Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

But it
may

be asked what has been the result of all that has been done, and all that has been expended, and what have been the fruits of the magnificent promises, and the sanguine expectations of

6

the usual good taste of the Association, but must excite no small measure of in. digaation, and regret, when we see it acquiring a degree of buoyancy in Eng. land, thcough the medium of a peer's imprimatur. • Neither is the degrading system carried on in Ireland, under the name of Reformation, likely to mend the matter ; a system of inmoral, unprincipled, and corrupting per. secution, practised upon a half-starved population, beginning with the child in the cradle, and only ending with the aged and forlorn, upon the bed of death.'- Good God! where have these lords and ladies, prelates and parsons, these apostles of Ireland's reformation, where have they learned that charity consists in bribing a man to perjury and apostacy--to sell his birth-right for a mess of pottage-to commit crinies that cry to heaven for vengeance, and lose his soul for the sake of saring a starving body from a few years of misery and infamy! We see that these, and these only, are the fruits of this fanaticisin, since every day brings back these converts of the Reformation ; not one in twenty remaining obstinate in his apostacy. But the people of England know little or nothing ofall this." (Reasons for not taking the Test, By John, Earl of Shrewsbury-p. xxxviii.)- Nor the people of Ireland either, we can assure the learned nobleman; “ the crimes that cry to heaven for vengeance," are not those that are perpetrated by the converts from Popery, but ugainst them, as we shall soon prove, and the calculation of one in twenty reinaining, places the noble Earl's arithmetic on a par with his eloquence, The charge of bribery, considering the number of individuals who have left Popery, is more complimentary to the pockets of the Protestant Reformers, than to his own acquaintance with Protestant finance. We repel the foul falsehood with unmeasured contempt. But let us hear the noble Earl :“ 'I'he Catholics, who are styled the enemies of education, oppressed and impoverished as they are, bave at this moment 420,000 children under tuition, in schools established and supported by voluntary contribution ; and happy I ain to say, that many liberal and humane Protestants have most haudsomely seconded their exertions by grants of land, as well as of noney; and, in return, the children of Protestants are educated indiscrimiyately with Catholics, and this without any attempt at Proselytism, the religious instruction being given separately.”—(pp. xxxix. xl.) This indeed is news, and we doubt not, that Mr. Rice and his Com. mittee will thank Lord Shrewsbury for his information, as they could only find 46,119 instead of 420,000 in schools supported by Roman Catholic contributions, and we can assure him that that number artificially made up to meet the Commissioners, is very sensibly diminished since. We certainly have seen, and with deep regret, Protestant names, and such names as ought not to have been seen there, in subscription lists for Roman Catholic schools, whence the Bible was exiled. Now, we never quarrel with a man's politics; he may differ from us, and we may deem him very obstinate and ignorant, but that difference is not matter for personal reproach :- :-nor have we any right to quarrel with him for his religion ; he niay be very bigotted and very superstitious, and we may regret and pity him, yet we have no reason personally to censure him; but a Protestant, prosessing the religion of the Bible, a Bible distributor giving his money to support establishments, the very first principle of which is the exclusion of that book, seems to us so monstrous an anomaly, that notwithstanding our respect for the individuals who have thus acted, we inust openly charge them with the grossest inconsistency and error, and with a sacrifice, we are sure conscientiously, of their own principles to what they believe to be expediency, and we would call by another name. We shall not now notice the lamentations of the worthy nobleman over the unheard- of persecutions inflicted and inflicting on the suffering Roman Catholics of Ireland, partly because the absurdity of these accusations from the mouth of the member of a Church, that has asserted in theory and always employed in practice, the temporal sword against those, enemies whom she hunted down as heretics, must be apparent, and also because it is probable we may notice the Earl's work at some length at another time, not certainly for its politics but for its theology.

the last year? Now we are free to confess, that taken literally these promises and expectations, were not a little unguarded, and yet, though calculated to protract the accomplishment of the object, and to deceive as to its nature, circumstanced as Protestants were, who had been reading and bearing of reformation, but never had witnessed any remarkable development of its energies, the matter was not extraordinary. Our sensations resembled the feelings with which we peruse year after year,

the records of a Missionary enterprise ;-we read of occasional converts, we read of sanguine hopes, and our own hopes, more sanguine than any realities, bound beyond circumstances and situations, and anticipate the conversion, not of tens and twenties, but of millions, and when disappointed, we undervalne what has been done and despair of the final result. Now this, or something like this, has taken place with respect to Ireland. When what might have been anticipated occurred, and that in a few genial spots where the seed had been nourished and taken care of, the fruits began to show themselves, the public expectation was excited and joyful, and a hope excited that as similar seed had been scattered over the whole country, similar results would follow. Now, while we rejoice that such results did manifest themselves in some districts, we are fully satisfied that such were not to be generally expected : in hoping for the general display, we forgot the progress of human events and the character of man; we forgot that while the reformation in the 16th century, was fostered under the blessing of God by a Cranmer and an Edward, by a Frederic and a Gustavus, it was crushed in Austria by despotism, and in Spain by the inquisition;-we forgot that the moral government of God has been pleased to conform itself

