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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

While temporal affairs devolve on the laity


clergy had yet other causes for seeking the King's protection. The writings of the Reformers, which attacked good works and vows, the Mass and the Priesthood, and all the principles on which the ecclesiastical system rested, found their way across the Channel, and filled men's minds in England also with similar convictions. The only safeguard against them lay in the King's power; his protection was no empty word, the clergy was lost if it drew on itself Henry's aversion, which was now directed against the Papal See.

The heavy weight of the King's hand and the impulse of self-preservation were however not the only reasons why they yielded. It is undeniable that the conception of the Universal Church, according to which the National Church did but form part of a larger whole, was nearly as much lost among the clergy as among the laity. In the Parliament of 1532 Convocation had presented a petition in which they desired to be released from the payments which had been hitherto made to the supreme spiritual authority, especially the annates and first-fruits. The National Church was the existing, immediate authority--why should they allow taxes to be laid on them for a distant Power, a Power moreover of which they had no need? As the bishops complained that this injured their families and their benefices, Parliament calculated the sums which Rome had drawn out of the country on this ground since Henry VII's time, and which it would soon draw at the

impending vacancies; what losses the country had already suffered in this way, and would yet suffer.[113]

The tendency of men's minds in this direction showed itself also in the understanding come to on the chief question of all.

Parliament renewed its complaints of the abuses in the ecclesiastical legislation, and learned men brought out clearly the want of any divine authority to justify it; at last the bishops virtually renounced their right of special legislation, and pledged themselves for the future not to issue any kind of Ordinance or Constitution without the King's knowledge and consent. A revision of the existing canons by a mixed commission, under the presidentship of their common head, the King, was to restore the unity of legislation.

The clause was then necessarily omitted by which the recognition of the Crown's supremacy over the clergy had been hitherto limited. The defenders of the secular power put forth the largest claims. They said, the King has also the charge of his subjects' souls, the Parliament is divinely empowered to make ordinances concerning them also.[114]

So a consolidation of public authority grew up in England, unlike anything which had yet been seen in the West. One of the great statutes that followed begins with the preamble that England is a realm to which the Almighty has given all fulness of power, under one supreme head, the King, to whom the body politic has to pay natural obedience, next after God; that this body consists of clergy and laity; to the first belongs the decision in questions of the divine law and things spiritual, while temporal affairs devolve on the laity; that one jurisdiction aids the other for the due administration of justice, no foreign intervention is needed. This is the Act by which, for these very reasons, legal appeals to Rome were abolished. It was now possible to carry out what in previous centuries had been attempted in vain. All encroachments on the prerogative of the 'Imperial Crown' were to be abolished, the supreme jurisdiction of the Roman Curia was to be valid no longer; appeals to Rome were not only forbidden but subjected to penalties.

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