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of Carthage, A. D. 398. Can. 23. it was Decreed, that " A Bishop shall hear no Cause but
in the presence of his Clergy, and that the Sentence he shall give in the absence of his Clergy shall be null and void.
From these Canons it appears that in Gratian's time (which was about the middle of the twelfth Century, for he compleated and published his Collection Anno 1151.) the Spiritual Judicature for each Diocess did not rest in the Bishop alone, much less in his Vicar or Chancellor, (if there was any such Officer in those Days, for I can find no mention of such an one in Gratian) but in the Bishop and his Clergy together. But Gratian's Book meeting with a very favourable Reception, and being supposed to contain all the Canons and Constitutions of the Church which were necessary, for publick use, and proper for the Decision of all matters of Ecclesiastical Judicature, the Bishops by degrees began to leave off to consult with their Clergy in the Determination of Causes and Controversies, and to appoint such as had studied Gratian (who soon began to be read in the Schools) to hear and judge of all Canonical matters whom they termed their Vicars or Chancellors, of whom we find little or no mention before this time, at least not as to any Ecclesiastical Judicature which they excrcised.
Gratian's Collection of the Canons therefore in all probability laid the way for the Introduction of Vicars-General, Chancellors or Officials,
because they were unknown in his time, but Du Pin. Ceni, very common immediately after. * Fór als
tho many Collections of Canons, Decretals and Passages of the Fathers relating to the Canon Law were compiled before the twelfth
I 2. P 204.
Century ; yet none of them was generally followed or publickly taught; they were look'd upon as the Work of private Persons, and the Decisions contained in them had no greater Authority than the Monuments out of which they were taken, whilst every one applied them to his particular benefit; but none made them the subject of publick Lectures. (a) But(a) Cave Hit. Pope Eugenius III. immediately approved Gra-bitory tian's Work, and commanded it to be publickly taught in the Universities, (b) and to be (b) Ridley's views alledged for Law. When therefore this Book of Civil and was thus commanded to be taught, and all the Law, part 1. Constitutions contained in it might be alledged chap. s. 8 1. for Law as far as the Papal Authority reached, which at that time extended over all this Western part of Christendom, it was a natural consequence that those who had not studied these Laws (which probably few did in those Ignorant Ages) should decline to give Judgment according to them. And therefore the Clergy, who till then had used to sit with their Bishop in Judicature, and to judge according to the Customs and Canons of that Diocess and Province to which they belonged, which they could not well be ignorant of, finding that now there was a great Book of strange Canons which they were unacquainted with, and yet that they must determine according to it were easily prevailed upon to devolve this trouble on their Bishop, and to let him judge by himself alone. He also not being so perfect in those Matters made choice of a Substitute who had studied and understood these Laws to supply his Place, and judge and determine for him. Thus in a few years every Bishop came to have his Vicar-General, Chancellor, Official or Commissary; but from the begin
ning it was not so, as I think I have sufficient(a) De Antiq.. ly proved. For as (c) Mounsier Du Pin obEcclef . Disciplin. c ferves, when Bishops were placed in all
Churches superiour to the Presbyters, the
and of all Causes there arising which relatced to Spiritual matters was committed to « them; but so that they should judge toge
ther with their Clergy, that is, with the (other Presbyters. And this he conceives to be a matter beyond all Controversie, so evident that no one would dispute it, and therefore does not think it needful to prove it. And sure he would not so boldly and positively have asserted it, so long after a contrary Practice had prevailed if it had uot been clear beyond all Contradiction. And his Authority is as great as that of any Modern Author can be, lince he has not only read over but also given us an Abridgement of all the Fathers and Councils and Ecclesiastical Writers from the first Plantation of Christianity till fince the Reformation.
However, as I have shewed about the middle of the twelfth Century the Case began to be altered, and all Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction was committed to Canonists, who quickly made good Markets of it, for having no Affessors, and understanding all the Quirks of the Law; they could do as they pleased. While the Spiritual Judicature was executed by the Bishop himself in Conjunction with his Clergy, Justice was regularly Executed, with Gravity, Decency, and Lenity, which these Canonists foon perverted, so that good Men looked upon it as an Employment subject to very dangerous Temptations; for which Reason * Peter de Bluis, who was a while Chancellor to
Richard Archbishop of Canterbury, and consea quently was well acquainted with the Methods and Proceedings of these new Ecclesiastical Judges, wrote to a Friend of his that was an Official, to persuade him to quit that Employment which would likely expose him to make Sale of his Conscience and Honour. 1 'am apt to believe, says he, that the Officials " were so called, not from the name of their
Office, but the Verb Offició, which signifies to be hurtful or to do mischief: For the whole ( Function of an Official is to sheer and Alea
the poor Sheep that are under his Jurisdict'ion. And a little after he adds, that the
Office of the Officials at present is to con' found Right; to create Law-Suits; to disanul ' Agreements, to prolong Trials, to suppress + Truth, to maintain Fallhood, to seek før ' nothing but filthy Lucre, to sell Justice, to ( commit all manner of unjust Actions, and to
devise Cheats and Artifices to deceive the People. They are very critical in searching out the Etimology and signification of Words, " and make Glosses upon all manner of Syl<lables, on purpose to lay Snares for others ' in order to drain their Purses. They take upon them to interpret the Laws according to their own capricious Humours, admitting
some, and rejecting others at their Pleasure : ( They corrupt that which is found, over-rule ? just Allegations, foment Divisions, conceal
Crimes, make void lawful Marriages, penetrate into the Secrets of Fåmilies, défirme
Innocent Persons, absolve the Guilty, and in ca Word, leave no Stone unturn’d to get
Money. This is the Character which Peter, de Blois gives us of the Officials of his time which was quickly after their Institution) very
• Part. 2. cap. 2.
different, as it is to be hoped, from that of those Gentlemen who now discharge those Functions in our Churches.
However, \ have no Fault to find with the Office it felf, and do think as Matters now, stand it is very useful not to say Necessary: And was more so formerly, if what * Dr. Ridley says in his View of the Civil and Ecclefiaftical Law be true, that anciently the Spiritual Courts examined such Matters as are now no
of the Common Lam, as Buying and Selling, Leasing, Letting, and taking to Farm; of Mortgaging and Pledging, giving by Deed of Gift, Detecting of Collusion and Cofenage, of Murder and Theft, and receiving of Thieves, and such like. For these Things would have been too great an Avocation of Bishops from the Exercise of their more Divine Function. Notwithstanding there are still some Causes belonging to the Spiritual Courts, such as Cases relating to Wills, Matrimony, Bastardy, Tithes, and such like, which may justly require such Officers or Judges who are expert in the Laws relating to those Matters: Yet, tho? in such Cases the Causes are Temporal, the final Sentence against those that are Contumacious is purely Spiritual, which all acknowledge that a LayMan cannot Pronounce, and therefore where the Chancellor is a Lay-Man (as in most Dio. celles he is) there is always a Priest at hand to pronounce his Sentence. And niethinks it is very odd that one man should be the Judge to Hear and Determine, and another who knows nothing of the Matter should pronounce the Sentence ; and such a Sentence too as if it be not reversed, is far greater than the Sentence, of Death it self. And by this Method of Pro