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NOTICES TO CORRESPONDENTS.
Received, and under consideration,—“ P.P.”—“ H. W.”—“A.” "T. K."—" Bedel," and " X," will be inserted.
The translation of Luther sent us by "Anon," requires revision.
We regret that we have not been able to fulfil our promise of inserting the communication about Cornwallis House; it shall certainly find a place in our
ERRATUM. In the translation of Bishop Heber's hymn, which appeared in our last Number for 'cantibus' read' cautibus."
We beg to acknowledge the receipt of Archdeacon Browne's Charge, and of the Last Supper.'
We regret that want of space compels us to omit an account of the awful destruction of Claremorris Church, on Sunday the 5th of October, by lightning, but we beg to refer to an interesting account of this Signal Display of Mercy, published by Messrs. Curry and Co. Upper Sackville-street.
ON THE PRESENT STATE OF IRELAND, AND THE CONSEQUENT DUTY OF THE CLERGY.
It would be doing the clergy of the Established Church the greatest injustice to suppose that they are indifferent spectators of the passing events of the day. They are too much connected with the higher ranks of society by education and sympathy, not to be interested in every thing that can affect their influence or their peace; and they are too much connected with the lower orders by the reciprocal ties of gratitude and benefit, not to deplore the maddening spirit of faction that is now neutralizing all Christian exertion, and overshadowing all Christian hopes. Seeing, as they may, by the most casual glance, that time has partially revealed the purposes which policy had struggled to conceal; that the demagogue and the priest have jointly sought to inflame our susceptible population into the dangerous state of insubordination without rebellion, in order that by the dreaded evil they might terrify equally the people and the government, and thus by uniting an infuriate and maddened population, that an unconditional entrance might be forced into that sanctuary, from which the dangerous and unexplained tenets of their creed had excluded them; seeing this, they cannot avoid sharing in the general feelings of Protestants, a sentiment of deep and unmeasured disgust at the licentious violence of party spirit, of cherished and renewed affection for the constitution which is threatened, and the religion that is reviled; and if possible a still deeper feeling of regret for the hopeless population that is impelled forward by the selfish brawlers of sedition, who excite to rebellion, and then affect to preach peace and resignation. That such is the state of Protestant feeling cannot be doubted: it is visible in the excitement that has spread over both portions of our empire; it is read in the eagerness with which combinations of Protestants are formed; it is heard in the tone of deep indignant and angry eloquence that marks those crowded assemblages, and the violence that too frequently characterises their addresses, VOL. VII.
is but the reflection of the factious fury of the opposite side, the answering of one thunder-cloud to the echoes of another. That such a state is, under existing circumstances natural, cannot be denied; it is but the re-action of outraged feeling-that it has also a defensive aspect, as being produced by menace and threat, must be conceded, in spite of occasional aberrations of passion. That it may be directed towards good is our anxious wish and prayer but it is not with feelings of complacency that we survey the picture presented to us by our country, that we see its population divided into two alienated and hostile masses, lowering defiance at each other, and too frequently the interests of the community, and the cause of pure religion forgotten in the whirlwind of factious intemperance; it is not with pleasure that we hear the watchword of party, or the tocsin of extermination sounded from any, and least of all from clerical voices. The state in which we are placed is awful and appalling, even to the persons who have produced the crisis; and who now, like the fabled conjuror find, that though their spell could invoke the demon of discord, it is too feeble to bind his emancipated power. It may perhaps be regarded as the impulse of folly to speak of moderation at such a period;--the outrageous conduct of the Popish party, the apparent indifference or neglect of government, the insults offered, and the dangers apprehended, would seem to justify in all classes of Protestants an excitement even greater than that manifested at present, and to permit every exhibition of zeal that is consistent with subordination. We pretend not to reply to such statements, which have too much foree to be dismissed hastily we have long felt and expressed our abhorrence of the maddening violence of the Popish faction, and the apparently vacillating conduct of our own Government: but as we feel that it is not enough to have a good cause, but we must act too with the temper that becomes it; so the violence of the Romanists shall never prevent us regretting violence in those with whose political feelings we would in the main agree: nor do we think that sentiments and language becoming the Corn Exchange are consecrated by being uttered by ministers of the Establishment. It is because we fear the deleterious consequences of the atmosphere we breath, that we would exhort to a little of that temperance by which its noxious qualities may be neutralized; and that at all events we would wish to set the messengers of peace, the ministers of reconciliation, apart from the restless and absorbing influence of party feelings, the bustle of political agitation.
