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former seem anciently to have been more latter. Thus, in the first legislative act of the in writing, which is called Magna Charta, the care and security is had of the church, viz. that the church of England shall be free, and shall bave all her whole rights and liberties inviclable. Had these been either dubious or
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 ranted to revile or traduce the community, increase the 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, adinit of this general division of the people into clergy and laity; and the ecclesiaftical or spiritual rights and liberties of the generally understood and admitted, than the
temporal rights and liberties of the community, that has been handed down to us the church 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
The liberties of
granted by the mat:on.
uncertain, they would undoubtedly have been specified and ascertained in the charter. And if these rights and liberties were not holden and enjoyed by the grant, consent, or recognition of the nation, the legislature would not have presumed to sanction or confirm them to the church. That these rights and liberties constituted the civil establishment of the church, and therefore proceeded wholly from the nation, or the legiNative power of the state, is evident from the term church of England; for it is notorious, that this term did not import then, as it now does, a separate religious fociety, differing in doctrine, government, and discipline, from the Church of Rome; for in all real spiritual matters it then was one with the church of Rome, in communion with her, and subordinate to her, as to its supreme head. These rights and liberties therefore made no part of her doctrines, but consisted merely in the civil sanctions, with which the English nation thought proper to countenance and support that religion, by making the clergy of it a separate and distinct body from the
laity. In the days of Bracton, who lived in this very reign, but ipiritual fupre- had written his book in the preceding reign rope acknow of King Henry II. and must consequently Hedged by the have been conversant with the spirit and
macy of the
practice of the constitution and laws of his own times, confirms this general division of the people into clergy and laity, and immediately attributes the spiritual supremacy, to which the nation was then subject, not to the king, but to the pope. Amongst men there is a difference of persons ; because of men some are distinguished and preferred, and have a superiority over others. Our lord, the pope for instance in spiritual matters, which relate to the priesthood, and under him archbishops, bishops, and other inferior clergy.” This authority will alone fuffice to expose the futile attempt of Sir Edward Coke to deduce Queen Elizabeth's title to the fpiritual supremacy from the old constitution and common laws of the realm ; for in a matter of this nature and of this date, nobody will, I believe, set up the authority of Sir Edward Coke against that of Bracton. Sir Edward Coke pretends not to vest in the queen any other spiritual supremacy, than what the ancient kings of England possessed: now Bracton expressly says, that in his own
• Apud homines verò eft diftinctio personarum ; quia hominum quidam sunt præcellentes & prælati, & aliis principantur. Dominus papa videlicet in rebus fpiritualibus, quæ pertinent ad facerdotium, & fub eo archiepiscopi, episcopi, & alii prælati inferiores. Brafton de Leg. & Confuetud. Ang. I. i. fol. 5.
can have force,
tion of the nation,
and preceding times, the pope had that supe. riority, which Sir Edward Coke labours to prove was vested in Queen Elizabeth by the
ancient conftitution of the realm. No foreign law As no law can be enacted in a state, 'withbu: by the acop- out the free affent of the people, which necef
farily attends the exercise of the legislative power, much less can any foreign law enacted by another state or community, acquire any binding or coercive effect without the voluntary adoption of the community, which admits or receives it. As therefore upon this ground, certain canon laws, decretals, and ecclefiaftical ordinances from the court of Rome had, for about one thousand years, been received and submitted to in this country, the moment this consent of the nation was withdrawn, they immediately lost whatever energy, force, or binding effect, they
had during that time acquired.. The wbolo la It is very evident, that our ancestors never non law never was adopted by did give a general unlimited submission to this nation.
the whole canon law, as appears from the firm and heroic answer of the barons at Merton, in the reign of Hen. III. A. D. 1235. The question was moved in parliament, * “ Whether one being born before matri
20 Hen. III. c. 19.
another; they therefore, who may reject a equally binding.
mony may inherit in like manner, as he that is born after matrimony? All the bishops replied, that they would not, nor could not answer to it, because this would be against the common form or usage of the church; and all the prelates entreated the lords (magnates) that they would consent that all such, as were born before matrimony should be legitimate, as well as they that were born after matrimony, as to the succession of inheritance, forasmuch as the church made fuch for legitiinate. And all the earls and barons with one voice answered, that they would not change the laws of the reahn, which had hitherto been used and approved of.” Here we see the bishops entreating the laity to adopt a part of the canon law, which they would certainly not have done, if, without their affent, it could have had any force in this nation; for the clergy have in no age used the depreCatory stile of fupplication to enforce a duty ofobligation. One part
of the cannon law cannot, pro- Every part of prio vigore , have a more binding quality than tic canon law,
part of it, may reject the whole. I have dwelt on this transaction to prove, that whatever force or authority the canon law had acquired in this country, it was solely owing