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Dissenters employed in the militia from existing penalties; and extending the indulgence for ten years to those who served in the regular army. The bill passed without difficulty through its various stages in the Lower House of legislation; but when it reached the Lords, it met with the most determined opposition. The bishops, headed by Archbishop King, employed all their influence to prevent it from becoming law; and at length, though with much reluctance, Government was compelled to abandon it altogether. The House of Commons sought, however, by two very significant resolutions to protect the Presbyterians against the consequences of its rejection. They declared that “such of His Majesty's Protestant Dissenting subjects of this kingdom as have taken commissions in the militia, or acted in the commission of array, have thereby done a seasonable service to His Majesty's royal person and Government and the Protestant interest in this kingdom ;” and “ that any person who shall commence a prosecution against any Dissenter who has accepted or shall accept of a commission in the army or militia, is an enemy to King George and the Protestant interest, and a friend to the Pretender.”i Shielded by the sanction of the

1 House of Commons expressed in such decided terms, the Presbyterians consented to continue in military employment.?

A quarter of a century had now elapsed since the Revolution; and yet during all this period the Irish Protestant nonconformists had celebrated their worship without the security of a legal permission. They still sought in vain for the removal of the Sacramental Test; and it was not till 1719 that they obtained an Act of Toleration. Even this concession was not secured without a struggle; for, to the last, it was resisted by a majority of the bishops; and when the Toleration Bill was read a third time in the Upper House, no less than nine of the lords spiritual, with seven temporal peers, entered their protest on the journals. By this measure

1

2

Journals of the Irish House of Commons, vol. iv., p. 255.

By an Act passed in 1755 (the 29th of George II., chap. xxiv.) Protestant non-conformists were at length entitled to hold military appointments.

3 Reid, iii. 106. Of the six bishops who supported the Bill only one was an Irishman. Ibid. p. 107.

Protestant Dissenters, on taking certain oaths, were relieved from the penalties of the Act of Uniformity for absence from the established worship; and Presbyterian ministers, as well as others, were permitted to celebrate all religious ordinances —the Lord's Supper included-without incurring a fine of one hundred pounds. Quakers also, on making certain declarations, were to enjoy the benefits of the enactment. In the same session of Parliament, non-conformists holding civil or military offices and receiving pay from the Crown, were relieved from annoyance by an Act of Indemnity:2

Throughout the discussions connected with the passing of the Toleration Act, the extreme dread of the Presbyterians exhibited by the Protestant bishops was fitted to awaken very grave reflections. The prelates appeared to believe that, if the non-conforming ministers were permitted fully to enjoy the blessing of religious liberty, their own Establishment would speedily tumble down.3 “I fear,” said Archbishop King immediately after the Toleration Bill became law,“that we shall all feel the effects of it; and, in truth, I can't see how our Church can stand here, if God do not, by a peculiar and unforeseen providence, support it.”An attempt was made to prove that, were the King to give his assent to the measure, he would violate his Coronation Oath;5 and every argument which the most bigoted sectarianism could devise was urged against its adoption. The Protestant prelates had been so long accustomed to ride rough-shod over the feelings of individuals of all other denominations, that they were seemingly bewildered when a somewhat different policy was inaugurated ; and even the attendance of some Scotch soldiers on Presbyterian worship in a provincial town in Ulster was sufficient to disturb their equanimity. “I should

1 The Act in the Irish Statute Book is the 6th of George I., chap. v. Deniers of the doctrine of the Trinity are not admitted to its benefits.

· The 6th of George I., chap. ix.

3 At this tinie the Irish Parliament openly sanctioned the non-residence of the beneficed clergy by an Act declaring that their “absence ought to be supplied by curates. According to this Act (the 6th of George I., chap. xiii.) the salary of a curate should not be more than fifty, nor less than twenty pounds per annum.

4 Letter to Archbishop Wake dated 10th November, 1719. Mant, ii. 337. 6 Mant, ii. 339.

wonder,” said a most reverend archbishop, " at the conduct of quartering a Presbyterian regiment at Londonderry, if it were not of a piece with all the methods which have been used of late for the safety of the Church.” 1 How would these dignitaries have felt had they been assured that the time would come when a Queen of England-the wisest and the best who has swayed the sceptre since the Reformationwould be found attending the church of Crathie, and devoutly joining in worship conducted by a Presbyterian minister ?

The toleration secured by Act of Parliament to non-conforming Protestants, was not joined with a corresponding concession to the Romanists. The alarm created by the Pretender, and the conviction that the adherents of the Pope all over the country were ready to support him—if they had any prospect of success-prompted the Legislature to load them with additional disabilities. By a law made in 1716 Romanists were disqualified from acting as high or even petty constables ;? and in the same session of Parliament they were prohibited, under a penalty of one hundred pounds, from voting for members of Parliament, if they had not taken the oaths of allegiance and abjuration at least six calendar months before the day of the election. In 1723, when apprehensions were again awakened by the attempts of the Pretender, a bill fraught with fresh severities against them was brought into the Irish House of Commons; but as Parliament was soon afterwards prorogued, it never found its way into the Statute Book.

4

· Letter of the Archbishop of York to the Bishop of Derry, dated February 141h, 1719. Mant, ii. 318.

