« AnteriorContinuar »
wanted this external impulse to raise it to a higher level, and make it overpass the remaining barriers of prejudice, and misapprehension, and secular fear.
Prayer for our country and government, is a third benefit to which the present state of excitement in the public mind may be directed. A moment of agitation should be, and is, in numerous instances, a moment of intercession at the Throne of Mercy. God is wiser than man. Our probable judgments (and probability, says Bishop Butler, is the guide of life) should be submitted unreservedly to the Supreme Arbiter. I can truly say I have been constantly praying that God would defeat all my particular wishes, if He saw them founded in error; and cause His own will to be accomplished in the overthrow of them. Dangers I see on all handsevents I know to be uncertain to human foresight. Prayer, then, reposes the unknown with God; prayer softens asperities in the prosecution of our respective plans; prayer unites the hearts of the whole church; prayer brings down the permanent blessing of God on nations
Once more: I would earnestly hope that the present agitation will lead our senators and nobles to estimate better the immense importance of religion in the safety of states. I believe, if the houses of parliament had been more habitually guided by sound and Christian views of religion; if they had been accustomed to avow on all fit occasions their dependence upon the Providence of God for success; if they had been known to the nation by their attachment to the Protestant faith, not merely as a national creed, but as the foundation of their own hopes and the motives. of their conduct;-I believe, if our legislature had been more a religious legislature; if our right reverend prelates had been allowed to take a more decided part in their own house on moral and religious questions, and had acted on such occasions with boldness and simplicity, we should have escaped much of the present ferment, because the people would have relied on the religious guardians of their constitution in church and state. Our government, I verily believe, is now paying the penalty of their neglect of true religion. It is in such emergencies that distrust, or the contrary, shews itself. Let our senators be more deeply interested for the moral and religious good of the nation; and a confidence will be generated of the last importance in moments like the present.
I mention only further, that the present excitement should lead to active exertions as to those sources of permanent amelioration for Ireland to which these political concessions are merely prefatory. This particular question has been exaggerated beyond all due bounds. It is im. portant, indeed, in itself; and under present circumstances, as I cannot but
think, essential: but the foundations of national prosperity lie much deeper. The Gospel of God; the faith and obedience of the heart; the profession of Christ's holy name; the conversion of the sinner from the error of his ways; the pious discipline of the domestic circle; the public worship of Almighty God; the suppression of notorious vice and temptations to vice; the hallowing of the holy Sabbath; the education of children and adults; a temper of love and forbearance, humility and consistency, in our carriage; a sound zeal and enlightened judgment in the ministers of religion; earnest efforts for the conversion of the Jews and Heathen ;-these are the things which exalt a nation; these are the matters which require, and demand, and will repay, our warmest zeal and our most persevering efforts.
But I have been led too far by these animating topics. Allow me to say, in conclusion, that if, after every consideration which I have ventured to suggest, the minds of any are not fully satisfied; yet, if they are almost satisfied, if they see some force in the whole case as I have stated it,-if they only suspect that, in the present position at least of the question, it is best to leave its decision to the wisdom of the legislature-if only a doubt crosses their conscience, I claim the benefit of that doubt. Hesitation is quite enough, in such a momentous crisis, to suspend opposition, if not to secure support. A preponderance ever so slight is enough to dispose to an act of grace so consonant to the character of Christianity, so agreeable to the broadest, and plainest, and last injunctions of its Divine Founder. If the question, indeed, were not in the state it is, it might be a matter of debate with a Christian, whether, upon the whole, it might not be safer to let things alone, and to retain a little longer the penal laws, much as they wound the meekness and benevolence of the Christian spirit; but in the actual position of the question, the slightest doubt should incline a Christian to the side of love, and peace, and conciliation: he may lawfully throw his influence into the scale of mercy; he may contribute his endeavour to place Christianity on its most firm and tenable ground,—not exclusion, but love; not statutes, but arguments; not irritation, but entreaty; not authority, but faith.
