« ForrigeFortsæt »
heed thereto according to Thy Word. There was not a word of all the law that Moses commanded which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant
The reading of the Bible is represented in the Bible itself as one of the great means of grace, as a privilege of inestimable value, as the duty of young and old, laity and clergy. All the eloquence of Dr. Doyle, added to his weight of character, could not convince his unsophisticated countrymen that he judged wisely, when he condemned the study of the holy oracles. About this time, even the Professor of Scripture at Maynooth withdrew from that seminary ; and devoted himself to the ministry in the Established Church. In 1824 the priests in various places attended the meetings of the Bible Society, and attempted to interrupt the proceedings. They were, in consequence, challenged to discuss the right and duty of the laity to search the Scriptures; and public disputations on the subject between the Romish and the Protestant clergy were held in Kilkenny, Carlow, Carrick-onShannon, Easky,' and elsewhere. The results were favourable to the Reformed faith. Prejudices were removed ; a spirit of inquiry was awakened ; the demand for the Bible was promoted ; and hundreds who usually attended mass were sometimes seen listening to services conducted by evangelical ministers. In one district of country, sixteen Roman Catholics, who were teachers of daily schools, openly embraced Protestantism.
? Ps. xix. 7; cxix. 9; Joshua, viii. 35.
? Ps. cxix. 18, 19, 97, 98, 99; Rom. iii. 2; 2 Tim. iii, 14, 15; Rev. i. 3. When adverting to the assailants of Dr. Doyle, his biographer, Mr. Fitzpatrick, has strangely overlooked the most formidable of them all, the Rev. Dr. Carson, of Tobermore, County Derry. With his tractates on the Reading of the Scriptures by the Laity, and on Transubstantiation, Dr. Doyle never even attempted to grapple. They may be found among his published works. Dr. Carson was a learned and pious Baptist minister, of great grasp of intellect, and a most vigorous controversialist. He died in 1844, aged sixty-seven.
3 Evidence of Archbishop Magee before Committee of Lords in 1825, p. 13. Dublin, 1825.
* The discussion at Easky—a small town in the County Sligo on the borders of Mayo-took place in the Roman Catholic chapel. The speakers on the one side were three priests, and, on the other, two Scripture readers and the Rev. W. Urwick (afterwards D.D.), then Independent minister at Sligo. The discussion lasted two days, and terminated amicably. Protestantism gained by it a number of converts. See Life and Letters of Wm. Urwick, D.D., pp. 64, 423. Dublin, 1870. Gideon Ouseley was present at the Carrick-on-Shannon discussion ; but the priests refused to permit him to take part in it. Memorial, pp. 254-5.
But whilst, to the eye of the spiritual observer, Ireland now presented so many hopeful indications, the advocates of Romanism, at this very time, were exerting themselves with unwonted energy and perseverance. Nor were their efforts unavailing. The repeal of so many of the penal laws had revived their hopes; the miserable buildings, in which they had previously worshipped, were quickly disappearing ; substantial chapels—some of them fine specimens of architecture
-rose up in all parts of the country; and the titles of “ Lord” and “your Grace"-sometimes to the amusement, and sometimes to the irritation of Protestants-began to be ostentatiously given to their bishops and archbishops. The prophecies of Pastorini-announcing the speedy downfall of the Reformed faith-were circulated and believed :
* and the miracles of Prince Hohenlohe were paraded as proofs of the divine authority of Popery. Such things could not fail to make an impression on a credulous and ignorant people. Even in Carlow, Protestant preachers could sometimes
· Evidence of Archbishop Magee before the Lords Committee, pp. 18, 19, 20.
? In November, 1825, the splendid Marlborough Street Cathedral, Dublin, was consecrated. Dr. Doyle preached on the occasion to a congregation of 3,000. Fitzpatrick, i. 437. Dr. Doyle himself erected at Carlow a Cathedral which was considered, at the time, one of the finest ecclesiastical structures in Ireland.
3 These titles of secular nobility which, under the Irish Church Act of 1869, do not legally belong to the newly-appointed bishops and archbishops of the Irish Episcopal Church, were not, in the early part of the present century, given by any Protestant to the R. C. dignitaries. They have no proper claim to them.
* Guided by the prophecies of Pastorini (or Bishop Walmsley, a R. C. expositor of the Apocalypse) many Romanists expected that Protestantism would perish in 1825. See Digest of Evidence before Parliamentary Committees, vol. i. 300-2; and Evidence of Archbishop Magee, p. 129.
5 Digest of Evidence before Parliamentary Committees, i. 286. About this time the consecration of the first Roman Catholic burial-ground, performed since the Reformation, took place. Dr. Doyle was the consecrator. Fitzpatrick, i. 434. Since that period Roman Catholic prelates have been acting very much on the denominational system in regard to grave.yards. They wish certain places appropriated to their own adherents. Before this time, Romanists and Protestants were buried in the same cemeteries.
attract crowds of Romanists; but the Roman Catholic Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin boasted that, in his diocese, two hundred converts, on an average, were annually won over to his communion.
