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call him into close contact with the established clergy throughout the most remote, and by all others of the higher classes, deserted parts of the kingdom, and declare in common justice, that were it not for the residence, and moral and political influence of the parochial clergy, every trace of refinement and civilization would disappear?."
Their influence for good now is thus borne witness to by no prejudicial partisan, but by a statesman whose testimony, coming as it does from one who is certainly not a zealous defender of the Irish Church, is doubly valuable.
“My belief,” said Mr. Gladstone, “is, that as far as abuses, in the common sense of the word, are concerned—that is, those which depend on the conduct of the bishops and clergy, and which are remediable by the wisdom and energy of the clerical body, or the purity of life of its lay members,—it is my belief that the Irish Church is perfectly free from such abuses. We must all accord to that Church this praise; that her clergy are a body of zealous and devoted ministers, who give themselves to their sacerdotal functions in a degree not inferior to those of any Christian Church m."
Quoted by the Bishop of Exeter in his Speech in the House of Lords in 1833.
m Speech in debate on Irish Church Question, March 28, 1865. The following remark of Mr. Gladstone, in his work on “The State in its Relation to the Church,” (p. 252, ed. 1838,) is worthy of notice at the present time. “When foreigners express their astonishment at finding that we support in Ireland the Church of a small minority, we may tell them that we support it on the high ground of conscientious necessity, for its truth.”
The remarks of Coleridge, “On the Constitution of Church and State,” (p. 78–80, ed. 1830,) are so much to the point, th it will be well to give them in extenso. “That the maxims of
Is such a body of men, so useful in their generation, so eminently calculated to keep alive in Ireland that
a pure morality, and the sublime truths of the Divine unity and attributes-which a Plato found hard to learn, and men difficult to reveal-should have become the almost hereditary property of childhood and poverty, of the hovel and the workshop, that even to the unlettered they sound as commonplace; this is a phenomenon which must withhold all but minds of the most vulgar cast from undervaluing the services even of the pulpit and reading-desk. Yet he who should confine the efficiency of an established Church to them, can hardly be placed in a much higher rank of intellect. That to every parish throughout the kingdom there is transplanted a germ of civilization; that in the remotest village there is a nucleus, round which the capabilities of the place may crystallize and brighten; a model sufficiently superior to excite, yet sufficiently near to encourage and facilitate imitation; this unobtrusive continuous agency of a Protestant Church Establishment; this it is which the patriot and the philanthropist, who would fain unite the love of peace with the faith in the progressive amelioration of mankind, cannot estimate at too high a price. "It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx or the sapphire. No mention shall be made of coral or pearls; for the price of wisdom is above rubies. The clergyman is with his parishioners and among them; he is neither in the cloistered cell, nor in the wilderness, but a neighbour and family man, whose education and rank admit him to the mansion of the rich landholder, while his duties make him the frequent visitor of the farmhouse and cottage. He is, or he may become, connected with the families of his parish, or vicinity, by marriage. And among the instances of the blindness, or albeit of the short-sightedness, which it is the nature of cupidity to inflict, I know few more striking than the clamour of the farmer against Church property. Whatever was not paid to the clergyman, would inevitably soon be paid to the landholder; while as the case at present stands, the revenues of the Church are in some sort the reversionary property of every family that may have a member educated for the Church, or a daughter who may marry a clergyman. Instead of being foreclosed and immovable, it is, in fact, the only species of landed property that is essentially moving and circulative.”'
sort the educated for ad of being Ided proper
spirit of sound religion and devoted loyalty which is the glory of our Church and nation, to be swept away for no fault of their own, save that they are faithful sons of that Church in whose bosom they were reared, devoted subjects of that sovereign, whose interests, free from all allegiance to foreign jurisdiction, they gladly and willingly serve ?
30. But we are told that in any such measure “ vested interests” will be preserved, and that therefore there will be no real grounds for complaint. But when the would-be spoliators of the Irish Church thus speak, they speak only of the “vested interests” of the existing incumbent of the parish. But we would venture to ask, Has the landlord no 6 vested interests” in the maintenance of a church for the public worship of his family and tenants, or of a clergyman as the spiritual adviser, and often the instructor, of his children ? Have the poor no “vested interests” in the free seats of their parish churches, where they can hear - the pure Word of God read and preached, and have His Sacraments duly administered,” week after week and year after year, without money and without price? Are the poor labouring Church Protestants in the south and west of Ireland, scarcely able to provide for their daily sustenance, much less to contribute to the support of their minister, (for although this may be possible when the population, though poor, is numerous, it is quite impossible when they are few and scattered,) to be left without a church to resort to, or a clergyman to minister to their spiritual needs ? Are they to be deserted by that very nation to whom the Churchmen of Ireland have always looked up with respect and affection ? It must not, it cannot be. The people of England love too well their own dearly
bought Church privileges ever to lend a helping hand to deprive the poorest of their Irish brethren of them. They know the value of an open Bible, of unmutilated Sacraments, and of a Liturgy ministered in the language of the people, and never will they permit their brethren in Ireland to be deprived of their dearest spiritual privileges through English apathy, or English indifference. Let Englishmen once learn to recognise the true position which the Established Church holds in Ireland, as the old Catholic Church of the country"; let them once see in her the one Institution which alone can successfully resist that advancing wave of Ultramontane audacity which threatens to surge up and overwhelm the land ;—and all the reiterated misstatements in which the assailants of the Irish Church have so long indulged; all the exaggerated accounts of her supposed wealth with which they have deluded those who have listened to them, will be of no avail; for Englishmen will then have been induced to examine the facts of the case for themselves, and when they do this, we need not fear but that justice and right will in the end prevail.
31. Meanwhile, let it be remembered that for years past the Church in Ireland has been subjected to a fiery ordeal, out of which it is utterly impossible that any institution, the working of which is committed to human hands, could escape unscathed. All the shortcomings of her bishops and clergy for generations past have been furbished up and given to the world; every possible defect in her system has been spied out and brought to light; every sin of her worldly bishops or deans in years past, who were selected
* See Tracts on the Church in Ireland, No. 1, “ Which is the Catholic Church in Ireland ?” (J. H. and Jas. Parker.) .
for their positions, not for personal learning or piety, but for State purposes and political convenience, have been paraded and gloated over as specimens of the class to which they for a time unworthily belongedo. And whilst all this is ostentatiously put forward as proofs of her indolence and inefficiency, not a word is said of the earnest, faithful, self-denying lives of the thousands of her parochial clergy who have quietly, yet faithfully, each in their several stations, done their duty where God called them to work for Him, and have sunk one by one when their holy work was finished, into their obscure but honoured graves, in the midst of the flock for whose salvation they had laboured even unto death. And yet there are names engraven in the pages of Irish Church history which would have been no discredit to the Church in her palmiest days. Time was when an Usher, a Bramhall, and a Bedell, sat together in her synods, and the names of Jeremy Taylor, Berkeley, Magee, Jebb, and Mant, are found inscribed on the roll of her episcopate. Can any Church in modern times present a name more highly and justly honoured in life, more worthily venerated in death, than that of John George Beresford, late Primate of Armagh ? Has the grand munificence of that large-hearted layman, who at the expense of not less than £150,000 has restored at his own private cost the metropolitan Cathedral of St. Patrick, been equalled in any portion of the Church in our day? Are not the Irish clergy as a body now doing their work faithfully and well? Do not her renovated Cathedrals, her almost daily restored parish churches, give proofs of the life and vigour that dwells within her ? Much of the pre
° See Herbert Skeat's "Irish Church," p. 10.