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The Protestant Beacon.
FATHER HYACINTHE ON THE DUTY OF READING THE
BIBLE. OFTEN as the walls of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, in Paris, have reverberated with the brilliant and burning words of the most eloquent Roman preacher of modern times, never perhaps did his transcendent talents shine with a more surpassing lustre than when he recently startled and surprised his audience by enforcing, in powerful and positive terms, the duty of reading the word of God. All honour to M. Hyacinthe for his noble words on so momentous a duty; but, invidious as the task may seem, we feel constrained to ask-Do M. Hyacinthe's words actually represent or adequately convey the mind of the Roman Church, or do they at all belong to the dominant ideas that are current in that system ?
One of this orator's assertions in particular we Protestants cannot accept without reserve. He tells us that it is a calumny on the Roman Church to say that she interdicts the reading of the Bible. Now we do not, of course, mean to affirm that either Popes or Councils have ever dared to promulgate an absolute prohibition against the word of God: But, while the Reformers bestowed special honour on the reading of the word of God, and their descendants at this day rival or even outstrip these holy men in disseminating that word, is it not a patent and palpable fact that tridentine Rome has always exhibited a morbid dread lest the reading of the Scriptures should influence the religious opinions and life of her people? Fragments of the Bible carefully selected and expurgated of all that might damage
the authority of the Pope, or infringe upon certain of her practices -yes, Rome will allow this; it is even to be found in her books of law or devotion—a strange medley indeed. The Bible in Latin !-yes, of course she recommends that; but the whole of the Bible or even of the New Testament in the language of the people, when and under what form has that Church authoritatively permitted or encouraged such reading in Roman Catholic countries, although, in partibus infidelium, she has been shamed more or less into the show of a permission ? Has she not continually pointed the finger of reproach at the reading of the Scriptures as a pernicious act? Is, we would ask, the Pope himself at all at one with his eloquent curé of Paris ? On the contrary, we challenge contradiction, when we affirm that the very centre of Popery, Rome itself
, is the city of all others in visible Christendom where the sale of the Bible is seldom or never witnessed. Is it not, alas ! a matter of public notoriety, that no one is suffered to read the Bible in the vulgar tongue? And what was the opprobrious title given by the Pope's Syllabus to the Bible Societies? It pronounced them public nuisances. But to come only to last month. The very journal that published the eloquent sermon of M. Hyacinthe furnishes at once the most striking proof how the case stands with the Roman Catholic religious world as to the reading of the Bible. The Semaine Religieuse of January 2nd, the very number that gives the sermon of M. Hyacinthe on the duty of reading
the Bible, devotes a dozen pages to advertising religious books and New Year's presents. Here, then, we find everything else, books of offices (of prayer), lives of saints, books against Protestantism, religious romances, statues, images, chaplets, medals, &c., &c., but not a single advertisement of the Bible, nor of any book that would promote or pro
duco in any way the study of God's Word. Now let any one take
the Rock, and the contrast is striking indeed.
Rome may not, perhaps, have forbidden in so many words the reading of Holy Scripture, but she has never favoured, she has never fostered that paramount of Christian duties; on the contrary, she has destroyed the taste for the Bible in her dread of seeing her people using the Bible. In fact, nothing in the world would be more astonishing than to see Roman Catholics habitually reading the Bible, and still remaining Roman Catholics.
A WORD TO THE PROTESTANTS OF ENGLAND.
“Can ye not discern the signs of the times ?”—Matt. xvi. 3.
Thus by these means the Lamp of Life's denied
who bear the name of Protestant,
Though now unseen, shall see Him evermore (1 Pet. i. 8).
Passing Ebents.- Montbly Note
. A A
The threatened war between Greece and Turkey has, we are thankful to say, been averted, the governments of both countries having accepted the terms proposed to them by the Conference.
Spain has been greatly excited by a cruel murder committed at Burgos. The governor of the city went into the cathedral to take an inventory of the treasures which it contained, and whilst there was attacked by a furious mob-at the instigation, it is said, of the Roman Catholic priests-and barbarously murdered. The people also are very indignant because the Papal Court has refused to recognize the Spanish envoy. A monster indignation meeting was held in Madrid, and an immense crowd assembled before the palace of the Nuncio. They tore down and burnt the Papal arms, and afterwards went to the official residence of the Minister of Public Worship and demanded the immediate removal of the Nuncio. The Under-Secretary of the Ministry appeared, and declared that the Government had already suppressed the salary paid by Spain to the Papal Nuncio, and withdrawn the powers granted to him by former Governments. An event also, unprecedented in the history of Spain, has taken place at Madrid. A Protestant temple has been inaugurated there by the celebration for religious service in public. The ceremony, we are told, passed off in the most orderly manner, and no kind of insult was offered. The priests and their followers are, of course, excessively angry, and a protest against the progress of religious liberty has been signed by 15,000 ladies; but such opposition will probably have little effect; Rome is evidently losing her hold over Spain. May the glorious Gospel and undefiled religion take her place!