That no professional character divests an individual of his station in society as a citizen, is a truth recognised and acted on,— his rights and his duties all have their origin in this; and it is not often that an appeal, even to conscience itself, can render void the primary claim of society in the first instance. There are cases too, in which the exercise of a right becomes a duty; and the refusal to avail ourselves of a privilege, would be a desertion of the station imposed on us by society. But there are other rights, which in their exercise might interfere with duties, and which are therefore either entirely or partially annulled. We shall be borne out in our assertion that,
among these, an active engagement in politics is one which no man in private life is called on to undertake, and which, so far from becoming persons of certain situations or professions, would be regarded as inconsistent with the duties peculiarly their province. A judge, who from a display of political feeling runs the risk of being biassed in his legal opinions, is justly regarded as unfit for his situation: and the ecclesiastic who soils his gown by an intermingling with the bustle of elections, and the petty broils of party, is rightly deemed to have degraded his situation. The duties of the minister of God remove him from the sphere in which the mere business of this world is carried on- he has other and nobler objects; the materials of his contemplations are of an higher and a nobler class; and if he makes the things of time and sense the subject of his discourse, it is only to point them out in contrast with the superior importance of those that are visible to faith, and realised by her power. For such a person, whose Sabbath exercises must be employed in turning the eyes of his auditors from the transient occupations of this world, to fix them on the all-important concerns of another, for such a person to be found at other times immersed in business, and occupied in the very concerns, against whose attractions he had warned his flock, seems to us a subject of deep regret, an example of awful inconsistency. It does not rest with the injury inflicted on the individual; he is not the only sacrifice to the contrast between practice and precept; but through him religion is wounded and her influence diminished, because of the unguarded conduct of her ministers. Let us not be misunderstood:-there are rights which a clergyman may exercise, because in perfect consistence with his profession; there are others which circumstances may force upon him, although usually he would, and ought to avoid their exercise; and the state of society may become so disorganized, as to call on each individual, in whatever situation he may be placed, or with whatever dignity he may be invested, to act as prudence may direct for the general weal. General rules can only be laid down for the ordinary circumstances of society; and wherever these vary, or are materially changed, the precept must vary likewise. In some situations a minister of the Gospel may deem it justifiable to undertake the duties of a magistrate; but we feel convinced that all will agree, that such shall be the result of imperative circumstances; and the fact that any citizen may become a brawling politician, no more justifies a clergyman in assuming a political character, than he would be esteemed correct in swaggering as a yeomanry officer, because in the gloomy period of a revolutionary war, a Walker* defended the walls of Derry.
He must be a bigot indeed to prejudice who can refuse his warmest meed of conscientious admiration to the patriot Walker defending the walls of Derry, almost the last asylum of liberty and Protestantism; but we may ask with justice, for the call of that extraordinary man to be present at the battle of the Boyne. In Derry he was but fulfilling a painful, but necessary duty; no call of duty required him to expose his person, and forget his functions at the Boyne.
But we may be asked, is a clergyman to lose his interest in the occurrences of the day-is he not to feel for the situation of his countrymen and his fellow-creatures-is he not to value his rights as a man, and his liberty as a citizen-to raise his voice against oppression, or to join in procuring blessings for his native land? We would reply, that it is obviously impossible, and would not be desirable, that a clergyman should abstract himself 80 far from his social relations as to be indifferent to the passing events of life; but the impression they ought to make on him, and the impression he should reflect from their influence, is still to partake of his sacred character: he should mingle in the affairs of life as one interested only in the spiritual effects of the things of time, and not manifest anxiety or eagerness after them for themselves :-in matters connected with the advancement of morality or religion, such as extending the blessings of Christianity to India, or modifying or meliorating the sad state of our wretched slaves, or giving stimulus and energy to the unemployed population of our country, a minister of God may be active and energetic in subordination to higher objects; he may make such the subjects of his conversation and his prayers, and may for such address the legislature. He may share in the joy conferred by the prosperity, and sympathise in the adversity of his country, and point the attention of the careless and indifferent to the hand, and will, and purpose of God, equally manifest in each. He may call upon the great council of the nation to guard and defend the interests of religion, and the national church, and in the legitimate expression of his sentiments, though we deem that such should be but seldom exerted, he does not violate, as we conceive, his higher duties, or desecrate his sacred character, if he express the plain conviction of his understanding in moderate and Christian language, free from the excitement of party spirit. So far do we conceive a minister of the Gospel may go; though, the seldomer we see his name appended to such documents, the better do we think it will be for the interests of the Church, and the character of the individual, and his general influence over his flock. The case however is altered when the minister of religion assumes any designation that will confer a permanent character on his conduct, and will exhibit him to the world as permanently taking an active station in the busy bustling politics of party. He then does not exercise the right of a citizen to declare his opinion, and afterwards to leave the result to the wisdom of the legislature, he himself returning to the high and holy objects of his profession; but he assumes an attitude of one who is not so raised above this world as to be able to direct others in their course, of one, whose thoughts and affections must be occupied by time, and whose objects are those of sense. He mingles in the business of life, not in order to draw instruction from it, to calm the agitated passion, or repress the ebullitions of faction, but as one interested in all that goes forward, invested with the character of party, and unable therefore to mediate, became himself a partizan. Such an individual may be engaged perhaps no farther than in name, yet, by his engagement, will he be stamped with