Page images
PDF
EPUB

very inter preter.

[ocr errors]

one quotation from scripture, that both parties may draw from it the satisfactory inference, that the submissive deference of any fubject to an acknowledged sovereign will ever be regarded as a moral duty to Al

mighty God. Little will it avail me to atThe feriptures tempt to prove or confirm my reasoning by renderesi pliant to the fenfe of the application of passages from the holy

writ, where most men interpret it by their own private judgment; and in this very controversy, I firmly believe, that there is not a passage relating to kingly or magiftratical power, from the beginning of Ge . nesis to the end of the Revelations, which has not been tortured by the fupporters of the opposite parties into contrary meanings.

The liberty, with which the ecclefiaftical and theological writers upon this controverfy have accommodated the authority of the scriptures to their respective doctrines, has been closely followed by most historical, political, and legal writers; for we find, through their writings, the very fame texts quoted from the old approved authors, Bracton, Briton, Fleta, Fortescue, and others, to prove and support their opposite doctrines, It is neither incumbent upon me, nor is it competent for me to discuss the propriety of accommodating the sense of the holy fcrip

tures

So are many po-
Litical writers.

tures to opposite purposes; but I feel it an indispensible duty to endeavour to affix a determined meaning to those civil authorities, which affect the question under our consideration. The king (or queen) * of this realm, in The king to be

considered as eiwhom the constitution places the supreme ther in his naexecutive power, is to be considered either tural or in his

political capain the natural capacity of a human indivi- city. dual, or in his political capacity as an integral component part of the legislature. Some things are faid of the king, which are true only as applicable to his natural capacity, and falfe, if pretended to be applied to his political capacity; and so vice versa. It will be my endeavour to keep my readers attention to the difference. His natural capacity he receives immediately from Almighty God; his political capacity immediately from the people or community ; but not without the permission of Almighty God, from whom the people receive immediately their power and right to confer it: thus are reconciled the words of St. Peter, calling kings a human ordinance, or human appointment, with the words of St. Paul, styling magistrates the ordinance of God.

* Whenever I shall in future speak generally of the king, I beg also to be understood of a queen regnant, such as were Mary, Elizabeth, and Anne.

The

The king is a

The king, in his political capacity, is a corporation in his political ca- corporation sole : now *corporations fole pacity.

consist of one person only and his successors in fome particular station, who are incorporated by law, in order to give them fome legal capacities and advantages, particularly that of perpetuity, which in their natural persons they could not have had. But as all personal rights die with the person, and as the necessary forms of investing a series of individuals, one after another, with the same identical rights, would be very inconvenient,

, if not impracticable, 'it has been found necessary, when it is for the advantage of the public to have any particular rights kept on foot and continued, to constitute artificial persons, who may maintain a perpetual fuccession, and enjoy a kind of legal immortality.” So in this sense is it said, that the king never dies: and those, who are his heirs in his natural capacity, are called his fuccessors in his political capacity ; for a corporation can have no heirs, as nemo eft hæres viventis, and a corporation never dies.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

C H A P. X.

OF THE SUPREME HEAD OF THE CHURCH

OF ENGLAND.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Shall follow the common order of asso.

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 confider, what the conftitution now is, than what it heretofore What ecclefia

aftical suprewas; yet, as whatever ecclesiastical supremacy macy velted in

the king. over the church of England is now vested 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 re. searches 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 indefeasible Right and duty right, but an indispensable obligation and to follow the duty to adopt that divine cult or worship,

dictates of God,

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

which they shall conscientiously think God requires from them, and to countenance and support it with what civil sanctions they fhall think proper. My examination there. fore will not be, whether our ancestors ex. ercised their right, and fulfilled their duty more or less judiciously or perfectly than their successors; but in what manner and to what extent they actually made a religious establishment an essential part of their civil constitution. 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 perfeâly unbiaffed 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 fu: : pope's Spiritu: 1 premacy of the pope of Rome; fo. true is.. supremacy no it, that they had uninterruptedly acknow.. usurpation.

ledged 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 spiritual supremacy •

of

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »