If my people,
which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from
their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin,
and will heal their land. 2 Chr. 7:14
of the Irish Rebellion of 23 October 1641 is day a of national deliverance now lost from our Protestant
initial outrage, the Lord graciously delivered his people who would otherwise
have faced a choice between complete annihilation or conversion to Roman
In the year 1662
the Irish Parliament legislated that the 23rd of October, the day
the Rebellion came to light, “shall be kept and celebrated as a holy day in
this kingdom for ever”. It was celebrated both in Ireland and on the mainland.
anniversary of the discovery of the Gun Powder treason, the tradition continued
well into the nineteenth century. It was marked by Church Services and public demonstrations.
What Irish children learn
illustrated booklet by Helen Litton, Irish Rebellions 1798-1916, would
appeal to history teachers. It is of course written from the standpoint of
Irish Nationalism. The booklet describes the Irish Rebellions of 1798, 1803,
1848, 1867 and of course 1916. The 1641 Rebellion is not covered. In 1966 the
National gallery of Dublin held
“Cuimhneachan - 1916 - A Commemorative Exhibition of the Irish Rebellion of
1916”. Pictures and exhibits illustrating Irish History from medieval times to
1916 were on view in chronological order. But according to the catalogue the
siege of Kinsale 1601 lead straight on to the siege of Derry in 1688. There was nothing about the events of 1641.
refers to 1641 in her Preface as follows: “The Tudor system of plantations –
that is “planting” Protestant settlers from Britain in confiscated areas of Ireland, - continued throughout the seventeenth century. Any kind of
Rebellion simply provided the authorities with more excuses for confiscation, a
sort of fig leaf to conceal greed. The tensions created by placing small
groups of vulnerable settlers among large numbers of dispossessed natives often
lead to brutal and despairing out breaks … One of these was the Rising of 1641
planned in Ulster by the dispossessed noble Gaelic families … This rising went
down in Protestant mythology as an example of what (Roman) Catholics were
capable of if they were not strictly controlled or preferably exterminated.”
This is what
Irish children and students are being taught, while Protestants fail to defend
Was the solemn
commemoration of this Day of Deliverance a “fig leaf to conceal greed”? Was
the glorious deliverance mere “Protestant mythology”? Are the Protestants
charlatans? Let us try to discover what the Protestants who took part thought themselves.
Let us see to what extent they cast the blame at the door of the Church of
Rome. Let us hear what lessons they derived from their experiences to guide
them in the future.
Ralph Lambert DD
Some of the
Sermons Addresses preached on the 23rd October, thanking God for his
delivering mercies in the events following the 1641 Rebellion, have survived.
The sermon was preached by Ralph Lambert DD at the Parish Church of St James
Westminster in what is now Piccadilly, London. This minister would appear to be the Bishop of Meath who is
listed in the Gentleman’s Magazine Volume II p 631 as dying in February
1732. The sermon is addressed to the Protestants of Ireland, “In Commemoration
of their Deliverance from the Barbarous Massacre committed by the Irish Papists
in the year 1641”. It was preached on the 20th year following the
Glorious Revolution of 1688 and concerned events that took place before nearly
all those present were born.
St James Westminster
There was a large community of Irish
Protestants in London, swelled
by refugees from the events prior to the Williamite war. St James was a
Wren, St James architect, wrote: “I can hardly think it practicable to make a
single room so capacious, with pews and galleries, as to hold 2000 persons, and
all to hear the service and see the preacher. I endeavoured to effect this in
building the Parish church of St James’, Westminster …”.
October 1708 Lambert’s sermon so moved both the stewards of the church and the
“Noblemen and Gentlemen” present that besides being printed in Dublin for
circulation in Ireland it was at their request reprinted in London to be
circulated throughout the land through the bookshops.
text was Isaiah Chapter 59 verses 7 and 8. “Their feet run to evil, and they
make hast to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
wasting a destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they know not; and
there is no judgement in their goings: they have made them crooked paths:
whosoever goeth therein shall knot know peace”.
He begins, “The
prophet seems in these words to have chiefly intended a description of some revolting
and apostatising Jews, who forsaking the true worship of God have sunk into all
the sins and corruptions of the idolatrous nations …”
God’s infinite mercy
He continues, “this prophetic description
will fairly reach beyond its first design and describe the practices of all who
entertain a False Religion … This day then my brethren, has this scripture been
literally fulfilled in your ears; the influences of a false and idolatrous
religion have filled that country to which most of us here do belong, with such
a scene of blood and cruelty, wasting and destruction as hardly ever appeared
in so many shapes of horror … It was owing to God’s infinite mercy alone that a
small remnant escaped, whose posterity are now met, to praise the Lord for His
goodness, and to continue the Remembrance of so great a Judgement and so
miraculous a Deliverance to all generations”.
