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Cardinal Hortiensis, Panormitan, Lyndwood, Augustin Barbosa, Ferro Manrrique, Galganetti, Van Espen, Molanus, and others, as well as the above cited author, De Sacris Ecclesiæ Ministeriis ac Beneficiis.
" To quote only a few : Est autem duplex archipresbyter,' writes Augustin Barbosa, * unus urbanus, et alius ruralis seu foranehs: urbanus est qui in urbe degens dignitati præest cathedrali, vel collegiatâ ecclesiâ ; ruralis vero seu foraneus qui ruri ecclesiæ præest parochiali seu plebaniæ . . . . et hic proprie videtur dici decanus . non quod necessario decem præesse debeat sed quia facta translatione et perfectione denarii numeri, decanus solet appellari omnis ille qui alicujus ordinis primus et præcipuus est.'
“Archipresbyteri sunt in duplici differentia,' says Ferro Manrrique, alii namque dicuntur civitatenses . . alii autem rurales seu plebani . archipresbyter ruralis seu plebanus sollicitudinem plebaniæ suæ tam in rusticos tam in sacerdotes in divinis et vitæ circumspectione gerant.'t
“ Molanus having noticed the archipresbyteri civitatenses, subjoins: “Reliqui vero pastores pastorum usitate dici solent decani rurales vel decani Christianitatis: sed hodie archipresbyteri suarum regionum dici malunt.' I
“ To speak in the phrase of the present age,' $ says the scrupulous pastor of Great Badworth, the urban we may call cathedral deans, the vican, deans rural.'
“ From these brief but sufficient definitions and explanations of the archipresbyteral duties, the reader will understand, in limine, their distinction, nature, and character ; though our present business is only with the titles of the office, not with its duties.
“ Of the first here defined, the urban, or cathedral archpriest, his origin and office, it is foreign to my office to say anything otherwise than as sharing with his more humble namesake the title of archipresbyter and decanus, or assimilating, in some of his functions, with his vical representative."|
We must here remark that our author has confined himself too strictly to the subject of rural deans. We have shown that those officers are derived from the urban, or cathedral archpriests; and, without examining the origin and nature of the latter officers, it is impossible to form a comprehensive and clear idea of the precise position which rural deaneries occupy in the scheme of the church's constitution. It is indeed dangerous to separate the study of any one ecclesiastical institution from the consideration of the portions of the constitution of the Church to which it properly belongs. All the parts of the system fit together with such nicety, and all are pervaded by such extensively ramified principles and theories, that no portion of it can be really understood if considered by itself. This defect of Mr. Dansey's plan we have endeavoured to supply, so as to put the reader in possession of the general information required for the thorough comprehension of the subject. Having done this, we will, in future, endeavour to adhere more to the plan of Mr. Dansey's work.
* Barbos. de Canon. et Dignitat. cap. vi. p. 64, de Archipresbyteris. + D. M. F. Manrrique de Præcedentiis ei Prælationibus Ecclesiasticis, Quæst. vi.
# Molan. de Canonicis, lib. ii. c. viii. p. 157. $ Ley's Defensive Doubis, p. 44. | Horæ Decanicæ Rurales, rol. i. pp. 8 -13.
p. 3. i.
The learned writer is of opinion that the first assistants of the diocesan bishops were the chorepiscopi, or villan bishops, mentioned in the Tenth Canon of the Council of Antioch, and he argues that the rural deans succeeded to those prelates. We, however, prefer the opinion of Van Espen and Hericourt, who consider the history of the rural archpriests, or rural deans, to be unconnected with that of the chorepiscopi. It seems, indeed, natural, that when the numbers of the clergy increased, and they spread over the country, the same system whereby the bishop was assisted in his government in the city, should be extended to the agrarian districts. In the city where the bishop resided he was assisted by the archpriest, as the head of the order of priests; and it was most natural that an officer of the same nature should be appointed to perform the same duties in the country. And it is to be observed that the office of the rural archpriest could not clash with that of the chorepiscopus, any more than that of the cathedral archpriest could with that of the bishop. The chorepiscopus was a subordinate bishop, under the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop, and having a limited territory within the diocese; and the rural arch priest was the chief of the priests within his deanery, as the cathedral archpriest was the chief of the priests in the episcopal city.
