Imágenes de página

tion of the Roman Catholic prelates for the introduction of a book of religious instruction, which should embody as large a portion of scriptural truth as might be collected into one volume, without containing any thing wounding to the feelings, or offensive to the prejudices, of any denomination of believers, proceeded to authorize certain individuals, in whose ability and discretion they reposed confidence, to make such a compilation. While this work was in progress, the Roman Catholic prelates assembled at the house of Dr Murray, and came to four resolutions, which may be considered as investing themselves with a power of supervision and control over the commissioners, similar to that which the commissioners had already asserted over the Church of Ireland.

The Romish prelates required, as the condition of their adhesion to the new system, the unconditional submission of the commissioners to the following resolutions :

That in each school, where the majority of the children were Roman Catholics, the master should be a Roman Catholic;-where the minority were Roman Catholics, that there should be a permanent Roman Catholic assistant; that in all cases the masters or assistants so appointed should have the express approval of the Roman Catholic bishop of the diocess in which they are employed; and that they should be removed upon his representation.

That no Roman Catholic master or mistress should be employed in the commissioners' schools, who were educated under Protestants; and that no book or tract should be introduced for common instruction in literature, which might be ob jected to, on religious grounds, by the Roman Catholic bishop..

The commissioners having provided, that the funds at that time belonging to the several charitable institutions for education, should gradually merge in the common fund to be at their disposal in the prosecution of this national object, this did not at all meet the views of the Roman Catholic bishops, who resolved, "That a transfer of the property in several schools, which now exist, or may hereafter exist, in Ireland, may be utterly impracticable,

from the nature of the tenure by which they are or shall hereafter be held; and from the number of persons having a legal interest in them, as well as from a variety of other causes, and that, in our opinion, any. regulation which should require such transfer to be made, as a necessary condition for receiving Parliamentary support, would operate to the exclusion of many useful schools from all participation in the public bounty." And they conclude by stating, "That, appointed as we have been by Divine Providence, to watch over and preserve the deposit of Catholic faith in Ireland, and responsible as we are to God for the souls of our flocks, we will, IN OUR RESPEC TIVE DIOCESSES, WITHHOLD Our con


[merged small][ocr errors]

Now, will any one say, that_by the resolutions just recited, the Roman Catholic prelates did not erect themselves into a court of high commission, above the commissioners themselves? They were willing to continue in company with Mr Frankland Lewis and his associates as far, and no farther, than these gentlemen were willing to go with them:-and, however they may condescend to avail themselves of the Parliamentary grant, which may be made for the purpose of carrying the views of the commissioners into effect, they are clearsighted and sagacious enough to foresee the insuperable difficulties which render it impossible that any funds, which are peculiarly at their own disposal, could be appropriated to the same object.

The reader must therefore be prepared to learn, that concert or co-operation between two such bodies was no longer practicable. Unless the commissioners conceded every thing, while the Roman Catholic bishops conceded nothing,that is, unless the commissioners consented to act under the dictation of the Roman Catholic bishops, and became their obedient slaves, in establishing a system which, after detruding the national Church from its proper station, was to secure the ascendency of Popery in Ireland, all

their enquiries, and all their labour, must be unavailing. Their panting liberality toiled in vain after the arrogant strides of Romish pretension. The more they yielded, the more the other required. And, assuredly, it required a strong delusion to blind them, as they appear to have been blinded, to those ultimate views which their Roman Catholic negotiators took such little pains to conceal from even the least discerning observers.

This appeared very decidedly in the reception, or rather, indeed, the rejection, which they gave to that common book of religious instruction, which was drawn up under the superintendence of the Archbishop of Dublin, at the instance of the commissioners, who were led by Dr Murray to believe, that if it contained nothing offensive to their feel ings, or at variance with their doctrines, it would not be objected to by the Roman Catholic clergy. It was undertaken with the understanding, and compiled with a most scrupu fous avoidance of every thing by which their prejudices could be revolted. Nothing could exceed either the discretion or the good faith with which it was executed. Had it been otherwise, the Roman Catholic bishops would, assuredly, have been loud and vehement in their recla mations, and not have confined their objections to a point which had nothing whatever to do with the real question at issue, and could only serve to intimate the arrogance of their own pretensions.

