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Conftantinople, and fummoning this great man, who for his exactnefs and fkill in fcripture was called the DIVINE, to that fynod, he refused to come; " Experience having taught "him how little good could be expected "from fynods; they ufually widening more "than curing differences. Nor will I (fays. "he) be present at any fynods, where they "cackle like geese or cranes: in those affem"blies there is contention, and fquabble; "and fhameful actions, which were hid be"fore, are there made public, men of hostile "minds towards one another being affembled " together?" Thefe reflections were occafioned by thofe meetings of the clergy at Conftantinople a firft and fecond time; and at other places; from whence this great DIVINE found fo little comfort, that nothing could perfuade him to come near them at last. So little did he expect from fynods towards the curing of controverfial evils.
The other, is our prefent primate*, whofe judgment in fynodical affairs every man must value and pay a wonderful deference to.
There is fcarce any thing in antiquity, fays 'he, that either more expofed our christian profeffion heretofore, or may more deferve 'our ferious confideration at this day, than * Dr. Wake, then archbishop of Canterbury.
the violence, the paffion, the malice, the falfe nefs, and the oppression which reigned in most of thofe fynods that were held by Conftantine • first, and after him by the following em'perers, upon the occafion of the Arian controverfy. Bitter are the complaints, which, we are told that great emperor made of 'them -And what little fuccefs other fynods "have oftentimes had, might easily be made appear, were it needful to enlarge upon fo known and melancholy a fubject. Now this, as it has obliged not only the best men, but the wifeft emperors, to be very careful, how they either called, or encou raged fuch affemblies, unless they had fome 'reafon to hope for a good effect of them, fo may it fuffice to convince us ftill, that neither
are all times, nor all caufes, either proper for, or worthy of, fuch meetings: and that the expediency of them ought to be very clearly made out, before it can with any reafon be expected, that the prince should 'confent to their affembling Authority of
Chriftian Princes, p. 307-8.
Your lordship moft certainly will fay, that the prefent time, and the prefent cause, are most certainly proper for, and worthy of, fuch meetings. A time when the doctrines of our most holy faith, and the apoftolical inftitutión.
of the government of our church are fo virulently attacked, and in fo open and infolent "a manner. p. 157. ·
Permit me, my lord, to reply to this in the words of that great man, our prefent metrotolitan. There may be fome times in which it would be altogether unadviseable to assemble it [a convocation.] When mens passions are let loose, and their minds difordered; when their interests and defigns; their friends and their parties, nay their own judgments, and • principles, lead them different ways; and they agree in nothing fo much, as in being very peevish and angry with one another when their very reason is depraved; and they 'judge not according to truth or evidence, but
with respect of perfons, and every one oppofes • what another of a different perfuafion either moves or approves of: what good can the prince propose to himself, or any wife man hope for, from any affembly that can bébrought together, under the unhappy influence of these, and the like prepoffeffions.
It was the fenfe of this, made a wife man, in the laft age, tell. Charles the Vth, That it appeared by experience, and might from reason ← be demonftrated, that thofe affairs feldom fucceeded well, which were to be done by many.
And if fuch be the inconvenience to which -number alone, expofes fuch meetings, in the "best times; fure I am, both reafon and ex-perience will much more convince us, that in
times of doubt and discontent, this will be the
more likely to be the cafe; and that under fuch circumstances, there is little good to be "expected from them. Authority of Chriflian Princes, p. 316-17.
As to the caufe, upon which your lordship thinks it fit for the convocation to fit and act, I must fill reply in the words of our most reverend archbishop.
"It would be not only needless but abfurd for a fynod to be called to debate over again the fundamentals of piety.-All that they would gain by doing it, would be only this, 'that they would see their authority and de⚫finitions defpifed by them; and might pro
bably give offence to good men, as if they had fo much reafon on their fide, or there were fo much difficulty in this cafe, as to ⚫ need the folemnity of a convocation to interpofe in it.' This his grace fpeaks concerning septics, and libertines, who deny the truths of chriftianity. But then his grace goes on to affirm, that neither there is any need of a. new fyned to declare the doctrine of the
church in fuch points, in which it has, by as great, or even greater authority, been before declared. A convocation may fit, fays he, and draw up what creeds and confeffions it will; but if they expect that those
who defpife the authority of the antient "general councils of the church fhould be concluded by their definitions, it will, I doubt, appear that they have but flattered them• felves with vain hopes and they will find too late, that those, who are not to be reftrained by what has already been determined, will much lefs regard any new • decifions that can be made against them.' ibid. p. 313.
'Tis not, my lord, a crime I hope in me, to defire that the royal fupremacy may get the better of the fpiritual jurisdiction. • If the 'meeting and acting of the convocation does depend upon the grace and pleasure of the prince, fo that they can neither affemble, • nor confult, without his permission, nor is "he any farther obliged to allow of either, ⚫ than he is perfuaded their meeting and acting • will be for the public benefit of the church ' and kingdom'-perhaps his majesty may have as good or better reasons against their fitting under the prefent circumstances of affairs,' than can be offered for it. ibid. p. 3.