2 The 2nd of George I., chap. x. 3 Ibid. chap. xix. s. 7.

Curry says :—“Leave was given to bring in heads of a bill for explaining and amending the two Acts before mentioned to prevent the growth of Popery. Upon this occasion one of the most zealous promoters of that bill, having gravely taken notice in a long and laboured sprech, that of all the countries where the Reformed religion had prevailed Sweden was freest from those secret but irreconcilable enemies-of all Protestant governments – Popish ecclesiastics ; which, he said, was visibly owing to the great wisdom of their laws, inflicting the penalty of [shameless mutilation] on all such dangerous intruders into that kingdom-he seriously moved that the Gothic and inhuman penalty might be added as a clause to the bill before them, to which the house, after a short debate, agreed.” Curry adds About this period the Irish Presbyterian Church was greatly disturbed by a controversy concerning subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith. That document had been recognized as the ecclesiastical symbol of the Ulster Nonconformists ever since the time of its adoption in Scotland; but the latitudinarian spirit which now prevailed in England and elsewhere-and which had been greatly promoted by the writings of Dr. Samuel Clarke, Hoadly, and others—at length appeared in the North of Ireland; and certain members of the Synod of Ulster began, on various grounds, to object to the usual mode of admitting candidates for the ministry to licence and ordination, by requiring them to append their signatures to a formulary expressing their unqualified approval of the doctrines of the Westminster standards. There is no clear evidence that the objectors were prepared, in the first instance, to reject the Calvinistic creed; but it was suspected that at least some among them were not its very cordial advocates. They did not, however,

that “the bill was accordingly transmitted to England ; but rejected by means the humane and earnest inter position of Cardinal Fleury with Mr. Walpole.Curry's State of the Catholics of Inland, appended to his Historical and Critical Review, pp. 550-551. Dublin, 1810. This statement has been repeated again and again by Roman Catholic writers to the present day (see Plowden's Hist. Rev., p. 253; Haverty, p. 687 ; Duffy's Irish Catholic Magazine, vol. ii., p. 178 ; Wyse's Hist. Sketch of the Catholic Association, i. 17); and yet it rests on no solid foundation. No such speech was ever made in the Irish Honse of Commons, and no such motion was ever agreed to. Cardinal Fleury had nothing to do with any such transaction. It appears that, about this time, a Commitlee of the Irish House of Commons proposed that every unregistered priest or friar found in the country after a certain date should be branded with a hot iron on the cheek ; and that when this proposal was submitted to a meeting of the Irish Privy Council-consisting of the Lord Chancellor, two bishops, and some other members—it was proposed, as an amendment, that unregistered priests and friars coming from abroad should be liable to the inhuman mutilation above indicated. The Irish Secretary, when transmitting the clause for the consideration of the Cabinet in England, intimated that it was of no consequence to the bill; and Lord Stanhope there at once struck it out as “ridiculous.This is the whole foundation for a story which has been a fertile theme for declamation during the last century.

Mr. Froude has very recently brought the real facts to light. See his English in Ireland, i. 556, 558.

Until long after this period, no Presbyterian minister in the North of Ireland professed Arianism. In 1702 the Rev. Thomas Emlyn, one of the ministers of Wood Street, Dublin, having avowed himself an Arian, was at once deposed. Reid, ii. 496. He was the only Presbyterian minister connected with Ireland in the eighteenth century who openly acknowledged the Arian creed.

avowedly base their opposition on anything which they alleged to be positively erroneous in the Confession: they rather challenged the authority by which subscription to it was enforced ; and they contended that no Church was warranted to require such a recognition of a merely human composition as a test of ecclesiastical fellowship. Like many other advocates of error, they laid great stress on mere sincerity in religion; and the tendency of their principles was obviously subversive of Presbyterian order : but the leaders of the party were men of great address, as well as of no little controversial ability; and they contrived to create much excitement in many congregations. In the end, in 1726, twelve ministers with their flocks, constituting what was called the Presbytery of Antrim, were excluded from the general body. The distinctive principle of these separatists was non-subscription to all creeds or confessions.

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland thus sustained permanent injury. This controversy distracted its congregations; arrested its missionary movements; and converted its judicatories into arenas of bitter disputation. The non-subscribing ministers were comparatively few; but many of the Presbyterian gentry adhered to them ; and the general influence of the denomination was much weakened by the division. A considerable number of the members of the Synod of Ulster sympathized with the non-subscribers; and, though now ecclesiastically dissociated, still continued with them an exchange

1 The Irish Quakers, it appears, strongly sympathized with the non-subscribers : and one of their leaders, named Benjamin Holme, in 1727, addressed a letter “To the teachers among the Presbyterians that refused to subscribe to the Westminster Confession of Faith.” In this letter he says :-“It would be great satisfaction to many well-inclined people if you would mention the particular articles in that Confession that you think not safe for you to sign, with your reasons for not signing."—Wight and Rutty's Hist. of the Rise and Progress of the Quakers, p. 292. The non-subscribers were not at all prepared to act on the suggestion of the honest Quaker. One of the most noted Quakers of this period was John Dobbs, of Youghall, eldest son of Richard Dobbs, of Castle-Dobbs, near Carrickfergus. In 1681 the Castle-Dobbs estate was worth three hundred and sixty pounds per annum ; but, in consequence of his eldest son becoming a Quaker, his father disinherited him, and settled on him an annuity of £10 per annum, as he said, to keep him from starving. Ibid. pp. 305-307.

2 Reid, iii. 196, 210.

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