We, however, admit, that while the institution of chorepiscopi was in full vigour, the rural deans necessarily were less conspicuous and important than they became after the suppression of the former.
Van Espen, in commenting on the Tenth Canon of the Council of Antioch, holds that the chorepiscopi were probably originally real bishops, having the same authority over their dioceses which the bishops in the cities enjoyed over theirs, and differing from the latter only in respect of the inferiority of those dioceses. He believes that when the Church increased in extent, its government followed the temporal government, and thus the bishops of cities assumed a supremacy and jurisdiction over the lesser bishops presiding over small towns and rural districts. In the same way the bishop of a metropolis or capital sometimes acquired the prerogatives of a metropolitan, or archbishop, over the bishops of a province. This theory certainly renders the history of the chorepiscopi intelligible. And there may also have been cases where a chorepiscopus was appointed as an inferior bishop within a diocese, and originally under the authority of the diocesan bishop. These obscure questions of ecclesiastical history are, however, not matters of great importance, because no principle depends on their solution; we will, therefore, no longer dwell on them, but proceed.
* Van Esp. Schol, in Canon. Anti:ch, Can. X. Op. onin. tom. vi. p. 502.
Mr. Dansey learnedly establishes that in England the British Church underwent the same process of development which we have described above; the bishops at first living in common with their clergy, and afterwards establishing parochial divisions, and parish priests, in the eighth century.
“ How soon after the organization of the parochial clergy on this new footing archpresbyters were appointed to overlook them and their flocks, it is difficult to determine. Scope is afforded for the commencement of their inspectional services in aidance of the bishop at the date referred to; but it does not appear that they were carried into being until more than two centuries after. At least no churchrecord affords any tidings of them, within the writer's knowledge, in our own islands.
“ In France, the first foundation of parish churches, and ordinary cures, was much earlier than in England; and so also was the vican archipresbyteral institution of higher antiquity in the former than in the latter country. In French Councils and Capitularies mention is made of rural parishes and priests in the fifth century, and of archpriests in the sixth.
“ But probable as it is that the whole machinery of the Gallican Church police would speedily find its way into Britain from the constant intercourse between the two countries, such does not appear to have been the case as to this particular department of spiritual office. The system of country archpresbyterates, or decanates, with their attached superintendents, does not appear among us until the eleventh century ; owing, perhaps, to the multitude of our first parochial divisions, and paucity of distinct congregations and incumbencies, which, for a time, called not for such appointments. Besides, such as they were, they were visited every year by the highest ecclesiastical officer. The bishops annually went about their dioceses in order to an inquiry and corrrection of miscarriages ; visiting, parochially, every church, and manse, and pastor, and flock. They visited, indeed, before the division of parishes at all. The Council of Clovishoe, under Archbishop Cuthbert, orders diocesans to visit their parochia (dioceses) once a year, and to teach the people of all conditions, and of both sexes, utpote eos qui raro audiunt verbum Dei; prohibiting all pagan observances, &c. (Can. iii.); and the same injunction is repeated in the Council of Celceyth (A.D. 735). After the division of parishes, annual episcopal visitations continued to be parochially made, as appears from the Constitutions of Archbishop Odo (A.D. 943, Can. iii.), the bishops going about their dioceses every year, and vigilantly preaching the word of God.
