Christ Alone Has the Power

Christ might indeed have chosen to select another form of government, and to institute the visible Church either as a democracy or as an aristocracy. Either of these is a conceivable and a possible form of government, and either is compatible with the existence of a governed society. Both of them have actually existed as forms of government in the civil order. The practical question, however, and with that alone we have concern, is not as to what Christ might have done, but as to what Christ actually did.

Christ instituted the visible Church neither as an aristocracy, nor as a democracy, but as a monarchy.

In an aristocracy ruling power is vested in several different men, who are regarded as being the best men, as chiefs or elders or otherwise. The power of each of these is an equal power. It is equally exercised by all of them, although it is exercised by all as if all were one, and formed one moral person, one ruling body. Hence in an aristocracy, the consent of a majority or, what is equivalent thereto, the prevailing might of a considerable minority, is required and suffices for exercise of ruling power. Christ did not institute the visible Church as an aristocracy, for Christ did not give to all of His Apostles an equal power, or to all of them supreme power.

In a democracy both legislative power and executive power rest with the people, and are exercised by the representatives and ministers of the people. It is self government. The people govern themselves. Christ did not institute the visible Church as a democracy, for over His Church Christ set rulers.

In a constitutional or representative government, which is a monarchy tempered with democracy, legislative power rests with the representatives of the people, and executive power with the king and his ministers. Christ did not institute the visible Church as a constitutional government, for He did not give to the Christian people, or to the representatives of the Christian people, the power of making the laws by which the Christian society was to be governed.

In a monarchy one person and one alone is in possession of supreme power, and thus has plenitude of power. One person has direct and immediate rule over all subjects within his kingdom, both singly and collectively, whether as individuals or as a body. It was as a monarchy that Christ instituted the visible Church. He so far tempered, however, this monarchy with aristocracy that it should not be in the power of the supreme ruler to abolish those inferior rulers whose power was equally of Christ’s institution, and therefore of Divine right. The supreme ruler was nevertheless not to be merely the ministerial head of the inferior rulers, and to exercise a power which flowed to him from them. He was to be in possession of supreme power, and of the plenitude of power, as his own power.

Pontificate and Episcopate are therefore equally of Divine right, as instituted by Christ. Both belong to the intestinal constitution of the visible Church. Neither of them can be abolished, nor can either cease to exist, if that Church is to endure in its identity as instituted by Christ. Pontificate without Episcopate would not constitute that Church; still less would Episcopate without Pontificate.

The kingdoms of a world the fashion of which passeth away may be altered into aristocracies, and so cease to be kingdoms. Aristocracies may be altered into democracies or into kingdoms, and so cease to be aristocracies, in the one case as in the other. Democracies may develop into aristocracies, and these again into monarchies, and in either case they cease to be democracies. With all such changes there is a change of intestinal constitution. There is radical change, and the society, in its altered constitution, has ceased to be that society which it was in its beginning. In a visible society of Divine institution, which is to endure in the living oneness of its identity to the end of time, the alteration of its constitution is an absolute impossibility. For such an alteration the Pontiff with his supreme power is in the plenitude of his power as powerless as are the Bishops; and the whole body of the Bishops is as powerless as is the Christian people. Christ alone has power to alter the constitution of that visible Church which the same Christ instituted. All save Christ must say Non possumus, We are destitute of power.

— William Humphrey, S. J., Urbs et Orbis, London: Thos. Baker, 1899.

Cromwell, Lincoln, and Virginia

Cromwell, Lincoln and Virginia.

When Oliver Cromwell was installed Protector of England, the Commonwealth of Virginia refused to acknowledge his authority. The English Commonwealth was then at the height of its power, and, at its head, one who was admirably described by Bossuet as “a man of an incredible depth of thought; as profound a hypocrite as he was a skillful politician; capable alike of concealing and undertaking everything; active and indefatigable equally in peace as war; so vigilant and active that he has never proved himself wanting to any opportunity which presented itself to his elevation; in fine, one of those stirring and audacious spirits which seem born to overturn the world.” Such was the Commonwealth and such the man, triumphant over all other enemies, against which this gallant Commonwealth, then numbering only twenty thousand inhabitants, unfurled the standard of defence.

