Page images

" King'.” If the word “Roman” had been inserted before the word “ Faith, as some of the cardinals proposed, not only would Henry have been fettered by another chain to the Papal see ; but the Parliament of England, after the changes which took place between the Papal grant in 1521, and its confirmation by the Houses of Lords and Commons, would have been fettered also. The omission of the word “Roman" permitted the retaining of the title without dishonour. It recognized the right and power of the Sovereign to act with the Church and people of this country in matters of religion ; and it gave, therefore, that definition of the duty of the government, and of our Sovereign, which was only completed by the word “ Protestant."

The title, Defender of the Faith,then, must be considered in the sense in which it was confirmed by the Parliament. In the year 1543, the Parliament recognized the title, by its own ratification of the expression. In this act the Parliament neither noticed the granting of the title by Leo, nor its revocation by Paul III. It merely declared that the King had been known, named, published, and declared to be Defender of the Faith.By thus recognizing the title, it did not acknowledge that the King had done rightly in all his contradictory and inconsistent proceedings in matters of religion. It recognized only the general right and power of the Sovereign to legislate in matters of religion ; and it condemned the claim of the Bishop of Rome to legislate for this country. Between the year 1521, when Leo conferred the title, and the year 1543, when it was ratified by the Parliament, nearly thirty acts of Parliament were passed on the subject of Religion. All these acts may be declared to be proofs of the selflegislation of the Church and State ; while the declaration of the act of the King and Convocation, that no Bishop of Rome, nor no individual Prince, without the express consent, assent, and agreement of the residue of Christian Princes, might call a General Council, acknowledged the authority of Christian Princes to unite together for the purpose of assembling such Council, independently of, though not omitting, the Bishop of Rome. This, then, is the meaning of the title Defender of the Faith.It was assumed by our early kings; it was subsequently conferred by Papal authority; it was confirmed by the Statute Law before the Council of Trent was summoned by the Pope (that supposed council was not summoned by Princes), and before the Bull of Pope Pius dared to impose a new Creed upon the Catholic Church. It consequently binds the monarchy of England to that state of the Church, when the controverted topics of faith and discipline were decided, not by the Bishop of Rome, but by the independent and separate Churches of the Universal Church; or by the Councils alone, which such Churches acknowledged to be general'.

3“ Protector,” or “ Defensor Romanæ Ecclesiæ,” or “sedis apostolicæ,” or rex apostolicus," or “orthodoxus.” Lord Herbert of Cherbury's Life of Henry VIII. vol. ii. p. 38, col. 2, in the complete History of England, folio, London, 1706 ; and Collier.

4 Gibson's Codex, vol. i. tit. ii. cap. i. p. 29, the Statutes at large.

3 This declaration of the King, and convocation therefore of the Church, was dated July 20, 1536. It is given by Collier, Eccles. Hist. vol. ii. p. 128.

6 By the 24th of Henry, cap. 12, appeals to Rome were made illegal, because the spirituality, or the English Church, is sufficient to determine in spirituality for itself, and with the temporality to do justice ; and all causes are to be judged by the King. By the 25th, cap. 14, power is given to punish Heretics. Cap. 19, is called The Submission of the Clergy Act. The Clergy therein promise to make no Canons or Constitutions without consent of the King, who is requested to appoint thirty-two Commissioners to revise the Canons. The Convocation is to be assembled by a King's writ. No Canons are to be executed contrary to the King's prerogative, no appeals permitted to Rome: all former Canons, not repugnant to the King's power, to remain. By cap. 20, First fruits are not to be paid to Rome, and Bishops are to be consecrated no longer by the Bishop of Rome. By the 21st, Peter pence, or all taxes to Rome, are to cease, the King and Parliament being sufficient to rule, and make laws ; no person is to sue for licences or dispensations to the Bishop of Rome; and a clause declares that the King has no desire to vary from the Catholic faith. The clause that none are to leave England to attend any assembly for religion, may seem to be inconsistent with the act of Convocation, three years after, which mentions a General Council : but the meaning is, that the people may not attend Councils or assemblies summoned by the Pope alone. By the 26th, cap. 1, the King is declared to be supreme head of the Church, any foreign laws, or foreign authority notwithstanding. Cap. 14, is for the consecration of suffragans. By the 28th, cap. 10, the authority of the Bishop of Rome is to be further renounced and resisted on oath : refusal of the oath to be treason. By cap. 16, all Papal Bulls are to be void in law.