“While, then, Church discipline was thus supported by the diocesan in his own person through the whole parochia, we have no reason to expect the introduction of any official deputies; and none, accordingly, are found between the bishop and presbyter with any oflice or jurisdiction in the diocese at large. By degrees, however, the ecclesiastical condition of the country changed, and the spiritual government of the faithful became too arduous for one episcopal overseer or visitor to manage. Parishes originally coextensive with the largest manorial limitations, commensurate, as I have said already, with our modern rural deaneries, were again and again subdivided, till at last they reached the comparatively small bounds, and multiplied distinctions, which now, for the most part, obtain. Every new proprietor, by grant, or purchase, of a partitioned lordship, was naturally desirous of a new place of worship, a resident minister, a parochial circuit proper to his own estate; accommodations which the diocesan pastor liberally ceded for the advancement of Christianity.” *
This account of the origin of parochial churches in England is particularly interesting. It shows the historical grounds of that intimate connexion between the Church and the natural aristocracy of the country—the feudal proprietors of the soilthe effect of which has been most valuable to both. It also shows the nature of rights of presentation or advowson. Those rights are now too much considered and treated as mere property, to be bought, and sold, and disposed of, like other property; but we are taught by history, and by all the writers on ecclesiastical law, that they are held by their possessors as the representatives of those founders and benefactors to whom they were granted by the gratitude of the ancient Church, not for purposes of emolument, but as a sacred and honourable trust, and an everlasting pledge of that gratitude. But we will return to our author.
After describing the great increase of churches which, in the reign of Edward the Confessor, was a subject of complaint, because it impoverished the older foundations, he continues as follows:* “ To reduce and preserve the multiplied cures within the pale of discipline we may suppose that about this time (the reign of the Confessor) a certain number of incumbencies, or presbyterates, were thrown together, and constituted an archpresbyterate — districtus archipresbyteri ruralis—at the sole and arbitrary appointment of the bishop of the diocese; or as population thickened within the limits of the same, and new churches arose, that a certain number of contiguous cures, in classes of ten or more (the ecclesiastical in this matter
# Hora Decan. Rur. vol. i. pp. 78-—81.
copying the civil state) were severed off from the primary jurisdiction, and modelled into deaneries; or, in other words, dioceses were broken into archipresbyterates, and then again remodelled into decanates, and placed by the diocesan under the vicarious tutelage of deans rural, who still preserved, in ecclesiastical language, the title of arclipriests. ‘Archipresbyteri dicti videntur Decani,' says Morinus; 'eo quod antiquitus diæceses erant per decanias divisæ quibus præerant archipresbyteri ; ut videre est in capitul. Carol. Calv. iii. t. iii. Conc.
We cannot concur with the hypothesis of our author, which would make rural deaneries inferior archipresbyterates, or sub. divisions of archpresbyterates, for of this we see no sufficient evidence. And, indeed, Mr. Dansey himself, in a note to the passage extracted above, adds: “ Or the archpresbyterate may represent Bishop Stillingfleet's primary parochial division or section of the diocese corresponding to the modern rural deanery."
As for the supposition (which our author himself discourages, at p. 100) that the name of decanus, or dean, was derived from the civil state, we have already shown that that title was introduced into the Church by the monastic institutions of the third and fourth centuries. It must, therefore, have been perfectly well known as the title of an ecclesiastical office when the English dioceses were subdivided; and it is, consequently, needless to seek for any other origin, especially as we know that monastic bodies existed on a very extensive scale in the British Church. With respect to the time when the arrangement of rural deaneries took place in England, Mr. Dansey believes it to have been the middle of the eleventh century, if not earlier.
With regard to the right of election of the rural dean, it is vested, by the Common Law of the Church, together with the power of removing him from office, in the bishop and the archdeacon. “ Quia cum ab omnibus quod omnes tangit approbari debeat et commune eorum decanus officium exerceat, communiter est eligendus, vel etiam amovendus.” Mr. Dansey, however, shows elaborately and learnedly that the law in this respect varied at different times and places. He informs us that in the West, the archpresbyters were originally chosen by their own clergy, subject to the bishop's confirmation; and he cites the Seventh Canon of the second Council of Tours (A.D. 567), providing that when their election had been ratified by the diocesan, they could not be removed by him without the consent of the electors. Still, however, it is to be remembered, that the archpresbyter, or rural-dean, always was the bishop's officer,
* Horæ Dec. Rur. vol. i. p. 84.
# Horæ Dec. Rur. vol.i. p. 85. X. c. 7. Tit. de Officio Archid. (Decret. Innucent JII. A.D. 1214.) § Horæ Dec. Rur. vol. i. p. 112.