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quished all claim, to the jurisdictio ecclesiastica, over the Protestants. That in point of fact, the Princes did assume the jurisdiction which the Bishops had renounced, cannot be doubted, and in their hands it has since remained. But that the church ever recognised the propriety of this assumption, cannot be proved, it is true, that in the disorder incident on the peculiar circumstances of the times, Luther, and others of the reformers, did call upon the electors, to supply the deficiencies of a regular organization of the Protestant church, and to take the necessary measures for the preservation of peace and order. But the government seldom acted, without consulting the leading theologians, or contrary to their suggestions. And where the ruling authorities took no part in the reformation, as in France, Austria, and elsewhere, the churches organized themselves. It is obvious that the reformers, in throwing off the authority of the Pope, could never have intended to place the church in the same state of subjection to the arbitrary authority of their civil rulers; they merely called on them in the time of emergency, as the most important members of the rising communion, to take the lead in reducing things to order. Accordingly, all measures were adopted, with the advice and consent of the clergy, or the leading members of their body. The elector Moritz replied to the Emperor in reference to the Interim, that he could do nothing, nisi consultis prius Doctoribus suis. The Landgraf Phillip of Hesse called a regular synod, by which all the steps regarding the reformation, were directed. Although the method of procedure, was at this time various, the Princes in some instances, actiog on their own authority, in others, at the request of the clergy, it is clear that no solid foundation can be found, in this admission, for the power which they have continued to exercise, when the necessity for so doing no longer exists.
A third ground, therefore, which has been assumed, as the
foundation of this authority, is, that the power really vested in the church, has, by her consent, been transferred to the civil rulers, as her organs and representatives ; and consequently that all they do, is done by the church, inasmuch as it is done by representatives, appointed by herself. If it be asked, who delegated this power to the civil rulers ? it is answered, either, the theologians as the representatives of the church; or the church herself, by her tacit consent to its assumption. But what right had the theologians to make any such transfer, even admitting the fact,—and is this act of theirs binding for all future generations ? But the fact itself is denied, and appeal is made to the whole tenor of the standards of the German churches ; approved, and in many cases, signed by these Princes themselves, which proves, that neither the church nor its leaders, ever intended to make their civil governors, the perpetual and supreme rulers of the church.
The power, therefore, which the German Princes have so long exercised in ecclesiastical affairs, is regarded by a large portion of the most enlightened of the clergy, as an unwarrantable usurpation. They feel that they are held in unworthy bondage, and (to use the language of one of the recent writers on this subject) look with envy to the condition of the Moravians, and even of the Jews. The King of Würtemburg has generously offered, to allow the "Evangelical church," throughout his dominions, to exercise all the rights of self-government; reserving for himself no other control over it, than such, as the government exercises over all corporate bodies, which is purely negative. Strange to tell, the clergy have as yet taken no advantage of this act of emancipation. This, no doubt, has arisen from the want of clearness and unanimity of opinion, as to the manner in which the church should be organized. It is probable that it will not be long, however, before the church in that part of Germany, at least, will enter on the exercises of her long neglected rights.
It may be interesting, to state here the outlines of the system of church government, at present in force in Prussia, which in most of its essential features, is common to the other Protestant sovereignties in Germany.
This system is founded upon the principle, that the King is rightfully vested, with full powers for the government of the church. How far this authority, in theory, might be made to extend, it is difficult to say ; that he has no right to change the doctrinal standards of the church, would probably be admitted on all hands; but short of this, there seems to be little, which is not regarded as lying within the legitimate sphere of his control. The extent, however, of the King's authority as Bishop, will be best learned, from the powers vested in the several organs, by which he administers the ecclesiastical government. These are
1. The Minister of worship and public instruction, and his council.
The minister himself is a layman, and his council is composed of clerical as well as lay-members. This department of the government is the supreme ecclesiastical authority. It has the general oversight and direction of every thing, pertaining to religion and education. To it, all other ecclesiastical bodies, are subordinated, and are required to observe its ordinances. It is the depository of the King's prerogatives, in reference to the church. Its supervision and authority extend not only to ecclesiastical affairs, but to all literary institutions—the universities, gymnasia, learned and elementary schools, all scientific and literary societies, &c. &c. This body can in most cases decide finally, on all measures relating either to church or school affairs. With respect to some points, however, the immediate consent of the King is necessary. As 1, The reception of funds, intended as endowments for any purpose, connected with religion or education ; or changing the destination of funds given for any such purpose. 2, The decision of the question, whether
any new sect, that may arise, is to be tolerated. 3, In the appointment of the superintendents, the first preacher in the places of the King's residence, the members of the academies, the ordinary professors in the universities, and the directors of the gymnasia. In the appointment of Catholic Bishops and Vice-Bishops, the consent of the state chancellor must be obtained.
II. The second ecclesiastical body, is the Consistorium.
In the capital of each province, there is a body of which the over-President of the province is the head. This body is called a consistorium. Its members may be either clergymen or laymen, and are appointed by the government. This is the governing body of the evangelical churches within its limits, and has the oversight of all literary institutions, with the exception of the universities, which stand immediately under the department of the ministry, just mentioned.
To the consistorium belongs, therefore, 1, the care of calling together synods, when thought necessary; the supervision of them when convened, confirming, correcting, and reporting to the government, their decisions. 2, General oversight of public worship, especially in relation to the doctrines taught and the modes adopted. 3, The examination of canditates, pro facultate concionandi, and pro ministerio. 4, Confirming the appointment of clergymen, to stations in the gift of the King, the appointment itself resting with another body. 5, The consistorium nominates, to the ministry, the superintendents, who are to be appointed, within its province. 6, The inspection of the theological seminaries, and the appointment of teachers in them. 7, The oversight of the conduct and official deportment of the clergy. 8, Direction of all processes against the clergy, for official offences. It can also suspend a clergyman from his office, for such offences, and report him as worthy of deposition to the higher authorities.
arranging of church festivals, and days of humiliation and prayer, under the direction of the ministry; and the appointment of the texts, on which the sermons, on such days, are to be preached. 10, The censorship of the press, in reference to all works, bearing on religion or education.
The consistorium has, also, in virtue of its general oversight of every thing pertaining to the education of the people, various important duties to perform ; as 1, The examination of the laws and regulations of schools and private institutions of learning. 2, The revision of the school regulations in general, the correction of abuses, and supplying deficien-' cies. 3. The examination of school books, and the right of deciding which are to be rejected, of those already in use; and of preparing and introducing new ones.
4, The government of the seminaries for the education of teachers. 5, The examination of school teachers. This examination is, however, commonly held by officers appointed particularly for this purpose.
6, The oversight, direction, and revision of all the “ learned schools ;” and the appointment, promotion, discipline, suspension, and dismission of their teachers. In regard to the rectors, higher teachers, and directors, the consent of the ministry must be obtained, in reference to all the acts of the consistorium.
III. The Deputation for ecclesiastical and school affairs, in the several governmental circles.
The kingdom of Prussia is divided into twenty-eight circles; each of these has its president and a body of counsellors, called collectively the “Government.” This body is divided into two parts; one of which has all the general affairs of the circle, under its direction; the other only the finances. The first of these divisions, together with the “clerical and school counsellors," constitutes the third governing body in the Prussian church.
The subjects which come under the direction of this Deputation”, are in part the same with those which belong