I am, Mr. Editor,
Such is our valued friend's exposition of his views and feelings on this momentous topic. The length of his paper has abridged the little space that was left us for any further remarks of our own: we shall therefore only add some concluding observations, in reply chiefly to various inquiries which have been tendered to us
We are asked." Will this measure, after all, quiet Ireland?" We reply, that we think it will powerfully conduce to that end; but whether it do so, or not, is not the only question. We believe it to be a measure morally and religiously right; and thinking this, it is but a secondary inquiry to ask, Whether it is politically expedient; though politically expedient it doubtless is.
We are again asked, "Would you allow Popery a triumph ?" Our fixed opinion is, that Popery will have no occasion for triumph; for that the extinction of civil disabilities will be a death-blow to its influence in Ireland. The priests could never, as they have done, blind-fold the people, frighten them from the Protestant schools, and prevent their receiving the Scriptures at our hands, if they had not been able to inflame their passions by the unhallowed political weapons which we had furnished for their use. Our opinions on this subject, as our readers know, are not of recent origin; for whenever we have had occasion to allude to Popery, and to the duty of endeavouring to extirpate it, we have always carefully distinguished between spiritual weapons, and those of man's devising; between the temporal sword, and "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." As justly as eloquently does Dr. Chalmers remark, in his late splendid speech at the Edinburgh meeting for petitioning in favour of the pending measures,-"Give the Catholics of Ireland their emancipation; give them a seat in the parliament of their country; give them a free and equal participation in the politics of the realm; give them a place at the right ear of Majesty, and a voice in his councils; and give me the circulation of the Bible; and with this mighty engine I will overthrow the tyranny of Antichrist, and establish the fair and original form of Christianity on its ruins."
Again, we are asked, "Would you fill parliament with Papists? would you give the chief places of trust and favour to them?" Far from it; eligibility is not election; and the minority has neither the right nor the likelihood to assume the power of the majority. The House of Commons has just decided, in the case of Mr. O'Connell, that there is nothing to prevent a Catholic being legally returned to parliament: he is not stopped till he comes within the walls of the house, and Mr. O'Connell maintains not even then. If, then, the Irish Catholics should choose to send us none but persons of their own faith from every part of their island, as would inevitably be the case after the success of the election for Clare, what would be the result? The delegates might indeed he sent back once or twice; but unless the British government and CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 327.
parliament be determined to garrison every hamlet in Ireland, and to renew and extend the murderous scenes of the great rebellion, which it is quite certain neither parliament nor government would for a moment contemplate, the issue is not doubtful. Under the proposed system there will be much less temptation to oppose the Protestant land-owners, by universally electing Catholics.
But are there not better ways of benefitting Ireland? We think there are none of which the removal of the civil disabilities must not form a prominent part. To attempt Protestant Scriptural education on a national scale without this would be futile; and such measures as the introduction of poor laws would be worse than futile; they would be the direst pest that could afflict that country. Why not," it is asked, "give them bread?”— Very desirable; but where is the bread to be procured to give them? Poor laws will increase consumers, but will not make bread.
But, "ought we to do evil that good may come?" asks one of our correspondents: ought we to yield to worldly expediency, rather than to duty?" inquires another. Clearly not: far from it; and this is one of our strong objections to the present system. Civil exclusion, disabilities, imposing and exacting taxes without corresponding political rights, are evils in themselves: they are a minor species of persecution, and are only justifiable when grounded on dire necessity. But they have been thought expedient, it seems, to protect our civil and religious liberties; to uphold Protestantism; and thus, betrayed by narrow views of expediency, we have done evil that good might come; we have acted, as if "the shields of the earth" were not the Lord's, and as if our blessed Redeemer had not said, "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight." It is with extreme pain we have heard the language uttered, not only by political Protestants, willing to "wade up to their knees in blood," for political objects; but even by some faithful servants and ministers of Christ, who have not scrupled to declare, that they had rather see a regiment of bayonets in every village in Ireland, and to hear of ten thousand massacres, than consent to the present measures. We can only reply, that "we have not so learned Christ.' Every species of persecution, every unnecessary infliction of civil disability for professedly religious ends, is a leaf out of the book of Rome. It is miserable "worldly expediency" to defend Protestantism by the help of dragoons, as has hitherto been too much our policy, instead of by weapons of holy and heavenly temper.
