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HISTORY OF POPERY.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN EXAMINER.
Sir-As your publication seems to be established on the desirable principle of advocating the cause of religion and loyalty, and bids fair towards giving a right direction to public opinion, perhaps the following historical notices of Popish transactions in England and more particularly in Ireland, may not be inadmissible into your
columns. In some of your earlier Numbers you pleased many of your readers, by giving room to some valuable articles on the events connected with the progress of Protestantism in Ireland. I have no desire to interfere with the estimable contributor of these papers; he may, and I trust, will again take up his pen; he has a large field before him, and he and I need not clash; let him pursue his Horæ Hibernice, and wishing him good speed, in the meantime, I shall follow, under your leave, my Hore Papistice.
And here I beg of you Sir, not to suppose that I mean to trespass on your pages with a regular history of the acts and monuments of the Church of Rome in Ireland. A history such as this, would call for more talent, research, and opportunities, than your correspondent possesses; yet, in the absence of such a desirable work, and to supply in part the exigencies of the present hour, I offer you what follows as a popular “ Memoire pour Servir," and as a guide to materials, not as well known to Protestants as they ought to be, but which may give the inquirer a better knowledge of Popish practices in England and Ireland, so as to enable him to argue analogically, as to what the Church of Rome is and may be, from what she was.
At the present day, the Roman Catholics demand with stern voice, admission free and unrestricted into all the privileges of the British Constitution, and a large portion of Protestants join in the loud assertion, that there is not only necessity, but propriety in the claim. Questionless, every true Protestant must, in accordance with the tolerant and liberal principles which his free system of religion engenders, in an abstract view, allow, that the doors of the Constitution should be thrown open to all ; and that all born on a common soil, breathing a common air, should enjoy the blessings of their common country—that is to say, if men come under a common social compact, equally surrendering certain natural rights, in order to obtain equal protection and advantages—that thus, all under a common government shall partake of common rights: this truth is so undeniable, that no man of sense or honesty can stand opposed to it.
But Sir, if a class of a people in any state insist on privileges, without consenting to concessions which others are willing to surrender, then it is, that to such denial must be made, and they cannot be allowed what they demand until they fully surrender what they withhold.
In such a predicament stand the Roman Catholics of the present day. [ hold that they are under the just suspicion of not being capable of giving undivided allegiance to the Imperial Crown of Great Britain and Ireland. And the voice of history clearly pronounces, that as their forefathers, who knew and practised Popery as well as their sons--did not give that oneness of allegiance which Protestants, in all their sects without any compromise conceded; as Romanists have for near three centuries acted under the fatal impulses of a foreign influence, in consequence of which, after many a struggle, it was found necessary to compel them by penal laws; so now until Popery ceases to be such, or until guards are provided, which have hitherto baffled human wisdom to provide—the individuals of that religion must be content to do without privileges, which they dare not procure by the surrender of what is derogatory to the dignity of the State, and dangerous to their fellow-subjects.—It shall, in the following historical notices, be my object to shew, principally from the authority of Catholic writers, that it is this fatal foreign influence or allegiance, that has caused all the troubles of this distracted land, has kept the mass of its people in disaffection to the State—has held our country back from running its natural course of prosperity. Hence the penal enactments of our forefathers, and hence the jealousy of us their descendants. A sect, thus under the influence of an Italian Priest, subject to a lawless and ad libitum Church-directed by a priesthood of uncontroulable power, bringing fearfully the hopes and fears of the eternal world to bear on the transactions of this-wielding in one hand the power of absolution, and in the other the force of excommunication :—why, what in common safety could be done with such a people but restrain them : and must not the check be still kept in hand, until that Church does what it has never yet satisfactorily done, renounce or disprove the tenet of divided allegiance.
