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its position. Unhappily, the measures adopted to spread these principles cannot be said to have been either adequate or judicious. It is obvious that a religious system which discarded miracles, relics, superstitious observances, and a mere mechanical round of services; and which appealed to reason, Scripture, and the moral sense, required for its propagation a far different and far higher class of minis. ters, both morally and intellectually, than were found sufficient for the older system, or than that system furnished. This want was sorely felt even in England in the earlier period of the Reformation, and gave occasion for the publication of the Books of Homilies, and the adoption of various other plans for remedying or mitigating the evil; but in Ireland, where the need was still more urgent, little appears to have been done-in fact little could perhaps at first be done—to meet it. In the Capital, indeed“, and in some of the more prominent places, the principles of the Reformed Church were, to some tolerable extent, carried out; but throughout the country in general scarcely anything seems to have been attempted beyond the enforcement, wherever practicable, of the reformed ritual in English, which to a large proportion of the people was not more intelligible than the Latin Mass. Even this doubtful advantage could not be attained where-as must have been very frequently the case—the minister as well as the congregation was unacquainted with the English language; and as an Irish version was considered at that time an impossible achievement, the only expe
u It is stated in the Loftus MS. (ad ann. 1559) that “it appeared from the accompt of John Dale, bookseller for the Stationers of London, that within two yeares were sold in Dublin 7000 Bibles.”
dient which the framers of the Act of Uniformity could devise for such a contingency, was the preposterous one of permitting the Liturgy to be read in Latin. We do not however read of any Latin translation being provided for this notable purpose; so that, in the remoter parts at all events, it seems probable that the Act remained a dead letter, and that, for some time at least, matters continued much as they were : the authorities both in Church and State being obliged to wink at a state of things which they had neither the means nor the power to remedy. When we read, therefore, (as we do in contemporary and subsequent writers", both Protestant and Roman Catholic,) of the general acquiescence in the Reformation both of the clergy and laity at this period, we must probably limit the observation to those parts of the country which were most under the influence of the Government, and the immediate supervision of the conforming bishops. Nor even where the Reformation was professedly adopted, was it always fairly represented and sustained. The generally low standard both of learning and morals which prevailed among the native clergy, the ruined condition of most of the churches, owing to long years of agitation and turmoil, and the miserable poverty of the greater part of the benefices (partly the result of the wholesale impropriations of their revenues,-first to the monasteries and, on their suppression, to the Crown and its favourites,—and partly of the dishonest alienations of many of the incumbents themselves, both before and after the Reformation) would leave little cause for wonder if the new system should have made but slow progress even under the most favourable political circumstances ?
* Just as had formerly been the case as to the decrees of the Council of Cashel, by which the Romish system was introduced, (See above, p. 82, note.)
y Carte, “Life of Ormond;" Berrington, “Memoirs of Panzani;” and Leland, cited by Phelan, p. 261, &c.; Sanders, De Schismate, cited by Wordsworth, “Occasional Sermons," p. 215, &c.
37. The political circumstances were, however, the very reverse of favourable; for, concurrently with the effort to reform religion, the great struggle had commenced between the Crown and Legislature on the one hand, and the ancient authority of the chieftains on the other, which only terminated in favour of the former after half a century of intestine strife and bloodshed: if indeed it can be said to have fully terminated for nearly a century more, when all opposition was finally trodden out by William III.
Had the nobles and chieftains been without cause for political discontent-had they trusted the Government, or been trusted by it—they would doubtless have proved valuable auxiliaries in the work of reformation which, in its earliest stages, they had so readily acquiesced in. On the other hand, had the people been sufficiently raised in the scale of intelligence to judge for themselves, greater progress would in all probability have been made among them. As it was, however, the disaffected chieftain found, in many instances, a justification for his rebellion in the plea of religion a ; while the mass of the people, sunk in ignorance and superstition, and actuated only by their hereditary hatred of England, rejected without inquiry a system which they were taught to look on
? See Sir H. Sidney's Letter to Queen Elizabeth, “ Letters and Memorials,” i. 112.
Vide Sir G. Carew's Letter to Cecil, quoted by Phelan, p. 175.
as essentially English, and which it must be confessed was presented to them almost exclusively in that character b.
38. These hindrances, however, serious as they were, would probably have yielded to time and perseverance, but for another still more formidable obstacle, viz. the active and determined antagonism of the Court of Rome, fomenting a war of races and of creeds. Incensed by Elizabeth's final rejection of the Papal Supremacy, and by the other measures adopted towards reformation, and having in vain offered certain concessions as the reward of her submission', Pius V., in the year 1570, issued a bull of excommunication, formally depriving her of her kingdom, and absolving her subjects from their allegiance. Nor was this an isolated proceeding; but part of the settled and continued policy of Rome. In 1578, Gregory XIII. not only confirmed the previous sentence, but entered into a confederacy with the King of Spain—then the most formidable sovereign on the continent to assist the Earl of Desmond and other rebellious chiefs with
b Todd, p. 242. It is obvious what a contrast this policy presented to that pursued by St. Patrick. (See above, p. 66.) It is but justice, however, to mention that Queen Elizabeth had a fount of Irish types cast for the purpose of printing the New Testament and the Prayer-book in that language; and likewise ordered that a church should be set apart in some shire-town in each diocese in which they should be read, and a sermon in Irish preached to the people. These types were first employed in printing an Irish catechism in 1571, then in producing Archbishop Daniel's Irish Testament in 1603, and his Prayer-book in 1608. It is humiliating to be obliged to add that they eventually fell, by some means, into the hands of the Jesuits, who sent them to Douay to be used for their own purposes there.
He had offered to sanction the reformed liturgy, the marriage of the clergy, and the giving of the cup to the laity.
men, arms, and money; promising to all the Irish who would join their standard the same spiritual indulgences as to those who were fighting against the Turks. In 1587, Pope Sixtus V. reiterated the former edicts, and excited the Irish to join the projected Spanish Armada; and in 1600, Clement VIII. gave similar countenance to the rebellious proceedings of Hugh O'Neill. Thus, for forty years, Ireland became the scene of almost uninterrupted civil and religious war, which reduced the country to the most deplorable state of confusion, barbarism, and ruina. It was not in such circumstances as these, that the reformed faith, or indeed spiritual religion under any denomi. nation, was likely to take root or spread.
39. It has already been mentioned that, on the establishment of the Reformation, the entire hierarchy, with two exceptions, continued in their sees. Thenceforward all vacancies were regularly filled up by the Crown, except in the case of three or four of the northern dioceses, which, either from their poverty, or from the unsettled state of the country, appear to have been left for the most part unoccupied till the beginning of the following reign. Meantime, several new bishops, consecrated in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, together with priests and Jesuits from the continental seminaries, were sent over, under the patronage of the Pope and the King of Spain, to kindle the embers of civil war and religious discord: nor is it to be much wondered at, if ecclesiastics holding and acting on such a commission met, in some instances,
d See Spencer's “ View of the State of Ireland,” quoted by Mant, i. 321; and Phelan, 213. • Viz., Kilmore, Clogher, Derry, and Raphoe. Appointments appear to have been made at intervals to all four, but no regular succession maintained.