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searches of Sir W. Betham, to find its way into any authentic history. The missionary St. Patrick, who converted Ireland, if we will take his own testimony, had no connexion with Rome, and does not appear to have held any of the doctrines in which that church differs from the church of England. It may now be proper merely to mention the account this author gives of himself in this invaluable document.
He was born at Bonavem Taberniæ; was the son of Calpornius, a deacon, who was also the son of Potitus, a priest.* He was taken prisoner at about sixteen years of age, and carried to Ireland, where he was a slave, and employed in feeding cattle for six years. A voice in a dream urged him to flight; he obeyed it, and found, as it had promised, a ship ready to sail, and convey him away from Ireland. After difficulties and wanderings, &c., all of which are alleviated by a constant sense of the presence of the Spirit of God with him, he was in Britain again with his parents, and the vision of a man named Victoricus calls him to Ireland as a missionary; on which he awakes in deep compunction of heart, and he becomes the converter, under Providence, of thousands in Ireland.
These are nearly all the historical facts which this document presents to our view ; but as St. Patrick was taken prisoner, according to his own account, with a great multitude of other Christians, (although not zealous ones,) it is likely that his companions in captivity and slavery may have assisted in pioneering a way for some reception of the gospel when he came to preach it. There is scarcely any thing to be gleaned from the epistle to Coroticus as to the life of the saint himself,
Now if this were all that we had to ground our rejection of the Roman catholic fables about St. Patrick upon, it would be enough, and more than enough; but when we couple these facts with what we can prove from other sources, about the early condition of Christianity in Ireland, we have abundant proof that the primitive church of Ireland was free from those corruptions which popery has introduced into the pure religion of the gospel
. I will conclude this paper by mentioning (though, of course, I can only refer the reader to other books for the proof) the points in which the ancient church of Ireland can be shewn to differ from that of modern Rome. (See, especially, Bede, book iii, as referred to above.) These proofs are to be found in the tract of Archbishop Usher, which, I am happy to say, has just been re-printed. It is entitled, “A Discourse of the Religion anciently professed by the Irish and British." (My edition is dated 1631.)
1. They seem to have admitted a more free use of scripture than the present race of Roman Catholics in Ireland are willing to allow. In estimating this, however, it is but fair to add, that the facility of multiplying copies, by printing, changes the complexion of this question.
2. Usher treats about predestination, &c.; but this it is not material to touch upon here. 3. Of purgatory, and
prayer for the dead. Usher shews here that
See Sir W. Betham, p. 310*_319*. VOL. VIII.- Sept. 1835.
there is much against purgatory in the faith of the ancient Irish church, and nothing for it but the account of a vision, seen by one Ferseus,* which, on just consideration, entirely differs from the Roman catholic notions of the matter. The offerings for the dead, as he shews, are merely offerings commemorative of those who were believed actually to be in bliss, and are not prayers of the living to assist in the salvation of the dead. +
4. The communion was administered in both kinds. The sacrament, also, was to this church a commemorative sacrifice, and consisted of an offering of the fruit of the corn and the vine; and transubstantiation was not held by them.
5. It is clear, from the Confession of St. Patrick, that in his day the marriage of priests was not forbidden ; for he was the son of a deacon, and the grandson of a priest. +
The other points, in which this church differed from modern Rome, need not be set down fully. I will only mention one or two more. It is a fact, which cannot be doubted, that in the days of Bede a great dispute existed between the Romish church and that of Ireland about the celebration of Easter, and that it was very long before the northern portion of the church of Ireland conformed in its usage to that of Rome. The southern had conformed previously. The matter was argued at Whitby (called by the Saxons, Strenschal) in Yorkshire, A. D. 661; and the Irish bishops would not give up their customs, which they professed to have received from the east, and through disciples of St. John. Again, also, there is no trace of papal power in the disposal of dignities in the church till the twelfth century, when a pall was first received from Rome, and Peter-pence were first collected. !
All these points amply confirm the conclusion, that the primitive church of Ireland was not derived from Rome, and was pure in its doctrines, from the corruptions of that see. Monasteries increased much in Ireland ; and property being uncertain, the custom of im
* This is related in Bede, book iii. chap. 19.
† Mr. Thomas Moore, in his History of Ireland, tells us on this subject, “ In an old Life of St. Brendan, who lived in the sixth century, it is stated, that 'the prayer of the living doth much profit the dead.'”—Moore's Ireland, p. 238.
Mr. Moore appears to have read Usher, and probably took the above quotation from him (p. 26); but with that peculiar happiness of quotation which he is well known to possess, be forgets to state, that this old life is not older than about the twelfth century, and is expressly excluded by Usher, as evidence, on that very account. He forgets, also, that very learned Romanists abuse this legend, as full of apocryphal fooleries' (Molanus in Usuard. Martyrologium, ap. Usher, ubi supra.) The unsuspecting reader would have thought the life written at least in the seventh century.
1 T. Moore attempts to get over this fact, by supposing his father to take deacon's orders after he had been a decurio (as he appears, from the Epistle to Coroticus, to have been); but he says not a single word to explain the case of the priest Potitus!
♡ It must not be thought that they celebrated Easter, as the Quartadecimans did, on any day but Sunday. It was only a dispute as to the calculation of the moon, on which Easter depends, which made, in one instance, a difference of a month in the time of celebration.
ll See Usher, as above, chap. xi.
propriations appears to have prevailed much, the monasteries being able to protect their possessions better than individuals; and thus, when they were abolished, the parochial clergy were left worse off than in England. In fact, our conclusion, with regard to Romish influence in Ireland, will be, that it has done little for it, but to corrupt the doctrines of its church, and to impoverish its parochial clergy.
This Tract is printed separately, as a Penny Pamphlet, and may be had at Messrs. Rivingtons'.
WYCLIFFE ON THE LAST AGE OF THE CHURCH. Sir,-Although I have not completed my promised list of the Wycliffe MSS. preserved in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, yet I shall venture to depart so far from my proposed plan as to attempt, in the mean time, an examination of that short and imperfect treatise, De simonia sacerdotum, or (as it is also entitled +) On the Last Age of the Church, which is supposed to be the earliest of Wycliffe's extant writings. I call it imperfect, because the Dublin copy, said to be the only copy of it in existence, appears to have been transcribed with extreme negligence, and is, in some places, almost unintelligible.
It is from its early date, rather than from any intrinsic value, that this piece derives its chief value ; for its theology is that of the mystic or spiritual school, and is founded upon the speculations of the celebrated Joachim, abbot of Flora, in Calabria, of whom more hereafter. The date, however, is fixed beyond a doubt by the express declaration of the author himself, that “fro crist til now are thrittene hüdrid geere and sixe and fifty geere.”
Mr. Lewis introduces this tract to the notice of his readers in the following words :
“ The covetous exactions of the popes were, at this time, got to a very great height, insomuch that nothing was to be done at the court of Rome but by the influence of money, with which, in a manner, all church benefices were now purchased. To expose these corrupt and simoniacal practices, which tended quite to destroy the purity of the Christian worship and discipline, Mr. Wiclif wrote a short tract, which he entitled. Of the last Age of the Church.'"
I confess I do not know why Mr. Vaughan has objected to this statement; for to me it appears an adequate and very correct account of the design of the tract. Wycliffe's object was, as I conceive, to prove that Simony was the great sin of the church in his own times, and that this particular sin was described in prophecy as the last plague of Christendom, the iniquity in consequence of which God would withdraw his protection from his church, and suffer Antichrist to be revealed. “But,” (says Mr. Vaughan,g) " the document is by no means of the character which Mr. Lewis's notice of it would lead the reader to suppose. It contains no such allusion to the popes. It
* This curious and very valuable paper seems to find a more appropriate place among Antiquities than Correspondence. The very learned and accurate writer will, it is to be hoped, hereafter give a full and complete edition of Wycliffe's works.-Ed. + See Lewis's List of Wycliffe's Writings, No. 84 and 148.
Lewis, p. 3. Oxf. 1820.
relates to the general corruption of the ecclesiastical system, arising from simony and other causes," &c.
Now, I really think it does contain just such an allusion to the popes as the reader of Lewis's account of it would suppose-it does not, indeed, assert that the pope is the only simonist in the church, but it attacks, and that in the very first sentence, simoniacal exactions, every one of which was at that time ciaimed by the court of Rome ; and, if the object of the tract was to prove this iniquity of the church the precursor of Antichrist, it assuredly may be said, in Mr. Lewis's words, that Dr. Wiclif wrote “ to expose the corrupt and simoniacal practices,” the existence of which, he asserts, were indicative of the last age of the world.
The treatise commences with the following words :“ Alas forsorwe (for sorrow) grete prestis sittinge in derkenessis and in schadewe of deeth, nogt hauynge him that openly crieth, al this I wille giue gif (if) thou auaunce me; thei make reseruacioūs, the which ben clepid (called) dymes, ffirst fruytis, oth' (or) pencioūs, aftir the opinioù of hem (them) that trete this matir."
The simoniacal practices here enumerated are reservations, dismes, first-fruits, and pensions ; and all these, as I have said, were at that time exacted by the papal court. It is also implied that the last three were forms or species of the first. For Reservation, in the general notion of the word, is a rent or profit reserved by the owner of an estate for tenement for his own use ;* and the annates, dismes, and pensions, exacted by the papal court as the condition of collation to those benefices of which the pope claimed to be patron, were evidently of this nature. This claim is alluded to in the following extract from a statute of Richard II., made thirty-three years subsequent to the date of Wycliffe's treatise :-" Cestassavoir q.ore de novel, &c., Viz., that now of late our holy father the pope, by procurement of clerks, and otherwise, hath reserved, and doth daily reserve, to his collation generally and especially, as well archbishopricks, bishopricks, abbeys, and priories, as all other dignities and other benefices of England, which be of the advowry of people of holy church, and doth give the same as well to aliens as to denizens, and taketh of all such benefices the first fruits and many other profits,” &c.-13 Ric. II., stat. 2, cap. 2.
Again, in a parliament held at Coventry in the year 1404 (forty-eight years subsequent to Wycliffe's tract), we find the payment of first-fruits to the pope described as “a damnable custom which is introduce of new in the court of Rome, that no parson, abbot, nor other, should have any provision of any archbishopricke or bishopricke which shall be voide till he hath compounded with the pope's chamber, to pay great and excessive summes of money, as well for the first-fruits of the same archbishopricke or bishoprike, as for other less services in the same court.”+
Again, Dismes (Decimæ) were the tenths of ritual livings paid to the pope by all beneficed persons, until Pope Urban gave them to Richard II. to aid him against the French king, Charles, and other adherents of the rival
* Coke: Part I., lib. ii. c. 12, sect. 215.
+ Stat. 6 Hen. IV., c. 1, apud Gibson Codex J. A., p. 870, Ist edit. Historians are not agreed what pope first imposed the first-fruits. Platina, in his “Life of Boniface IX.," (quoted by Gibson, loc. cit.,) attributes the invention to that pontiff in the year 1400. But the mention of them in this tract of our Reformer, which was certainly written in 1356, together with the allusion to them in the statutes above quoted, sufficiently refute this opinion. Others give John XXII. the merit of this gainful invention, while others assign to it a still greater antiquity.—(See Godolphin, Eccles. Law, chap. 30; Of Annates.). From one of the above extracts it appears that Annates were in 1404 ó a custom introduced of new ;" it is probable, therefore, especially as they certainly existed in 1336, that John XXII. was the first who claimed them from the English church. He died in 1334.
pope, Clement VII.* Since that period they have always belonged to the crown, until Queen Anne restored them to the church ; and they are now, together with the first-fruits, the foundation of the fund called Queen Anne's Bounty.t
Pensions are thus defined in a Constitution of Othobon, passed in the year 1268:"Quia plerumque evenire didicimus quod cum ad vacantem Ecclesiam fuerit præsentatio facienda, is qui præsentandus est, prius cum patrono de certa. summa de bonis ecclesiæ sibi annuatim solvenda paciscitur," &c.f The pope, therefore, who claimed to be patron of all spiritual livings, did not, we may be sure, neglect this mode of increasing his revenues; but, lest any doubt should remain upon this point, I shall add the following extract from the Act which abolished all papal exactions in the reign of Henry VIII. :-" That where your subjects of this your realm,
by many years past, have been, and yet be, greatly decayed and impoverished by such intolerable exactions of great sums of money as have been claimed and taken, and yet continually be claimed and taken, out of this your realm, and other your said countries and dominions, by the Bishop of Rome, called the Pope ; and the See of Rome, as well in pensions, censes, Peter-pence, procurations, fruits, suits for provisions,” &c. &c.—28 Hen. VIII., cap. 21.
These remarks, without going more deeply into the subject, will be sufficient, I hope, to justify Lewis for supposing the treatise before us to relate to the “coretous exactions of the popes," and other “ corrupt and simoniacal practices" which at that time tended to destroy the purity of the church; but it is not so easy to explain why Mr. Vaughan has asserted that it contains “ such allusion to the popes" as Lewis's notice of it would lead us to suppose ; for although the pope is not, I believe, expressly mentioned as the author of the simoniacal practices which are condemned, yet the mention of “reservations, dismes, first-fruits, and pensions," all which, as we have seen, were exacted by the papal court, implies surely some allusion at least to the “covetous exactions of the popes;" and just such an allusion, I conceive, as one would expect from Lewis's account of the treatise ; that is, supposing the reader to know beforehand what first-fruits, dismes, pensions, and reservations were, for without this little piece of legal knowledge he might, I own, read the tract, as Mr. Vaughan appears to have done, and be unable to discover in its
such allusion to the popes."
But to proceed. Our Reformer, having introduced his subject in the paragraph already quoted, adopts the interpretation of Ps. xc. 5, 6 (in our version, Ps. xci. 5, 6), which was given by Joachim, in his book “ of the seedis of the profetis, and of the seyingis of popes, and of the chargis of profetis,"S and also by St. Bernard.|| These writers suppose four tribulations of the church to be foretold by David in this passage. The first of these Wycliffe describes thus :-"Nyghtly drede was whāne alle that slowen seyntis demyd himsilf do seruyse to god.” The second, “the arwe fleynge in day was desceyt of heretikis.” The third, "chaffare (merchandize) walkynge in derke
See Cunningham's Law Dictionary, Art. Dismes., where Polydor. Virgil. Hist. Angliæ, lib. 20, is referred to. Godolphin ubi supra, c.
† A.D. 1703. 2, 3 Annæ, cap. 11. See Gibson's Codex, Tit. xxxv. cap. 8.
* Constit. Legatinæ D. Othonis et D. Othoboni. Oxon., 1663, p. 109. Quoted also by Gibson.
Ś Whether this is intended to describe one or more books I do not know; perhaps it may allude to that mentioned by Joachim's biographers under the title, Liber de Flore, vel de summis pontificibus, which has never, I believe, been published. See Acta Sanctorum, ad diem 29 Maii, tom. vii. p. 89, et seq. Cellier. Hist. des Auteurs Sacrés, tome xxiii. p. 338.
|| Bernard. in Cantic. Serm. 33, sect. ll, et seq. Edit. Benedict., Par. 1667. Tom. iii. p. 61.