Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

Or

they call them, are a shame to our torpor. Men of zeal, and talent, and piety, like Brydaine, and before him Fenelon, were sent out by the Popish bishops from time to time, to preach and arouse men, and rekindle the flame of religion. That religion was, indeed, too often degenerate and corrupt; but the example may be imitated without the defects. Had some such measure been adopted by Queen Elizabeth or our first James, Ireland might have been now a Protestant nation. had such methods been adopted, even by William and Anne, it is impossible to say how widely, by the blessing of God, sound doctrine might have been diffused. But it is not yet too late; and if ever there was a moment for pursuing such a course, it is the present. Or if any other means, which our governors in church and state should devise, were vigorously employed, it is not, I repeat, too late. Possibly, this may be the very juncture for sending the offers of a pure doctrine to a nation to whom they have never been adequately made.

Such, Mr. Editor, are the means which occur to me as most applicable to our sister kingdom. My defect in local knowledge must have betrayed me into many errors; but if some of my suggestions should be found relevant, or should lead to others better adapted to the great end, my design will be fully accomplished.

done by a Christian magistracy in restraining open vice, in administering impartially and firmly the law, in checking public outrages upon the Lord's-day, in fostering schemes of benevolence, in exhibiting a pure example in themselves and families, to their servants and dependants. The legislature might then be greatly influenced. The multiplication of individual piety would soon bring about a legislative support of religion. What do we want but pious nobles, bishops, magistrates, gentlemen, in order to raise the standard of religious sentiment in our Houses of Parliament, and in the administration of affairs in Church and State? I rely not primarily on legislative aid. But Christian government is amongst the most important instruments of restoring a decayed religion, and aiding in plans for diffusing a revived one. Our sixth Edward, and our Elizabeth, at the period of the Reformation; and our William and Mary, a century afterwards, were honoured instruments in the hands of God for establishing the revived doctrines of Christianity. In Germany also, the Electors and Princes threw their shield around the infant Reformation, and protected the preachers and divines in the erection of schools, the remodelling of colleges, the appointment of a parochial clergy, &c. The government of our free country, sustained and animated by public opinion, may do wonders now. Already have the grants for Irish Education testified a liberal disposition to aid that grand cause. Instead of being diminished, let them be multiplied; only under a sound system. Let education be sent into every recess of Ireland. Let churches be built. Let the bishops be aided in their pious efforts. Let the Parliament take its share, not tamely, but vigorously and boldly, in the religious welfare of the island. Let the bishops, and other ecclesiastical functionaries, arouse themselves to due effort. To slumber in false dignity is no longer allowed them. The Church of England and Ireland has been too long wanting in popular means of meeting the mass of the people. It has kept too much aloof; it has had too proud and reserved an air. Let it understand the real office and true dignity of a spiritual body, and descend to the demands of a new era. Let the bishops mould their measures to new circumstances. Let them preach, for instance, as chief pastors and shepherds, in every part of their dioceses. Let them take with them chaplains, to evangelize all around their chief stations of progress. Let ministers be authorised to go up and down the dioceses as missionaries to arouse the Roman-Catholic population to inquiry, to associate the resident clergy, to aid the various religious societies, to distribute books and tracts, to awaken a dormant peasantry to a consideration of real religion. The Romish missions, as

Permit me, then, now to proceed to what is almost equally important, perhaps more so than all the preceding topics, the SPIRIT AND TEMPER in which these or similar means should be employed. For I hold it to be impossible, in the present position of Ireland, that there should not be much irritation, many sharp asperities amongst the parties which have been dividing the kingdom. It is not in human nature, that a state of distrust and separation should not continue to produce some discomposure of mind, even after the chief primary causes have been removed. This demands therefore double caution on the part of the societies and individuals who actively engage in efforts for the spiritual good of the population.

