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with one solitary exception, which there is no reason to suppose occasioned by any peculiar advantages which it possessed over the others.
“In Ulster, indeed, the king testified his desire to improve the condition of the Church by grants of land to the clergy, but in many cases his good intentions were defeated by an inadequate execution. And, although in some instances efforts were made for fixing the clergy in their proper residences, and for supplying them with buildings for their official ministrations, the existing evils do not appear to have been ever fairly grappled with by the governing powers, or to have called forth a great and simultaneous effort for their remedy: so that the members of the Church were left in a condition of lamentable destitution, as to the means of assembling for public worship and instruction, or of receiving the aid of pastoral guidance for themselves or their children : and the rural districts, in particular, are described as presenting a spectacle of almost total abandonment and desolation.
“The same observation, as to the absence of cooperating and combined exertions, under the auspices of the authorities of the kingdom, applies to the attempts made for the instruction of the people at large by the instrumentality of the Irish language. Many instances have fallen under our notice of the existence of Irish incumbents or curates, of Irish readers, and Irish clerks ; but these provisions seem to have been the result of individual projects of improvement, rather than of a general and united effort of authority. At the same time, they were met by united and vigorous exertions on the part of the
Popish emissaries. Thus, during the reign of James the First, little progress appears to have been made in bringing the people in general within the fold of the Reformed Church of Ireland.”
Immediately after the accession of Charles the First, Pope Urban the Eighth issued a bull, wherein he exhorted the Roman Catholics rather to lose their lives, than to take that pernicious and unlawful oath of allegiance, whereby not only provision was made for maintaining fidelity to the Sovereign of England, but for wresting the sacred sceptre of the Universal Church from the Vicars of Almighty God.
The Court of IIigh Commission, which had been introduced in the reign of Elizabeth, was revived by Lord Strafford in 1636, and the Primate was placed at its head. Strafford had proposed its establishment to Archbishop Laud before, but at the same time suggested that “it should not be set on foot, till we see what may become of the Parliament.” His object in establishing this unconstitutional court is thus stated by him : “The use of it might be very great to countenance the despised state of the clergy; to support ecclesiastical courts and officers, much suffering by means of the overgrowth of Popery in this kingdom; to restrain the extreme extortion of officials, registers, and such like; to annul all foreign jurisdiction, which daily grows more insolent than ever; to punish the abominable polygamies, incests, and adulteries, which both in respect of the exercise of a foreign jurisdiction, and for the forementioned reasons are here too frequent; to provide for the maintenance of the clergy, and for their resi
dence, either by themselves or able curates; to take an account how monies given to pious uses are bestowed; to bring the people here to a conformity in religion, and in the way to all these, raise perhaps a good revenue to the
But then I could wish there be good choice had in naming the commissioners."* The unconstitutional nature of this court cannot be denied; nor can the acts of tyranny which were committed under its authority be justified; but Mr. Moore bears this high testimony to the character of the Lord Deputy: “In Strafford its enormous power was made subservient wholly to fiscal purposes, and he could boast with great pride, that during his government in Ireland, 'not the hair of a man's head was touched for the free exercise of his conscience.' In a similar spirit, he wisely declared that fines to enforce conformity were ‘an engine rather to draw money out of men's pockets than to raise a right belief in their hearts.'” +
The principal Irish statutes relating to ecclesiastical subjects that were passed during the reign of Charles I. were few and unimportant. They are as follow: Stat. 10 Car. I. c. 21, Sess. 2. (for the restraining of all persons from marriage until their former wives and former husbands be dead), stat. 10 Car. I. c. 23, Sess. 3. (granting eight entire subsidies by the prelates and clergy of Ireland), stat. 10 & 11 Car. I. c. 2. (to enable restitution of impropriations and tithes, and other rights ecclesiastical to the clergy, with a restraint of aliening the same, and directions for
* 1 Strafford's Letters, 187.
presentations to the churches), * stat. 10 & 11 Car. I. c. 3. (for preservation of the inheritance, rights, and profits of lands belonging to the church and persons ecclesiastical), and stat. 15 Car. I. c. 11. (for endowing churches with glebe lands).t
The Parliamentary Commissioners on June 24, 1647, issued an order, on their sole authority, for abolishing the Book of Common Prayer, and for the observance of the Directory. I But this order was not uniformly obeyed, for many clergymen of every degree stood to the law and their duty. The clergy of Dublin, in particular, knowing that the Book of Common Prayer had “the determination of a lawful ecclesiastical council, and the sanction of the supreme civil magistrate,” (here the edition of 1604 is manifestly referred to,) drew up a declaration on the 9th of July, in opposition to the foregoing order, but without effect.
Immediately after the accession of Charles the Second, the Parliament availed themselves of the earliest opportunity for manifesting their sentiments upon the late course of public events, and their disgust at the usurpation, by
* Partly repealed by stat. 5 Geo. IV. c. 91.
+ Vide stat. 8 Geo. I. c. 12. (Ir.); stat. 1 Geo. II. c. 15. (Ir.); stat. 7 & 8 Geo. IV. c. 43.; stat. 10 Geo. IV. c. 58.; stat. 2 & 3 Gul. IV.
# The Directory was a meagre and latitudinarian code of instructions to the puritanical clergy from the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, generally directing them how to regulate their publick devotions, but not stinting them to the use of a particular form of prayer. 1 Mant, Hist. Church of Ireland, 585.
which the Church as well as the monarchy had been subverted: thus, the two Houses of Parliament concurred in pronouncing a judgment of the utmost reprobation on “ The Solemn League and Covenant,” to the introduction and prevalence of which they ascribed the late rebellion, and which they ordered to be branded with marks of the greatest ignominy, pronouncing a justification of it an act of hostility and injury to the King, the Church, and the Kingdom.
Their condemnation of that iniquitous confederacy was expressed in the Lords' Journals* in the following language:
“We, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of Ireland, in Parliament assembled, being deeply sensible of the sad and miserable effects of that horrid confederacy and conjuration, commonly called “The Solemn League and Covenant,' as the great incentive of the Rebellion in all his Majesty's dominions, do adjudge and declare, nemine contradicente, that the same was and is against the laws of God, and the fundamental constitution of this kingdom; and, therefore, do condemn it as schismatical, seditious, and treasonable : and, therefore, order, that it be burned in all cities, towns corporate, and market-towns, within this kingdom, by the hand of the common hangman, or officer to be appointed by the magistrate of the place; who is also required to be present, and see the execution hereof on the next marketday after the receipt of this order.
“And do further declare, that whosoever shall, by word or deed, by sign or writing, go about to defend or