, so to phrase our meaning, to the course of events in this world, by which we must be directed, so that we may take warning by circumstances, and learn wisdom by experience. Now look at Ireland; see the indifference of the Protestant gentry, to whom the dissipation of a good-natured Lord Lieutenant is a circumstance infinitely more important than the reformation of the Roman Catholic population; see them with the honorable exception of two or three noblemen, and a half dozen resident gentry, either neuter or adverse * in the cause of God and Ireland-look at the labourers in the cause of reformation; it may befit Lord Shrewsbury or Mr. O'Connell, to bestow dignity and power upon them, that they may bestow obloquy, but in truth, they are generally speaking, of that middle rank of society, with whom but little of the apparent influence rests, but from whom it must be confessed, most of the revolutions of society have sprung; men who have leisure to reflect, energy to act, and reason to chuse wisely, but whose individual influence on society is, and must be small. Look at the body on whom the exertion is to

* Archdeacon Philpott in his work on the Coronation Oath, states a reason for opposition, very remote from indifference. (See page 227.) This important and interesting work would have been long since introduced to our readers' notice, but that its aspect is more decidedly political than we have been accustomed to review.

be made :-see it confirmed in prejudice, hardened in hatred, indurated by the atmosphere of politics, in which its members have so long breathed, and prepared to resist with more than vehemence, all attempts at giving them juster notions either on the subject of morals or religion ;-see them governed by a priesthood, whose interests are essentially connected with their perseverance, in a state of absolute dependence and ignorance, and consider their character excitable and volatile, credulous and violent, easily directed and still more easily misdirected. What a species of moral, and sometimes of physical martyrdom, has the ingenuous convert from Popery to undergo ?-separation and hostility; hatred from his neighbours, and more intense hatred from his own family; curses from the altar, and denunciations from the hearth; the finger of scorn, not slow in this case, marking him out for contempt, and execrations equally “loud and deep,” pursuing him to the field and the farm, the market and the church ; these followed by acts of open violence, by the personal assault, the burning of the cottage, ihe murder of the family; all these things, while they indicate the state of society in Ireland, a non-descript in the annals of the world, account awfully, but sincerely for the apparent stillness of the reformation. What did the late ebullition produce ? a conviction on the minds of the Romish clergy that all was not right, and an anxiety to check it; and when political excitement and intimidation failed, and that jubilees, and penances, and processions, and denunciations, and miracles, and all the unsanctified mammery that disgraces modern Babylon, even in the estimation of its own votaries were ineffectual, then the means peculiar to the Church were had recourse to ; the Jacobins of Rome proclaimed the reign of terror, and the spirit that sanctioned the inquisition and the stake, though happily prevented by a Protestant government from such demonstrations, manifested its never-dying operation, by all the energy of unceasing hatred, and unrelenting persecution.

It may be thought that the language we have used upon this subject is strong, but it is not stronger than our feelings; we know that we have not gone beyond facts, and we refer our readers to the authenticated circumstances in our religious intelligence as evidence of the general system pursued, and with partial success, by the Roman Catholic clergy and laity, towards those who conscientiously separate themselves from their corrupted Church. Small as is their general toleration for Protestants, towards the converts their rancour is extreme, and while there is comparatively little protection and little zeal* among Protestants to defend or extend the truth, Popery is a well organized system, and in its discipline and arrangements, its unity of plan and its simultaneous operations form, indeed, a commentary on the wisdom of the children of this world, which so far exceeds that of the children of light.

• We have heard with astonishment, of a well-furnished Protestant library, whose doors were opened by its owner for the reception of Roman Catholic Priests, when in controversy with a Protestant; but closed against their Protestant opponent, wbo was directly and officially refused even an hour's reading, when he was anxious to collect authorities, or verify quotations! What a commentary on the remark in the text does this furnisn, and it wouid stili be more striking, if we were at liberty to mention the names, and persons.

