to himself the primacy over the whole nation. Yet this was rather a scheme laid for future ages, when the whole nation should be converted, than any present settlement or constitution of the Church: for above fifty years after this, there were not above seven bishops in all the Heptarchy, or seven Saxon kingdoms, as appears from the account which Bede ++ gives of the Council of Herudford, anno 673, where were present, Theodore, archbishop of Dorovernia, or Canterbury ; Bisi, bishop of the East Angles ; Wilfrid, bishop of the Northumbrians; Putta, bishop of Rochester; Leutherius, bishop of the West Saxons; and Winfrid, bishop of the whole province of the Mercians. In which Council 45 a canon was made, that the number of bishops should be augmented, as the number of converts should increase.' But nothing was done for the present, save that Bisi, or Bifus, bishop of the East Angles, being grown old, two others, Ecca and Badwin were consecrated in his room; and from that time to the age in which Bede lived, that province had two bishops, as our author notes in the same place. These were the bishops of Elmham and Dunwich, which were afterwards united, and the see removed to Thetford, and from thence to Norwich, whose bishops succeeded to the whole kingdom of the East Angles. So that in that age a kingdom and a diocese were almost commensurate.

In the kingdom of Northumberland there were at first but two bishops, whose sees were York and Lindisfarne. But not long after, anno 678, Egfrid, king of Northumberland, having expelled Wilfrid, bishop of York, from his see, four or five bishops were ordained in his room, one in the province of Deira ; another in the province of Bernicia; a third at Hagulstade or Hexham in Northumberland ; a fourth in the province of the Picts, which was then subject to the English ; and a fifth in the province of Lindissi, as Bede 46 calls it, which was lately taken out of the diocese and kingdom of Mercia, and not long after laid to it again. The great kingdom of Mercia, comprehending the counties of Gloucester, Hereford, Worcester, Warwick, Leicester, Cambridge, Rutland, Northampton, Lincoln, Nottingham, Bedford, Buckingham, Oxford, Derby, Stafford, Shropshire, Cheshire, and part of Hertfordshire, was at first but the diocese of one bishop, whom Bede commonly calls the bishop of the Angli Mediterranei, or Mercians, whose see was Litchfield, the royal seat and metropolis of the kingdom of Mercia; till, about the year 678, a new see was erected at Sidnacester in Lincolnshire, and sometime after another at Dorchester in Oxfordshire, which were afterwards united and removed to Lincoln. Out of this large diocese also the sees of Worcester and Hereford were taken, as Ely was out of that part which fell to Lincoln : not to mention the dioceses of Chester, Peterborough, Oxford, and Gloucester, which had their rise out of the same at the Reformation. The diocese of Winchester was also very large at first, containing all the kingdoms of the West Saxons, till it was divided by King Ina between Winchester and Sherborn, anno 705. The latter of which was afterward subdivided into the dioceses of Cornwall, Devonshire, Somersetshire, Wiltshire, and Dorsetshire, some of which being

44 Ibid. l. 4. c. 5. (p. 147. 38.) episcopus, per proprios legatarios Convenimus autem die vigesima affuit. Affuerunt et fratres ac conquarta mensis Septembris, indictione sacerdotes nostri Putta, episcopus prima, in loco, qui dicitur Herutford. Castelli Cantuariorum, quod dicitur Ego quidem Theodorus, quamvis Hrofescæstir; Leutherius episcopus indignus, ab apostolica sede desti- Occidentalium Saxonum, Uynfrid natus Doruvernensis ecclesiæ epi- episcopus provinciæ Merciorum. scopus, et consacerdos ac frater 45 Ap. Bed. Hist. ibid. (p. 149. 3.) noster reverentissimus Bisi, Orienta. Nonum capitulum in commune traclium Anglorum episcopus; quibus tatum est, ut plures episcopi, cresetiam frater et consacerdos noster cente numero fidelium, augerentur, Uilfrid, Nordanhymbrorum gentis sed de hac re ad præsens silemus.