The Commonwealth of England was disposed to submit to this resistance.–Virginia, from the first, had arrayed itself on the side of the King. During the whole preceding struggle of Charles and the Parliament, Virginia was firm in its adherence to the monarch, and enacted a declaration “that they were born under a monarchy, and would never degenerate from the condition of their birth by being subject to any other government.” After the beheading of Charles I., Virginia acknowledged the authority of his son, and actually continued the provincial government under a commission sent by him from his retreat at Breda to Sir William Berkeley. The wrath of Parliament was intensely roused by this bold and persistent contumacy; an ordinance was issued declaring the inhabitants of Virginia notorious robbers and traitors, and all intercourse prohibited with them, either by the people of England, the inhabitants of the other American settlements, or with foreign nations. Finally, a fleet was sent over to overpower the rebellious colony. But observe the difference between the great intellects that then ruled England and the Government of the United States. Cromwell extended the olive branch as well as the sword, and commissioners accompanied the fleet, who were empowered to try the effect of pacific and conciliatory measures. The result proved the wisdom of the policy.

“It marks,” says Bancroft, a Massachusetts historian, “the character of the Virginians, that they refused to surrender to force, but yielded by a voluntary deed and mutual compact. We copy the articles concluded between the commissioners of the Commonwealth, and the Council of State, and the Grand Assembly of Virginia, that our readers may contrast them with the terms of Lincoln’s so-called amnesty:

“First. That this should be considered a voluntary act, not forced or constrained by a conquest upon the country; and that the colonists should have and enjoy such freedoms and privileges as belong to the free-born people of England.
“Secondly. That the Grand Assembly, as formerly, should convene and transact the affairs of Virginia, doing nothing contrary to the Government of the Commonwealth or laws of England.
“Thirdly. That there should be a full and total remission of all acts, words, or writings against the Parliament.
“Fourthly. That Virginia should have her ancient bounds and limits, granted by the charters of the former kings, and that a new charter was to be sought from Parliament to that effect, against such as had trespassed upon their ancient rights. (This clause would seem to be aimed at some of the neighboring colonies.)
“Fifthly. That all patents of land under the seal of the colony, granted by the Governor, should remain in full force.
“Sixthly. That the privilege of fifty acres of land for every person emigrating to the colony should remain in full force.
“Sevenths. That the people of Virginia have free trade, as the people of England enjoy, with all places and nations, according to the laws of the Commonwealth; and that Virginia should enjoy equal privileges, in every respect, with any other colony in America.
“Eighths. That Virginia should be free from all taxes, customs and impositions whatever; and that none should be imposed upon them without the consent of their Grand Assembly; and no forts or castles be erected, or garrisons maintained, without their consent.
“Ninth. That no charge should be required from the country on account of the expense incurred by the present fleet.
“Tenths. That this agreement should be tendered to all persons, and that such as should refuse to subscribe to it should have a year’s time to remove themselves and effects from Virginia, and in the meantime enjoy equal justice.”

The remaining articles were of less importance. This was followed by a supplemental treaty, for the benefit of the Governor and Council, and such soldiers as had served against the Commonwealth in England—allowing them the most favorable terms.

We need not enumerate the unconditional-surrender terms proposed by Lincoln. Their contrast to the overtures by which Cromwell pacificated the colony is too striking to require comment.

The record of Virginia from the first, warrants the pride and devotion of persons. The correspondence between the rights secured under the articles with the Commonwealth Parliament, and the rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, as violated by the British King, will suggest itself to every intelligent reader. That Old Dominion, with all its traditional love of monarchy; would not permit even its born king to trample upon its rights. If it did not lead the way in the American Revolution, it came up in due time; and, like a broad-shouldered and double-jointed giant, carried it through when others tottered and trembled under the burthen. “Beware of entrance to a quarrel, but, being in, bear it that the opposer may beware of thee,” seems to have been always the maxim of this deliberate and plucky old Commonwealth. But for Virginia, and Virginia’s Washington, what would have become of the American Revolution?

