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siastical controversy might be ended: but of the priests either coming or acting, not one word.


tioch. Can.

But the council of Antioch (the next in order) speaks, if possible, yet more fully to the same purpose. It determines, Συνόδους τῶν ἐπισκόπων γίνεσθαι, “ That there should be synods of the bishops held in every province; the metropolitan admonishing his suffragans to come to it. That so," Concil. Ansays the canon, "the priests and deacons, and all others who 20. think themselves injured, may come to the synod, and have their causes heard and judged by it." This then was the end for which the presbyters or priests were allowed to come to these assemblies; not to judge, but to be judged; not to sit with the bishops in them, but to bring their causes, if they had any, before them.

WILLIAM I. K. of Eng.

But yet, notwithstanding all these orders, these provincial synods soon grew into disuse. To revive them, therefore, and cause them to be more punctually observed, the fourth general council renewed the decrees, which had before been Concil, made concerning them. It ordered the bishops to meet Can. 19. twice in the year; and commanded those bishops that came not to be punished.


Trull. Can.

The same is the language of the sixth and seventh general councils, where they mentioned these synodical meetings. They are still the προέδροι, and the ἐπίσκοποι, and the apxiépeis, that are to come together; the meet- Concil. in ings themselves are called σvvódoi èπlo Kоπ WV, and 8. Concil. 7. συνελεύσεις τῶν ἐπίσκοπην, synods and conventions of Can. 6. the bishops. But neither in the canons, or their comments, is there any thing to persuade us that the presbyters had any authoritative concern in them.

The learned author proceeds to shew, that the language of the imperial laws, in Justinian's novels, was the same with the canons of the Church, with reference to these ecclesiastical assemblies.


Novel. 123. c. 10. No


This likewise is the opinion of the learned Dacherius, as vel. 137. c. appears from the beginning of his collection, where he tells Spicileg. Præf, l. 1. us, that a synod is then reckoned complete, when the me- p. 10. tropolitan, and all his suffragans are present at it.

Stat of the

From the canons, the learned author proceeds to the Dr. Wake's practice of the Church, and carries the enquiry through the Church,&c. east, the south, and western parts of it.

p. 97. et deinc.


First, the most ancient Eastern councils, of which we have Abp. Cant. any notices remaining, were the synods, which Eusebius tells us, were assembled upon the account of the Paschal controversy. The character he gives of them, with reference to the case in hand, in general, is this: "that synods and assemblies of bishops were held about it." And both by this cles. 1. 5. c. historian, and the collection of the councils, it does not appear, that any beneath the episcopal character had any share of voting in these assemblies.

Hist. Ec-


To give some instances. In those of Palestine, Theophilus, bishop of Cesarea, and Narcissus, bishop of Jerusalem, presided; and the one consisted of twelve, the other of Euseb. ibid. fourteen bishops, assembled for that debate.

In that of Pontus; Palma, with fourteen other bishops, met: in that of Osroene, eighteen bishops assembled; in that of Corinth, Bacchillus and eighteen other bishops were convened. And in all these synods we find no mention of Tom. 1. col. Presbyters.

Euseb. c. 25. Concil.


To these might be added other synods, which we are Concil. tom. told assembled about the same time in other places; and in &c. Euseb. which again we meet with no account of any but bishops

1. col. 599.

Hist. Eccl. that were assembled in them. But to carry the proof farther,

1. 6. c. 46.

and proceed to another great dispute, about the baptism of hereticks; for the settling of which controversy, several synods in all parts were convened.

Now of these, Eusebius gives us the same general account that he had done of the foregoing: he calls them the synods of bishops, and that not from himself, but from the letter of Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, who lived at the same time; and therefore must be presumed to have spoken according to the language and discipline of the Church. Of these assemblies he elsewhere mentions two which had met upon this occasion; he calls them the "synods of his brethren." And whom he meant by his brethren, the other part of his sentence shews, that they were the bishops of those Euseb. Ec- Churches which were assembled together for that purpose. If from these we proceed to the synods held about the Vide Epist. Arian controversy, we shall find them of the same kind. Of Firmilian.

cles. Hist.

1. 7. c. 7.

ad Cyprian, the bishops which met, we have a large account; but of any priests which sat and voted with them, not the least tittle is remembered.

Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 1. 7. c. 5.


To the council of Alexandria, held about the year 320, WILthe bishops of Libya, Pentapolis, &c., subscribed. The as- K. of Eng. sembly consisted of near a hundred bishops: nor had the Concil. Lab. presbyters any thing to do in it, but only to subscribe, with tom. 1. col. the deacons, to what their bishops had done, as soon as they vid. Epist. were required by their metropolitan so to do.


Alexand. tom. 1. Opp.


In all the following synods, of which either Athanasius, or Athan. p. St. Hilary, Socrates, Sozomen, or any other of the historians 396. of those times take notice, the account is still the same: Opp. tom. 1. they are synods of bishops,' that is their title. Nor is there, p. 125. 175. that I know of, so much as one single instance, where any Hilar, de Synod. adv. others have sat and acted authoritatively with them. Arian. p.


358. 366.

To give some instances, in the Eastern synods, whose canons have been received into the Greek code.

367.381. Fragmenta, p. 465. 479.

The synod of Ancyra is the first of these: it consisted, as 481. &c. we are told, of eighteen bishops; but that any presbyters Socrat. 1. 2. were present, and voted in it, we have no intimation.

cles. c. 29. 39. 1. 3. c. 7.

On the synod of Cesarea, the same year, the ancient code 9. &c.


Hist. Ec

of the Roman Church tells us, that the holy and venerable Sozom. bishops being gathered together, established the which we have of it.


cles. p. 433, 501, 573, 612, &c.

