the Council of Nice allowed or confirmed this power, has been already shewed in discoursing of the suburbicary churches: so that the only thing remaining is to examine what weight there is in his argument from the Council of Arles. This Council was summoned by Constantine, and not by the Pope, against the Donatists, anno 314. Here were present three British bishops, Eborius from York, Restitutus from London, and Adelphius from Lincoln,- Colonia Lindi, as I shall show hereafter 62 it probably ought to be read. Now, in their Synodical Epistle to Pope Sylvester, there is a passage, but by all acknowledged to be a very corrupt one, which speaks something of his holding the greater dioceses 63; which our author interprets to mean, 'his having a patriarchal power over all the great dioceses of the Western empire, Macedonia, Dacia, Illyricum, Italy, Africa, Spain, France, and Britain.' But one question may be here asked, which will spoil all this flourish of a comment;-Did the African fathers, many of whom were present at this Council, so understand the words greater dioceses? If they did, how came it to pass, that within an age after they so stiffly opposed three Popes successively, and vindicated their own liberties in this very point, (as we have seen before 64 they did,) denying them absolutely all power of receiving appeals from any of the African Churches? Had St. Austin and all the rest of them forgot what their forefathers had so lately subscribed at Arles, that Africa was one of the Pope's larger dioceses? Or, had they been harassed out of their senses, like the poor Britons, by some Saxon invasion, and were now run into schism, as the other are reproachfully and falsely said to have done? Nothing of all this can be pretended in the present case; and therefore that is demonstration to me, that neither the African fathers, nor the Britons, nor any others then present in council, took the words greater dioceses in the sense which this author puts upon them; so that whatever meaning they must have, it is plain this cannot be their meaning: and then all the argument, which our author

62 See ch. 6. s. 9. of this Book. 63 C. Arelat. 1. Ep. Synod. (t. 1. p. 1426 a.) Placuit etiam antequam a te, qui majores dioceses tenes, per te potissimum omnibus insinuari.-Schelstrate and Perron correct

it thus: Placuit etiam hæc juxta antiquam consuetudinem a te, qui majores dioceses tenes, et per te potissimum omnibus insinuari.

64 See s. II. p. 241. For the Britannic Churches, &c.

has built upon this supposition, in order to subject the Britons to the Pope, at once falls to the ground.

I will not now stand disputing with him, whether the word diocese was never about this time taken in any author for one of the great dioceses of the Roman empire. He says Constantine so uses it in one place 65, speaking of the Asiatic and Pontic dioceses: and if that will do him any service, I can help him to another; for Constantine also speaks of a civil officer, called καθολικὸς διοικήσεως, or rationalis of the diocese 66, where, I agree with Valesius, we are to understand one of the great dioceses of the Roman empire. Nay, I have said before that I think there were patriarchs too in the Church at that time, and that they had the great dioceses of the Roman empire divided among them. But does it hence follow, that because the word diocese is sometimes so used, that therefore it must needs signify so in this place, when there is plain demonstration to the contrary? All the world knows that about the same time the name diocese was given to single episcopal churches also, and they too were called greater dioceses in opposition to the tituli, or parishes, which were quasi diœceses, the lesser dioceses, under them, as the Pontifical words it in the Life of Pope Marcellus 67, who was one of Sylvester's predecessors. So that Sylvester's holding greater dioceses, may mean no more than his being a metropolitan, or having several episcopal dioceses under his jurisdiction, to whom he was to signify according to custom the time of keeping Easter, and other things decreed in the Council. Or if we suppose him to have been a patriarch at that time, then his greater dioceses may signify those ten suburbicary provinces, which were the

65 Ep. ad Omnes Ecclesias, ap. Euseb. de Vit. Constant. 1. 3. c. 19. (v. I. p. 588. 35.) Τούτου ἕνεκεν ἐπὶ τοῦ παρόντος καλῶς ἔχειν ἅπαντες ἡγήσαντο, καὶ αὐτὸς δὲ τῇ ὑμετέρᾳ ἀγχινοίᾳ ἀρέσειν ὑπεσχόμην ἵν ̓ ὅπερ δ ̓ ἂν κατὰ τὴν τῶν Ρωμαίων πόλιν τε καὶ ̓Αφρικὴν, Ἰταλίαν τε ἅπασαν, Αἴγυπτον, Σπανίαν, Γαλλίας, Βρεττανίας, Λιβύας, ὅλην Ελλάδα, Ασιανήν τε διοίκησιν καὶ Ποντικὴν, καὶ Κιλικίαν, μιᾷ καὶ συμφώνῳ φυλάττεται γνώμῃ, ἀσμένως τοῦτο καὶ ἡ ὑμετέρα προσδέξηται σύνεσις.