It becomes not us to speak of her career in the present war. She arrogates to herself no superiority over her patriotic and heroic sister States. She has been reproached, indeed, for coming so late into the contest. It is true, that in this Revolution, as in that of ’76, she was not in a hurry. She exhausted every effort for peace, conciliation and compromise before she drew the sword. She seemed like her great orator, Patrick Henry, somewhat awkward and hesitating in her first utterances in the grand debate. But she waxes warm as she proceeds, and then the lightnings flash and the thunders roll over the heated sky. Whatever be the result of this struggle, no Virginian will have reason to be ashamed of his State. Let Lincoln, more despotic than Cromwell, deprive her of her liberties and expunge her name from the roll of States, he cannot despoil her of the Past, nor extinguish the lustre with which History will reflect the majestic luminary long after it has descended beneath the horizon.

— The Daily Dispatch: 25 January 1865; Richmond Dispatch.

“Whereas George Guelf…”

Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Mitchell, Henry, The State Arms of the Union, Boston: L. Prang & Co. (1875).
Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Mitchell, Henry, The State Arms of the Union, Boston: L. Prang & Co. (1875).

Whereas George Guelf king of Great Britain and Ireland and Elector of Hanover, heretofore entrusted with the exercise of the kingly office in this government hath endeavored to pervert the same into a detestable and insupportable tyranny;

by putting his negative on laws the most wholesome & necessary for ye public good;

by denying to his governors permission to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operations for his assent, and, when so suspended, neglecting to attend to them for many years;

by refusing to pass certain other laws, unless the person to be benefited by them would relinquish the inestimable right of representation in the legislature

by dissolving legislative assemblies repeatedly and continually for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people;

when dissolved, by refusing to call others for a long space of time, thereby leaving the political system without any legislative head;

by endeavoring to prevent the population of our country, & for that purpose obstructing the laws for the naturalization of foreigners & raising the condition [lacking appro]priations of lands;

[by keeping among u]s, in times of peace, standing armies and ships of war;

[lack]ing to render the military independent of & superior to the civil power;

by combining with others to subject us to a foreign jurisdiction, giving his assent to their pretended acts of legislation.

for quartering large bodies of troops among us;

for cutting off our trade with all parts of the world;

for imposing taxes on us without our consent;

for depriving us of the benefits of trial by jury;

for transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offences; and

for suspending our own legislatures & declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever;

by plundering our seas, ravaging our coasts, burning our towns and destroying the lives of our people;

by inciting insurrections of our fellow subjects with the allurements of forfeiture & confiscation;

by prompting our negroes to rise in arms among us; those very negroes whom he hath from time to time by an inhuman use of his negative he hath refused permission to exclude by law;

by endeavoring to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, & conditions of existence;

by transporting at this time a large army of foreign mercenaries [to complete] the works of death, desolation & tyranny already begun with circum[stances] of cruelty & perfidy so unworthy the head of a civilized nation;

by answering our repeated petitions for redress with a repetition of injuries;

and finally by abandoning the helm of government and declaring us out of his allegiance & protection;

by which several acts of misrule the said George Guelf has forfeited the kingly office and has rendered it necessary for the preservation of the people that he should be immediately deposed from the same, and divested of all its privileges, powers, & prerogatives:

And forasmuch as the public liberty may be more certainly secured by abolishing an office which all experience hath shewn to be inveterately inimical thereto or which and it will thereupon become further necessary to re-establish such ancient principles as are friendly to the rights of the people and to declare certain others which may co-operate with and fortify the same in future.

Be it therefore enacted by the authority of the people that the said, George Guelf be, and he hereby is deposed from the kingly office within this government and absolutely divested of all it’s [sic] rights, powers, and prerogatives: and that he and his descendants and all persons acting by or through him, and all other persons whatsoever shall be and forever remain incapable of the same: and that the said office shall henceforth cease and never more either in name or substance be re-established within this colony.

— Thomas Jefferson, Proposed Constitution for Virginia, June, 1776.

Virginia and Geneva

Sir Edwin Sandys.
Sir Edwin Sandys.