1. And here let me first mention a spirit of sympathy and compassion for the souls of our fellow-countrymen; that spirit which animated our Lord when he wept overJerusalem; that spirit which breathes through. out in the writings of St.Paul-a spirit not of superiority, much less of arrogance and conceit, and least of all of an affected and ostentatious compassion, loud in profession, and scarcely concealing the vainglory which stirs beneath--but that spirit of real love for souls, as redeemed by the blood, and baptized into the name, and capable of all the grace of the Gospel of Christ-that compassion, considerate and meek in its expressions and acts, but deeply seated in the breast, which is drawn

first from the cross of a dying Saviour, and embued with the large influences of his Holy Spirit. A secular, proud, angry, contentious temper, is as far from this genuine sympathy, in its origin, as it differs from it in its effects. True compassion begets friendliness, consideration, courteousness of manner, and all those little attentions which assuage fear, and generate confidence. TRUTH AND SYMPATHY ARE GOD'S INSTRUMENTS FOR MOVING THE WORLD. Everyheart responds to the touches of fellow-feeling. If I address a man in real kindness, as one who am in similar cireumstances, as a weak and erring sinner, with himself; as one bringing him glad tidings of great joy, and revealing treasures of inestimable value; as one fearful of offending, and yet anxious to bless; as one assuming nothing, but obeying an impulse of benevolence, seeking the soft moments for speaking kind and yet allimportant truths; if I address a man in such a temper, and if the Gospel be the basis of my instructions, and prayer for the influences of grace accompany them, I may be assured of success.

2. In the next place, we should not, I think, address ourselves to this great affair, in too eager and sanguine a temper. Zeal, fervour, and love are indispensable; but these differ from impetuosity and eager ness. We must not expect too much at first. We must not be intemperate in our attacks. We must not proceed in a hard and insulting manner on the footing of the repeal of disabilities. We must act with the caution, the reserve, the abstinence from all airs of haste and vehemence, the modesty and backwardness which, under our present circumstances are imperiously demanded of us. The best intentioned persons, from want of a little more reserve and self-knowledge, often repel inquiring minds amongst the Roman Catholics, instead of attracting and encouraging them. No change of laws can alter the constitution of the human mind, which always shrinks from attempts to force it; and, like the traveller in a pelting storm, wraps its prejudices and habits more closely around it.-A gentle approach, more persuasive and soft in its efforts, disarms opposition; and, like the sun shining forth in its noon-day heat, induces the traveller at once to cast from him the incumbrance of old prepossessions. Nothing was more remarkable in our Lord, than the tenderness with which he encouraged the minds of his auditors. We must expect the Roman-Catholic laity, as well as priesthood, to be much on the alert for a time, in repelling direct attempts to convert them. A rash assault would therefore instantly fail. A little time, a little previous intercourse of kindness, may better prepare the way. These remarks apply more to individuals than to societies they apply to those employed in carrying into effect the designs of such CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 328.

societies-to clergymen approaching new classes of their parishioners-to Scripture readers, and carriers of tracts-to those who attempt immediate conferences with the Roman Catholics. Be not, my friends, too forward. Do not expect too much at first; force nothing. The winter has been Wait for the gentle rains and

severe.

warm suns of spring, and all will burst forth of itself into life and verdure. Your -over-eagerness cannot dissolve the frosted ground.

3. A spirit of wisdom and discretion, therefore, may be fitly mentioned as another element in a right disposition. This must be peculiarly needful at such a moment as this. "The spirit of power and love" is not enough, unless there be also, as the Apostle adds, A SOUND MIND. What Read the Epistles of St. Paul. judgment, what deliberation, what wisdom, shed their soft radiance, amidst the warmth and fervour of his exhortations. What a balanced mind, which knows what is suitable, which employs its weapons to the best advantage, which varies its manner with varying circumstances; which lays the stress of an argument on its true grounds; which yields inferior, and urges on important matters; which unites, in short, forethought with affection, meekness with courage, wisdom with zeal. A mind thus sound and well poised, directs its measures with double propriety and fervour. I am aware that multitudes of zealous men have a prejudice against the very name of prudence. What have the prudence-mongers (such is the term) ever done for the good of mankind? is the question they put. To which I reply, that if, indeed, prudence degenerate into worldly fear, or be unattended with zeal and love, it must of course fail; or if it be the predominant quality, it will not produce the highest excellence. I allow also fully, that if I must choose between zeal without prudence, or prudence without zeal, in good men, I should make my election for the acti vity which does something, rather than for the timidity which is prostrate and lifeless. But I still claim for wisdom and discretion their due importance. I refer once again to the Reformers of revered memory. Their prudence was conspicu

ous.

