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propriating the remainder to other purposes, which are not as yet disclosed. We may take another opportunity of expressing ourselves more at large concerning this monstrous usurpation. At present, we shall only say, that it is generally understood a fund is to be formed by this means for the support of the Roman Catholic clergy, who will thus have re-appropriated to their use, and for their benefit, a large proportion of those very revenues which were forfeited, because they professed a creed in hostility to the religion of the State, and which was frequently proved to be the secret fomenter, and, when it dared, the open encourager, of perfidy, treachery, and treason!
The last and the most painful of the symptoms which intimate the speedy downfall of the Church Establishment in Ireland, is the manner in which the clergy are left without redress against a systematic opposition to the payment of tithes, the most formidable that has ever been set on foot by wicked and designing incendiaries. If they apply for payment, they are refused. If they proceed to enforce their legal claims by legal means, they are resisted. If they employ force against force, and death ensues (as in the case of Newtown-Barry), they are called cruel murderers, and the country rings from one end to the other with wild and ferocious denunciations against them, and the priests take up the war-cry, which, with the most dutiful and unscrupulous vehemence, is echoed by their retainers in Parliament, and enquiry is ordered, and investigations take place, which, however they may terminate, must be favourable to the cause of political and polemical agitation. The loyal men who vindicated the laws are tried for their lives; and if a jury should be found (which, thank God, has been as yet the case) fearless and honest enough to acquit them, their narrow escape from the halter affords but little encouragement again to expose themselves to similar danger.
The consequence of all this, its natural, and, we believe, intended consequence, is now apparent. . A large body of the Irish clergy have already petitioned Parliament to take the tithes into their own hands, and pro
vide some fund from which the clergy may receive a stipend from the State, in lieu of their present property. The thing will accordingly, we have no doubt, be done, if the present Ministers should continue in power.They will be graciously pleased to accept the surrender of the possessions of the Church of Ireland. How long they will continue to pay the stipulated stipend, we will not undertake to say; that must depend upon their being able to satisfy the Roman Catholics that it is sufficiently moderate and humble, and has been regulated by the same principle that has now been adopted respecting the national schools, namely, the proportion between their flocks and those of the Roman Catholic clergy. From the very moment they become stipendiaries of the State, the head of the Church will be in the mouth of the lion; and when her salaries are regulated by the standard above alluded to, they can cause, even to the most zealous of sects, but little jealousy, and may, at any time, be easily extinguished. There will be no more difficulty in getting rid of them than is found in smothering a hive of bees.
The precise advantages or disadvantages which the Church of Ireland may enjoy or suffer, when disconnected from the State, it is not our purpose at present to enumerate. We have not space to enlarge in a suitable manner upon effects which may be, not remotely, connected with the separation of Great Britain and Ireland. But as the State will soon, in all probability, have an opportu nity of entering into a new ecclesiastical alliance, and taking, for better for worse, a partner by whom its interests must be seriously affected, whether for good or for evil, upon the principle which should regulate its choice, we will venture to offer a few brief observations.
And here we will not occupy the time of the reader in discussing the merits of Paley's theory, that the religion of the State should be that of the majority of the people, because, we apprehend, it is now pretty well exploded-indeed, it is more than exploded; it has become a favourite with those only who are averse to any connexion whatever between Church and State.
According to his theory, the abstract merit of the religion is a matter of no account whatever. Whether it be true, or whether it be false, if it be the religion of the majority, it must be adopted. This is sufficiently monstrous. But even this is not all. The connexion thus formed cannot be permanent, unless the majority continue permanently of the religion that has been so elected. If this should not be the case, another election must take place; and thus the system, if system it might be called, would be built upon shifting sands. We will therefore take it for granted, that it is unnecessary at present to say a word more respecting the theory of Archdeacon Paley.
The sounder theory undoubtedly is, that truth or falsehood, as they are predicable of any particular creed, have something to do with the settlement of such a question. That no State should adopt a religion which it believes to be at variance with the revelation of Almighty God; that no views of State expediency should tempt it to oppose itself to the plain dictates of Holy Scripture.
