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unquestioning submission to priestly dictates, as to become inert and lifeless, destitute of vital energy, and incapable of making any wholesome impression on the heart.
The towns in which these affecting appeals were made to the hearts and understandings of a population naturally acute, inquisitive, and ingenuous, and whose peculiar misfortune it is to be dark in an age of light, ignorant amidst surrounding knowledge, and slaves in the land of the free, were, besides those already mentioned, Bantry and Dunmanway; Skibbereen being that in which the auditory was smallest, partly, perhaps, from the unfavourable state of the weather. Otherwise, the result was the same in all; and the animated exertions of the preacher blessed with a greater degree of impressive influence than the most sanguine hope could have anticipated.
An occurrence, too important to be omitted, yet remains. There is, it seems, in the neighbourhood of Bantry, one of those holy wells, which continues to attract the wretched victims of senseless superstition, that is to say, the followers of that church which claims to be exclusively pure, exclusively pious, and exclusively dominant. Her modest definition of heresy is not refusal to obey the written and immutable laws of God, but refusal to bow in abject submission to the laws of Rome. The very principle of such a domination is fraught with the seeds of evil, and involves the melancholy prospect of human authority abused, and human liberty outraged. From the moment that peculiar circumstances threw such a power into her hands, its effects might have been foreseen by the intelligent, without the smallest risk of prophetical falsehood. It is from the era of the Reformation-a reformation which has lately derived additional honour from the laboured obloquy of an impious an unprincipled writer, that we date the diffusion of Gospel light, and the acquisition of Gospel liberty. Even that church has felt the beneficial influence of its rays, for Popery exclusively established, as in Spain, Portugal, &c. is quite a different thing from Popery tamed and softened down by an intermixture of Protestantism. But of these invigorating rays few have, as yet, penetrated the popular darkness of poor Ireland. Among other subjects of painful regret, she has still her pilgrimages, her purgations, and her un-holy wells;-scenes no less to be lamented for absurd and idolatrous superstition, than for intemperance, profligacy, riot, and not unfrequently bloodshed. Can the visitors of these unhallowed places be followers of the meek and lowly Jesus? Are they what every Christian is bound to be, worshippers of God in spirit and in truth? Can that church which, after exclusive possession of their consciences for near seven hundred years, leaves them in primitive ignorance and barbarism, neither instructing them herself, nor, as far as she can help it, suffering others to do so can she, I say, he the apostolical mistress of Christendom, the genuine and legitimate Jspouse of Jesus Christ, or is she not rather a selfish and usurping step-mother? Against facts there is no arguing--these stations exist, these facts are undeniable, and the obvious influence is, that
though such unfortunate dupes may be legitimate members of the Church of Rome, they are not such as the great apostle whose peculiar patronage she claims, would acknowledge to be legitimate members of the church of Christ. To his compassion they have the strongest title-to his approbation scarce the shadow of a claim.
It so happened that the deputation visited Bantry on the day of the well meeting, at which there could not be fewer than three thousand souls! Gracious heaven! with what horror and astonishment must two pious and enlightened English gentlemen have beheld the lamentable, the degrading, the unchristian assemblage? In any country it would have been a pitiable sight; in one of the British Isles it was appalling! Captain Gardner, who, though a young man, has visited many parts of the world-has not, perhaps, often beheld in the regions of heathenism any thing more superstitiously degrading. Night being the principal time of ritual performances, the English gentlemen's curiosity induced them to spend some part of it in walking up and down through the multifarious assembly, accompanied by the clergymen of some neighbouring parishes. A strong desire to expose the idolatrous absurdity of the proceedings was repressed by the feeling that it might be dangerous and must be unavailing. The state of their feelings on returning is more easily conceived than described. One deep impression it left on their minds was, the necessity of strenuous and unremitting exertion on the part of every true friend of Ireland, to enlighten their ignorance, and christianize their minds, and, as one important means for this great purpose, to introduce, through the medium of their own language, a knowledge of the saving truths of the Gospel, to which they appear at present to be as utter strangers, as to the Koran of Mahomet, or the Shaster of Persia. On