In how many occasions the infant cause of truth would have been crushed, but for the extraordinary judgment manifested by its first promoters. Cranmer, Ridley, Melancthon, Luther, Ecolampadius, Zuingle excelled in this master-virtue. They distinguished things that differed. They had defects indeed, Luther especially; but they were, generally speaking, remarkable for that prudence, which, like ballast to the vessel, cannot, indeed, supply the lack of wind and tide, but can give steadiness and safety to the voyage. "Let your love abound," says the Apostle, more and more in knowledge, and in all 2 M

[ocr errors]

judgment, that you may approve things that are excellent, that ye may be sincere and without offence, until the day of Jesus Christ." The rapid decay of the most promising beginnings, where wisdom was remarkably wanting; the novelties of doctrine and violence of spirit which have disturbed the churches of late years-the clouds which now threaten her-impress my mind deeply with the indispensable importance of a well-informed and wellbalanced mind in the conduct of religious enterprises and the peculiar character of the Roman-Catholic superstition and of the Irish peasantry who are the subjects of it, induce me to think that a due admixture of prudence, with warmth and fervour of love, would serve to direct, as well as multiply the good of the measures now in progress.

4. But I would say, in the fourth place, avoid, as much as may be, a spirit of partyproselytism and controversy. We do not want proselytes, but penitents. We do not set up Protestantism, but Christianity, We are to defend the faith, once delivered to the saints, and to labour by all means to bring men to the obedience and love of Christ. But this may be done, not by a spirit of sectarianism, but by sound and Scriptural appeals to the conscience. What have the names of party to do with our Lord Christ? What has aBrunswick, an Orange, or Protestant sect to do with the simple doctrines of the New Testament? Christianity is the point we should keep in view; Christianity pure as it flows from the Divine word, and separated from the peculiarities, and irregularities, and world ly associations of human divisions. What we have now hammered out into Protestantism was, three centuries since, pure Christianity dug up from the native bed. When Melancthon read the Confession of Augsburg, all the princes were moved with the new and touching appeals of that remarkable document, unmixed with the decisions of the schools, stamped with simplicity and love. Let us follow the example. Let us present truth, not as involved and exaggerated by the authorities and names of men, but as revealed by the Divine Spirit, adapted to the state and wants of man, and having the impress of its high original. Discussions may be important and indispensable where the priesthood hold such a dominion over the faith of men; but I think they should be rare; they commit too much to the casual talents for debate and persuasion of individuals. Still they may at times have an advantage, where attendant circumstances are favourable, and solemn arguments appear likely to stimulate inquiry in large bodies of persons. But in general conceive a spirit of proselytism and debate would be better exchanged for a spirit of holy zeal for winning souls to Christ. In general, I should conceive it better to

proceed on the authorised declaration of the New Testament, on the exposition of fundamental truths, independently of names and sects, leaving it to the operations of grace to exclude the opposite corruptions. "What method do you take in conducting your controversy with the Church of Rome?" said an English minister, a few years since, to a French Protestant one in the South of France * "Do you begin with the argument against antiquity, or that against the supremacy of the pope; or do you begin with traditions? "I take no such course," was the reply. "I urge the common foundations of the Christian faith. I induce my Roman-Catholic friends to accept a copy of the New Testament. I find this most effective. It does not irritate; it does not attempt to proselyte. It leaves the truth to its native power in the hands of the Holy Spirit.'

[ocr errors]

5. These reflections lead me to notice further, the importance of a spirit of candour and fairness in all our proceedings. Nothing is more difficult when controversies prevail, than to preserve that impartiality which we all admit to be so important, but which we always forget when the passions are roused, and the judgment views objects through a perverted medium. Our Lord was a pattern of true candour, as well as of every other virtue. He never overstates an argument; he never brings a railing accusation; he never outrages an opponent. There is a majesty and equanimity in his arguments with the Jews, which we should do well to imitate. This is the more important when a church, like that of Rome, is concerned, where the fundamentals of Christianity are to be found, though buried under a mass of additions and corruptions; and where the effects of knowledge and light, and of a purer Christianity, and of the spirit of inquiry are operating tacitly upon the minds of reflecting men, though the canons and decrees and councils of the worst ages remain unrepealed. You can scarcely expect so ancient, and extended, and secular a body, to deny formally their errors. Do the bishops of Protestant churches readily revoke the errors of a former age? They silently reform. Let us allow the same opportunity to the Roman Catholics. They know little or nothing of what Protestants are. They know less of their doctrines. A veil of ignorance and prejudice obscures all their judgments. Such a people should be treated with candcur and fairness. Take what is true, what is good, what is holy, what is scriptural, what is substantially agreeable to the Christian revelation; enforce these with simplicity, allow these to be right and true; stretch nothing beyond the fair eonstruction and bearing of things. Exaggeration, harshness, indiscriminate, and therefore unjust,