The religion of the State, therefore, should be that which, upon the authority of the State, is believed to be true. But that which is true, must also be reasonable; and that which is reasonable, must be able to stand the test of fair enquiry. The State religion, therefore, should never be supported by putting a complete extinguisher upon that discussion of its claims, and examination of its merits, by which alone its fitness to occupy the position which it assumes could be sufficiently attested. It should, indeed, be protected against insolent or malevolent attacks. Its character should be shielded by the same defence which is thrown around individuals occupying public stations, whose conduct is liable to be discussed with candour, but whose characters may not be defamed with impunity. But farther protection ought to be unnecessary, and, if required, would argue the unsoundness of its pretensions.
Such being some of the characteristics of a Church, such as would be deserving of establishment in an enlightened country, it may be truly affirmed of it, that it would be respected in proportion as it was under
stood, and valued in proportion as it was well and wisely administered. But, as the end of its establishment should be the moral and religious improvement of the people, the making men better than it found them, it is not, in the first instance, to be too confidently expected that_its_peculiar excellence should be clearly perceived, or its peculiar claim duly appreciated, by a gross numerical majority of the people. It should be sufficient if the wisdom of the community, as distinguished from its passion, its prejudice, or its folly, recognised its superior fitness for the important purpose which it was intended to answer, namely, that of preserving and transmitting the precious deposit of Christian truth, in a form that may ensure its perpetuity from generation to generation, and connected with a system of liturgical piety, which may be best calculated for rendering it available and efficacious for the spiritual wants and necessities of all sorts and conditions of men.
Dissent, no doubt, must exist; and it would be easy to shew that advantages may arise from its existence. But the peculiar advantage of establishing such a form of worship as we have described, in preference to any other, is this, that if duly administered, (unless that be the case, its establishment can be but of little use,) it must naturally and necessarily "increase," while every other rival creed, which is more the creature of passion and prejudice, must as naturally and as necessarily, in proportion as reason is cultivated, and religious truth understood, " decrease." While all other sects which rise up in opposition to it, will be like the meteors, which for a season blaze brightly, but gradually melt away; it will be "like the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Opinionum commenta delet dies, natura judicia confirmat."
To establish any sect which did not possess the claims or the characteristics which we have described, would be to establish that which must, sooner or later, be abandoned or subverted; it would be to esta blish that which would not bear enquiry, and must be disrelished in proportion as it was understood. And, if it did continue to subsist after
the prejudices which led to its establishment were dissipated, it would subsist only to perpetuate the errors of its founders, and resemble in some measure those gauntly, rifted, tenantless edifices, which have been built upon some whimsically ungainly site, or incorrigibly bad foundation, and are known in various parts of the country as the "follies" of different gentlemen.
The Church which we have endeavoured to describe will be tolerant; because that which is best calculated to administer to men's moral wants, must of necessity make a due allowance for their infirmities. It will, indeed, do what in it lies to correct, to amend, to remove those infirmities; but its instruments will be persuasion, not coercion; the exhibition of truth, rather than the repression of error. Its claims to authority will be enforced, not by penalties, but by precept and example. It can afford to repose upon its own intrinsic excellence; and, " by a patient perseverance in well-doing,' must eventually put to shame the ignorance of foolish men."
The general character of its genuine worshippers will be spirituality without extravagance. They will avoid superstition, while they retain a due respect for ancient observances, and fanaticism, while they endeavour to attain religious elevation. They will feel themselves in possession of a form of Christian faith, by which every part of their nature is addressed and engaged; which, while it profitably exercises the imagination, and conciliates the taste, satisfies the judgment, and engages the affections. They will feel that by cherishing it, and fully availing themselves of those spiritual privileges which they enjoy under it, they will be best fulfilling the high and holy purposes for which they came into the world. Truly may it be said, “happy are the people who are in such a case-happy are the people who" thus "have the Lord for their God." While all other seekers after religious truth are "tossed about by every whiff and wind of doctrine;" or are under the influence of unscriptural guides, who "darken counsel by words without knowledge," they, and they alone, may be truly said to have found
VOL. XXXI. NO. CXCI.
peaceable habitation, and a quiet resting-place."