The commissioners, we may suppose, were startled at the extraordinary attitude which these prelates took in the resolutions which have been already recited. To admit the claims thus put forward, would be nothing short of formally abdicating their functions; and, if they acted in defiance of them, they felt that the success of their favourite plan would be endangered. They were therefore reduced to great difficulty ;and could devise no better mode of extricating themselves from their embarrassment, than by attempting to appear masters, when they were in reality servants, and trying how far the mildness and moderation which they had already experienced from the Established Clergy, might

be still farther worked upon, so as to induce an acquiescence in the propriety of adopting a religious schoolbook, which had been submitted to the commissioners by the Roman Catholic bishops, to the prejudice of that which had been prepared by themselves. The objection to the Scriptural Selections which had been laid before the commissioners by the Archbishop of Dublin was, " that they were taken from the Protestant version;"―an objection which had no reference to the subject-matter of the compilation, to which alone they should have confined their observations. Had any such objection been made, it would immediately have been obviated. But none such was or could be urged; and nothing proves the keen and unremitting vigilance with which they prosecuted their own peculiar projects, more than the sinister adroitness with which they almost succeeded in drawing the commissioners into an acknowledgment of their pretensions as a church, even at the very moment when they were manifesting the most utter disregard for the education of the people.

Their work was taken into consideration, and transmitted to his Grace the Primate, together with a letter from Mr Frankland Lewis, stating the difficulty which the Roman Catholic bishops felt in admitting as a religious school-book the compilation of the Archbishop of Dublin, and desiring to know whether any insuperable objection existed on his part, or on that of the Established" Clergy, to the adoption of that which was now proposed. In reply to this letter, the Primate wrote a full explanation of his views upon the subject. It is, in our apprehension, one of the most interesting and beautiful public documents that ever was composed. We shall therefore make from it copious extracts, and that with a twofold object; the one, to hold forth to just admiration the noble individual, who, at this critical period, stood almost alone against the united craft and subtlety of the Church of Rome, and the popularizing views and plausible representations of latitudinarian commissioners; and the other, for the purpose of exhibiting the justest and clearest view of the real nature of the

difficulty which was started by the Romish bishops, and its probable object.

Having acknowledged the receipt of the letter, his Grace observes"Before I enter upon the subject to which you have now called my attention, allow me to place before you some particulars of our former correspondence. In your letter of the 13th of January, you were so good as to assure me, that 'the commissioners were fully aware that the books recommended in their report could not be properly arranged, except with the approbation, and under the superintendence, of the authorities in the Established Church.' My answer was written, in the expectation that the commissioners would continue to act under this impression. I stated the opinion, which, after mature deliberation, I was induced to form of their general design in the plan they had proposed; while I acknowledged my alarm at some particular measures, I declared my self consoled by the persuasion that they had adopted the principle of the statutes of Henry the Eighth and William the Third, which commit national education to the Established clergy; and without passing beyond the question upon which it appeared to be their intention to consult me, I endeavoured throughout to express myself in language which, had I fallen into a misconception of their views, might elicit an explanation. From the frankness of my statement, and the silence with which it continued to be received for more than half a year, I became every day more and more assured that my hopes had been well founded.

"Your recent communication, however, has considerably weakened this assurance. I will state the impression it has made upon me, with the same freedom which I used in my former letter, and with an anxious desire to be undeceived, if I have fallen into error.