And therefore, in order to bear me out in the above political assertions, I would beseech my readers to weigh well the documents I shall lay before them, and take the advice of a quaint old writer,
“ Lege historiam ne fias Historia.” The Papal system, wherein are inseparably mingled religion and politics—where the interests of eternity are made so fearfully to react on the concerns of time, has had no where its sway more acknowledged or more operative than in Ireland. Since the Bishop of Rome, in the eleventh century, by the arms of England, brought Ireland under his sway, he has claimed it specially as his temporal kingdom ; and from the day in which he exerted that sovereignty, and gave Ireland as a feudal fief to his vassal Henry the Second, from that day in which the proud Plantagenet condescended to take Ireland as a boon from the hands of a Priest--this influence has operated, and is operating on the people. The Synod of Cashel recognised this right of the Pope, to make a present of Ireland to an English Prince, as founded on his Holiness's temporal sovereignty over the island and accordingly, Peter Lombard, the Popish Primate of Ireland, the Domestic Prelate, and assistant to a Pope, in his History of Ireland, (which the Pope read in manuscript and approved of,) expressly declares, that the kingdom of Ireland is the full property of the Holy See, and that the Irish feel themselves engaged in allegiance to the empire, of that See, both in temporal and spiritual government, and that the Pope's sovereign dominion over the Irish nation is derived from God. Nay, not content with asserting the Pope's temporal dominion over the Irish, he further declares and confirms his assertion, by the authority of Polydore Virgil, “that the mass of the Irish people always refused to acknowledge any temporal sovereignty but that of the Holy See," and he glories in this sovereignty, and makes a great merit of the reproachfül language which the heretics of England use towards the Irish, for their obstinate adherence to the temporal dominion of the Pope.
Now, that this right of an Italian Priest was no inoperative thing, but was as effectually exercised, as fully claimed, shall be the subject of the following article, and it shall be my business to shew, that this politico-religious influence has continued down to the present day, producing dangers to the State, and miseries to the people, debasing the laity, and exalting the priesthood, and producing an Illiad of miseries to Ireland--I propose even by the concession of Roman Catholic writers satisfactorily to prove.
It would occupy too many of your pages to enter into the grant of Adrian the Fourth to Henry, or to the other acts of sovereignty over Ireland, which the Popes exercised before the Reformation--my business shall be with the Popish History of our country since the Reformation ; and starting at this point, I would observe, that as soon as Henry the Eighth assailed the supremacy of the Pope and announced himself to be King of Ireland, in right, not of the Pope, but of conquest and descent—all the emissaries of Rome were employed to counteract his claim, and to maintain still the temporal supremacy of the successor of St. Peter. Archbishop Brown, the first and foremost Protestant prelate, thus writes to the Lord Cromwell : “Ever since the first settlement of the English in Ireland, the old natives have been desirous for some foreign power to support and govern them--and now both English and Irish sacrifice their private animosities to the general cause of religion, and seem on the point of forming a dangerous confederacy, which some foreigner may be soon invited to lead against the English Government.”
The apprehensions of Brown were not futile; Cromer, the Popish Primate, was ceaseless in his intrigues--the agents of Rome were in active operation through the island, exciting the lords, to the north and south, to rise in defence of the Papal claims-and a Franciscan Friar, employed on the Pontifical commission, being detected and seized in Dublin, his papers
shewed the extent and character of his commission. This man, fearful of the character of Henry, and finding that there was an order issued to send him to London, committed suicide.
The detection of this individual was of little effect in checkįng the multifarious operations of the Church of Rome; thousands were working in the same cause, and using the same machinery of legends, prophecies, curses, excommunications, promises and bribes ; accommodating themselves to all ranks and distinctions. They thus preserved the Papal influence in Ireland, completely nullified the exertions of the Royalists, and prepared the minds of the Irish Chiefs for the universal rebellion that broke out not long after in the reign of Henry's daughter.