We have deemed it not unimportant to offer these few observations at the present moment, when, as far as Ireland is concerned, the state of Great Britain appears likely to have an opportunity afforded of making choice of a new spiritual handmaid. We shall only say, if it can find such a one as we have described, it will be fortunate; we need not add, that IF IT HAVE SUCH A ONE ALREADY,
IT SHOULD NOT BE LIGHTLY INDUCED TO CAST HER AWAY.
We speak with a solemnity which the occasion fully justifies; and under an impression which has been produced by events, and by disclosures, which are far too serious to be suffered to
"O'ercome us like a summer cloud,
Without our special wonder.”
The Ministers have declared their intention of laying their hands upon Church property. The Irish Secretary has intimated his approval of the policy of bringing the Romish clergy into connexion with the State. A system of national education is to be adopted, which detrudes the Established Church from her proper station. It has not been thought too much to conciliate its adversaries, by neglecting its interests, and abridging its privileges. revenues are withheld; its clergy are persecuted; they are this moment, to all intents and purposes, in a state of proscription and outlawry in many parts of the south and west of Ireland. How long must this continue? We say, deliberately, that either the laws must be enforced and vindicated, or the Irish Church must be abandoned. When things come to the worst, the proverb says they must mend. And the Irish clergy have at least this melancholy consolation, that it is scarcely possible to imagine a more deplorable state of neglect or abandonment under the immediate and recognised ascendency of Popery, than that to which they have been condemned by the timid, unprincipled, and temporizing policy of nominal adherents to their holy religion, who would fain appear with their lips to serve the Lord, while in their hearts they are far from him.
YES, I—I am an executioner-a common hangman!-These fingers, that look, as I hold them before mine eyes, as a part and parcel of humanity, have fitted the noose and strained the cord to drive forth the soul from its human mansion, and to kill the life that was within it! Oh, horror of horrors, I have stood on the public scaffold, amid the execrations of thousands, more hated than the criminal that was to die by me-more odious than the offender that tottered thither in expiation, with life half fled already-and I have heard a host of human voices join in summoning Heaven's malediction on me and my disgusting office. Well, well I deserved it; and as I listened to the piercing cry, my conscience whispered in still more penetrating accents, "Thou guilty Ambrose, did they but know all thy meed of wickedness, they would be silent-silent in mere despair of inventing curses deep enough to answer to the depth of thy offence.'
What is it that prompts me to tell the history of my transgressions? Why sit I in my solitude, thinking and thinking till thought is madness, and trembling as I gaze on the white and unsoiled paper that is destined shortly to be so foully blotted with the annals of my crime and my misery? Alas, I know not why! I have no power to tell the impulse that compels me I can only pronounce that the impulse has existence, and that it seems to me as if the sheet on which I write served me instead of a companion, and I could conjure from its fancied society a sort of sympathy in the entireness of my wretchedness.
As some men are born to greatness, so are some to misery. My evil genius, high heaven and the truth can witness, clutched me in my cradle, and never have I been free from the grasp that urged me onwards and onwards, as though the great sea of destruction was being lashed into tenfold speed and might for the sole purpose of overwhelming me.
Yes, if earliest memory may justify the phrase, from my very cradle was
Iforedoomed to sin and sorrow. The first recollection that I have of those worldly incidents that marked my daily course, takes me back to a gloomy, marshy, half-sterile spot, deep seated in the fens of Lincolnshire. May I say that I lived there? Was it life to see the same dull round of nothings encompassing me day after day-to have none to speak to, or to hear speak, save an old and withered crone, who to my young comprehension appeared to be fastened down, as it were, to the huge chimney-corner, and who seemed to exist (paradox-like) more by sleeping, than by the employment of any other function of the animal frame? The only variation of this monotonous circle of my days was the monthly arrival of my father, who used to come across the quaggy moor in a sort of farmer's cart, and on whose periodical visits we entirely depended for our provisions for the ensuing month. The parent at all times exercises mighty influence over the mind of his offspring; but were I to attempt to describe that which my father possessed over me, it would seem as if I were penning some romantic tale to make old women bless their stars and crouch nearer to the blazing Christmas log, rather than simply narrating the prime source of all those curseful events that have made me the wretch I am. Nor need I here describe his power; for each page that I have to write will more and more develope the entireness of his baneful influence over my mind, and shew how he employed it to my irretrievable undoing.
