« PreviousContinue »
if in naval and military warfare we have shone pre-eminent, whose was the gift of these varied talents? From whom has come the blessing? For whose glory should they be employed? And why were they bestowed ?
We can only regard them as talents given by him who is King of kings, the Lord of nations as well as of individuals, to be accounted for to him, and to be used to his glory.
Certainly the wealth of Protestant England was not bestowed for the endowment of Romish idolatry. Most assuredly the power of Great Britain has not been conceded to her in consequence of her attachment to Popery, nor can it be expected to be continued if it be devoted to uphold the cause of the Romish apostasy.
On the contrary, from the period when Popery was again taken into the councils of our nation we have suffered materially from intestine divisions; and many measures most disastrous have been enacted, which otherwise had never disgraced our Statute-book.
Till all reference to the superintending providence of the Supreme Being is banished from the minds of men ; till we believe matters to be carried on without reference to his will, we must recognise blessings and chastisements as coming to us by his direction or permission,
He in mercy has revealed his will. He has given us his written Word. He has informed us of the laws which he has laid down for the regulation and government of his moral and reasonable creatures.
To secure our happiness he has held out his never-failing promise of reward to those who love him. To vindicate his own honour he has threatened and inflicted punishments upon those who have disobeyed him.
History, sacred and profane, is a comment upon this his own declaration, that “ Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”
Yet man, swayed more by sense than by faith and reason, because he sees not the outstretched arm made bare to desolate a guilty nation, prefers rather to ascribe these results to chance than to design,-to nature than to God: and thus inventing a term to express that which has no existence, and then deifying the idol of his own imagination, he would abrogate the attributes of Deity, banish the Creator from interfering in the government of a world which at his Word sprung into existence; and judging of infinite Deity by his own finite conceptions, would relieve him from all concern in the affairs of men.
But not such is the will of God, nor such his declaration. His providence continues to uphold the life, which his power at first bestowed : “ When he hideth his face they are troubled : when he taketh away their breath they die.”
The animate and the inanimate, the material and the immaterial world are alike under his control. All things serve him. He can turn joy into mourning, and sorrow into joy, whether as regards nations or individuals. Life and death, and health and sickness, and all things appertaining thereto are under his control. Heat and cold, rain and sunshine, winter and summer, seed time and harvest, prosperity and adversity, are all at his disposal. Rain and fruitful seasons, filling the heart with joy and gladness, result from the plentiful outpouring of the Divine beneficence of him who hath given us all things richly to enjoy. None can give plenty when he sends dearth ; none quietness when he sends trouble ; none wealth when he sends poverty; none victory where he has decreed defeat. Was not bis hand in judgment recently shown outstretched over us? Has it not recently been shown in mercy ? Did the staff of life of more than six millions of people fail suddenly in Ireland, and leave those who leant upon it for support to fall and totter prematurely to the grave ? Shall that be unheeded ? Did consuming fever seize, uncommissioned, upon those whom Christian benevolence had sought to rescue from the jaws of famine? Whence the scourge of famine, of pestilence, or of sword ? Come not these from him who sends forth the destroying angel, commissioned to vindicate his ways to men, and remind nations of their dependence upon him, and the allegiance which they owe to him. Nothing happens without a cause, and there is no power which the Almighty cannot control. He allows men and nations oftentimes to adopt measures which are not good, to eat the fruit of their own devices : to sow the wind and reap the whirlwind, thus making sin the inflicter of its own punishment. We have sought to quiet Ireland by endowing Popery, and instead of that result we are fast involving England in the wretchedness which Popery has inflicted there. And whence the long continued turbulence in Ireland ? Whence the unpunished and undetected crime? Whence our Ministerial perplexities ? Whence our commercial embarrassment? Why are the citizens of this empire, whose merchants were princes, and whose traffickers were the honourable of the earth, staggered, and, as it were, 'at their wits' end? Whence the ruin of commercial grandeur, which the last few weeks have scattered in mighty fragments so thickly and fearfully around us ?
Various, conflicting, and even contradictory causes may be assigned for the present calamities. But one thing is clear, the blessing of God has been withheld, either in framing or carrying out our policy. Amongst other sins we have fostered, and encouraged, and endowed idolatry, which he hates, and has denounced: nor can we expect his blessing upon our Church and nation, till we retrace such erroneous policy, and act in harmony with his will, as revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures.
MONTMORENCY.-A ROMAN CATHOLIC TALE.
(Continued from p. 306.) We must now inform our readers that, after receiving the parting blessing from Father Adrian, Frances proceeded to her cousin's apartment, at the door of which she gently rapped. Clara instantly opened it, and welcoming in her treacherous friend, readily consented to accompany her to a remote part of the village, on a visit to a poor woman who was very ill. Frances beguiled the walk with animated conversation on various subjects, till they reached the borders of a wood; she then exclaimed she had lost the way, and inquired of a man dressed like a shepherd, if he could direct her. They followed him through various lonely and intricate roads, till Clara, becoming alarmed, refused to proceed; when à carriage suddenly stopped, and two men who wore masks, seizing Clara and Frances, placed them in the carriage, which again drove off at a rapid pace, with the windows closed and the curtains drawn. .
Scarcely had Clara been seized, her screams prevented, and herself conveyed to the carriage, 'ere the warping given her by Clarice rushed to her mind, which opened to the belief of a scheme of deep-laid deception concerted by Frances.
It was then that the sincerity of Clara's principles was evinced, for she breathed a secret prayer amidst the thoughts and fears which passed her mind, that Frances might be pardoned and taught from above ; yes, and grace so far triumphed over nature, that she fixed a mild eye of reproachful pity on Frances, which spoke louder than words, that she both saw and forgave her treachery.