He then speaks
of the purpose of this Day. “That we may never forget whose feet they were,
that then, were so swift to shed the blood of so many and to remember that
their thoughts of Iniquity are still full of the same designs of wasting and
destruction should the Lord give us into their hands. They are strangers to
the ways of peace and justice. Since Divine Providence has rescued us and our fathers
from destruction, however smooth and fair they may carry it to us (behave
towards us) now, while the Laws, the Sword and the Government are on our side,
if we suffer ourselves to be hoodwinked or lulled asleep by their false
insinuations we shall, perhaps too late, find that whosoever goes into their
paths or measures shall never know peace”.
Barbarity, wasting and destruction’
announces his main points. “On the occasion of this solemn meeting I shall
enlarge on these four particulars.
That a false and idolatrous religion does
naturally produce Bloodshed Barbarity Wasting and Destruction.
I shall describe the effects of it in a few
instances of Cruelty committed in the dreadful massacre of this day.
I shall prove the Doctrine and Practice of the
Church of Rome do allow and justify such barbarous massacres and in particular
they have justified and applauded that of this day.
I shall make some inferences from the whole
which may be of good use to us in our present circumstances.”
From this long
address let us draw that which these Protestants felt to strengthen and guide.
Lambert’s first point illustrated at length form scripture the parallel between
the outworking of the Religion of the people of the one true God in Israel and the contrast with the barbarism
and human bloodthirstiness of neighbouring heathen nations. In his second
point he describes the details of the massacre which even if overestimated in
extent, by the details he supplies alone was frightful beyond measure in its
qualities. These details were then still fresh in family lore. Such things
are too terrible to repeat here.
His third point,
the general persecuting tendency of Rome to provoke terrible massacres of her enemies is familiar to
readers. However the details of Rome’s part in the 1641 Irish Rebellion have been suppressed and are
hence less well known. They will be covered fully DV in the next article.
Lambert states categorically that 1641 “was contrived and perpetrated in
Obedience to the Church of Rome” and goes on to prove it. It had nothing to do
with the “greed” of Protestants. Certainly their wealth creating
industriousness, a universal feature of Protestantism, drew forth envy from the
Is popery then the same?
Lambert’s fourth point looks to the
future as he draws “inferences which may be of good use to us in our present
circumstances”. He cautions, “that we may not be lead astray into their crooked paths, nor wander
into those ways, wherein we shall never know peace”. He asks the burning
question again: “Is Popery then the same thing at this Day that it was in Forty
One? Or has it abated of its fury and violence and become mild and tractable?
Has there been no blood drawn since for the advancement of the (Roman) catholic
cause, and the extirpation of the Northern Heresy? Have so many hundred
thousand people run away from their houses and livelihoods through panic and
groundless fear? Or did many of us run away from our wits and dwellings at
once but to travel? No! Certainly Popery is still the same.”
“Let them name but one place where Popery
prevails and the Roman Church can exert its power and that place is free of
persecution of those that differ with it and we shall own them a merciful
people. And if Popery be not changed, how is it that we become every day less
apprehensive of it? If we would secure ourselves and our posterity, we should
not always expect that God will work miracles and raise up Deliverers. We
ought to oppose as much as in us lies that spreading of enslaving principles ….
(designed) to take away our senses and fit us for Transubstantiation. They
(The Romanists) constantly lie in wait for us as we grow secure.
“Another method in which the Papists have
been fatally successful against us is by creating jealousies and fomenting
divisions amongst us. Tis most melancholy to observe how unexpectedly
prosperous (successful) they are in (using) this stale artifice against us.
They formerly divided us from the dissenters. Now they invent a new and odious
distinction of High and Low Church trying to divide us. We must show the
distinction groundless. We ought also to treat the greater part of the
Dissenters (It has to be said that sadly the Quakers though their doctrines and
pacifist nature had drifted into a most unhealthy alliance with the Romanists)
with confidence and affection as they are embarked on the same common cause
against the Papists.
“Finally since God has delivered our
ancestors from the horrid destruction designed on this day, and preserved us
let us give to Him our true Tribute and Praise for this Great Mercy, with
hearts truly sensible to so undeserved a blessing. Let us endeavour to
convince our Popish adversaries of the Truth of our Religion, by showing in our
lives and actions that its influence is stronger to operate all that is good in
Such was the sentiment of a Day of
Deliverance from our glorious Protestant past now lost.