« AnteriorContinuar »
Reflections written by John Bradford the Martyr, on the
blank leaves of his New Testament.
[Continued from Vol. III. p. 31.) God will never destroy any that is not his enemy, but none is his enemy that would be his friend, that is, that would amend, and do desire to do his will; whensoever therefore thou dost see in thyself a will consenting to God's will and lusting to do it, never think that the plague poured out upon thee is to thy destruction, but to thy correction and weal.
This is the treasure of godly men, which the world is very ignorant of, namely, that all corporeul evil happens to the good and weal of God's elect. Item, that God is then nearest when he seemeth to be furthest; also then he is most merciful and a sweet saviour, when he seemeth to be most wrath and to destroy, moreover that we then have eternal righteousness which we look for by hope as a inost certain possession when we feel terror of sin and death. Item, then we are lords of all things when we be most wanting, as having nothing and yet possessing all things.
As Moses lifting up his hands, the Israelites prevailed against the Amalekites; even so our souls, lifting up their hands to God in earnest prayer, we shall prevail against our enemies; but as it was needful for Moses to have his arms under propped, so have we need of perseverance: now perseverance is the true and proper daughter of Faith, which faith is not without confession, as David and Paul doth witness, when they say they believed, and therefore did they speak, making speaking the demonstration of believing; and therefore Paul also when he saith, that the belief of the heart and confession of the mouth doth justify and save thereby, shewing that saving faith is not without confession, and that in the very mouth, much more than in the life-the which confession is, that very many now a-day do want, not daring once to speak (for) fear of losing that which they shall leave, will they, nill they, at the length; easily we may see that they want Faith also, and so are in danger to the wrath of God, which abideth upon them that believe not, that is upon such as confess not the truth for fear of the wrath of the magistrate, which because they would avoid, they fall to God's wrath, which is horrible.
A Sketch of the State of Ireland, past and present. A new
edition, revised by the Author. London, Murray, 1822, 8vo.
Remarks on the present State of Ireland; with hints for amelio
rating the condition, and promoting the education and moral improvement of the Peasantry of that country. The result of a visit during the Summer and Autumn of 1821. By Robert Steven. London, Smith and Elder, 1822, 8vo.
With higher objects constantly before us than those which the differences of parties--the opposite views of men in power, and men out of it can supply, we never enter on the discussion of the politics of the day, by choice. There are, however, questions of vital importance to the moral interests and well-being of our country, from which we are so far from shrinking, as to feel anxious to consider them in all their bearings, and promptly and fearlessly to give expression to the opinions which that consideration may induce us to adopt. Of these questions, few, occurring in our times, have been more momentous, than the causes of the present alarming state of Ireland, and the measures which should be resorted to for restoring tranquillity to her divided population. These causes are many, deep-rooted, and difficult to remove; yet removed they must be, by a firm, though a prudent hand, or the present condition of the country will be enviable, in comparison with the future. In the enlightened statesman, to whom, humanly speaking, her destiny seems, at present, to be confided, we have the greatest confidence; but it will require the prompt and vigorous exertions of his superior political sagacity, or the fairest opportunity which has for a long time presented itself for the salvation of Ireland, will be lost—and lost, we fear, for ever. These may be thought bold sentiments, but they are advised ones ; and he who, at this crisis, talks of half measures, and a vacillating and trimming policy, for the cure of an evil whose existence no one is stupid or hardy enough to deny, may have the welfare of that long-neglected country at heart, but has nothing-no, not a solitary idea -for promoting it, in his head.
In politics, as in physic, there are but too many quacks, VOL. IV.-N0.8.
who having but one nostrum for all diseases, suppose that those diseases, diverse as may be their symptoms and effects, have but one origin. Hence, without reference to the peculiar complexion of their government, or the various characters of their governors, the one containing in itself the seeds of its dissolution, which the other precipitated, though it could not occasion, the growth of luxury has been considered a sufficient solution of the causes of the decline and fall of all empires and all states, from the beginning, as, with these lazy and short-sighted inquirers, it will be, to the end of time. On this absurd but convenient principle,–because the history of Ireland, almost as unfortunate in her annalists as in the events which they record, presents, as its prominent feature, a series of religious dissensions, frequent in their recurrence, and fearful in their details,—it has been taken for granted, with but too common a consent, that we need search no further for the main, indeed for the only spring of those disturbances, which for centuries at least, have kept the great mass of her population all but stationary in ignorance and wretchedness, whilst knowledge and civilization have marched, with most rapid ştrides, over all the nations which surround her. Nor is this a vulgar, or mere theoretical error; it has, with scarce an interval or exception, been the lawgiver in our senates, and guided but too universally the measures even of the most illustrious of our statesmen. Catholic oppression, under the four last of our Tudors, the three first of the Stuarts, William, Anne, and the first and second of the Georges, proceeded not, however, upon more erroneous principles of policy, upon a more thorough ignorance of the real state of Ireland, and the causes of her distress, than does the outcry for Catholic emancipation, as the sole means of saving her from impending ruin, in the days in which we live.