46 Ibid. c. 12. (p. 155. 7.). Quo Ædiluini; tertium Eadgarum; quar. etiam anno [678], orta inter ipsum tum Cyniberctum, quem in præsenti regem Ecgfridum et reverentissimum habet. Habebat enim ante Eadantistitem Uilfridum dissensione, hædum, antistitem Sexuulfum, qui pulsus est idem antistes a sede sui etiam Merciorum et Mediterraneoepiscopatus, et duo in locum ejus rum Anglorum simul episcopus fuit. substituti episcopi, qui Nordanhym- Unde, et expulsus de Lindissi, in brorum genti præessent: Bosa vide- illarum provinciarum regimine perlicet, qui Deirorum, et Eata, qui mansit. Ordinati sunt autem ÉadBerniciorum provinciam gubernaret. hæd, Bosa, et Eata Eboraci ab archiHic in civitate Eboraci, ille in Ha- episcopo Theodoro, qui etiam post gustaldensi sive in Lindisfarnensi tres abscessionis Uilfridi annos hoecclesia cathedram habens episco- rum numero duos addidit antistites; palem, ambo de monachorum col- Tunberctum ad ecclesiam Hagustallegio in episcopatus gradum adsciti. densem, remanente Eata ad LindisCum quibus et Eadhæd in provincia farnensem, et Trumvini ad provinLindisfarorum, quam nuperrime rex ciam Pictorum, quæ tunc temporis Ecgfrid, superato in bello et fugato Anglorum erat imperio subjecta. Ulf here, obtinuerat, ordinatur epi- Eadhædum de Lindissi reversum, eo scopus : et hunc primum eadem pro- quod Ædilred provinciam recepisset, vincia accepit præsulem; secundum Hrypensi ecclesiæ præfecit. BINGHAM, VOL. III.


account confirmed

united again made up the dioceses of Exeter, Wells, Salisbury, and Bristol, as they now stand in the present frame and constitution of the Church.

I think it needless to carry this inquiry any further, since what has been already suggested sufficiently shews, that the dioceses in England were anciently much larger than they are now, and that it has ever been the wisdom of the Church to multiply and contract them. Though many of them still remain so large, that if they be compared with some of the ancient Italian dioceses, one of them will be found to be equal

to ten or twenty of those which lay round about Rome. The whole 21. I shall conclude this chapter with a few ancient canons,

which confirm the account that has been given of episcopal from some dioceses throughout the world, as supposing them generally ancient canons of to have country-regions and country-parishes belonging to the Church. them. The Council of Neocæsarea 46, which was held some

years before the Council of Nice, makes express mention of πρεσβύτεροι επιχώριοι, country-presbyters, who are forbidden to officiate in the city-church, save only in the absence of the bishop or city-presbyters. The Council of Antioch has two

-. canons of the same import: the one 47 describes a bishop's diocese to be a city and all the region that was subject to it, wherein he might ordain presbyters and deacons, and order all things according to his own judgment without consulting his metropolitan:' the other 48 is a provision concerning the chorepiscopi, who were seated in the villages and regions about the city, that they should govern the churches committed to them, and content themselves with that care, ordaining readers,

46 C. 13. (t. Ι. p. 1484 b.) 'Επι- 48 C. ΙΟ. (ibid. p. 565 c.) Τους χώριοι πρεσβύτεροι εν τώ κυριακό εν ταις κώμαις, ή ταϊς χώραις, ή τους της πόλεως προσφέρειν ου δύνανται, καλουμένους χωρεπισκόπους, ει και παρόντος επισκόπου η πρεσβυτέρων χειροθεσίαν είεν επισκόπων ειληφότες, πόλεως, ούτε μην άρτον διδόναι έν έδοξε τη αγία συνόδω ειδέναι τα εαυευχή, ουδε ποτήριον. Εάν δε απώσι, των μέτρα, και διοικείν τας υποκεικαι εις ευχήν κληθή μόνος, δίδωσιν. μένας αυτοις εκκλησίας, και τη τού47 C. 9. (t. 2. p. 56; b.) "Έκαστον των αρκείσθαι φροντίδι και κηδεμονία,

t γάρ επίσκοπον εξουσίαν έχεις της καθιστάν δε αναγνώστας, και υποδιεαυτού παροικίας, διοικείν τε κατά την ακόνους, και εφορκιστάς, και τη τούεκάστω επιβάλλουσαν ευλάβειαν, και των αρκείσθαι προαγωγή μήτε πρεσπρόνοιαν ποιείσθαι πάσης της χώρας βύτερον, μήτε διάκονον χειροτονείν της υπό την εαυτου πόλιν, ώς και χει- τολμαν, δίχα του εν τη πόλει επισκόροτονείν πρεσβυτέρους και διακόνους, που, ή υπόκεινται αυτός τε και η και μετά κρίσεως έκαστα διαλαμ- χώρα. βάνειν.

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subdeacons and exorcists; but not presbyters or deacons, unless commissioned to it by the city-bishop, to whom both they and their region were subject.' A like provision is made by the Council of Nice 49, in case a Novatian bishop should return to the unity of the Catholic Church, that then the Catholic bishop might provide him the place of a chorepiscopus in some part of his diocese, that there might not be two bishops in one city. And indeed all the canons that mention the chorepiscopi are full proof that a diocese was not only a city, but a countryregion, over which those chorepiscopi presided, under the inspection of the city-bishop, to whom they were accountable. The canons of Sardica 50 and Laodicea 51 do plainly suppose the same thing, when they prohibit bishops to be ordained in small cities or villages, because a presbyter or itinerant visitor might be sufficient to take care of them.' So in the African Canons, one 52 orders the same as the Council of Toledo, “that every presbyter throughout the diocese, who has the care of a church, shall have recourse to his own bishop for chrism to be used at Easter :' and another 53 says, 'No bishop shall leave his principal church, to go to reside upon any other church in the diocese.' Which canons speak plain nonsense, unless it be supposed that there were then other churches in the diocese beside the mother-church.