Shall we add another reflection, that has always prevented us from indulging in the melancholy forebodings with which some zealous Protestants are afflicted, because the reformation does not seem to be extending itself as rapidly as their wishes might have prompted. It is true, that our newspapers do not contain those lists of public converts that they some time since exhibited, nor is there so much to gratify the vanity, or excite the feelings of those who are engaged in the work; but so far from regretting this apparent cloud, we rejoice at its partial shade. It has in the first place separated from the business of reformation all who joined in it because there was an eclat and an excitement, who came to it from political or workilly motives, and who now finding it divested of the pomp, and notoriety, and circumstance that attracted them, retire from its quietness and obscurity, and give up the work to those who can prize it or its spirituality, who can trace in it the character of that kingdom,which cometh not with observation," and who, being cheered by the obvious blessing of God, which had been manifested on their labours, are content to labour in his cause who sees in secret.” It has in the second place, disabused the lower order of the Roman Catholics, who from unworthy notives and the expectation of support, came over to join a party that seemed to possess the public favour, and to have the direction of the public purse; if they now turn, it must be from conviction, as they may be persecuted without the glory of martyrdom, and can have but slender lopes of improving their worldly interests while they are assured of hostility from their former friends. Shall we add that we do think the present mode of promoting the Reformation, by the spirit of enquiry that has been excited, operating on a mass of awakened intelligence, and producing effects gradually but surely, is more analogous to the general course of God's dealings than the niode in which too many zealous Protestants trusted. If we look to the mode in which the truth of God was established, or the human corruptions attached to it reformed, we shall see such to have been his course ;--while converts were making, here and there a few, and by contact the principle extending ; the priests and magistrates looked on unaware of the operations that were silently undermining their influence and power, until the seed which had been concealed from human eye, struck deep its root, and the Roman world was suddenly white with the Christian harvest. Just so was it in the commencement of the Reformation ; just so in the Christianizing of the Islands of the South Seas; just so in the progress of every successful missionary enterprize, and just so we anticipate it will be in Ireland; we know that the spirit of enquiry is not only abroad, but is active; we know that assisted by apparently fortuitous circumstances, it has manifested itself in a marked degree, and that now unaided by these circumstances, it is still progressing through the country, and maugre the power and influence of the priests, is making real though not professing proselytes to Protestantism. Such will be its march ; and in God's own time, when the preparations are complete, and the appointed period is come, the walls of Jericho will fall, and the people will wonder at the easy though not inglorious triumph.

9

RELIGIOUS COMMUNICATIONS.

ON EXAMINATIONS CONSIDERED AS STIMULI IN CHRISTIAN

EDUCATION.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN EXAMINER.

SIR-For the great zeal and ability evinced by the Christian Examiner, on the important subject of Education in all its departments, from Trinity College to the Parish school, the Christian public cannot but feel truly grateful.

The question of Education, whether in a social, political, or religious view, has been so often brought under public notice, and the merits of the case so thoroughly investigated, that the subject might seem to be exhausted. There is, however, one topic intimately connected with it, on which, if I mistake not, the Examiner has been silent, and it is one of very great practical importance-one which forces itself on the observation of every person engaged at all in the education of youth, under whatever system or in whatever way, except private tuition-1 allude to the employment of emulation with other feelings of a similar class, as a stimulus to exertion, and principally by means of public examinations and premiums. Almost every one seems ready to deprecate the partial injury which they do but nearly all are disposed to regard the system as indispensable, and therefore, the evil whatever it be, as unavoidable. To abandon it entirely and at once might be impossible, and if possible, very injurious for at least one generation; but the necessity which is supposed to exist, and which probably may exist for it now, is a necessity produced by an artificial and incorrect mode of thinking and acting, originating in a departure from sound principles, and calling into operation passions, which it is decidedly the business of Christian Education to counteract, if not utterly to extinguish.

My object at present is not to indulge in theory, and to occupy, probably to waste, your time and my own, in speculating upon the origin, the progress, and the effects of the system--but rather to propose what appears to me a simple remedy for most of the evils generally complained of, and probably the first step to its final and total abandonment at some future period.

The remedy I would propose, is simply " to give the rewards to the many instead of to the few"—that is, to make it a matter of course, that every child of sufficient merit shall necessarily get a premium, and that none could fail but those decidedly deficient. So far as Parish schools and others for the poor are considered, this would be by far the best regulation; and the only objection that I conceive can be made to it is on the ground of expense; but this is not so formidable as it may at first seem, for children do not so much regard the pecuniary value of a premium as the possession of it, and it can easily be obviated by making the rate of premiums lower ;

[blocks in formation]
« PoprzedniaDalej »