Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

and void.

of Carthage, A. D. 398. Can. 23. it was De-
creed, 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 Ġratian's time (which was about the middle of the twelfth Century, for he compleated and published his Collection Anno 1 151.) the Spiritual Judicature for each Diocefs 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 con: sult with their Clergy in the Determination of Causes and Controversies, and to appoint such as had studied Gratian (who soon began in 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 Dupin. Seni very common immediately after. * For al12. p 204. tho many Collections of Canons, Decretals

and Passages of the Fathers relating to the Canon Law were compiled before the twelfth.

Century,

Pope Euccmbject of publicknt ; but none",

Century ; yet none of them was generally fol. Jowed 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 Hift. Pope Eugenius III. immediately approved Gra-bit, Yolo I.

P.662. tian's Work, and commanded it to be publickly taught in the Universities, (b) and to be (6) Ridley's vieno 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. 01. for Law as far as the Papal Authority reached, which at that time extended over all this Wer tern part of Christendom, it was a natural confequence 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 Commisary; but from the begin

Be who till them. And I to give

p. 96.

[ocr errors]

ning it was not so, as I think I have sufficient(e) 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 < Judgment of all Persons within the Diocess, cand of all Causes there arising which relat

ed to Spiritual matters was committed to ( them ; but so that they should judge toge

ther with their Clergy, that is, with the cother 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, since 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

from the Reformatave inewed a cafe begann

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 Blois, who was a while Chancellor to

Richard

Epist. 25.

Richard Archbishop of Canterbury, and confes 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 for ( 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 Cupon 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, pene

trate into the Secrets of Families, defame ( Innocent Persons, absolve the Guilty, and in <a Word, leave no Stone intürn'd to get 6 Money. This is the Character which Peter. de Blois gives us of the Officials of his time which was quickly after their Institution) very

different different, as it is to be hoped, from that of those Gentlemen who now discharge those Functions in our Churches.

However, l have no Fault to find with the Office it self, and do think as Matters now, stand it is very useful not to say Necessary :

And was more so formerly, if what * Dr. * Part. 2. cap. 2. S. 2.

Ridley says in his View of the Civil and Ecclefiaftical Law be true, that anciently the Spiritual Courts examined such Matters as are now notoriously known To belong to the Connus ance 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 ihole 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. cesles 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

ceeding

« ZurückWeiter »