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and easily repaired. The religion of England is the great charter of its intellectual freedom. But the principle of intolerance was not more desperately pursued by all parties in your age, nor more absolutely proclaimed by the Saints of the Rebellion, than the nature of toleration is mistaken, and the principle abused, by men of this generation, who by the courtesy of England are called statesmen.
SIR THOMAS MORE. Have the Irish Roman-Catholic clergy deserved so well of the British government that they have a fair claim to encouragement and support from it?
MONTESINOS. So long as there existed a claimant to the British crown in one of the Stuart line, they kept up a treasonable communication with that claimant; their Prelates were nominated by him, and the doctrine which they maintained was that of the Divine Right of Kings.* After that unhappy family became extinct, and Great Britain was engaged in war with revolutionary France, the principle with which they then allied their religion was that of the Rights of Man. During the war with Buonaparte, and
* Digest of Evidence, ii. 48. i. 123, 4.
at a time when that most formidable enemy with whom this nation ever contended was in the height of his pride and power, the Irish Roman-Catholic Prelates voluntarily declared their acceptation of the Concordat, which ratified by papal authority his usurpation, and the deposition of the Bourbons. These pontifical acts of Pope Pius VII. they “ accepted, approved and concurred with, as good, rightful, authentic and necessary, inspired by charity, and done in the faith of his predecessor.” These facts may show what their political deserts have been.
SIR THOMAS MORE. And what meantime have been their moral merits, as evidenced in the fruits of their influence over the people ?
MONTESINOS. “ By their fruits ye shall know them.” No where, not even in Spain, have the priests so absolute a power over the multitude; and therefore it was that Bishop Berkley addressed an exhortation to them, requesting that they would use this great influence to a beneficial purpose. I need not eulogize Berkley,.. whom you must have seen among the worthies of our country!
SIR THOMAS MORE. His name is in the Book of Life. A purer spirit never was received into the society of Sages and Saints.
MONTESINOS. “ You are known,” said he, to the Irish Roman-Catholic clergy, “ to have great influence on the minds of your people; be so good as to use this influence for their benefit. Since other methods fail, try what you can do. •Be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort,' make them thoroughly sensible of the sin and folly of sloth. No set of men upon earth have it in their power to do good on easier terms, with more advantage to others, and less pains or losses to themselves. Your flocks are of all others most disposed to follow directions, and of all others want them most.” “ Certainly, if I may advise, you should, in return for the lenity and indulgence of the government, endeavour to make yourselves useful to the public; and this will best be performed by rousing your poor countrymen from their beloved sloth. I shall not now dispute the truth or importance of other points, but will venture to say, that you may still find time to inculcate this doctrine of an honest industry ; and that this would by no means be time thrown
away, if promoting your country's interest, and rescuing so many unhappy wretches of your countrymen from beggary, or the gallows, be thought worth your pains.”... “Why should you, whose influence is greatest, be least active? Why should you, whose words are most likely to prevent, say least in the common cause ? You cannot in your sermons do better than inveigh against idleness, that extensive parent of many miseries and many sins; idleness, the mother of hunger and sister of theft; idleness which, the son of Sirach assures us, ' teacheth many vices. Were this but done heartily, would you but' be instant in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort;' such is the ascendant you have gained over the people, that we might soon expect to see the good effect thereof. We might hope that our garners would soon be full, affording all manner of store, that our sheep would bring forth thousands, that our oxen would be strong to labour, that there would be no breaking in, nor going out, (no robbery, nor migration for bread,) and that there would be no complaining in our streets.' It stands upon you to act with vigour in this cause, and shake off the shackles of sloth from your countrymen, because there be some who surmise, that yourselves have put them on.
Right or wrong, men will be apt to judge of your doctrines by their fruits."
SIR THOMAS MORE.
MONTESINOS. There was no enmity in Berkley's language, and no unchristian feeling in his heart. Had the Romish clergy hearkened to his exhortations, and exerted themselves for improving the condition of their people, with half the zeal that they display in keeping up an inflammatory excitement among them, the state of Ireland must have been very unlike what it now is, and they themselves would appear in a very different light before God and man.
SIR THOMAS MORE. They might have wrought as great a change in Ireland as the Jesuits effected among the tribes of Paraguay and California.
MONTESINOS. This without opposition, without difficulty, without danger; in the strict line of their duty, ..in the proper discharge of their sacerdotal functions,.. to the immediate advancement of their own interest, and so greatly to the furtherance of those ambitious views which the ministers of the Romish church must ever entertain, that I know not how their claims, if supported