In the 31st of Henry is the chief collection of Acts. By cap. 6, Priests are not to marry. By the 9th, the King is empowered to make Bishops by letters patent. The 13th refers to the dissolutions of abbeys and monasteries. The 14th is the law of the Six Articles-- Transubstantiation, Communion in one kind, Priests' Marriage Vows, Private Masses, Confession, to prevent diversity of opinions !!! By the 32nd, cap. 7, tithes are to be paid according to the custom of the parishes, &c. The 12th abolishes sanctuaries. The 20th gave the privileges of the monasteries to the King. By the 24th, possessions of the knights of St. John of Jerusalem are confiscated, because of their adherence to the Pope. By the 38th, the jurisdiction of marriages was taken away from the Pope. By the Act of the 33rd, cap. 31, the Bishopric of Chester is taken from Canterbury, and annexed to York. The Act of the 34th, cap. 1, condemned Tyndale's Bible, and unlicensed printing ; heretical books to be surrendered, &c. &c. By cap. 17, of the forementioned Act, five new bishoprics are created. Chester', Gloucester, Peterborough, Bristol, Oxford. The 35th, cap. 1, is the Act for the establishing of the Succession, and in this, an oath of the renunciation of the power of the Pope was introduced : and cap. 3, is the declaration that the title, “ Defender of the Faith,” be annexed permanently to the Crown; while cap. 16, grants authority to the King to name the thirty-two Commissioners who were to revise the Canon Law. The results all these Acts was to give the whole ecclesiastical power to the King, to establish the right of self-legislation in the Church and nation, while the faith of the Catholic Christian was supposed to be maintained and defended.

7 If it should be asked, why I allude to these controversies? Is it said, They are obsolete, and may be forgotten? I answer, they are not obsolete. They convulse the Churches and nations still. I may apply to them the words of Young, when speaking of the actions of the past, for which we must give account :

“ Gone! They ne'er go, when past they haunt us still.

The spirit walks of every age deceased ;
And smiles an angel, or a fury, frowns !"

1 The bishopric of Chester was anciently part of the diocese of Lichfield ; one of whose bishops removing his see to the former place in 1075, occasioned his successors to be styled bishops of Chester. Beatson's Political Index, vol. i. p. 240.


The title of Protestant, rightly defined, has the same meaning as Defender of

the Faith.

But the holy and honourable name of ProTESTANT is assigned to your Majesty by the Parliament and people of England, as the expression which best describes the chief, though not the sole condition, both of their allegiance and of your Majesty's right to the crown $; and your Majesty's subjects are justly declared to be "absolved from their allegiance to your Majesty,” if the Sovereign of their country shall hold illegal communion with the unreformed Church of Rome. And strange as the declaration will at first sight appear, the title PROTESTANT properly considered, describes only that very right of internal self-legislation in ecclesiastical affairs which belongs to all independent States; and that willingness also to unite in the deliberations of a General Council which was implied in the sanction by an English Parliament of the title, Defender of the Faith. The two titles, Defender of the Faith, and Protestant, rightly interpreted, denote precisely the same duties, the same objects, and the same anticipations of future union, which will follow the assertion of national ecclesiastical independence in each separate Church, with the willingness to consider the conclusions of any General Council of the Universal Church. The word Protestant defines only more clearly the duty of the Sovereign of Great Britain as Defender of the Faith. The most brief history of the origin of the term Protestant will sufficiently justify this most novel and seemingly strange assertion.

In 1526, the first Diet of Spires presented an address to the Emperor Charles V., requesting him to call a free and General Council of the Universal Church. They agreed also, that until such General Council could be summoned, every independent Sovereign Prince should rule over his own State in ecclesiastical as well as temporal matters. They claimed, that is, the power of self-legislation without reference to Rome, and they desired the advantage of a General Council. In 1529, after the Emperor bad concluded a treaty with the Pope, he rescinded this decree in a second synod at Spires. The changes in doctrine, discipline, or mode of worship, which the independent Sovereigns had introduced, were declared unlawful. Against this decree, the ancestor of Prince Albert, (may his memory be honoured, and his example be imitated by his royal descendant !) with many other princes, and the representatives of fourteen imperial or free cities, protested. They affirm the power of every Sovereign to legislate with his own subjects, and for his own subjects, while they were still willing to submit many controverted points to the consideration of a General Council. They affirmed the twofold rights of which I have spoken-independent ecclesiastical legislature, and deference to a General Council. So it was also, when the Parliament of Great Britain united and defined by the word Protestant,

8 I William and Mary, sess. 2, c. ii. Stat. 12 & 13 William III. c. ii.

which they added to the Crown, and by the title of Defender of the Faith, with which they sanctioned and confirmed to the Crown the holy duties which were implied by the election of a Protestant to the Sovereignty. One title did not supersede the other; it only strengthened and established it. The duties of the Sovereign are defined by the titles of the Sovereign, the Defender of the Faith,being a Protestant.” Objecting to the claims of the Bishop of Rome to govern the Holy Catholic Church, as a corruption of that faith, our Protestant Sovereign rules over a Protestant kingdom which claims the power by means of its Sovereign, its Representatives, and Senate, to govern itself independently of Rome in all matters, ecclesiastical as well as civil. The Protestant Sovereign rules also over a Protestant Church, which, though established by law in its present form, is always willing, as it had declared by its ancient convocation, to take part in a General Council, but not to be ruled by any foreign Bishop, or by any papal Council.