Monthly he came;-and as I grew from boyhood into the full youthtide of my blood and vigour, it seemed to me as if I only condescended to live for the recurrence of these visits. The question in my mind was, not what day of the week, or what date of the month it was; but how many days had elapsed since my father's last visit-how many were to elapse before I should see him again. And then, after these periodical heart-aching reckonings, he would come-come but to go
again, after a short tantalizing oneday stay. Once-once I ventured to press him to take me with him: my eagerness made me eloquent. I bowed to my very knees in supplication for the indulgence. But in vain-in vain; and it was then, perhaps, that I first fully ascertained the power that he had over my heartay, over my soul-my very soul of souls. Angry at my continued entreaties, he lost his temper, raged till his teeth gnashed in the fierceness of his ire, and bade me again ask to accompany him at the peril of his curse. To me, at that time, his passion was little less than so many dagger-thrusts in my bosom, and I shrank in exquisite anguish from the contest, tremblingly convinced that never again might I dare to urge the cherished desire of my imagination. When I remembered the height of his indignation, it almost seemed as if there must have been something heinous, in an unheard-of degree, in my request: my father, to my mind, was the wisest, the best, and the most judicious of mankind; how could it be otherwise, when he was the only one with whom I had ever held communication, save the crone who appeared to have slept away her brains, if she ever had any? and that wisdom, that goodness, that judiciousness, I had offended! Where, then, was the wonder that I myself cried shame upon the offence?
In this state of things I attained about my twenty-third year, as nearly as I can guess; and then, at last, a change arrived. Great heaven, what a change! Fool that I was, not to content myself with being at least as well off as the beast of the field, or the steed that is stalled and cared for, as far as nature and his appetite make demands upon him. But ignorant, restless, and morbid in my sensations, I must needs have change. It came; and I changed too-into a wretch-an outcast-a thing hated, despised, and hooted at!
It began with an ill omen! I might have foreseen that some deed of horrid circumstance was at hand.
The old woman was seated, as
usual, in the chimney-corner. 'She had been sitting there from six in the morning till nine at night, without uttering a syllable-without tasting food, as far as I knew, though
during some hours in the day she had been left to herself, while I was wandering my solitary round through the plashy fens. At length, our hour of nightly rest arrived, and I summoned her from her stationary posture. But she answered not-she moved not: I approached, and gently shook her: I took hold of her withered, wrinkled hand-it was cold and clammy:-I raised her head-it was expressionless-her eye was inanimate. She was dead!
It took some minutes for me to persuade myself that death had indeed been at work. I had thought of death-dreamed of death-pictured death; but now, for the first time, he presented himself to my outward observation, and I shrank with morbid instinct from the task of contemplation. Always a creature of
passion-always a creature of waywardness and prejudice-without education, without instruction, without guidance, I had no philosophy to lead me but my own ignoranceno rule of conduct save the ignes fatui of my own imagination. I doubt whether at any time, or with any training, I could have taken my first lesson in mortality without an involuntary shuddering; but circumstanced as I then was, I almost instinctively tottered into a far-off corner of the room, and there, for a while, as I held my hands before my eyes, to shut out all visible presence of the corpse, I seemed as if I was gradually assuming its motionless rigour, and sharing in its cessation of
It was a fearful night; and so the days and nights that followed. From the time of the old woman's decease, to the period of my father's next visit, was a fortnight. Flight from this scene of death was one of the first thoughts that presented itself to my mind-but whither? I had no one clew to guide me in my search for my parent; and to me, every thing beyond the cottage in the fens and its neighbourhood was a blank. As I debated this within myself, I tried to resolve to stay-I determi ned to confine myself to another room
of the narrow dwelling-I called upon my energy to assist me in fergetting how nearly I was hand in hand with death. But the task was too much for me--my whole mental