The nature of the English church

The Restoration in 1660 did not follow a Laudian blueprint, but it was primarily High Churchmen who exploited Laud's legacy in order to shape a reinsti-tuted regime: royal supremacy, episcopacy, the threefold ministry of bishops, priests and deacons, church courts, and liturgical uniformity. They coupled this ecclesiastical polity with a High Church ecclesiology: their keynote was the church's hierocratic nature. Sancroft, preaching at the great restocking of episcopal ranks in 1660, did not defend the relation of the church to the state, but rather promoted the church itself as an ecclesiastical polity whose form and authority derived from the Apostles. Besides that momentous theme, the exact nature of the church's connection with the state was not his priority, as long as the state accorded it protection.5

An episcopal regime in which the church claimed an independent source of authority was potentially a challenge to the monarchy as well as a support to it. It was therefore necessary to argue that episcopacy might be by divine right in the weaker sense of copying Christ's or the Apostles' example or institution, rather than in the sense of obeying an express divine command. Coercive jurisdiction derived from the crown alone. Papists, Presbyterians, and Independents challenged the king's supremacy, but not episcopalians.6 This explanatory formula did not prevent their collision, and the resistance of the church helped to bring down a Catholic sovereign in 1688. The general claim of this church to the support of the civil magistrate was not that it was merely the church chosen for pragmatic reasons by the state but that it embodied religious truth. William Lloyd, later a bishop, argued in this sense of the term 'established', defending first the church's Apostolic status and its doctrine; then condemning the errors of Rome; and only then offering as a motive for supporting it 'the Safety of the King's Person, and the Prerogative of the Crown . .. according to the powers invested in the Jewish Kings under the Law, and exercised by the first Christian Emperours'.7

In England, the nature of the church and its link to the state was continually debated. In the absence of statutory definitions, individual churchmen offered

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