But it is added, we are uniting ourselves to Popery; and, as Mr. Irving has 2D
expressed it in a pamphlet just published, "this kingdom will henceforth cease to be the intercessor between God and a guilty world." Now we cannot see that we are uniting ourselves to Popery; far from it: the nation will be no more a popish nation because a Papist may enjoy office, than it is a Wesleyan, a Socinian, an infidel, or a deistical nation, because persons of these sects may enjoy it. The Bishop of Winchester has most justly laid down the distinction between a political and a religious union. As to the idea of our being the intercessors between God and the rest of his creation, it appears to us an assumption of national arrogance, in accordance neither with reason nor Scripture. It is too much to suppose that the Almighty has committed the destinies of the whole world to a handful of frail feeble men in the British parliament.
But, adds another correspondent, "You state, that a more free course is now likely to be opened, for the promotion of the pure religion of the Gospel; for scriptural education, and Protestant instruction in Ireland; and that you hope that our Education societies, Bible Societies, and Reformation societies, will stand on new and vantage ground: but how is an enemy to be converted into a friend by increasing his power to oppose me? I beg to ask you, in sincerity and simplicity of intention, on what ground you build your statement and your hope?" Our friendly correspondent will, perhaps, accept our present remarks, and those of Mr. Wilson, as our answer to his inquiry. The whole might be summed up in one most important remark of the excellent Bishop of Winchester, in the House of Lords; that "Protestantism has never yet had fair play in Ireland." It has never been allowed a hearing; passion, prejudice, and popular clamour were leagued against it. When this din ceases, we may hope that its still, small, but convincing voice will be better heard and attended to. Our correspondent apeaks of an Irish Catholic as our "enemy:" is he surprised that while treated as such he remains so? Has our obliging correspondent left out of his account the natural feelings, sympathies, and resentments of the human heart? and when speaking of "power," does he unconsciously confound physical force with moral and religious suasion?
But, "is not the general voice of truly Christian persons against the measure as likely to be injurious to the cause of Protestantism?" We believe that it is not; that is, where circumstances allow the formation of a well-weighed opinion, free from long-cherished prejudices. The tide, we are persuaded, is rapidly turning.
We over for the present, as an invidious topic, the opinions of the various sects of Christians among ourselves; but we may remark, that in our habits of correspondence with Protestants, on the continent of
Europe and in America, and in reading from month to month their religious publications, we have been often struck with their unanimity of opinion that Christianity and Protestantism are greatly injured by our restrictive policy in Ireland. We might quote proofs by the score; but one shall for the present suffice, and which has only just reached us while we are writing. We allude to the following passage from the last Number of the Archives du Christianisme, a French publication, as our readers know, of truly Protestant and Evangelical sentiments. The conductors are referring to the measures now in contemplation in this country. They say
"As often as we have had the opportunity we have expressed in our pages the wishes which we have never ceased to form for the liberation of the Irish RomanCatholics from their civil disabilities. Without overlooking the difficulties which this question presents, and aware that such a measure should be surrounded by such securities as the constitution of England demands, we live too near the times when the laws assailed ourselves with civil disabilities, not to desire the most prompt and complete abolition of the disabilities of others.--Among those who have most contributed to enlighten the mind of the public on this subject, we may reckon some who are not less distinguished by their attachment to Christianity than by their love to liberty....May God grant the accomplishment of this measure in the session which has just opened. Convinced, as Christians, of its justice, we are equally so as Protestants, that it will be a heavy blow to Popery in Ireland. When the Catholics of that country shall no longer fear being accused of cowardice in abandoning a religion, which is now a question of party rather than of conscience, we shall see more of them separate themselves from the Romish Church, and be willing to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified."
May the event correspond to this auspicious anticipation. We would wish to quit the topic under those Christian impressions which such a hope is calculated to awaken. The success or the failure of the pending measure is not a subject for party-spirit, or irritating triumph on any side. The whole subject is fraught with considerations the most anxious, in whatever way it may be viewed. In what has passed there is much to explain, and something mutually to forgive; but there is no just cause for acerbity of spirit, or for those grievous inroads upon Christian forbearance and brotherly kindness which this question has so widely awakened.