In the midst of this religious excitement, the condition of the country was otherwise far from satisfactory. Many of the peasantry were in a state of extreme wretchedness ; famine had aggravated their misery ; party spirit was rife; Orangemen and Ribbonmen were at deadly enmity; and the Catholic Association-organized to struggle for concessions to Romanists, and of which Daniel O'Connell was the ruling spirit-carried agitation into almost every parish in the land. In 1825, Select Committees of the two Houses of Parliament -appointed to inquire into the state of Ireland-examined a great number of witnesses, with a view to devise some remedy for existing evils. Magistrates, lawyers, and land-agents, as well as divines of various denominations, and from different parts of the country, appeared before the representatives of the Lords and Commons; and furnished them with a large amount of information. Among the subjects illustrated were the tenure of land ; the condition of the poor ; the state of education; the operation of tithes; the influence of Orange and Ribbon Societies; the comparative strength of the several religious communities; the Roman Catholic claims; and the doctrine of the Church of Rome in regard to oaths, the toleration of heretics, and the obedience due to civil rulers. Dr. Magee, Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, was examined at much length ; and gave evidence as to the state of the Irish Establishment, the prospects of Protestantism, and the danger of concessions to Romanists. Dr. Doyle also appeared among the witnesses, and was closely interrogated. He was already well known as a vigorous controversialist; a volume of letters on the State of Ireland just published under the signature J. K. L., had added to his reputation; and his presence, as a witness, had been anticipated with no little interest.
| Fitzpatrick, i. 503. It is, however, significant that two of Dr. Doyle's niecesyoung ladies of great intelligence and under his own guardianship-passed over at this time from Popery to Presbyterianism. Fitzpatrick gives a version of this affair evidently tinged by his own prejudices, ii. 158.
The Lords and Commons, opposed to the granting of additional privileges to the members of his Church, were resolved that he should pass through a searching ordeal; and they had accordingly prepared lists of questions, calculated to elicit his views on almost every topic connected with the Roman Catholic controversy—including absolution, penance, purgatory, indulgences, miracles, the invocation of saints, excommunication, the validity of Anglican orders, Bible Societies, tithes, the oath of allegiance, and Roman Catholic emancipation. But the astute bishop was quite a match for his examinators. He was far too well versed in polemic divinity to be easily entangled. He had words at will, complete self-command, and great power of assertion. When an unfriendly Peer put some not very sage or pertinent question, he would confound the noble catechist with a scathing reply; and, when he deemed it expedient to give no very definite answer, he poured forth a flood of oratory which astonished and upset the interrogator. When explaining difficulties suggested to him, he more than once adroitly quoted certain portions of the Book of Common Prayer, where something like Popery is inculcated. He seems in fact, to have been unwilling to recognize any substantial difference between the Church of Rome and the Episcopal Church of Ireland; and hence, in the very year preceding, he had eagerly grasped at a proposition for their union, made by an influential statesman. He found it very easy to show to the Committee that a number of the most popular objections to emancipation could not be maintained ; and his answers—though sometimes not quite so candid as clever—were so plausible, and delivered with such an air of sincerity, that his examination, on the whole, produced a most favourable impression. The perfect ease with which he stated his sentiments, and the manner in which he dealt with some of the queries addressed to him, created no small surprise. The Duke of Wellington, who was present, was impressed by his intellectual power. Well, Duke,"
1 Fitzpatrick, i. 321. Bishop Milner, the English R. C. Vicar Apostolic, was greatly scandalized by the letter which Dr. Doyle wrote on this occasion. See his Life, by Husenbeth, pp. 495-497.
observed a Peer who happened to be approaching the Committee room as his Grace had just left it, are you examining Dr. Doyle ?" "No," replied the Duke, “but Dr. Doyle is examining us.” His testimony unquestionably led several members of the Legislature to think more favourably of the Roman Catholic claims.
A considerable time elapsed before the report of the evidence given by the witnesses was published by authority ; but its general tenor was soon known, and when the rumours relating to it reached Ireland, they did not tend to abate excitement. The priests continued with increased bitterness to oppose the scriptural schools, to condemn the reading of the Bible, and to denounce all who endeavoured to promote its circulation. This open hostility to the Word of God gave
. great offence to many of their own adherents, and caused considerable secessions from their communion. In one district of the south-the parish of Askeaton--where there had been no discussion, and where the Protestant bishop of the diocese, Dr. Jebb of Limerick, was not at all disposed to encourage proselytism, 470 persons, without solicitation, passed over into the Established Church. In other places where the evangelical
1 Dr. Jebb, who became Bishop of Limerick in 1822, and died in 1833, was a distinguished scholar, and a prelate of singular amiability of character. He is well known as the author of a work on Sacred Literature. His views were High Church, and he was much opposed to controversy with the Romanists. His life has been written by the Rev. Charles Forster. On one occasion (in December, 1821) he was permitted by the parish priest to appear in the R. C. chapel on the Lord's Dıy, and to address the congregation from the altar. His object was to prevent the people of Abington, the parish of which he was then rector, from rising in insurrection ; and his appeal was completely successful. See Life, vol. i. 210-14. London, 1836. He could not embrace the Calvinistic doctrine; and yet he admitted the superior efficiency of some of his clergy who prosessed it. One day, when discussing with some intimate friends the state of his diocese, he exclaimed with great warmth :-“ And there is that little William Hoare (the Rev. Wm. Deane Hoare) who though he is such a Calvinist, is worth all the men in my diocese for wurk.”—Memoir of Chief Justice Lefroy, p. 58, note.
· Life of John Jebb, D.D. p. 312. See also Life and Letters of Dr. Urwick, p. 187. A considerable number of these converts must, shortly afterwards, either have left the country or returned to Romanism, as, according to the First Report of the Commissioners of Public Instruction (184 c.), there were in Askeaton, in 1831, only 297 Protestants. Of the converts reported in 1827, 170 were adults and 300 children.