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VII. Vindication of the Prerogative regarding Nomination
of Bishops. VIII. Vindication of the Prerogative regarding Ecclesias
tical Courts. IX. Vindication of the Prerogative regarding Exemption
from Excommunication.1 The Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Books of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, ‘ published in partial incompleteness after Hooker's death,' contain a defence of the government of the Church and of its relation to the State. Dr. Paget meditated giving a short account of their contents, etc., but abandoned the attempt, “finding it beyond his power to condense into any intelligible form the copious matter involved.”2 The object of the three final Books in question was to defend and commend the principle of episcopal government, and the true function of the royal supremacy, and to resist the imposition on the Church of presbyterian
The present writer considers it well to conclude the foregoing account of the contents of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, by reproducing Hooker's own statement concerning “ the matter contained in these eight Books,” given in his Preface, chapter vii. It is as follows
1 The table of contents of Book VIII. is that drawn up in the edition of Dean Church and Dr. Paget, and is not, as in the case of the seven previous Books, derived from the marginal notes.
2 Introduction to Hooker V., p. 262. * See Bishop Barry's exceedingly able lecture on “Richard Hooker," in Masters in English Theology, Lond. 1877 (pp. 47 ff.), in which the contents of the eight Books of Hooker's treatise are skilfully displayed and analyzed.
“[1.] Nor is mine own intent any other in these several books of discourse, than to make it appear unto you, that for the ecclesiastical laws of this land, we are led by great reason to observe them, and ye by no necessity bound to impugn them. It is no part of my secret meaning to draw you hereby into hatred, or to set upon the face of this cause any fairer glass than the naked truth doth afford: but my whole endeavour is to resolve the conscience, and to shew as near as I can what in this controversy the heart is to think, if it will follow the light of sound and sincere judgment, without either cloud of prejudice, or mist of passionate affection.
“[2.] Wherefore seeing that laws and ordinances in particular, whether such as we observe, or such as yourselves would have established ; —when the mind doth sift and examine them, it must needs have often recourse to a number of doubts and questions about the nature, kinds, and qualities of laws in general ; whereof unless it be thoroughly informed, there will appear no certainty to stay our persuasion upon:
: I have for that cause set down in the
first place an introduction on both sides needful to be considered : declaring therein what law is, how different kinds of laws there are, and what force they are of according unto each kind.
“[3.] This done, because ye suppose the laws for which ye strive are found in Scripture, but those not, against which ye strive; and upon
this surmise are drawn to hold it as the very main pillar of your whole cause, . That Scripture ought to be the only rule of all our actions, and consequently that the churchorders which we observe being not commanded in Scripture, are offensive and displeasant unto God: I have spent the second Book in sifting of this point, which standeth with you for the first and chiefest principle whereon ye build.
“[4.] Whereunto the next in degree is, That as God will have always a Church upon earth, while the world doth continue, and that Church stand in need of government; of which government it behoveth himself to be both the Author and Teacher: so it cannot stand with duty that man should ever presume in any wise to change and alter the same; and therefore that in Scripture there must of necessity be found some particular form of Polity Ecclesiastical, the Laws whereof admit not any kind of alteration.'
“[5.] The first three Books being thus ended, the fourth proceedeth from the general grounds and foundations of your cause unto your general accusations against us, as having in the orders of our Church (for so you pretend) * corrupted the right form of church-polity with manifold popish rites and ceremonies, which certain reformed churches have banished from amongst them, and have thereby given us such example as’ (you think) we ought to follow.' This your assertion hath herein drawn us to make search, whether these be just exceptions against the customs of our Church, when ye plead that they are the same which the Church of Rome hath, or that they are not the same which some other reformed churches have devised.
“[6.] Of those four Books which remain and are bestowed about the specialties of that cause which lieth in controversy, the first examineth the causes by you alleged, wherefore the public duties of Christian religion, as our prayers, our sacraments, and the rest, should not be ordered in such sort as with us they are; nor that power, whereby the persons of men are consecrated unto the ministry, be disposed of in such manner as the laws of this Church do allow. The second and third are concerning the power of jurisdiction: the one, whether laymen, such as your governing elders are, ought in all congregations for ever to be invested with that power; the other, whether bishops may have that power over other pastors, and therewithal that honour, which with us they have ? And because besides the power of order which all consecrated persons have, and the power of jurisdiction which neither they all nor they only have, there is a third power, a power of ecclesiastical dominion, communicable, as we think, unto persons not ecclesiastical, and most fit to be restrained unto the Prince or Sovereign commander over the whole body politic: the eighth Book we have allotted unto this question, and have sifted therein your objections against those pre-eminences royal which thereunto appertain.
"[7.] Thus have I laid before you the brief of these my travails, and presented under your view the limbs of that cause litigious between us: the whole entire body whereof being thus compact, it shall be no troublesome thing for any man to find each particular controversy's resting-place, and the coherence it hath with those things, either on which it dependeth, or which depend on it.”