While thus alluding to these lamented animosities, we regret to be constrained to notice one mournful illustration of them, which has gone beyond the war of words or pens, and might have ended in a scene of deliberate murder. We have seen two
conspicious public men; the one the prime minister of the country, on whose life and health depend not only the ordinary responsibilities of the domestic and social circle, but humanly speaking the destinies of this great empire, and in an especial manner the success or failure of the momentous measure now in agitation; the other one of the most prominent champions of what he conscientiously considers to be the Protestant cause,--a nobleman, it is understood, of amiable and decorous habits, a leading officer of the Society for promoting the Principles of the Reformation, and the patron of an auxiliary to that institution in his own county, in the chair of which he sat at the first public meeting, we believe, in which it was ever agreed to in a society of this nature that the admission to membership should be restricted by a religious test;-these two illustrious individuals have met in a duel; lord Winchelsea, it is true, discharging his pistol in the air, and the duke of Wellington possibly determined not to inflict a mortal wound; but still a duel, which, if meant to be bloodless, was utterly puerile,-and if intended to be serious involves the moral guilt of premeditated murder. We are at a loss for words to express our grief at this transaction. Lord Winchelsea was the aggressor: he had written a letter to withdraw his name from the projected King's College, in which he imputed most disingenuous and dishonourable motives to the duke, for the part he had taken in the establishment of that institution. This letter he had caused to be published. The duke requested again and again an explanation of the matter: he left open every facility for an honourable apology; but
this was obstinately declined, and his opponent accepted his challenge, and met him on the field with an apology in his pocket. The Earl, therefore, now admits that he was the aggressor, admits he has done wrong, inflicted an injury; but he could not acknowledge this till he had first sustained his opponent's fire, which might have left one party a corpse, and conducted the other to the criminal bar of his country. Such is worldly honour; but such is not Christian principle. Some of our readers have asked us why we so often warn them not to confound_political Protestantism with religious Protestantism, the present case furnishes an illustration of the importance of the distinction. The late Duke of York was a mere political Protestant: he acquired popularity by voting against the removal of Catholic disabilities; but his Protestantism did not prevent his being a gambler, and living in other immoralities. The Earl of Winchelsea is a man of very different character: but however estimable may be his general life, can we call that religious Protestantism which, being convicted of wrong, will not retract it without a duel? The duke of Wellington acts upon the mere principles of soldier-like and worldly honour: his argument in the very measures now pending is mere political expediency; but where higher motives are professed, where religion and conscience are pleaded, we justly look for higher principles. The deep criminality and gross absurdity of the practice of duelling are too palpable to need to be dwelt upon: but in the present instance, there were considerations which enhanced ten-fold the guilt and folly of the action.
MRS. SLATER. PHILADELPHIA, the beloved wife of Richard Barry Slater, Esq., M. D., of High Wycombe, and second daughter of the late Sir Thomas Cayley, Bart., of Brompton Hall, in the county of York, was early distinguished by a superior understanding and much personal beauty. Born and educated in the ranks of fashionable life, she soon became, and for many years continued to be, an object of great admiration in most of the gay circles of York and its neighbourhood. At the
same time, though of a high and quick spirit, it was so chastened by the native sweetness and benevolence of her disposition, that she was equally the object of love among the poor in her vicinity, to whose wants she greatly delighted to administer. But God, who is rich in mercy, had better things in store for her, than these high natural gifts and amiable attractions; for, visiting a sister at High Wycombe, she became acquainted with the real character of the Gospel of Christ,
of which she had hitherto been ignorant, but which now became impressed with divine and saving power upon her heart. Her natural thirst for knowledge having thus received a heavenly bias, she was led to seek every opportunity for obtaining religious instruction, as well as the society of such as she believed were true disciples of Christ. She, in consequence, determined to relinquish the worldly fas cinations amidst which she had hitherto lived; and often has she been heard to say, how unsatisfying, disappointing, and vexatious, are all the pleasures, so called, of fashionable life, at their very best; that their resemblance to the " crackling of thorns" was most apt and just; and that to a mere rational being, religion apart, they were but vanity and melancholy degradation. Miss Cayley had resided but a short time at Wycombe, when the sorrowful writer of these lines became acquainted with her high excellencies, and in October, 1800, became richly blessed in marriage with her. In consequence of