"The commissioners have rejected the volume of Scripture Lessons which had been prepared, according to their own desire, with the approbation, and under the superintendence,' of the Archbishop of Dublin and myself, and by a committee appointed at a very full meeting of the bishops. This step is not accounted

[ocr errors]

for in your letter by any objections to particular words or passages; and, indeed, it could not be so accounted for, because, had the difficulties been of that nature, it could not escape your discernment, that the obvious course would be to point them out, with a view to their removal or modification. The book was condemned by Dr Murray, as you mention, upon this general ground, that, being taken exclusively, and verbatim, from the Protestant version, it is open to the objections already stated to the commissioners by the Catholic archbishops.' You have not informed me what the objections are, but it appears that your board acquiesces in them as conclusive. In the place of the compilation thus rejected, you propose a book to me, which you say the commissioners have reason to think would be less likely to meet with objection on the part of the Roman Catholic clergy. This work is sent printed; and I learn from Mr Pauncefoote, that it was some delay in obtaining it from the press, which occasioned the detention of your letter in Dublin. From all these circumstances, I am obliged to conclude, that the relation in which the commissioners expressed themselves desirous of standing with the Established Church, has been seriously altered. Instead of that superintending co-operation in the arrangement of a system of national instruction, which your former letter taught me to expect, we are now reduced to a simple negative upon the proceedings of your board. Possibly, indeed, even this privilege is more than I am strictly warranted in inferring from your last communication.


The immediate purpose of your letter is to learn, whether there be any serious or irremediable objection to your printed volume ?" I cannot refrain from avowing my deep concern, that this question has not been pressed upon the Roman Catholichierarchy, with respect to the compilation prepared under the directions of the Archbishop of Dublin and myself. Had the commissioners delayed their rejection of it until they discovered the particular objections to which it was liable-weighed their importance, and, if serious, ascertained our inability or unwillingness to provide a remedy, they would have

done no more than was consistent with their own declarations, and the reasonable claims of the Established Church. At present, the only objection that appears against it is, that it is a Protestant version. You inform me, that the commissioners are strongly impressed with the conviction, that, in considering the execution of a work of this nature, no opinions of theirs, on a theological ground, could carry with them any weight whatever.' I am quite persuaded of the correctness of this conviction; yet I trust that the commissioners will find no difficulty in comprehending the few observations of that nature which it will be my duty to lay before them. There are no more than two verses in our compilation which suggest a sense different from that in the Douay, (St Mat. xxvi. 28, and St Luke, xi. 16;) and of these, the former only can be imagined to have a controversial meaning. Now, although the substituted volume does not contain this verse, it contains the parallel one of St Luke, and gives the disputed words, according to the authorized version, thus:

"Rejected words of St MatthewThis is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many.' "Adopted clause in St Luke-This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you.'

[ocr errors]

The question which arises between the Churches is, whether is shed, or shall be shed, is the true interpretation. It must be obvious to your board, from this statement, that the ground of opposition to our volume is, that it is a version made by Protestants, and implying the existence of a Protestant Church, and a Protestant Go


"I am now to inform the commissioners what objections can be made, on the part of the Established Church, to the volume which they have substituted. To me, it appears that the point at issue between the two volumes, is no less than THAT GREAT QUESTION BETWEEN THE CHURCHES OF ROME AND ENGLAND, WHAT IS THE RULE OF FAITH ?' The Church of Rome gives AUTHORITY, the Church of England gives evidence, as the basis of Christianity. The latter appears as a faithful witness of the sacred records, and of the interpretation

[ocr errors]

which has been put upon them by the first believers; the former, as an infallible teacher, drawing her doctrines and institutions from herself, or from a secret store of tradition, which is independent of the Written Word, and the key of which has been committed to her custody by the Great Founder of our religion. In our system, the Church is nothing without the Scripture; in that of Rome, its powers and doctrines might have been as they are, had the New Testament never been written. This irreconcilable difference between the two Churches, appears upon the first inspection of the volume now before


The work which we prepared is provided with references to the sacred writers, so that every reader may satisfy himself of the fidelity of the quotation; and, if he be competent to make such enquiries, of the correctness of the original reading, and accuracy of the version. There are no references in the printed work. The Church delivers her 'Christian lessons,' as they are styled, but without any intimation that they are derived from a higher authority. There is nothing wherein a child or a peasant could conjecture that there was such a work as the New Testament in existence. This omission, you will perceive, is of vital importance. Should Government, or the Legislature, determine on insisting upon the circulation of the work, it will be our duty to submit; but we could not express our consent, or give our active support to the measure, WITHOUT WITHDRAWING OUR PROTEST




