Page images
PDF
EPUB

are brought up to religion as a trade, to be, of necessity, endowed with that sacred call — the yearnings, the aspirings that nothing short of progression can appease, and then only by giving rise to fresh longings and more extended aspirations ? Can such feel ever and only desirous of turning hearts from self—from considerations of time to those of eternity—from the business of the body to that of the spirit-from the world that is, to that which is to come ?

Let it be felt that all have equal claims on God's sacred truth. Let it no longer be expedient to perpetuate ignorance, destitution, and despair. Let the lowliest be cared for even as the offspring of princes; and each immortal soul nurtured with outpourings of infinite love. Let it be shown that earth is our abode but for a time; and that we have, not beyond the remote skies merely, but immediately around us, as well as throughout infinity, another and a better

home with God and precious spirits created of God-lords of space, denizens of eternity !

This so impulsive earnestness caused our hearts to thrill for joy, our eyes to fill with tears. We affected no monopoly_arrogated no exclusiveness. We had but expressed ourselves on subjects on which it is the right of all to expatiate. If we erred, God would pardon that involuntary error.

DUBIETIES.

The period during which I might commune with Cornelius was drawing to a close; he had to repair to Trinity, while I looked forward to Maynooth. We conversed much on our individual destinations, as on the general complexion of Irish life. We were astonished at the long array of crime-periods during which people only seemed to live amid war and violence. We called to mind, however, that such was also the condition of the times, and that the events we deplored might have worn a different aspect to those engaged in them. There must have been intervals of peace, else literature and the arts, nay, life itself, must have ceased to be.

Cornelius was of opinion that the priesthood might devote a portion of time to the diffusion of knowledge, and the inculcation of principles of reason and morality. To them it could prove no disparagement; nay, rather, it would enlarge their thoughts, extend their usefulness, and prevent that continual straining after mere dogmatic theology, which, all must admit, is not the most important, much less the only, branch of human inquiry

“Unhappily,” said he, “the clergy, at least those of your communion, are too much dissociated from human ties. Celibacy, that cruel device, however it may have subserved the policy of Rome, neither identifies the people with the priest, nor the priest with the people. Sad is the alternative, were it but in a single instance, of remediless obligation or secret sin. How greatly are they to be compassionated who groan under a tie that death alone can loosen whose souls are the battle-ground of a combat never ending, always beginning !"

We were to proceed on the morrow. I sat late with my parents. Their hearts were sore ; but they exulted in the prospect that one day I should return a healer of souls. All my powers, they thought, were cheaply embarked to ensure a consummation so desirable. What, indeed, were life or sacrifice, so I bore the honoured name of Father. They wot not of drudgery in the pursuit of a knowledge that is not knowledge-vain and narrow dialectics that shrivel up the soul! They gave no heed to the violation of rights that God had given, and which no man was entitled to take away.

Yet was there an alternative: I might be a peasant still! What, if generation through generation seen dimly back, my fore-fathers owned the soil their descendants tilled, it booted not: my zeal for knowledge, my ambition, if it must be so, was too insatiate to suffer me to remain as I was born. To be a priest, indeed, was not my vocation — was not the vocation of a man - but it was all that lay open to me ; and in due time I became one, became what I am.

THE DREAM.

It was past cock-crow, and the stars began to decline as my father gave me his last embrace, and the tears of my aged mother fell fast on the cheek she kissed. Their failing feet dragged heavily on the earthen floor as they retired to a broken rest. I paused by the embers of a decaying turf-fire, which, dimly smouldering,

« PreviousContinue »