One must recognize that there was a very definite purpose and aim in the minds of the leaders of the Virginia Company in giving the name “City” to these raw little settlements [James City, Kecoughtan (Elizabeth City from 1621), the City of Henricus, and Charles City]. In English thought and custom in the seventeenth century, the appellation “city” was never given to a community, however large in population, unless it was the “see city” of a diocese and had a cathedral as the seat of its bishop. As there was not the slightest intention of sending a bishop to Virginia, or of establishing a diocese with a see city, one must look elsewhere than to the authority of English precedent to find the reason for the four “cities” in Virginia.

The explanation seems to be very clear. The group of men with Sir Edwin Sandys as their leading spirit who were formulating the plans and guiding the destinies of the Virginia Company were seeking to create a form of government which would give the greatest degree of autonomy and self-government to the settlers in these new communities, who to so great an extent would be thrown upon their own resources. Regardless of the question of the degree of loyalty of the radical puritans to the monarchial form of government, the settlers in Virginia were removed by three thousand miles of ocean from their king, as the source of civil authority, and from their bishop as the head of ecclesiastical order and government. They must, consequently, for their own protection and the welfare of their settlements, have as large a degree of authority to govern themselves and to make and administer their own laws as was consistent with their loyalty to both king and Church. Certainly it must have been realized that neither Parliament nor any group of officials of the company living in England could wisely enact laws governing local conditions in Jamestown, because they could not know enough about local conditions; nor could any court in England exercise authority there through lack of jurisdiction. Sir Edwin Sandys, and his fellow-members of the “Court” or executive committee of the Virginia Company, had the clear political sagacity to perceive that, if their colony was to develop into anything more than a trading post in a foreign land, its people must have the authority to govern themselves. There was no provision for dukedoms, palatinates or baronies with their political powers and civil courts. The plan later developed by the Caroline kings of granting great tracts of American land to favored groups of proprietors, to whom were given semi-regal authority over their “subject” settlers for the sake of the financial returns accruing therefrom, does not seem to have been conceived when either Virginia or Massachusetts was established. The source of their government and the authority of their courts must be found in the settlers themselves, as the owners of their own land, and not as tenants owing fealty and service to overlords who owned the land, and who, in consequence of that ownership, could make laws and establish courts to enforce their edicts.

Such freedom of self-government of and by the people themselves could not be found in any community in England at that time. The evidence as to the source whence he drew his conception of colonial local self-government is to be found in the words of Sir Edwin Sandys himself. “If ever God from heaven,” quoth that doughty puritan, “did constitute and direct a frame of government on earth it was that of Geneva.”

Virginia’s Mother Church and the Political Conditions Under Which It Grew,
Brydon, G. MacLaren (George MacLaren), pp. 31-32.

King Charles the Martyr

I must tell you that the liberty and freedom [of the people] consists in having of Government, those laws by which their life and their goods may be most their own. It is not for having share in Government, Sir; that is nothing pertaining to them. A subject and a sovereign are clean different things. If I would have given way to an arbitrary way, for to have all laws changed according to the Power of the Sword, I needed not to have come here, and therefore I tell you… that I am the martyr of the people.

— Charles I, on the scaffold before his execution (30 January 1649).

God Save the Queen

Queen Elizabeth II.

Your King & Country Need You

Recruitment poster for the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) in France (1914) from the Great War.

The Wonderful Deliverance of These Kingdoms

Entrance of King Charles II.

O Almighty God, who art a strong tower of defence unto thy servants against the face of their enemies; We yield thee praise and thanksgiving for the wonderful deliverance of these Kingdoms from The Great Rebellion, and all the miseries and oppressions consequent thereupon, under which they had so long groaned.  We acknowledge it thy goodness, that we were not utterly delivered over as a prey unto them; beseeching thee still to continue such thy mercies towards us, that all the world may know that thou art our Saviour and mighty Deliverer; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Form of Prayer for the 29th Day of May.

Monarchist to the Core

Lest anyone be confused.  While I have an interest in the detestable enormities of the Second Constitution of the United States, and have archived here the thoughts of anti-Federalist republicans, I remain a staunch believer in Monarchy as being the only perfect and true form of Christian government.

Christus vincit.  Christus regnat.  Christus imperat.