66 Ibid. 1. 4. c. 36. (p. 646. 20.) 'Ateσtáλn de ypáμμата πарà Tηs ἡμετέρας ἡμερότητος πρὸς τὸν τῆς διοικήσεως καθολικὸν, ὅπως ἅπαντα τὰ πρὸς ἐπισκευὴν αὐτῶν ἐπιτήδεια παρασχεῖν φροντίσειεν.

67 Pontifical. (CC. t. 1. p. 946 c.) Hic fecit cometerium Via Salaria, et viginti quinque titulos in Urbe Roma constituit, quasi diæceses, propter baptismum et penitentiam multorum, qui convertebantur ex paganis, et propter sepulturas martyrum.

ancient bounds of his patriarchal jurisdiction. But whatever meaning they have, it is certain they cannot be understood in our author's sense, of the great dioceses of the Roman empire: because it were absurd to think that Africa should acknowledge itself to be one of the Pope's dioceses, which never was reckoned among the suburbicary provinces, and, what is more, always resolutely opposed the Pope's pretences to the least shadow of power over it, claiming an absolute and independent power within itself in all matters of ecclesiastical cognizance and jurisdiction. And the case of the Britannic Church being the same with that of Afric, it follows that it was as independent of Rome as the other was, notwithstanding any pretended confession of subjection made by its bishops in the Council of Arles; upon which our author lays the main strength of his cause, though there is nothing in it when fairly canvassed and examined, as I doubt not I have made it appear to every unprejudiced reader.

I was the more willing to consider here some of the chief exceptions of this celebrated writer against the liberties of the Britannic Church, because I know not whether any one else has made a reply to them; and these strictures will serve to suggest at once to the reader the true grounds upon which our ancient liberties were founded, and the contrary pretences, which would subject us to the power of the bishop of Rome, as patriarch of the Western empire, though the Britannic diocese had as just a title to be independent at that time as Rome itself, or Afric, or any other diocese in the empire. I make no further inquiry here into the bounds of other patriarchs or metropolitans, or their dioceses, because no such momentous disputes have been raised about them, and they may be easily learned from the Notitia of the Church here subjoined in the latter part of this Book. Therefore I proceed in the next place to examine the ordinary extent of the ancient episcopal dioceses, or, as we now call them, diocesan churches.


A more particular account of the number, nature, and extent of dioceses, or episcopal churches, in Africa, Egypt, and other Eastern provinces.



1. It is evident from what has been discoursed in the last Dioceses chapter that the most ancient and apostolical division of the anciently Church was into dioceses, or episcopal churches; that is, such apoudai, precincts or districts as single bishops governed, with the assistance of their presbyters. But yet we are to make a little further inquiry into the nature and extent of these, because great errors have been committed by some late writers about them. There are who pretend that a diocese, for the three first ages, was never more than such a number of people as could meet, and ordinarily did meet, in a single congregation. Others extend the limits of ancient dioceses further than this at first, to include a city and the whole region about it but then they reckon that upon the general conversion of heathens to Christianity, such dioceses ought to have been divided into single congregations, and a new bishop and clergy set over every one. There is no difference betwixt these two opinions, save only this, that the one wholly mistakes the Church's first and primitive model, and the other quarrels with her practice. But the truth of the matter was, that the Church, in settling the bounds of dioceses, went by another rule, not that of single assemblies or congregations, but the rule of government in every city, including not only the city itself, but the suburbs, or region lying round about it within the verge of its jurisdiction. Which seems to be the plain reason of that great and visible difference which we find in the extent of dioceses; some being very large, others very small, according as the civil government of each city happened to have a larger or lesser jurisdiction.