As it is not meant to give any more than illustrative sketches of Irish History, I shall pass over the reigns of Edward the Sixth and Mary,* and proceed to the important era of Elizabeth, wherein we shall see the powerful, and at the same time, ruinous effects of foreign interference with Ireland. When Elizabeth ascended the throne, it became the object of that wise and cautious Princess, to establish herself in her sovereignty as firmly as possible; it therefore, appears, that for the first ten years of her reign, she held out hopes to the Bishop of Rome, that she would in as quiet and inoffensive a way as possible, return within the pale of his power; and it seems that the Pope's resting in the hope of recalling the lost sheep to the fold of his supremacy, connived at Roman Catholics attending the reformed service, and listening to our liturgy. But at length, when Pope Paul the Fifth, in the tenth year of her reign, publicly excom. municated her, and declared her subjects absolved from their allegiance-then it was that the Papal emissaries began their treasons in England and Ireland; and Felton, (who, with the devotedness of one of the emissaries of the Old Man of the Mountain, had the audacity to affix the tremendous document on the gates of the Bishop of London's palace,) was the first that'suffered. And be died not for his religion, but his treason.t Prior to this no Roman Catholic suffered for his religion-posterior to it, many were executed under the ancient laws, established by Roman Catholic sovereigns of England, to protect their lives and crown from the designs of foreign-influenced conspirators. Take as a proof of the forhearance of Elizabeth and her Council, the following declaration of Watson, a Popish Priest: “Her Majesty used us kindly for the space of the first ten years of her Highness's reign-the state of the Catholics in England during that while was tolerable, and after a sort in some good quiet-such as for their
• Mary, though a dutiful daughter of the church, received a haughty and threatening letter from his Holiness, for presuming in imitation of her father to call herself Queen of Ireland.
+ Long before the Reformation, as is stated in Coke's Institutes, part 3, chap. 26, and in his Reports, part 5, fol. 12, 15, 17, 21,
“ It was treason to compass the death of the King or his beir. “ It was treason to levy war against the King.
“It was felony to send into the Kingdom any summons, sentence, or excom. munication, against any person.
“ He incurred a premunire who got such Bulls or excommunication from the Pope.
“None were to go out of the realm without leave.
“ It was of old expressly against the law of the land to procure or bring any excommunication against any subject from abroad. The Pope's excommunication being by our old laws of no force in England."
conscience were imprisoned or in durance, were very mercifully dealt withal, (the state and change of things then considered ;) some being appointed to remain with such friends as they themselves made choice of others were placed with Bishops, and had their diet at their tables, with such convenient walks and lodgings as did well content them.” Again, he says, “how great quiet the State and Court was in for twelve years space!! No talk of treasons or conspiracies--no question of conscience or religion-all lived in quiet content, and right good fellowship was amongst them.” Then he proceeds to declare, that the Jesuits were the cause of the laws against the Catholics, and he says, “I hold directly, that both her Majesty's laws and proceedings against all sorts of Catholics, have been mild and merciful, the opinion and judgment of her Highness in religion one way, and these foresaid practices against her another way, duly considered.”
And again, Watson says, “ seeing her princely heart hath forborn, as no sovereign on earth would ever have suffered the like to have past unpunished, as she hath done, I must conclude, and end as we began, and say, that the laws have been both mild and merciful.” See Watson's Quodlibets, page 265, and passim—see also the declaration of thirteen secular priests, as quoted in Foulis's history of “Roman Treasons.” Thus it appears, that Camden may be trusted, when he says,
" that Elizabeth used to complain with grief, that she was driven by necessity to enact and enforce laws for the preservation of herself and subjects ;” and we have the authority of Roger Widrington, alias Preston, a Benedictine monk for the fact, that the Queen was anxious to procure a mitigation of the Penal Laws against Romish Priests, provided she was secured in their temporal allegiance to her—but that this toleration was both talked and written against at Rome, as disadvantageous to the Papal cause, we bave also the authority of John Austin, an English lawyer, who wrote a treatise on Papal Supremacy, in the year 1661,* when speaking of the foreign-influenced agents of Bull POPERY, as it was called—he says, « that such tools of the See of Rome, had a stronger affection for independance to the State, and to a promoting of their own particular interests, by which means they have got great power abroad, little for the public good of this kingdom." These apostles (as he calls them) of a foreign temporal power, shewed their mischievous influence in Elizabeth's reign, fatally for the peace of the nation and the security of the Catholics—for in the latter end of that Princess's reign, she “being satisfied of the loyalty of certain Catholic Priests, had a purpose to shew them some indulgences and qualification of the laws towards them. Hereupon, certain of those loyal Priests went to Rome, to carry such good news thither, whither being come, they were branded by the party with the names of schismatics, spies, and rebels, to the Apostolical See; and moreover, there was one of the party (T. F.) compiled an Italian treatise, to
* As quoted by O'Connor in his letters of Columbanus.