the morning it appears that they did address a long exhortation in English to many of these poor people, who listened with civility but without any perceptible feeling or emotion. But far different was the impression made on some in the forcible accents of their own expressive language they did not only listen but were convinced. The young clergyman of Irish celebrity being on his way to Dunmanway, accompanied by a very respectable Rector of a benefice in the Diocese of Cork, met some parties repairing to the holy water, and among the rest, a man with sore eyes, who was induced to look for a miraculous cure from the virtue of the sacred water, enhanced by going (on his knees, I suppose, for there is great efficacy in knee walking) fifteen times round the holy well, an exercise much more likely to increase than to allay inflamation. He was accompanied by his sister; and as this poor man at least did not seem to be influenced by any views of sport or revelry, he was addressed by the elder clergyman who spoke to him in English-a language the man seemed to understand well, and represented in very forcible terms the worse than futile nature of his expectations. The man was attentive and even thankful for the kind notice taken of him by a superior; but no conviction followed: neither on him nor on his sister did the words fall with weight or persuasion. But when the speaker
of Gaelic took up the argument-when in their own beloved and expressive tongue he laid before them the truth as it is in Jesus, the whole anchor of human hope, the only refuge in whom all that labour and are heavy laden can find rest, the potent sounds sunk deep into their hearts. Tears apparently of real feeling and contrition, flowed in abundance from the eyes of the poor sufferer, and after a short and solemn pause, the sister emphatically said, in the native tongue," Brother, I think we had better go home;"-home they accordingly went, turning their backs, as it may be hoped for ever, from such scenes of superstition, shame, and soul ruin. All these wells and receptacles have, it seems, the nominal patronage of some favourite saint. Were these permitted to re-assume the human form, there can be no doubt that every real saint would indignantly renounce the office assigned to him. There needs no ghost come from the grave to announce the style and title of that spirit who is the real patron of all such abominations.
I will not weaken the impression of the foregoing relation by comments and reflections which will sufficiently suggest themselves to the minds of all your intelligent readers. I have already, perhaps, trespassed too long, and shall therefore only add, that though of the present adult ministers and preachers of the divine word, very few, if any, can be expected to approach the Irish acquirements and ability of our young divine; yet, from so happy an example, it may be hoped, that among the rising generation, many will be found treading in his footsteps, and aspiring to his excellence. As I fear no small portion of Ireland's spiritual darkness may be traced to the neglect and inactivity of the early ministers of the reformation, so I trust its removal will be finally accomplished by the enlightened zeal and energy of their successors, and that thus she may hereafter be called, with more truth than I suspect the title was ever given before-Insula Sanctorum.
P.S.-It seems that the infallible church, in her fear of consequences, takes a hint from Protestants' patronage of the Gaelic, and that the priests are busy in teaching their people Irish prayers—an indirect acknowledgment that for so many centuries the native Irish never understood a prayer they uttered, and might as well have been gabbling nonsense. Even this is a point gained; what they say they ought at least to understand, and there are many good prayers in their manual. The meritorious measure of their devotion with all was the very thing most likely to make it ineffectual. The priest that reads his breviary every day, must hurry through it faster than an impatient school-boy. The efficacy of the paters and aves is proportioned to the frequency of repetition. Hurry is the order of the day; for the church sagaciously considers, that hurry, being a great enemy to reflection, must, of course, be a great friend to her.
1. The Christian Student, designed to assist Christians in general in acquiring religious knowledge ;-with lists of books adapted to the various classes of society. By the Rev. E. Bickersteth, Minister of Sir George Wheler's Chapel, Spital Square, London.-Seeley and Sons, 1829, pp. xii. 629.
2. The Reformed Pastor,--by Richard Baxter; revised and abridged by the Rev. William Brown, M.D.; with an Introductory Essay, by the Rev. Daniel Wilson, A.M., Vicar of Islington.-Glasgow, 1829-p. 290.
3. The Christian Ministry; with an inquiry into the causes of its inefficiency, and with an especial reference to the Ministry of the Establishment. By the Rev. Charles Bridge, B.A., Vicar of Old Newton, Suffolk, and author of "Exposition of Psalm cxix."-London, Seeley and Sons.-pp. xii. 511.