Apud Le

on. M. vol,

Of that of Laodicea, the inscription says, that the canons were made by the holy and blessed fathers assembled at it. And lastly, for that of Gangra, the preface expressly calls it," the most holy synod of bishops."


c. 4. p. 46. Concil. Lab.

tom. 2. col. 413.

ad Jubaia

And thus we have seen a view of the councils of the Greek Church: nor is there any difference of those in Epist. ad Africa. That the case stands thus, appears plainly from St. Quintum, Cyprian's epistles: in which he gives an account of several num, ad Cornelium, synods held in that country; but in none of these assemblies n. 57. &c. is there any mention of any others, besides bishops, that decided in them. And though from the acts of the synod of Carthage, published with his works, we are informed, that not only the priests, but the deacons and laity, were present; yet from the same acts it is evident, that none but the bishops voted; and by their voting, determined the affairs, and put an end to the controversy before them.

tom. 2. col.

To these we may add the acts of the first council of Car- Concil. Lab. thage under Gratus, bishop of that see, anno 348. Of the 713. second, under Genedus, anno 397. Of the third, fourth, Ibid. col. and fifth, under Aurelius. And in most of which, though the Ibid. col.

1159. 1163.

1167. 1198. 1208. 1215. 1218.


deacons attended, yet so plain it is, that only the bishops Abp. Cant. defined, that nothing can be reasonably objected against it. It would be too long to insist upon the rest of the African synods, in which the same method was held; as that of Cirta against the Donatists; that of Carthage against the Pelagians; that of Milevis, in the case of Cælestius. It may suffice to observe, that the same authority ran through all of them. The deacons (and perhaps the priests and laity too) fat. Justell. were present; but the bishops alone acted as the proper cles. Afri- members of the synods, and concluded what was to be done

Vide Præ

ad Cod. Ec


in them.


Ibid. col.


Ibid. col. 1533.

Ibid. col. 1538. 1544.

If the reader takes a view of the Italian churches, he will find a conformity of custom in this matter. St. Cyprian mentions a synod held at Rome against Novatian: that Cornelius drew a great many of his fellow bishops together upon this occasion; and that they all agreed to what had been lately determined at Carthage: that is, they decreed the admitting those to penance, who had fallen away in the time of persecution. But the history of the synod which Edit. Oxon. met at Rome, in the case of Athanasius, is more explicit to the point. That holy father tells us, it consisted of more Athanas. than fifty bishops under Julius. These prelates heard his Opp. tom. 1. Apolog. allegations, and decreed him into communion with them. contr. AriaThe same was the case of the other synods, both of Rome nos. p. 140. Concil. Lab. and Milan, on the occasion of the same controversy. They tom. 2. col. all consisted of the bishops of those parts: nor do we hear

Cyprian. 55.

886. 889. Sozom. Hist. Ec

of any presbyters, who (in their own right) either sat or cles. p. 546, acted with authority in them. I mention, "in their own right," because sometimes priests were bishops's proxies, and represented them in council.


The learned author of The State of the Church proves the Spanish synods managed by the same form, till after the seventh century: which discipline was likewise observed in Id. p. 100, France and Germany, down to the period last-mentioned.


It is true, in more modern ages, it appears by the order of holding synods in the Roman Church that priests were admitted to a decisive share in the councils.

Theodoret. Hist. Eccles. lib. 2. c. 22.

Pag. 99.





But then, in the first place, this must be granted to be a deviation from the ancient practice: and, secondly, this privilege of admitting the priests to vote in council, is restrained and qualified: for only those of this order, who were sum

moned by their metropolitan, were allowed to judge and decide in these assemblies.

WILLIAM I. K. of Eng.

But the English Church, as we have seen, kept somewhat closer to the primitive practice, at least, till toward the end of the eleventh century. For though the abbots had gained some ground, yet no others beneath a bishop could speak in council, without leave from the metropolitan. And, which is more, the provisions of this synod are said to be drawn upon the model of the ancient canons.

To proceed this year, in conformity to the order of the synod, the see of Elmam, in Norfolk, was removed to Thetford; Herfastus, formerly chaplain to the Conqueror, being bishop of this diocese. Malmsbury gives him but a moderate character, either for his learning or hospitality. He had only William Bewfew for his successor at Thetford; who was consecrated by Lanfranc in 1086, and died about five Malmsbur. years after; upon whose death, the see, as we shall find Pontif. 1. 2. afterwards, was once more removed.

de Gest.

fol. 136.

held at Win


The next year there was another synod held at Winches- 4 council ter, in which Lanfranc presided. And here, amongst other chester, A.D. things, it was decreed, that no canon should be married: but as for those married priests, who had their cures in castles and country villages, though they were obliged not to marry in case they were single; yet those who were already engaged in matrimony, were not commanded to part with their wives. But, for the future, the bishops were to take care not to ordain any priests or deacons, without first taking a declaration from them against matrimony. The form runs thus: Ego frater N. promitto Deo, omnibusque sanctis ejus, castitatem corporis mei secundum canonum decreta, et secundum ordinem mihi imponendum servare, domino præsule N. presente.


Concil. vol.

This canon, as Gerhard, archbishop of York, reports, in 2. p. 11. his letter to Anselm of Canterbury, discouraged people from taking orders, and made them hang back at the bishop's invitation.

Baron. an

Upon this occasion it will be proper to observe, that Spelm. ibid. about a year or two before, pope Hildebrand, called Gregory nal. ad An. VII. had declared strongly against the marriage of priests 1075. Hoveand deacons, both by letters and in a council at Rome. The fol. 262. learned Du Pin takes notice, that this restraint was highly

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