Canon of the Church of England

Canon Of The Church Of England.

The authority of the English canons rests upon "the statute 25 Heniy VIII, commonly called the act of submission of the clergy, by which they acknowledged that the convocation had been always assembled by the king's writ; and they promised, in verbo sacerdotis not to attempt, claim, or put in use, or enact, promulge, or execute any new canons in convocation without the king's assent or license. Then follows this enacting clause, viz.: That they shall not attempt, allege, or claim, or put in use any constitutions or canons without the king's assent." The first book of English canons was published in Latin in 1571, archbishop Parker and the bishops of Ely and Winchester being the principal agents in its construction, though "all the bishops in both provinces in synod, in their own persons or by proxy, signed it." These canons underwent various modifications, until, in 1604, bishop Bancroft collected a hundred and forty-one canons out of the articles, injunctions, and synodical acts passed and published in the reigns of Edward VI and Elizabeth, which were adopted by the Convocation of that year. These canons, which at first appeared in Latin, we have in English, under the title of "Constitutions and Canons Ecclesiastical." The code of canons was amplified in 1606, and finally completed by the addition of seventeen more in 1640. They do not constitute the law of the land, because they were not made pursuant to the statute 25 Henry VIII, since they were made in a convocation, sitting by the king's writ to the archbishops, after the Parliament was dissolved. After the Restoration, when an act was passed to restore the bishops to their ordinary jurisdiction, a proviso was made that the act should not confirm the canons of 1640. This clause makes void the royal confirmation. Hence we may conclude that canons should be made in a convocation, the Parliament sitting; that, being so made, they are to be confirmed by the sovereign; and that without such confirmation they do not bind the laity, much less any order or rule made by a bishop alone, where there is neither custom nor canon for it. See Burn, Ecclesiastical Law, App. to vol. 4:The canons are also given by Hammond, The Definitions of Faith and Canons of Discipline, etc. (New York, 1844, 12mo). See Cardwell, Synzodalia (Oxford, 1842, 2 vols. 8vo); Hall, Inquiry on the Canons and Articles (London); Eden, Church Dictionary, s.v.; Hook, Church Dictionary, s.v. SEE ENGLAND, CHURCH OF.

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