May it please God that your Majesty long continue as the Protestant Defender of the Protestant Faith of the Protestant Church of the Protestant Kingdom, to protect the common Christianity! May the government of Great Britain be chosen to set the example of extending truth and union among Christians, whether with or without the sanction of the Bishop of Rome ; at home, by useful laws; and abroad, by a Congress or Council which shall consider and recommend to the Universal Church some mode by which the hatreds of Christians may be lessened! May your Majesty and your descendants be the honoured instruments of Jesus Christ, unpoperizing and Christianizing the Universal Church by the increase of love, upon the basis of truth !


The second reason. The remembrance of the three great services which Great

Britain has already rendered to the Christian world, and to the Universal Church.

THE SECOND reason which leads me to hope that the Sovereign of Great Britain may be the honoured instrument of lessening the mutual hatred of Christians, and of promoting their future union, is derived from the remembrance of the services which Great Britain has already been permitted to render to the civilized world, and to the Universal Church.

There are four blessings which are of inestimable value to every independent nation :—freedom from ecclesiastical despotism, freedom from irresponsible government, freedom from democratical ascendancy, and religious peace and union. The three first of these have been secured to this country, and we may hope will be finally secured to the religious world in general, by the manner in which three of the most illustrious of your Majesty's ancestors, acting upon the principles implied by their two royal titles, Defender of the Faith, and Protestant, have asserted and upheld the interests of States, Churches, and Sovereigns. The remembrance of these three great services encourages me to believe, that the fourth great blessing may be commenced by the successors of the three illustrious Princes to whom I refer. The providence of God alone in each several instance of successful resistance to the Papal supremacy, to irresponsible monarchy, and to democratical ascendancy, enabled Great Britain, as the religious Protestant Israel of the latter ages, to be the benefactor of the civilized world; and this alone is required to complete its permitted excellence,- that it should perfect its work of honour and of usefulness, by commencing the attempt to promote that union which, being founded on Christianity, must and will alike promote the independence of Churches, and the influence of representative constitutional monarchies in the religion, as well as in the liberty of the people.

In each instance the temporal greatness and power of Great Britain were increased to a height unknown before ; and if the fourth great blessing of which I speak could be now bestowed by Great Britain, the same results may be anticipated by the benefactor and pacificator of the world. In such cases the prosperity and greatness of a people may be confidently affirmed to be the proof of God's favour upon those who fear Him. When the bold, unflinching, uncompromising adherence by a nation and its rulers to religious truth and scriptural religion against the most formidable and apparently the most irresistible opposition has been uniformly attended with great temporal prosperity, followed by the permanent result of safety at home and usefulness abroad; when it can be demonstrated that the religious influence of a nation (the only object for which we can imagine the providence of God would be peculiarly displayed in its preservation and prosperity) begins, increases, and continues, in precisely the same proportion as it has adhered to its high principles, and rightly used its prosperity; when, too, the principles of religion and truth, which were most strenuously opposed by the nations which hated that religious people and government, were gradually adopted by those nations; and when those principles are beginning also to be received as axioms by civilized man in all countries,-then, in such a case, we may regard those reasoners to be wise, who esteem such uniform national prosperity to be the proof of the peculiar favour and protection of the providence of God.

I apply this argument to the three most illustrious of your Majesty's predecessors on the throne. Elizabeth, William III., and George III., were equally distinguished by their adherence to the religious principles implied by the united terms “ Defender of the Faith,” and “ Protestant." Each was opposed by continental armaments, which appeared to be, and which were deemed to be, invincible, as they were overwhelming. Each opposed a principle which, if triumphant, would have retarded the religious progress of mankind, destroyed the influence of Great Britain, driven true Christianity into the wilderness, and annihilated for centuries those hopes of amelioration and improvement, which characterize the present age; and which may be rightly called the results of the three mighty conflicts, in which these three Sovereigns engaged for the defence of this country, and for the general happiness of all

« PreviousContinue »