That religion had nothing whatever to do with the original inquietudes in Ireland, every one must be satisfied, who reads the pages of authentic history for information, not to distort its facts to the support of his own preconceived opinions and prejudices, which he wishes to fortify, not to be removed. Protestant England holds, it must be remembered, Catholic Ireland, in right of a conquest originally made under the sanction of a papal bull: and of the pretended patrimony of St. Peter in partibus infidelium—for it was as infidels and heretics that the
poor Irish were handed over by the head of Christ's church on earth to the tender mercies of our second Henry's sword -- it is certain, that for a long
period after its acquisition, no part was ever more completely governed as a conquered land. For three hundred and sixty years, the religion of the conquerors and the conquered
the same ; it would therefore be the very suicide of intellect to maintain that, down to the rejection of the Pope's supremacy by Henry the Eighth in 1553, theological differences could even mingle with the causes of those continued, violent, and sanguinary commotions, from which in some one or other of her provinces, Ireland was scarcely ever free. These commotions were the struggles of a highspirited people for the independence which was their birthright; their indignant, but ineffectual efforts to shake off a yoke, hated because it was foreign---insupportable because it would have been difficult even for Eastern despots, or lawless marauders, to render it more oppressive. Not only were her princes driven from the possessions of their ancestors and the land of their fathers, but the very language of the people was proscribed by the laws of their conquerors; whose every institution and movement evinced an intention as fixed, as plain, as it was impolitic, to force their new and unwilling subjects, whom gentler means might have won to their alliance, to forget that their country had ever held a place amongst the independent nations of the earth. That this was the case, the rebellions of the native chiefs and their followers, even in later times, effectually prove. So little did the polemical distinctions of their church enter into the regulation of their risings, or the measure of their resistance, that not one of their chieftains refused to acknowledge the supremacy of Henry the Eighth, in the church as in the state, though the former acknowledgment at least was contrary to the first, and very fundamental principles of the Romish faith. The reign of Edward the Sixth, the great æra of our Reformation, was the most peaceful that Ireland ever knew; whilst that of his sister Mary, the most bigoted of Catholics, was as stórmy as it well could be, from the insurrections against her authority of those very Catholics, who had lived in comparative peace and quiet under the milder civil domination of her heretical predecessors. If the reign of Elizabeth was fruitful in rebellions and intestine wars, it was so because it was fruitful in rapacious and unjustifiable forfeitures, and marked by a regularly organized plan of dispossessing all the Irish of the inheritance of their fathers, to enrich the favourites and the minions of the virgin queen. Modern historians of Ireland-if indeed it is not a prostitution of the term to apply it to mere partizans
who care nothing for the truth of history, if it accords not with their views---represent, indeed, all the disturbances of these times to have originated with the restless zeal of Catholics,who in fact had so little of the zealot in their composition, as to have expressed their readiness to adopt any form of faith which commissioners nominated for the purpose might direct. But let the representation of the Irish council to the English ministry at once refute these misrepresentations, and give their true character to all the insurrections of that country, from first to last; and that character briefly is—“universal Irish rebellions, to shake off all English government." If they want further evidence of the fact, we refer to the perpetual contests of the Irish Catholics within the pale, with the Irish Catholics without--the English settlers and their descendants, (for such the former were,) with the chiefs and their followers of the old Milesian race. It was still an interminable warfare between the love of independence, and the iron hand of oppression; a struggle for existence on the one hand, and plunder on the other; a war of extermination, from national feuds, and the recollection of accumulated wrongs, not from religious bigotry, or for the establishment of any particular creed, dogma, or rule of faith. The Pope had no more to do with these insurrections than the Cham of Tartary. There were grounds, and, though Englishmen, we will add, there was then justifieation enough for them, without the assistance of the bulls or the thundering anathemas of the Vatican. They were employed more advantageously for the views of the Papal court, than in fomenting discord in a country, so exelusively occupied in civil wars, that Catholics led on the armies of a Protestant monarch to butcher their fellow Catholics, and were ennobled for their services in so heretical a cause; whilst even their priesthood furnished the most active spies of her government.
When James the First illiberally and impoliticly forbade the celebration of the mass, we admit indeed, that the Catholics of the pale for the first time united with those without, in determined opposition to an arbitrary encroachment on the rights of their conscience; and that from this period religious zeal did, through the misconduct of the Protestants, mingle with the deep-rooted antipathy of the native Irish to their English rulers, though it still was, and ever continued, a subsidiary, not the main spring of their disquietude. Often was it the pretext, never---no not even in the great rebellion--was it the moving cause of their insurrections. These were, oppressive misgovernment; the con