• M. Chabraud, of Toulouse.

denunciations, always produce a reaction, and often defeat the best ends of zeal and love. When you perceive men really animated with a candid, generous temper, which seeks mainly for truth, it promotes very much the effect of conviction. And surely if there be any one dictate of that "charity which thinketh no evil," more prominent than another, it is the fairness I am now enforcing.

6. Let me next mention a spirit of perseverance, notwithstanding difficulties, notwithstanding apparent impossibilities, not withstanding opposition, menaces, delays, disappointment. Not a mere momentary impulse is wanting; not a mere convulsive and short-lived effort; we require an enlightened, persevering, constant spirit. We want a system, not an act; a positive, self-denying course of exertions, resting upon principle, kindled and animated by the love of Christ. To raise up such a country as Ireland from the abyss of its misery, ignorance, and irreligion, to the ordinary standard of other enlightened nations, is no easy task. It cannot be done in a day. Especially with such habits of intolerance, such prejudices, such superstitions as the Roman Catholics cherish, we cannot hope for success without a

perseverance never

weary, never exhausted, never renouncing its pursuit. We must sit down and count the cost. We must be ready to vary our means of action. We must be prepared for local defeats. We must return again to our object with redoubled vigour. A holy determination of mind never to relax our efforts till we have repaid to Ireland the long arrears of kindness we owe heris the temper in which we should enter upon our task.

7. I would next mention a spirit of unaffected humility, prayer and dependance on the influences of the Holy Spirit.-For without Divine grace we can do nothing. All means fall dead and impotent without the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If He move not upon the waters, there is no virtue to heal. Prayer, therefore, fervent, humble, united prayer, must be addressed to Him, who alone can help us. We must humble ourselves before God for our national and personal offences, the sins of our church, the sins of our bishops and clergy, the sins of our magistrates and ministers of state, the sins of our legislators and princes, the sins of our nobles and gentry, the sins of our commerce, of our literature, of our journals and periodical writings, of our SUNDAY NEWSPAPERS, SUNDAY TRAVELLING, and SUNDAY PARTIES. We must humble ourselves in the dust

under our family sins, our parochial sins, our individual transgressions; and we must, like Moses, and Nehemiah, and Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and Daniel, plead with the Almighty to spare us as a nation, and to grant us a revival of his grace and blessing. We must renounce ourselves, that God may be exalted. We must compare ourselves with our advantages,-the mercies we have received, the deliverances which have been granted to us, the duties to which we have been called, and the opportunities which now present themselves. We must consider not only the evils we have to remedy in Ireland, but the sins we have to amend in ourselves the popery of our Protestant churches. We must confess from whence we have ourselves fallen, the deep corruption of manners in our people, the gross ignorance which prevails amongst us, the decay and decline in our clergy and bishops from the standards of their own church, the hatred of spiritual religion, which lurks still in so many breasts, the little recognition of God and true Christianity in our legislature, the tardiness with which any measures of a moral and religious character are obtained and executed, the neglect of the ever-blessed Gospel which still prevails. When true abasement of soul has brought us low before God, we shall be prepared for earnest and importunate supplications for the quickening influences of the Holy Ghost; and we may then hope that the Lord will bless our efforts, animate us with love, zeal, and fortitude, guide our judgments and hearts, and prosper our several undertakings.

