Revenues of the Church

Revenues Of The Church.

It is clearly taught in the New Test. that it is the duty of Christians to give temporal support to their teachers. The general principle was laid down by our Lord (Lu 10:7) that the laborer is worthy of his hire. Paul says, "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel" (1 Corinthians 19:14). The following passages treat of the relation which subsists between the ministers and the Church in this respect: Ac 18:3; Ac 24:17; 2Co 11:7-8; 2Co 12:13; Php 4:16-18; 1Ti 6:5; Tit 1:11. So we see that the Church is bound to provide for the maintenance of its pastors; but, at the same time, the pastor is to act in a liberal spirit, and not to make unnecessary demands upon the Church. These principles were carried out in the apostolic times and subsequently. Fixed stipends were not paid in early times because the Church did not possess property, and therefore the contributions were voluntary. These voluntary offerings were of two sorts:

1. The weekly or daily oblations that were made at the altar;

2. The monthly oblations that were cast into the treasury of the Church. And then arose the custom of dividing up the monthly contribution and paying the clergy their share, according to their order. Another sort of revenue was such as arose annually from the lands and possessions given to the Church, which were greatly increased in the time of Gonstantine, who authorized the bequeathing of property to the Church. A third source of revenue was the granting to the clergy an allowance out of the public money. Constantine both gave the clergy particular largesses, as their occasion required, and also settled upon them a standing allowance out of the exchequer. A fourth source of revenue was the estates of martyrs and confessors dying without heirs, which were settled upon the Church by Constantine. Still later rulers (Theodosius the younger and Valentinian III) settled upon the Church the estates of clergymen dying without heirs. Besides these sources of revenue, there were others, such as the donation of heathen temples and sometimes their revenues, heretical conventicles and their revenues, the temporal estates of clergymen or monks who became seculars again. Great care, however, at first was taken not to receive estates donated to the Church to the great detriment of others. Respecting the ancient way of managing and distributing these revenues, we may remark that the revenues of the whole diocese were in the hands of the bishop, and by his care distributed among the clergy. As a safeguard against mismanagement, he was obliged to give an account of his administration in a provincial synod; after a while this rule obtained in the Western Church. The division was usually into three or four parts-one to the bishop, a second to the rest of the clergy, a third to the poor, and a fourth to the necessary uses of the Church. Suspension from participation in the revenues was one method of punishment visited upon the clergy. See Bingham, Christ. Antiq. bk. v, ch. 6 p. 1-6.

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