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and confirmed. On the other hand, the doctrines of human merit, purgatory, saint-worshipk, transubstantiation, papal infallibility, and other distinctive tenets of modern Romanism, not only find no place in these writings, but are wholly irreconcilable with many passages in them?
8. As to the second topic, namely, the policy pursued by St. Patrick in his missionary operations, it is remarkable for the skill and judgment with which he adapted them to the familiar habits and feelings of the people. Thus, in no country was the spirit of Clanship more deeply rooted than in Ireland, insomuch that it has been truly said to be “the key to Irish history m." By addressing himself therefore, as he appears invariably to have done, in the first instance, to the local king or chieftain, and seeking to bring him to faith and baptism, St. Patrick pursued the most likely course to obtain at least the outward conformity and general good-will of the whole tribe. Again, in no country was there a greater reverence for established festivals, rites, and observances. By tolerating the least objectionable of these, and contriving to modify and convert them to Christian purposes, instead of directly denouncing or abolishing them, he greatly diminished the opposition which he would otherwise bave encountered". The
k On the passage in his “Confession" supposed to favour the invocation of saints, see Todd, p. 370; and King's “Primer of Irish Church History,” p. 45.
See on this subject King's “Primer," bk. i. cap. vi. m Todd, p. 227.
* Not a few of these ancient rites, originally connected with Druidism, are still observed by the Irish peasantry ; such as the festivals of Baal-tine and Samhaine (now kept as May-day and Christianity thus founded might not indeed at first be, among the masses, of a very intellectual or spiritual character, but it formed at least a foundation on which by degrees a better and loftier superstructure might be raised; it gave an opportunity for establishing among the people Christian institutions which could not fail to exercise upon them a gradual and happy influence.
9. The ecclesiastical system adopted by St. Patrick, and which for several centuries continued to characterize the Irish Church, was likewise well adapted to the state of society which then prevailed: namely, the establishment throughout the country of religious communities, who kept up in their several churches the stated worship of God, trained in the doctrines and ritual of the Church native candidates for the ministry, and instructed the people around them in the principles of Christianity. Though of the nature of monasteries, these establishments were by no means at first so rigid in their rules as such institutions subsequently became. Women, for instance, were not altogether excluded from them, nor were their inmates confined to cloisters or bound by vows. They were usually located on grants of land, often very extensive, made by the kings or other chieftains who had been converted to Christianity and desired to have the worship of God set up among their people, and thus became identified with the clan or tribe in which
All-hallows Even), the Baal fires on Midsummer Eve, the rever. ence paid to holy wells, &c. In connection with this subject, it is worth mentioning that in the Irish Reformed Prayer-book of Archbishop Daniel, published in 1608, the festivals of SS. Philip and James (May 1st), and of All Saints (Nov. 1st), are given in the Calendar with the alias of Beltaine and Samhaine.
they were settled. It is obvious that such a system must have tended considerably to the protection, as well as the increased influence of the community.
10. The monastic and missionary character thus early impressed on the Church in Ireland was no doubt the principal cause of several peculiarities in her ecclesiastical arrangements, which exposed her at a subsequent period, when all Churches came to be measured on the Procrustean bed of Rome, to the charge of irregularity, and even of schism; such as the multiplication of bishops, their frequent consecration per saltum (that is, without having first passed through the inferior orders), and by a single bishop instead of by two or three; and, what was still more remarkable, the absence of any regularly defined episcopal jurisdiction. The distinction of order was indeed carefully maintained, and there are no instances on record of any but bishops being permitted to ordain, confirm, or consecrate churches ; but no special field of labour or recognised jurisdiction appears to have been assigned to them. The Episcopal dignity was conferred apparently as a recognition of superior learning or sanctity, and, when conferred, its functions were generally exercised, as in St. Patrick's own case, at the discretion of the recipient', whether as the inmate of a monastery, living in obedience to his abbot—or as connected with some particular tribe or clan, subject to his chieftain-or as the head of
• The designation “ Archbishop” occasionally given to ecclesiastics in the early Irish Church, was not intended to express any such superiority of station or of jurisdiction over other bishops as is implied in its later acceptation, but merely eminence of character or special celebrity. See Todd, p. 16; King's “Memoir of the Primacy of Armagh,” p. 16.
a school of learning—or as a missionary to the still heathen countries of continental Europe. These peculiarities were not indeed wholly unknown elsewhere in the early Church, but, having been from time to time condemned by various Councils, had fallen into general disuse; whereas in Ireland, which lay beyond the bounds of the Roman Empire, the decrees of these Councils were either unknown or disregarded.
11. The spirit of clanship already referred to, appears to have pervaded the religious system, no less than the temporal polity, of the ancient Irish. The founder of a religious society became, as it were, the spiritual chieftain of the community (usually termed his family), nor of the original community only, but of all its branches elsewhere established. This headship or chieftaincy, moreover, descended to his successors (termed in Irish, Co-arbs), and that wholly irrespective of their ecclesiastical status, whether of bishop, presbyter, or layman. Thus the successor or Co-arb of St. Patrick in the Abbey of Armagh, claimed and received the allegiance of all the minor societies of his foundation, and so of the Co-arbs of Columkill at Hy, and of Bridget at Kildare, &c.; a kind of general headship, though of a vague and uncertain character, being conceded to the Abbot of Armagh as Co-arb of the Apostle of Ireland. The result of this singular system was, that the Co-arbs, and not the bishops as such, became the principal personages in the Church; so that while the succession of the latter is obscurely and imperfectly recorded, that of the former has been most carefully preserved 4 Bishops, in fact, were considered but
p See Todd, p. 48; Ware's “ Antiquities of Ireland,” cap. xx. 4 Rev. R. King, in his able and elaborate work on the early his
as accessories, however essential, to the establishments of which the abbots were heads and fathers. The abbot might, indeed, be himself a bishop, but he might also be a layman. His monastery might possess among its members one bishop, or seven; or it might be dependent for the special episcopal offices on some neighbouring bishop, or on the casual visit of a stranger. The nearest approach to diocesan episcopacy was where a bishop was elected for an entire tribe or clan; and it is easy to understand how, as paganism declined and the people in general became Christianized, the monastic bishop would be gradually superseded by the bishop of the district or territory, and how also the social status of the latter would gradually rise as he exercised his functions within a wider sphere, embracing perhaps several monasteries; and that thus the way would be prepared for the introduction of that regular diocesan? jurisdiction which had been already established in most other parts of Christendom.
12. Another illustration of the clan system is to be found in the mode in which the tenure of such lands as had from time to time been bestowed on the Church was regulated; for while these grants included all the rights of chieftainry as held by the original
tory of the Primacy of Armagh, has established the fact that previous to the twelfth century there was no such functionary as the Archbishop of Armagh in the modern sense of the word ; that the Co-arbs of St. Patrick were in reality the abbots of the monastery at Armagh, being only per accidens bishops, more frequently presbyters, and for the last two hundred years of that period, married laymen.
Several of the existing dioceses (as Kilmacduagh, Kilfenora, Ross, &c.) are identical with the territories anciently held by particular tribes or clans.