We have had sad tidings lately from New Zealand. The Maories have risen again, and massacred thirty-five persons, men, women, and children indiscriminately, together with several friendly natives. The settlers were living in their scattered homesteads in peace, without the slightest apprehension of danger; they believed that the rebels were miles away, and on retiring to rest they spoke hopefully of their plans for the morrow. Without the slightest warning the rebels came upon them, massacred them, destroyed their flocks and herds, burned their dwellings, and entirely devastated one of the finest districts in the country. But this sad affair will not end here; a terrible retribution will in all probability be inflicted, and we already hear of the rebels being attacked and defeated in two engagements with severe loss, and of other means taken for their chastisement. Thus many innocent beings, as well as the guilty, will have to suffer. But are we not, as a nation, verily guilty respecting these things? We very much fear that we are. We fear that we have not treated these poor savages with the kindness and consideration that become a professedly Christian people; hence the trouble which they have given us, and this shedding of innocent blood.
An extraordinary exposure of the doings in modern convent life has just taken place. Miss Saurin, a nun belonging to a convent in Hull, has brought an action, in the Court of Queen's Bench, against the Lady Superioress for alleged ill-treatment. If her story is to be believed and
— there seems little reason for doubting it-the treatment she received was
shameful. She had to be up at three in the morning, and immediately adjust her movements by a minute " distribution," which, besides the usual services, meditations, teachings, and so forth, included sweeping the schools and passages on her knees with a hand-brush. The violations of discipline incident to such a course appear to have been innumerable. If the poor lady complained that the broom was worn out, or filthy with scullery use, that was a sin to be confessed and atoned for. So, also, if she sat down, or rested her knees on a bench during a long, weary schoolingif she could not eat mutton, especially when fat or lukewarm-if she did not relish the broth or swallow the mouldy bread-if a biscuit was found in her drawer-if she cut up one tunic to mend the rest of the halfdozen—if she used a pennyworth of calico lying about, and, for the occasion, a pair of scissors within reach—if she exchanged a single word with a passing sister during the hours of silence—if she read something too fast, or rang a bell three minutes too late-if she wrote to her brother, mother, father, or uncle, or only wanted to do so-if she wished to hear from them, or to open their letters when they came-if she wished, in a word, to have a thought of her own, a friend, or a moment's liberty of action—it was sin, sin pardonable if public amends were made with suitable acts of contrition, such as licking the floor-sin unpardonable if not covered by these penances. According to her narrative, she was subjected for some months to miseries such as one expects only to find in the treatment of some idiot by his unnatural parents-or some other victim of uneducated brutishness. The correspondence of her friends, who could not account for her long silence, and were full of dire misgivings, was intercepted, hidden, or destroyed; so she avers she found out. When she carried her point so as to write a slip of intelligence, she was made to insult her brother in the address of the letter. She had to pass winter weeks in a bath-room without fire, or in a garret, also without fire, never allowed to leave the latter for any purpose whatever. She had to lie on a board, the mattress being taken away. Broken scraps of food were thrown to her, with the comment that in eating them she was robbing the poor. Her religious habit that she had worn for two years was taken away while she was asleep, and she was compelled to resume a secular dress. She was not allowed to change her under-garment more than twice or thrice in a whole winter ; and, finally, she was reduced to a skeleton suit, fitting her body close, and made in the convent for the purpose. “Indeed," as a leading paper observes, “feminine ingenuity seemed almost to exhaust itself in devices for doing that which a Nero or a Tiberius would have done more terribly, but yet in a day.” We hope that this case may have a salutary effect upon those deluded persons who imagine that Popish institutions are not nearly so objectionable now as they were in days gone by. The tendency of such institutions is the same as it always was, because human nature is the same; and, wherever men or women are shut up in an unnatural state, there we may expect the same consequences will ensue—the indulgence of evil passions, the display of cruelty, indolence, and vice.
The Ritualists have sustained another defeat. In December last they fought a hard battle with the Evangelical members of the Christian Knowledge Society in the endeavour to get a portion of its funds diverted to the furtherance of the particular objects of their party. They were defeated, although they used most strenuous efforts to gain their point. Since then they have attacked the Society in another way. Seeing the advantage