The Simplified Wealth of Nations of Adam Smith, Book 5, Chapter 1w: The Decline of the Church

Chapter 1w: The Decline of the Church


The gradual improvements of arts, manufactures, and commerce which destroyed the power of the great barons destroyed the whole temporal power of the clergy in Europe.   215 The European sovereigns tried to recover the influence they once had in the disposal of the church's great benefices.   216 Since the establishment of the Pragmatic sanction and of the Concordat, the French clergy were shown less respect to the decrees of the papal court than the clergy of any other Catholic country.  
The excommunication of Robert II of France
217 The claim of collating to the great benefices of the church was a claim frequently shaken and sometimes overturned by the Roman court.   218 The Roman church's authority was declining when the disputes which gave birth to the reformation began in Germany and soon spread throughout Europe. 219 The success of the new doctrines was almost so great that the princes who were on bad terms with the Roman court were able to overturn the church in their own dominions.   220 In this critical situation, the papal court was at pains to cultivate the friendship of the powerful French and Spanish sovereigns.   221In some countries where the government was weak, unpopular, and not firmly established, as in Scotland, the reformation was strong enough to overturn the church and the state which supported the church.222 There was no general tribunal among the followers of the reformation in Europe like that of the court of Rome or an ecumenical council which could settle disputes. 223 The Lutherians and the Church of England: From the beginning, this system of church government was favourable to peace, order, and submission to the civil sovereign. 224 The Calvinists [followers of Huldrych Zwingli], on the contrary:   225 As long as the people could elect their own pastors, they were under the influence of the most fanatical clergy.   226 The equality which the presbyterian form of church government establishes among the clergy, consists in:
  1. The equality of authority or ecclesiastical jurisdiction
  2. The equality of benefice.
In all presbyterian churches, the equality of authority is perfect, but the equality of benefice is not.

Next: Chapter 1x: Educational Fees