8. I say nothing, finally, on a spirit of charity and forgiveness amongst ourselves. I take that for granted. Surely, if we are not prepared to forgive our offences against each other, to extinguish the embers of discord and irritation, to forget absolutely and for ever the different sides we have taken in a moment of unparalleled excite. ment-if we are not prepared to bury these petty causes of complaint-bow can we hope to heal the gigantic evils of Ire. land? But I have no fears. CHARITY WILL COVER A MULTITUDE OF SINS. Englishmen will approach the greatest duty of charity in the spirit which it inculcates. They will rejoice to sacrifice every personal feeling to a sublime re-union of national affection-they will rejoice to see England and Ireland, united under the same laws, flourishing in the knowledge and peace of the same Gospel of Christ.

I am sir,

Your very faithful friend,

DANIEL WILSON.

OBITUARY.

MRS. MARY ANN LOUISA
MORTLOCK.

To the Editor of the Christian Observer. SIR-In your former volumes I have endeavoured, I trust not merely in order to solace my own feelings, but, by the blessing of God, to benefit some who might peruse my brief memorial, to embalm the memory of two of my children, now for ever sheltered in a happier clime. I now enclose for your perusal, and, if you think it not unfitting, for that of your readers, a few particulars respecting a third, lately received to the arms of her Saviour, and whose truly amiable and spiritually-minded character, I would trust, may strengthen and encourage them to follow her as she followed Christ. They will not expect to find in the life of a retired and suffering Christian lady, those remarkable incidents which are usually sought for in the records of biography; but if they meet with what is better, that which is practical, spiritual, and edifying, that which will teach them how to live and how to die,-that which will animate them in their Christian course, draw them nigher to their Saviour, and lead their minds from the vanities of the world to the glories of heaven, this simple memorial will not have been written in vain. I have purposely thrown my remarks into the third person to spare both myself and my readers the record of private feelings; and I have omitted many details highly interesting to surviving friends, but which would swell the narrative beyond your limits. Wishing the best blessing of God upon your labours,

I remain, sir, your very faithful friend,

BASIL WOODD.

Ann Louisa, eldest daughter of the Rev. Basil Woodd, minister of Bentinck chapel, St. Mary-le-bone, was born January 17, 1786. Her mother, Ann, was the daughter of Colonel John Wood, of Madras, commandant of Tanjore, the attached patron of the celebrated missionary Swartz. To the pious instructions and exemplary conduct of this devoted servant of God, both the Colonel and Mrs. Wood were indebted for their knowledge of Divine truth, for those consolations of the Gospel, which sustained them under a series of painful events, and carried them through the last trial of life with a hope full of immortality. Nor was the benefit of the Reverend Missionary's instruction confined to the parents; he felt a truly

pastoral affection for the children, and laboured to impress their infant minds with the importance and excellence of true religion. When the Colonel died at Madras, in 1774, and the family caine over to England, Mr. Swartz was accustomed to encourage his young friends with his affectionate letters, some of which, characteristic of tender affection and apostolical simplicity, appeared in the January and February Numbers of the Christian Observer for 1829, and well deserve the attentive re-perusal of the reader, especially of young persons.

Ann, the eldest daughter, who is particularly mentioned in some of the above letters, was born at Madras in 1764, married to the Rev. Basil Woodd in 1785, and died of pulmonary consumption in 1791. Her four children have now all followed to the grave: Edward died an infant; Basil Owen, her eldest son, died of pulmonary consumption in 1811; Hannah Sophia, of the same complaint, in 1817; and Ann Louisa fell a victim to. the same malady, after an illness of ten months, August 25th, 1828. Of the two former, memoirs have appeared in the Christian Observer for 1811 and 1817:" the latter is the subject of the present memorial. All have left the most satisfactory testimonies that they knew in whom they had believed, and that they' were separated only for a season from each other and their beloved parents, and would one day meet again to part no more for ever.

The subject of this memoir, like her mother, evinced symptoms of early piety, especially an evident conscientiousness, attention to mental improvement and duty, appropriate seasons for devotion, respect for the Holy Scriptures, and the privileges of the Christian Sabbath. She was remarkable for a tender cultivation of domestic harmony; she felt a lively interest in the younger branches of the family, who were much attached to her; and she shewed uniform kindness to all the household, who loved and esteemed her. Nor was she less remarkable for her affectionate regard to her father and her second mother, in whom her ardent affections centered, and to whose familiar instructions she invariably ascribed her early and her matured delight in the ways of God. As it was the chief ambition of her parents to bring up their children, not so much for this world, as for the world to come, the embellishments of education

« AnteriorContinuar »