22. The bishop's obligation to visit his diocese is a further And from proof of the same thing; for this was a necessary consequent obligation

the bishop's of having several churches at a distance under his jurisdiction : to visit his

diocese such as he could not personally attend himself, he was obliged to visit, and see that they were provided of a proper in- and con

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once a year,


49 C. 8. (ibid. p. 33 b.) ο δε "Οτι ου δεί εν ταις κώμαις, και εν ονομαζόμενος παρά τοις λεγομένοις ταϊς χώραις, καθίστασθαι επισκόπους, Καθαροίς επίσκοπος τήν του πρεσβυ- αλλά περιοδευτάς. τέρου τιμήν έξει πλήν ει μή άρα δο- 52 C. Carth. 4. c. 36. (t. 2. p. koin LOKÚTQ rîs rius Toù óvó- 1203 b.) Presbyteri, qui per diæceses ματος αυτόν μετέχειν ει δε τούτο ecclesias regunt, non a quibuslibet aŭto un apéo kot, énivongeL TÓTOV ñ episcopis, sed a suis ; nec per juniχωρεπισκόπου η πρεσβυτέρου, υπέρ orem clericum, sed aut per ipsos, Toù év tớ khúpa Ölws dokciv civai, aut per illum, qui sacrarium tenet, ένα μη εν τη πόλει δύο επίσκοποι ante Paschæ solemnitatem chrisma ώσιν.

petant. 50 C. 6. (ibid. p. 632 c.) MY sci- 53 C. Carth. 5. c.5. (ibid. p. 1216 vai dè anlôs kaliotậv ério KOTOV évb.) Placuit, ut nemini sit facultas, κώμη τινί ή βραχεία πόλει, ή τινι και relicta principali cathedra, ad alih , i

, εις μόνος πρεσβύτερος επαρκεί. quain ecclesiam in diæcesi constitu51 C. 56. [al. 57.) (t. 1. p. 1505 e.) tam se conferre.

cumbent, and that every thing was performed in due order. St. Austin and St. Basil 5s, who had pretty large dioceses, speak often upon this account of their being employed in their visitations. And the rule in some places was to visit ordinarily once a year, as appears from the Council of Tarraco in Spain, which lays this injunction on bishops 55, “because it was found by experience, that many churches in their dioceses were left destitute and neglected, therefore they were obliged to visit them once a year.' And if a diocese was so large, that a bishop could not perforin this duty annually, that was thought a reasonable cause to divide the diocese, and lay some part of the burden upon a new bishop; which was the reason assigned in the Council of Lugo for dividing the large diocese of Gallæcia, as has been observed before 56 in speaking of the Spanish Churches. St. Jerom has a remark upon the exercise of confirmation, which also mightily confirms this notion of ancient episcopal dioceses. He says 57, “It was the custom of the Churches, when any persons were baptized by presbyters or deacons in villages, castles, or other remote places, for the bishop to go to them and give them imposition of hands, in order to receive the Holy Ghost ; and that many places lay at so great a distance, that the parties baptized died before the bishop could come to visit them :' which is a plain description of such dioceses as we have generally found in every part of the Catholic Church, some few provinces excepted, where the number of cities and populousness of the country made dioceses more numerous and of less extent than in other places.


64 See before ch. 2. s. I. p. 252. ad eos qui longe in minoribus [al. latter part of n. 75.

a majoribus] urbibus per presby55 C. 8. (t. 4. p. 1565 a.) ... teros et diaconos baptizati sunt, Reperimus nonnullas diæcesanas episcopus ad invocationem Sancti ecclesias esse destitutas. Ob quam Spiritus manum impositurus exrem hac constitutione decrevimus, currat.-Ibid. (d.) Alioquin, si epiut annuis vicibus episcopo diæceses scopi tantum imprecatione Spiritus visitentur, &c.

Sanctus defluit, lugendi sunt qui in 56 See s. 14. of this chapter. villulis, aut in castellis, aut in re

57 Dial. cont. Lucifer. c. 4. [al. motioribus locis per presbyteros aut 9.) (t. 2. p. 181 a.) Non abnuo hanc diaconos baptizati, ante dormierunt, esse ecclesiarum consuetudinem, ut quam ab episcopis inviserentur.

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