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vantage of any kind; if they escape the legal penalties of perjury, incur the moral guilt : for they are manifestly within the mischief and design of the statute which imposes the oath ; and within the terms indeed of the oath itself; for the word “indirectly” is inserted on purpose to comprehend such cases as these.
CH A P. XX.
OATH AGAINST SIMONY.
TROM an imaginary resemblance betweett T the purchase of a benefice and Simon Magus's attempt to purchase the gift of the Holy Ghost, Afts viii. 19, the obtaining of a presentation by pecuniary considerations has been called Simony.
The sale of advowsons is inseparable from the right of private patronage; as patronage would otherwise devolve to the most indigent, and for that reason, the most improper hands it could be placed in. Nor did the law ever intend to prohibit the passing of advowsons from one patron to another ; but to restrain the patron, who pofsesses the right of presenting at the vacancy, from being influenced, in the choice of his prefentee, by a bribe, or benefit to himself. It is the same distinction with that which obtains in a freeholder's vote for his representative in parliament. The right of voting, that is the free
hold, to which the right pertains, may be bought and sold, as freely as any other property ; but the exercise of that right, the vote itself, may not be purchased, or influenced by money.
For this purpose, the law imposes upon the presentee, who is generally concerned in the fimony, if there be any, the following oath : “ I do swear, that I have made no fimoniacai “ payment, contract, or promise, directly or “ indirectly, by myself, or by any other to my “ knowledge, or with my consent, to any per“ son or persons whatsoever, for or concerning " the procuring and obtaining of this ecclesi" astical place, &c. nor will, at any time here“ after, perform, or fatisfy, any such kind of “ payment; contract, or promise, made by “ any other without my knowledge or consent : “ So help me God, through Jesus Christ.”
It is extraordinary; that Bishop Gibson should have thought this oath to be against all promises whatsoever, when the terms of the oath expressly restrain it to fimoniacal promises ; and the law alone must pronounce what promises, as well as what payments, and contracts, are simoniacal, and, consequently, come within the oath ; and what are not so. Now the law adjudges to be simony, P 2
1. All payments, contracts, or promises, made by any person, for a benefice already vacant. The advowson of a void turn, by law cannot be transferred from one patron to another : therefore, if the void turn be procured by money, it must be by a pecuniary influence upon the then subsisting patron in the choice of his presentee; which is the very practice the law condemns. . 2. A clergyman's purchasing of the next turn of a benefice for himself, “ directly or indi“rectly,” that is, by himself, or by another perfon with his money. It does not appear, that the law prohibits a clergyman from purchasing the perpetuity of a patronage, more than any other person ; but purchasing the perpetuity, and forthwith selling it again, with a reservation of the next turn, and with no other design than to possess himself of the next turn, is in fraudem legis, and inconsistent with the oath.
3. The procuring of a piece of preferment, by ceding to the patron, any rights, or probable rights, belonging to it. This is fimony of the worst kind; for it is not only buying preferment, but robbing your fucceffor to pay for 4. Promises to the patron of a portion of the profit, of a remiffion of tythes and dues, or other advantage out of the produce of the benefice : which kind of compact is a pernicious condescension in the clergy, independent of the oath ; for it tends to introduce a practice which may very soon become general, of giving the revenues of churches to the lay patrons, and supplying the duty by indigent stipendaries.
5. General bonds of resignation, that is, bonds to resign upon demand.
I doubt not but that the oath is binding upon the consciences of those who take it, though I question much the expediency of requiring it. It is very fit to debar public patrons, such as the king, the lord chancellor, bishops, ecclesiastical corporations, and the like, from this kind of traffic ; because, from them may be expected some regard to the qualifications of the persons whom they promote. But the oath lays a snare for the integrity of the clergy; and I do not perceive, that the requiring of it, in cases of private patronage, produces, any good effect, sufficient to compensate for this danger.