Baxter - BV669 B3 1681

) ,wealth and Chriftian Church, within the Roman Empire, (and the neigh. touring parts that were influenced by them) had a great refemblance. 41. But that which molt notably fet up this exfort fwelling and de- Leg.Yaar» .generate Prelacy, was the miftaken zeal of Cónflanrine, together with iimbrofper his Policy, and the ambition of Chriftians and Bifhops that were gra- Eron. tified by it. For, t. As Conflantine perceived that it was. the Chriftians de pa that were his fúreft ftrength, and when the Heathen Soldiers turned Monethe- from one Emperonr to another, as they were tempted, he knew that if rum. he only did own the Chriftians they would unanimoufly own him, and be constant to him ; fo alfo is Judgment and Zeal for Chriftianity did concur with his Intereft and olicy : And as all the Secular and Milita. ry Rulers depended on him or honour and power, throughout the Ro- man world, he thought it not feemly to give the chief Chriftians who were the Bifhops, lefs honour than he did to the Heathens, and to com- mon men: Nor did he think meet to deny to the Chriftian Churches fuch priviledges, as might fomewhat fet them higher than his other fub- jeas. 2. And the Bifhops and Chriftians coming from under long fcorn and contempt, and coming newly from under the cruel Perfecution of 3Dieclefaan, and affrighted anew by Maxentitis, and Licenius, they were not only glad to be now honoured and advanced, but greatly lifted up with fuch a fudden wonderous change, as to be brought from fcorn and cruel torments, to be fet up above all others: As we fhould have been, had we been in their cafe, and it's likefhould no more have feared the ill confequents oftoomuchexaltation than they did. 3. And the Chriftian people thought that the exaltation of their Bifhops was the honour and exaltationof their Religion it felf, as well as of their perfons. 42. Whereas ;(as is aforefaid) the Chriftians had commonly ftated the power of Arbitrating all their Civil differences in the Bilhop alone ( when the Apoftle intimated that any Wife man among them, as fuch, was fit for that bufinefs) it grew prefently to be account- ed a heynous crime or fcandal , for any Chriftians togo to Law, be- fore the Civil Magistrate. And Conflantine finding them in poffeffion of this cuftom, did by his Edit confirm it and enlarge it : decreeing that all Bifhops fhould be judges of all the Chriftians caafes by confent, and that no Civil Judge or Magistrate fhould compel any Chriftian to his bar: Infomuch that in Theodofius his days, whenone of Ambrofe his Invit.4v- Presbyters had a caufe to be tryed, he denyed himfelf to be a Chrifti- trot per an, that hemight have it decided by the Civil Magistrate, that wasChri- Baron. ftian alío. So that even Chriftian Magiftrates might not judge unwilling Chriftiansbutthe Bifhops only. Yet had not theBifhops then the power of the Sword, but decided all as Arbitrators, and enforced their Sen- tences with rigorous penances and Church- cenfures: Bywhich means, t. many the more turned Chriftians (without the Faith and Holinefs of Chriftians) that they might both partake of the Chriftians honour and immunities, and fpecially that they might be free from corporal penaI- D 2 ties