There are two things indeed that commonly impose upon unwary readers in this matter. One is, that the ancient name of an episcopal diocese for three hundred years is commonly Tаρоikia, which they mistake for a parish-church, or single

congregation: whereas, as learned men 68 have rightly observed, it signified then not the places or habitations near a church, but the towns or villages near a city, which, together with the city, was the bishop's Taроikla, or, as we now call it, his diocese, the bounds of his ordinary care and jurisdiction. That thus it was, appears evidently from this, that the largest dioceses, such as those of Rome, Antioch, and Alexandria, which had many particular churches in them, were called by the same name, as the reader may find an hundred passages in Eusebius 69, where he uses the word napoiκía, when he speaks of those large and populous cities which had many particular churches in them. The city of Alexandria, in the time of Alexander and Athanasius, was divided into several districts called lauræ, in every one of which there was a church, with a presbyter fixed upon it; and yet all these were but one apoiκía, as Alexander calls it in his Circular Epistle 70 against Arius. The reader may see the word so used by Epiphanius 71, St. Jerom 72, the Councils of Antioch 73, Ancyra 74, and many others 75

68 Patriarchal Government, quest. 1. (Brief Treatises, p. 102.) ... For which cause, the jurisdiction of a bishop was anciently known by no other name but rapoɩkía, signifying not, as many ignorant novelists think, a parish, as now the word is taken, that is the places or habitations near a church, but the towns and villages near a city, all which together, with the city, the bishop had in charge.

69 Vid. 1. I. c. I. (v. I. p. 1. 3.)... Οσα τε καὶ πηλίκα πραγματευθῆναι κατὰ τὴν ἐκκλησιαστικὴν ἱστορίαν λέγεται, καὶ ὅσοι ταύτης διαπρεπῶς ἐν ταῖς μάλιστα ἐπισημοτάταις παροικίαις ἡγήσαντό τε καὶ προέστησαν, κ. τ. λ.—L. 2. c. 24. (ibid. p. 82. 1.) Νέρωνος δὲ ὄγδοον ἄγοντος τῆς βασιλείας ἔτος, πρῶτος μετὰ Μάρκον τὸν ἀπόστολον καὶ εὐαγγελιστὴν, τῆς ἐν ̓Αλεξανδρείᾳ παροικίας ̓Αννιανὸς τὴν λειτουργίαν διαδέχεται.

70 Ap. Socrat. 1. 1. c. 6. (v. 2. p. 10. 30.) 'Ev Tη ημетéρą тоívvv парoiκía ¿¿ñλoov vvv avdрes Taрávoμоi Kal Χριστομάχοι, κ. τ. λ.

71 Ep. ad Joan. Hierosol. (t. 2. P. 313 c.) Ad meæ parochiæ vide

bantur ecclesiam pertinere, &c.

72 Ep. 53. [al. 109.] ad Ripar. (t. 1. p. 720 d.) Miror sanctum episcopum, in cujus parochia esse presbyter dicitur [Vigilantius,] acquiescere furori ejus, &c.

73 C. 9. (t. 2. p. 565 b.) "EkaσTov γὰρ ἐπίσκοπον ἐξουσίαν ἔχειν τῆς ἑαυτοῦ παροικίας, διοικεῖν τε κατὰ τὴν ἑκάστῳ ἐπιβάλλουσαν εὐλάβειαν, καὶ πρόνοιαν ποιεῖσθαι πάσης τῆς χώρας τῆς ὑπὸ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ πόλιν.

74 C. 18. (t. I. p. 1461 e.) Et Tives ἐπίσκοποι κατασταθέντες, καὶ μὴ δεχο θέντες ὑπὸ τῆς παροικίας ἐκείνης, εἰς ἣν ὠνομάσθησαν, ἑτέραις βούλοιντο παροικίας ἐπιέναι, καὶ βιάζεσθαι τοὺς καθεστῶτας, καὶ στάσεις κινεῖν κατ ̓ αὐτῶν, τούτους ἀφορίζεσθαι.

75 August. Ep. 261. [al. 209.] (t. 2. p. 777 c.) Fussala dicitur Hipponensi territorio confine castellum: antea ibi nunquam episcopus fuit: sed simul cum contigua sibi regione ad parociam Hipponensis ecclesiæ pertinebat.-Basil. Ep. 264. [al. 95.] ad Euseb. Samosat. (t. 3. part. 2. p. 528 b.) Περιοδευόντων ἡμῶν τὴν Tарoikiaν, K. T. λ.

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