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bard, (the titular) Archbishop of Armagh, and Florence O’Melcoury, of Tuam, have intrusted the care of their provinces to vicars."
Many other statements might be brought forward to prove, that the present Church of Rome is a novelty, and not the ancient Church of Ireland, but that, on the contrary, the existing Protestant Church resembles, as nearly as time and circumstances will permit, the pure Church which existed in Ireland previous to the introduction of Romanism in the twelfth century.
The awful consequences that followed the formation of this Church were exemplified in twenty years after by the rebellion, and the massacre of the Irish Protestants in 1641, and in the following years. In fact from that day to the present hour, Ireland has been a land of strife, contention, and blood, and will continue to be so, till Romanism be brought into subjection to the law.
Allow me now to make a few observations on what you say respecting the Penal Laws. “You describe them as the most grinding and oppressive laws ever passed, and passed by Irish Parliaments ; many of these were of a kind which could hardly have been named in an English Legislature;" and in support of this opinion you quote the following words of Edmund Burke, “ they were the ebullitions of hatred and scorn towards a conquered people, on whom the victors delighted to trample, and whom they were not afraid to provoke.” This reminds me of the unguarded and most uncalled-for remarks of the same eloquent, but sometimes mistaken statesman, who said on the subject of George III.'s illness, “ Did they recollect that they were talking of a sick king, of a monarch smitten by the hand of Omnipotence, and that the Almighty had hurled him from his throne, and plunged him into a condition which drew down upon him the pity of the meanest peasant in his kingdom ?” The nation, however, felt differently, and the King recovered to their infinite joy, but to the disappointment, it is to be feared, of Edmund Burke and many of his party.
The Protestants, smarting under the sufferings they endured during the war of the Revolution, and at that period, generally speaking, being ignorant of the Divine precepts of the Gospel, unfortunately followed the fatal example of the Romanists, and instead of endeavouring to bring them to a knowledge of Divine truth, by the power of persuasion and kindness, seemed determined to turn them from the error of their ways by the Popish principle of persecution ; qand it is remarkable, that in the sad catalogue of penal laws, there was not one of them that was not a counterpart of the numerous laws and statutes, enacted in different countries and at different periods for the suppression and destruction of the Protestant religion, with this exception, that the penal laws were enacted for the preservation of life and property, the others for the destruction of both.
cannot therefore consider it a fair mode of view. ing the subject to hold up to public reprobation the penal laws, without at the same time assigning the reasons given in the statutes themselves for their enactment, which reasons appeared so satisfactory in the eyes of the Whig Ministry of that day; and ought it not to be considered how long these laws have been repealed, whilst the Popish laws, which these were intended to counteract, have been retained in all their vigour and efficacy wherever the power existed to enforce them; and let it also be distinctly remembered, that so far from Irish Parliaments being the sole authors of these oppressive enactments, no law could be even introduced into them without being approved of, and in some cases enlarged, by the King in Council, under the Great Seal of England; nor can we possibly conceive that the Privy Council in England could exhibit in the language of Edmund Burke, “ebullitions of hatred and scorn towards a conquered people, on whom the victors delighted to trample, and whom they were not afraid to provoke.”
In your further observations on this subject, with which I very generally agree, though with some limitations on those particular points, you allude to the opinions of Bishop Jebb, in whose diocese I had the honour of holding a preferment for some years, and though amiable and literary in a high degree, his opinions were, as you state, most erroneous on the subject of an Irish clergyman's duty towards his Roman Catholic parishioners, in proof of which I subjoin a copy of a letter received from him in the year 1825 :-" You have travelled quite out of the sphere of your duty in addressing, as a spiritual pastor, the Roman Catholics of your parish. They are under another teacher, and your interference with his province, while it cannot possibly do any service, may do much mischief.” In reply to this I stated to his Lordship what I considered the views of our Church on this important subject. In his answer he concluded with these words—“ If any of the consequences which I cannot but apprehend should ensue, from your interfering in the religious concerns of the Roman Catholics, · Liberavi animam meam.'
“I am, my dear Sir, with sincere respect, and esteem, your cordial well-wisher,
“ John LIMERICK.”
The Bishop, whose friendship I enjoyed, and whom I truly loved, though with whom I frequently differed in opinion, had imbibed the idea that personal danger would be incurred by interfering with the spiritual concerns of the Romish people, but nothing in my mind can be farther from the truth than this opinion; for the clergy who do so in the spirit of their Divine Master are, I can fearlessly assert, generally speaking, the most popular of any in the country. As the Reformation, however, advanced in Askeaton, the Bishop, I rejoice to say, saw occasion to alter his views considerably, and took the greatest possible interest in the efforts made there for the spiritual improvement of the Roman Catholics ; giving me every assistance in his power, and offering to pay
additional curate that might be required, and even giving notice of his intention of coming to my church, in order to preach to the converts gathered into the church of God there. This was a joyful piece of intelligence to many; but alas! the Lord was pleased to disappoint our expectations ; for on the Friday before his intended visit to Askeaton, he was suddenly seized with that illness which in a few years terminated his life. The interest he felt on the subject is fully shown in his letters addressed to Sir Robert H. Inglis, Bart., given in his life by Foster. I am, Sir, your faithful and obliged,
RICHARD MURRAY, D. D. Dean and Vicar-General of Ardagh.
Deanery House, Edgeworth Town, Ireland,
January 4, 1849.