"This is all that I feel it necessary to say upon the theological aspect of your question; there is another view of it, which the commissioners are better prepared to appreciate. have already expressed an opinion in my former letter, and I do not think it too much to repeat it now, that the state, particularly a state like ours, in which so much depends upon public feeling, has an immediate interest in the moral and social principles of all its members; that this interest gives it a right, or rather imposes upon it an obligation, of providing a system of national instruction; and that the trust of superintending this system, is most consistent

[ocr errors]

ly reposed in an Established clergy. Circumstances would guide me in determining the degree in which the clergy should be ostensively engaged in this superintendence; but no circumstances could induce me to sacrifice the rights of the Church, or the future prospects of the nation, by an entire surrender of it. I should therefore feel it my duty to object to any plan of national education in which the co-operation of the clergy in preparing books, visiting schools, and overseeing teachers, was pointedly excluded. I have seen many reasons to believe that the Roman Catholic hierarchy have similar views of the rights of their order, and that they claim to themselves, as the true Church, what I consider due to the Established Church, FROM ITS UNION WITH THE STATE. One of these reasons I take the liberty of laying before you, as it is derived from a document connected with the subject of your letter, and the general functions of your board."

His Grace here transcribes "the resolutions" of the Roman Catholic bishops, which have been already recited, and proceeds to observe :—

"Various misgivings are awaken. ed in my mind by these resolutions; the sum of them is, that the source of the present difficulty lies out of the power of the commissioners. Give me leave to suggest a very easy mode of submitting the justness of this opinion to experiment. One of the objects of the commissioners, and, I presume, the chief one, in recommending a system of general instruction, was, that the kindly sympathies of our nature, being aided by habits of youthful companionship, as well as the benign precepts of the Gospel, might mature, as life advanced, into the charities of Christian neighbourhood. It is obvious, however, that the success of this endeavour will entirely depend on the care with which sinister influences are excluded from the minds of the children during the seasons set apart for their separate instruction in the tenets of their respective religions.

"The Roman Catholic catechism, which will, of course, be used on these occasions for the children of that communion, contains the following questions and answers.

66 6 Q. Is there but one true Church? A. Although there be many sects,

there is but one true religion, and one true Church.

"Q. Why is there but one true Church? A. As there is but one true God, there can be but one true Church.


"Q. How do you call the true Church? A. The Roman Catholic Church.

[ocr errors]

Q. Are all obliged to be of that true Church? A. Yes. "Q. Why are all obliged to be of that true Church? A. Because no one can be saved out of it. "Q. How many ways are there of sinning against faith? A. Chiefly three.

"Q. What are these three ways? A. First, by not seeking to know what God has taught; secondly, by not believing what he has taught,' &c.

"Q. Who are they who do not believe what God has taught? A. The heretics and infidels.'

"The commissioners will surely agree with me in thinking that it would be desirable to have these passages expunged; that as long as they shall continue to be privately inculcated upon the Roman Catholic children by their religious instructors, any other lesson they may receive will teach them dissimulation, rather than cordial good feeling. The same wise and benevolent motives which make the commissioners desirous to discover a religious book which might be common to all parties, must inspire the anxiety, that what is peculiar to religion, should be conveyed to the youthful mind without poisoning or drying up the fountain of those sentiments which, next to the love of God, it is the great business of the Gospel to feed and purify, peace on earth, goodwill towards men.' Let them then endeavour to remove these questions and answers. Should they succeed, the appointment of their board will indeed be an auspicious era in the history of this country. But if they fail, or if it be their feeling that they should not try—that these matters are beyond their sphere-that they relate so exclusively to religion, as not to be approached without invading the rights of conscience, I can no longer elude the desponding conviction that their wishes will be disappointed, and their labours ineffectual."

We offer no apology for this length

« AnteriorContinuar »