Page images
PDF
EPUB

truth must not be made odious by the harsh manner in which it is conveyed: the nature of man is such, that he is gained upon by example and sweetness, more than by rudeness and severity: he is apt to hate the hand that is raised up to strike him, though it be for his correction j but he loves the hand that is stretched out to cure him. Sweetness, tenderness, and charity should form the principle character of a clergyman, and become the predominant spirit of his functions—they were not lions, but lambs, which our Saviour sent to preach his Gospel: it is to their patience, their mildness, their prayers and sufferings, that we are indebted for the conversion of the world, and the propagation of our Ministry. And I should be very sorry that you would derive no benefit from my instructions but a string of curses, which perhaps you would get by heart from no other view than to vent them upon your children in a fit of anger or resentment. As to halters and gibbets, the best way to restrain the hand, is to change the heart, which, when regulated by the Gospel law, will sacrifice the hand sooner than give offence.

However, my brethren, it is not in the nature of man to suffer under grievances which he can lawfully remove; it is when the remedy fails, or cannot be lawfully had, that patience becomes our only and most salutary resource, and I appeal to such of you as have been guilty of any outrages, whether the steps you have taken to redress your grievances be either conformable to the laws of God or nature, or whether they can ever answer any other purpose than that of drawing on ourselves the vengeance of the law. Is it an effectual mode of redressing our grievances to crop the ears of your neighbour's horse, or to destroy a rick of corn, the only resource of a poor industrious farmer who has no other means to pay his rent, and who, thrust into prison by a merciless landlord, will be for entire years, perhaps for life, viewing on the walls of a gloomy prison, the cruel marks of your barbarity? Whence arose the savage custom of houghing the most harmless and useful of animals, the horse, the cow? We read of nations not enlightened by the Christian religion, yet figure to themselves a supreme Being, the fountain of tenderness and mercy. These people think it a sin to deprive any crea

ture of that life which the Supreme Being has given it, and consequently never eat fish or flesh. To guard against the love of pleasure, and to check the desires which may arise from the sight of any object, some of them pluck out their eyes, alleging that if they have shut two doors against their passions, they have opened a thousand doors to wisdom by qualifying themselves for the undistracted contemplation of Heavenly things. The Gospel does not require such severity from you. But I appeal to yourselves if these Pagans will not rise up in judgment against the Christians who are guilty of acts of cruelty? What, my brethren, have you forgotten the commandments of God, who takes your neighbour's ox and horse under his protection? For when he forbids us to covet them, he commands us.not to injure them. You will tell me that if you have cropped two or three horses and burnt some ricks of corn, the injury has been done only to Parish Proctors, those leeches whom you consider as your greatest oppressors, who every season do you infinitely more harm: but this is a weak plea in the eyes of God, who commands us to love our enemies, and to do good to those who do us harm: who, after securing man's life and reputation by the fifth commandment, that says, thou shall not kill; and his honour and domestic tranquillity, by the sixth, which says, thoushalt not commit adultery, becomes himself the watchful guardian of his temporal substance; by the seventh", which says, thou shalt not steal, and stifles in the heart every desire of fraud and injustice by the ninth. The commandment being general extends to all: hence he screens the poor from the oppression of the rich: forbids the poor under pretence of poverty to waste or plunder the property of the rich, and establishes the general and permanent peace of society on the love of our enemies, and that maxim of the law of nature, not to do to others what we would not wish to be done to us; much less will the quality of a Proctor excuse you in the eyes of the law, which punishes the crime without any regard to the quality of the injuries or injured.

I am happy to find that these disturbances have ceased after a very short duration, and though mightily magnified at a distance, have been confined but to a tew parishes in the dioceses of Cloyhe and Cork, and that but few misguided persons have been concerned in them. But I am sorry jou have adopted a new plan, which however moderate, and though certainly founded on your poverty on one hand, and the oppressive manner of collecting the tithes on the other, is very improper, and may prove of the most fatal consequence to yourselves. The following caution, which however it may involve yourselves in trouble, if carried into execution, yet will convince the kingdom, that the few breaches of the peace which happened in this county, have not originated in a spirit of rebellion, as has been insiduously and scandalously insinuated. The following caution, I say, has been, within these few days, affixed to t he gates of parish Churches and Chapels:

Copy—' You are hereby cautioned not to pay Minis'ters' Tithes, only in the following manner, viz. pota'tos, 4s. per acre, wheat and barley, \s. 6d. per acre, 'oats and meadows, Is. per acre—Roman Catholic 1 Cle»gy to receive for marriages, 5s. for baptism, Is. 6d. 'for anointing and visitation of the sick, Is. for mass, Is. 'for confession, 6d.: you are hereby warned not to pay 'Clerk money,* nor any other dues concerning mar'riages; be all sure not to go to any expenses at your 'confessing turns, but let them partake of your own fare.'

