as such visible acknowledged head of the church was as free, as their adoption of the religion, which caught the neceflity of such a primacy. What an absurdity would it not be, to speak of the belief and profession of the Roman catholic religion in Poland or Portugal as an usurpation? And if our ancestors thought proper consent of the to make a free voluntary tender and security to the bishops of Rome, either of Peter Pence, first fruits, or any other civil advantage, or benefit, how can that be called an usurpation, which could neither have been originally imposed, nor continue to be en
nation inconfif. tent with usur. ration,
King Henry's beliet of and submillion to the pope's lua ptemacy the itrongest proof of its actual existence.
forced by any civil or human means, without the consent of the nation? The fact demonstrates the truth! For from the moment, in which the nation withdrew their consent, from that moment the bishop of Rome enjoyed no more civil or temporal rights, benefits, nor advantages within this kingdom, than St. Peter did from our heathen British ancestors, who inhabited the island in his days.
As to this point, I know of no authority, that can be so conclusive, as that of king Henry himself, who, about ten years before the pafsing of this act, in defence of the spiritual supremacy of the pope against Martin Luther, , wrote a book, which he subscribed with his own hand, and sent to pope Leo X. by Dr. Clerke, the bishop of Bath and Wells, and for which he obtained the title of defender of the faith, which has been ever since kept up by our sovereigns to this day.
*“ I will not offer so much injury unto the pope, as earnestly and carefully to difpute heere of his right, as though the matter might be held in doubt; it is sufficient for that, which now we haue in hand, that his enemy (Luther) Mheweth himself so much
* Henry VIII. in Def. Sacram. cont. M. Luth.
can Luther faie, that heere is neither diuine Roman; yea, and the Greeke church also,
to be carried away with passion and fury, as he taketh all faith and credit from his owne sayings, cleerly declaring his malice to be such, as it suffereth him neither to agree with himself, nor to consider what he faith.”
And then, after confuting Luther's opinion and assertion, that the pope neither by diuine or bumane law, but onlie by ufurpation and tyrannie, bad gotten the beadshipp of the church,
« Luther cannot deny, but that all the faithfull christian churches at this daie doe acknowledge and reuerence the holy sea of Rome, as their mother and primate, &c. And if this acknowledgment is grounded neither in diuine nor humane right, how hath it taken so great and generall roote? How is it admitted so uniuersally by all christendome? When began it? How grew it to bee
And whereas humane consent is fufficient to giue humane right at least, how nor bumane right, where this is, and hath been for time out of minde, uniuerfall humane consent? Truly if a man will looke ouer the monuments of things and times past, he Thall find that presently after the world was pacified (from persecution) the most parte of christian churches did obay the
so great ?