4. The Church in Danger from Herself, or the causes of her present declining state explained. Dedicated to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. By the Rev. John Acaster, Vicar of St. Helen's, York, and Domestic Chaplain to the Right Hon. the Earl of Mexborough. London, Seeley and Sons, 1829.Pp. x. 172.
Our readers will see by the books whose titles stand at the head of this article, and all of which have been published during the present year, that not only religion in general, but the church and its concerns, occupy no small share of the attention of its members, as assuredly they have no scanty claim upon that of the public. We rejoice to believe such to be the case, and we most willingly turn to a subject, interesting to us both as professing Christians, and as members of a society so much connected with, and influenced by the church-peculiarly interesting to us as members and ministers of an establishment, with whose spiritual prosperity our spiritual hopes are interwoven; and which, at this moment, and in this country more especially, demands the utmost intensity of thought—the most intimate union of prudence and exertion. When we first solicited the public favour for a miscellany like ours, we professed our conviction, that on the church mainly depended, under Providence, the work of regenerating and reforming Ireland,-that while other bodies and other plans might be subsidiary, and so might be useful, upon the Clergy of the Establishment the task must finally rest; and every year has but confirmed and strengthened these convictions-every succeeding event has but proved to us the value of our establishment, equally as a means of giving a spiritual character to its people, and an instrument of spiritual aggression by its missionary labours. While the press, the platform, and the pulpit, in their various characters, have proved that the clergy are active both regarding their own Zion, and their separated brethren, our church has assumed a missionary character and post, and proved her excellence and her power in that department. Were we indeed to name the instrument that bids fair to be the most effective yet employed in our country, we would have no hesitation in declaring it to be the Gospel simply and sincerely preached by itinerating missionaries of the Church of Ireland; and those who may doubt or deny the justice of our opinion, we would refer to
the inhabitants, Protestants equally and Roman Catholics, of the districts in which that mission has laboured. Blessed be God, much of Ireland is open to their exertions, and we trust that not long will elapse before this or a similar system equally active and equally spiritual will pervade our country in its length and in its breadth.
When, indeed, we consider Ireland and its situation relative to England, we rejoice to see the unnumbered blessings of which our church may be the source to our country. Its rank, as connected with the constitution, gives it importance in the estimation of the people; its character, now altogether spiritualized, and its activity, enforce their respect. The very circumstances that in England counteract the full development of its utilities, are favourable to it in Ireland; and, instead of being surrounded by an increasing and an hostile body of dissent, in Ireland we rejoice at finding among all bodies of orthodox Dissenters, every indication to co-operate with churchmen in the great work of spreading the Gospel at homeevery disposition to rejoice in the success of the Establishment, and to render to it, without hostility or artifice, their best exertions and wishes. Thus assisted, and thus respected, the church may contemplate herself as the great instrument for doing good in Ireland. But we would add too, that she has a vast responsibility of exertion placed upon her; and that if, in the hour of trial, she puts not forth all her strength-if she devolves on other hands the preparation of that which seems reserved by Providence to adorn her temples and beautify her sanctuaries, though she cannot by her indolence or inefficiency prevent the furtherance of the Lord's will, yet she may herself become its victim, and her candlestick removed, and her glories departed, and with Ichabod written upon her front, she may add one more to the list of these churches with which the Lord deposited the treasures of his word, but which were found unfaithful stewards. Our question should be, whether we consider our high responsibilities and our eminent advantages, have we put forth all our energies, in compliance with the demands of the one and in a manner worthy of the other? Has our Protestant university, in which all institutions seem justly subservient to the preparation for the ministry, has it fulfilled its high and noble office, of sending forth not only a learned but a pious and devoted clergy? Has the awful responsibility resting on the heads of our church, as to "laying hands suddenly on no man," fenced still more effectually the walls of our Zion against the mercenary or the careless labourer? Has the care of the churches, which is committed by Providence to these high individuals, been received and administered as a trust from God, and for which an account must be rendered to God? Have the parochial clergy manifested themselves to be men devoted to their Master's work, indefatigable and laborious, in season and out of season, seeking in prayer the assistance of the spirit, and displaying by their anxiety to win souls, that it is not "theirs but them they seek," separated from the world as to its pomp and its bustle, its ambition and its politics, but exhorting that world, and praying for that world, and contending with that world? Have they 2 Q