this union, she became the valued and in⚫timate friend of the late Rev. Thomas Scott, and many other excellent persons of that day, both among the clergy and laity. She continued to grow in heavenly wisdom, and the effects were beautifully visible in her whole deportment. The revered commentator above alluded to, would often speak with great esteem and admiration of her exemplary Christian integrity and honesty of character. A firm adherence to the great truths of the Gospel, a clear discrimination in all essential points of doctrine, deep humility, love to the Saviour, his cause, his people, his ordinances, pity and compassion for the miserable and destitute, anxiety for the salvation of her neighbours, and the whole world, the most tender love for relations and friends, with frequent prayers for their spiritual and eternal welfare, were the prominent marks of the efficacy of the grace of God in her daily life. The retired path in which she moved, afforded no room for any thing that could dazzle or astonish,, but "like the path of the just, it was as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Under many painful vicissitudes, Christ was her support, the Holy Ghost was her guide and comforter, and heaven with all its glories, often stood open to her view, as her peaceful and happy home.
The last year of her earthly existence was marked by more than common evidences of the power, compassion, love, and consolation, of our great High Priest. In the beginning of 1828, it pleased God to visit her with severe paralysis, which for some time precluded all hope of recovery; but the exercise of her mental powers was mercifully restored, and these were consecrated to the glory of her God and Saviour. The simplicity of her faith was most remarkable. Her temper was unruffled during the days and nights of languor and suffering. Thanksgiving and praise to the Rock of her Salvation, mingled with compassion for the afflicted, were the themes on which her spirit delighted to dwell. To her friends and attendants she was full of gentleness and gratitude; and notwithstanding the tendency of her disease to induce irritability and impatience, the power of Divine grace most exquisitely beamed forth in her constant serenity of mind. Thus she lingered till the 4th of last February; when faith and patience having accomplished their perfect work, she quitted for ever her sufferings and sorrows for the bosom of that Saviour, in whose likeness she shall awake in the morning of the resurrection, to receive a crown of righteousness that fadeth not away. R. B. S.
ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS.
C. L.; FEBRUARY; T. W.; P. B. W.; D. D.; N.; H. F.; A. L. C.; Lines on Exodus; G. B.; E. C.; J. H.; BIBLICUS; J. R.; QUÆRENS; ETασTS; H. W. B.; C. F. W.; A SUFFOLK RECTOR; E. A.; and DUBITANS; are under consideration.
We have been obliged, though we have overrun our limits, to abridge our review department this Number, in order to admit the papers of several valued correspondents.
Mr. Charles Wesley informs us, that the hymn respecting which our correspondents have inquired, was undoubtedly written by his father.
We have received numerous letters thanking us in terms of friendly warmth, which we shall not repeat, for what our correspondents are pleased to consider the "timely, correct, and Christian" remarks in our last Number on the Catholic question. We have had several others written, as we have before observed, in a truly Christian and ingenious spirit, propounding to us some queries which we have briefly noticed in our View of Public Affairs. But we have had but one letter couched in an uncharitable tone. A SUFFOLK RECTOR, was not obliged to concur in our view of this painful subject; but we had hoped that our remarks were not penned in a spirit to "disgust beyond measure" any candid mind, or to call for remarks about " traitorous duplicity."
The publisher of the memoir of the late Mr. Pollok has obligingly written to thank us for our observations upon the ungracious remark about "Evangelism," noticed in our review of the Course of Time, in our Appendix; adding, that Mr. Pollok was strictly what could be called "evangelical," and associated with persons of that character; and that the erroneous statement shall be corrected, and justice done to Pollok's memory in the next edition.
SUPPLEMENT TO RELIGIOUS INTELLIGENCE.
BRITISH AND FOREIGN BIBLE SOCIETY.
Our exhausted limits oblige us to omit our usual notice of the contents of the appended papers; but they well merit the attention of our readers.