Page images
PDF
EPUB

or

times of ordination, and the obligations to residency and subscription.*

“ There are several additions to the Irish Canons arising from the peculiar circumstances of the Church of Ireland. The first is the eighth canon, where it is enacted, that ' every Beneficiary and Curate shall endeavour that the Confession of sins and Absolution, and all the second service (at or before the Communion to the Homily Sermon), where the people all or most are Irish, shall be used in English first and after in Irish, if the Ordinary of the place shall so think meet.' This most useful order, which would seem to make it absolutely necessary that, where most of the people are Irish, that is, speak Irish, the minister of the parish should also speak Irish, is rendered nugatory, or rather mischievous, by the eighty-sixth canon, which directs, that where the minister is an Englishman and many Irish in the parish, such a parish clerk shall be appointed as shall be able to read those parts of the service which shall be appointed to be read in Irish.' This canon gives the permission which seemed to be refused by the eighth, and sanctions the appointment of a minister unacquainted with Irish; while, in order to protect his incompetence, it gives an authority, which it was not com

* “ The subscription may at first sight appear different, but it is really the same. By the English Canons the candidate for orders is obliged to sign three articles, asserting the King's supremacy, the obligation to receive the Book of Common Prayer, and the agreement of the Thirty-nine Articles to the Word of God. By the Irish, he is obliged to sign the first four Irish canons, which contain the same

petent to bestow, to a layman, to read the most solemn parts of the service. The canon, in this particular, would seem to contradict the Book of Common Prayer, and therefore be inoperative. In another particular it is opposed to an Act of Parliament; the Act of Uniformity then in operation strictly forbad the service being performed in Irish, and, as I already remarked, forgetful of the first principles of the Reformation, ordered a Latin service. The eighty-sixth canon seems to have been dictated by a not very strange contrariety of feeling, the strong sense of duty in preaching to a benighted people in a language which they could not understand, and the powerful motive of self-interest in those who were unwilling or unable to qualify themselves for the undertaking, yet wished to secure the best preferments in the Church. Another canon, dictated by a better spirit, and calculated to do unmixed good, was unfortunately never enforced. The ninety-fourth canon directed, that 'where all or the most part of the people are Irish, they shall provide also the said books (namely the Bible and Book of Common Prayer) in the Irish tongue, so soon as they may be had. The charge of these Irish books being to be borne also wholly by the parish.'

“ The eleventh canon, requiring ministers to catechize every Sunday, is copied exactly from the fifty-ninth English canon,* with this remarkable and useful addition: Neither

“* The English canon, as well as the Irish, is contradicted by the rubric, for they desire the instruction to be given before Evening Prayer, and the rubric now desires it should be given after the Second Lesson.” It should be observed upon this opinion of Dr. Elrington's,

shall the minister admit any to be married, or to be Godfathers or Godmothers at the baptism of any child, or to receive the Holy Communion, before they can say the Articles of Belief, the Lord's prayer, and the Commandments in such a language as they understand.' The twelfth canon is not found among the English, and seems to have embodied Archbishop Ussher's directions to his clergy. It desires the heads of the Catechism to be divided into as many parts as there are Sundays in the year and explained in the parish churches. In the handling whereof the ministers and curates are to use such moderation that they do not run into curious questions or unnecessary controversies, but shortly declare and confirm the doctrine proposed, and make application thereof to the behoof of the hearers.'

“ An addition to the nineteenth canon was the occasion of great offence. It was as follows : ‘And the minister of every parish—shall, the afternoon before the said administration, give warning by the tolling of the bell or otherwise, to the intent that, if any have any scruple of conscience, or desire the special ministry of reconciliation, he may afford it to those that need it. And to this end the people are often to be exhorted to enter into a special examination of the state of their own souls; and that finding themselves either extremely dull or much troubled in mind, they do resort unto Gods ministers to receive from

that others have considered, that the two directions are so far from being inconsistent, that the observance of each is highly edifying: the instruction before the service being rather of the nature of an examination; that, during the service, of a lecture.

them as well advice and counsel for the quickening of their dead hearts, and the subduing of those corruptions whereunto they have been subject; as the benefit of absolution likewise for the quieting of their conscience by the power of the keys, which Christ hath committed to his ministers for that purpose.' It would seem difficult for those who received the Liturgy of the Church of England to consider this canon 'as an inculcation of the popish doctrine of auricular confession.' It does not go farther than the conclusion of the first exhortation in giving notice for the Communion, an exhortation which was not considered as popish by Bucer.”

Dr. Elrington observes,t that the difference between the English and Irish Canons occasions at this moment considerable difficulty. “What are the canons now in force in Ireland ? The Act of Union declares, that the Churches of England and Ireland as now by law established, be united into one Protestant episcopal Church to be called the United Church of England and Ireland, and that the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of the said united Church shall be, and shall remain in full force for ever, as the same are now by law established for the Church of England.' Now it is impossible that this should be the case, unless the English Canons form the code of the United Church. But, it is said, Parliament had no right to abolish the Canons of the Irish Church ; the canons must remain in force until the Convocation repeal them. That Parliament had no right must be admitted, but that it usurped the rights of Convocation in the whole of the fifth

f

article of the Act is quite clear, and if in one part, how can we argue that it did not in all ? The usurpation was sanctioned by the consent of the Upper House of Convocation in the House of Lords, and by the tacit consent of the clergy who would have formed the Lower House. The question seems beset with difficulties, and has not, I believe, been ever legally determined. I know the late Bishop of Ferns, when giving any orders to his clergy, always quoted both the Canons of the English and Irish Church as his authority, feeling himself incompetent to decide the question. One of the ablest men of his day, and a member of the House of Lords at the time of the Union, Bishop O’Beirne, always maintained that the Irish Canons were abrogated by an assumption of power on the part of the Parliament, an assumption which was considered preferable to summoning after so long an interval the Convocation, and which would be rendered legal by the submission of the clergy."

The Reformed Church in Ireland made no important advance in the reign of James the First, and very little change was made from the state in which it existed during the reign of Elizabeth.

Thus Bishop Mant* writes: "In the province of Leinster, from the archdiocese of Dublin, and from the suffragan united diocese of Ferns and Leighlin, the like complaints have been heard of an insufficiency of ministers, of an incompetency of clerical income, and of a want of material edifices for the celebration of divine worship; and the complaints have been echoed through the province of Ulster from every diocese,

« EelmineJätka »