It is needless to remind you of what the Dublin Shopkeeper has already informed you of, that posting up notices is a misdemeanor punishable by law, and that your im prudence may hurry you unwarily into several branches of the clauses of the Whiteboy Act, that decree death against offences, which to you may not seem of such importance. You may in like manner be led into the snare by imagining that this act is not now in force; it is in full force until the month of June, in the year seventeen hundred and eighty-seven. Many and severe are the clauses of that act; and though an English writer says that they are better calculated for the meridian of Barbary, than for a Christian country.f yet the severer they are, the more you should be on your guard : consider the danger to which you are exposed from the lo

* Those Clerks are such as attend on Priests,
t See Young's Tour in Ireland.

gic and eloquence of Crown Lawyers, the perjury of witnesses, or the prejudices of juries. I am informed that the one who is to swear against some of you who are now in gaol, is one of the greatest villains in the kingdom, and escaped the gallows some years ago.

But to return to the caution. Pray, my brethren, what right have you to curtail, of your own authority, the income of the Protestant Clergy? I shall not go over the same ground trodden already by the Dublin Shopkeeper, on this subject: he proves, that if the tithes became the property of the laity, they would raise their rents in proportion: or is it because that, from the earliest ages of the world, those who believed in the true God, have consecrated to him a part of the fruits of'he earth, you will think it an heavier burthen to pay the same thing, because it was in conformity to the law of God, that the laws of Christian slates have appointed it? You know that the rules of justice extend to all without exception, and that, to use the familiar phrase, every one should have his own, whether he be Protestant or Catholic, Turk or Christian. It is more your interest than you imagine that the Protestant Clergy of this country should be maintained in their rights: for many ages you have been defenceless, destitute of any protection against the power of your landlords, your clergy liable to transportation or death. The mild and tolerating spirit of the clergy of the established religion has been the only substitute for all other resources. They trained up from their early days the Protestant Nobility and Gentry in the principles of morality and virtue. If they preached against purgatory, they enforced charity: if they denied the real presence, th^y took special care to inform their flock, that whoever does injustice to any one, either in his property or re

fiutation, is unworthy to approach the Communion, f they denied that the Pope is head of the church, they taught their congregation that no man is to be injured on account of his religion, and that Christianity knows no enemy. As by nature we are prone to vices of every kind, and that the earliest impressions are the strongest, had it not been for those principles which they instilled into the minds of their hearers, long before now jour landed proprietors in this country would have treated you as Turks, who think it no scruple to violate the beds of the Jews, and warn the husbands that if they come into their houses whilst they are doing them this injustice, they will cut off their heads.

Is it then to gentlemen of this description, the children of the first families in the kingdom, the instructors of the most powerful part of the community, the most moral and edifying amongst them, the most charitable and humane, that a handful of poor men are to prescribe laws, tending to diminish the support of their offspring, destined to fill one day the most important offices in the State? What! a Rev. Arcdeacon Corker, a Rev. Archdeacon Tisdall, a Rev. Mr. Chetwood, a Rev. Mr. Weekes, a Rev. Mr. Meade, a Rev. Mr. Kenny, who spent his time and fortune amongst you, relieving your wants, and changing part of his house into an apothecary's shop to supply you with medicines, which yourselves could not purchase, mustfrom an apprehension of violence quit his house, at the threshold of which appeared so many Lazarus's with their sores not licked by his dogs, but fomented or bathed with his own hands; not desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from his table, but replenished to satiate with his own fare! Many more of these Gentlemen could I mention, and I ask yourselves whether you would benefit the more by having their property curtailed? Still 1 know that you are oppressed and impoverished more than any set of the lower classes of people on earth. And by that notice you have posted up, it appears that it is far from your thoughts to overturn what is established by law, but lighten the bnrthen. It is not in the tithes themselves that the oppression lies, but in the manner of raising their value, and collecting them. The established clergy themselves, whose dignity and functions do not permit them to take on themselves the disagreeable office, and who, on the other hand, if they took your notes, which perhaps you would be unwilling or unable to pay when they would become due, would feel too much in being obliged to sue a set of poor people in a Court of Justice. The established Clergy themselves, 1 say, are perplexed: they are not inclined to oppress

[graphic]
[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »