during the American war. As in England, it was Protestant rather than Roman Catholic Dissent that posed the major challenge.
Irish High Churchmen identified their church as a true branch of the Universal Church, its ancient Catholic but non-Roman identity established by the Briton, Saint Patrick. Apostolicity and purity of primitive doctrine rather than majority status had to be the backbone of its rationale, and into the 1780s Irish clergy continued to deploy this ecclesiology against challenges from Catholicism or Presbyterianism. Some churchmen emphasized one threat, some the other; all agreed that there was a lasting danger to the church's position. Where in England this pattern of controversy had faded, in Ireland it remained the essence of debate.
If Apostolicity and primitive doctrine were the Irish church's foundations, one other component of the English church's rationale was lacking. The relatively small numbers of adherents had made a Warburtonian vision of the identity of church and state implausible in Ireland from the outset. Where England had a debate on 'church and state', Ireland had a debate on the 'penal code'. An Irish Toleration Act in 1719 provided for freedom of worship for Protestant Dissenters, but attempts to repeal the Irish Test of 1704 failed in 1719 and 1733. The Irish church generated little debate on ecclesiology, drawing rather on English rationales. The Irish church was insufficiently endowed fully to support a native intelligentsia. For that reason, it held even more firmly to teachings of the Caroline divines.
State churches were also exactly that: churchmen might confine their rationales to their own country without feeling any pressing need to test their formulae against a neighbouring one. Warburton failed to mention Ireland, or any other polity in which many denominations enjoyed an approximate equality. On the surface, his position was that numbers, not truth, justified the Reformation: after a change of numbers, 'the alliance between the Popish Church and the kingdom of England was broken; and another made with the Protestant, in its stead'.34 Yet Warburton's argument was ultimately an appeal to truth, not to utility. In the 1736 edition, he had used an Irish analogy that he later deleted. It would, he argued, produce 'Confusion . . . had every Sect free Entry into the Administration'; 'He who would see a lively Image of the intolerable Mischiefs, that arise from thence to Civil Society may read two Tracts wrote by a great Wit in defence of the Irish Test; and particularly that fine Discourse above referred to, intitled a Vindication of the Corporation and Test Acts'.35 He thereby fell back both on Thomas Sherlock and, by clear allusion, Jonathan Swift.36 Yet Swift, as an Irish High Churchman, had argued on quite different grounds.37 Nor was Warburton alone in avoiding writing on
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