They travelled thus during the whole of the night, and the following day, till they stopped at the Convent of F., when Frances and Clara were separated, without interchanging a word; the former to be loaded with caresses, the latter to be terrified into submission.
We leave poor Frances to be initiated still further into the religion and morality of Rome, till she learns yet more to call evil good and good evil, darkness light and light darkness, cruelty zeal, and falsehood piety.
Arrived at the Convent, Clara was conducted to a chamber where every comfort was prepared ; refreshments were brought her by a nun who waited in silence, and refused to reply to any inquiry. She was allowed to pass the night alone; not, however, without the door and windows being barred. Clara was so exhausted that she soon sunk into a sleep that banished all recollection, on first awaking, with her mind and body both refreshed, she could scarcely believe the reality of what had happened, but imagined the past to have been a painful dream.
The sight of the apartment, so different from the one she occupied at Ardennes, together with a large crucifix and picture of the virgin hanging opposite her bed, aided memory in recalling the past, and Clara wept, long, bitterly wept, under a sense of loneliness, desolation, and dread. But as Clara wept these bitter tears, a voice of comfort
sounded in her ears, “He has said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee;" “ The Lord is my helper; I will not fear what man can do unto me."
It was yet early, but, fearful that she might not long enjoy her solitude, Clara arose, and bending in lowly humility yet grateful confidence before the throne of grace, besought for strength and protection; long and earnest were her supplications, for her heart was heavy,--a sense, too, of past unfaithfulness made her distrust herself, and cling to the strong for strength. “She poured out her heart before the Lord, and showed him all her trouble," and thus she found He was faithful, who had said, “ In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in me ye shall have peace.”
The morning had far advanced, and Clara felt exhausted from hunger, before her cell was visited ; the nun whom she had seen on the preceding evening then entered, and beckoned her to follow ; she led the way, a way so long and intricate that Clara felt bewildered in following,—till they stopped at the door of a room into which the nun motioned for Clara to enter. And there, in stately splendour, sat the Abbess, and two dignitaries of the Church of Rome. Clara felt no terror as she met the stedfast look of the Abbeşs, nor the cold pitiless gaze of her cousin Frances, but a thrill of anguish shot through her bosom, when she saw in the distance Father Joachim, for at that moment she felt convinced it was no other than he who had grasped her with savage cruelty, and the bitter question arose, My parent, have you too consented ? But the Bible she had loved and stored so well in her memory consoled her with the reflection, “When my father and mother forsake me, the Lord taketh me up."
“ Come forward, daughter,” said the Abbess mildly, “and listen to the voice of friendly admonition.”
“ Can I confide in the friendship of those who have thus snatched me from my home and friends to prove it?” said Clara, with something of her former spirit.
“Yes, daughter, assuredly; it is the mercy that the physician uses, when he applies the knife to cut off the mortified limb, lest the whole body should be diseased. It is the mercy that leads the Almighty to punish those in time whose souls shall be saved in the day of the Lord. This severe mercy has been shown to you, milder means have failed, parental, fraternal, priestly authority have vainly been exerted to eradicate the seeds of deadly error sown by the accursed heretic, Annette, and fostered, watered, and matured, by the heretical Pierre.”
« May I ask,” inquired Clara, “ for what purpose I am summoned before you to-day?"
“ Our purpose is one of pity and kindness; having heard with deep regret that you have a second time obtained possession of a book, the indiscriminate use of which is forbidden to the young, that you have also refused to resign it, after the affectionate intreaty of Father Adrian, we send for you in obedience to that Church which has Divine authority to reject a heretic after the first and second admonition. What can you say to these charges ? ”.
“ I have nothing to say,” replied Clara, “ but to plead guilty (if it be guilty) to the charges you have brought against me. My defence will only provoke your further indignation. I am in your hand, not to argue but to submit, to whatever punishment you inflict upon me, for refusing to act 'contrary to the will of God.”
“ Do you know what punishments they are, and to what extent they can be applied ?" inquired the Abbess, with a bitter smile.
“ No," replied Clara firmly, “though I believe them to be such as flesh and blood would shrink from enduring ; yet I know they can but kill the body."
“ 'Tis false,” replied Father Joachim, “ despise not our authority; we can kill both soul and body, for unto us are conimitted the keys of the kingdom, and whosesoever sins we retain, they are retained ;' and yours, with all their aggravations of despising a mother's dying warning, and breaking a fond and aged father's sorrowing heart, will fall with a crushing weight on your miserable soul.”
At the mention of her father's name, Clara's trembling limbs could scarce support her, téars fell from her eyes, but again the colour rose to her cheek as she replied, in a voice in which faith struggled with fear, “ No, blessed be God, you cannot shut my soul from heaven; the keys of death and of hell are in the hands of Him who has loved me; of Him who is the only and all-sufficient Mediator. You have already striven, and still strive, to kill my soul; but you have not prevailed, and by God's grâce you never shall prevail, for the snare is broken in which you sought to entangle my feet, and that Word of God which you persuaded me to resign, has again been sent me in mercy, to show me the things which belong to my peace, and to lead me to that Saviour whom truly to know is life everlasting:'”.
The eyes of the Abbess flashed with indignation, as Clara uttered these words.
« Bold heretic,” she exclaimed, “ dare you thus address a priest of the Lord ? we sent for you not to insult, but to repent, or be condemned.”
“ We sent for our unhappy daughter," said the younger priest, who had not yet spoken, «to endeavour, by mildness and the force of sound arguments, to convince her of her error, as becomes ministers of Him who has commanded us in meekness to instruct those who oppose themselves. Nor shall wé prevail by threats and execrations, which ofttimes harden wlien they fail to convince. Tell me, therefore, daughter, what part of God's word, which you profess to venerate, sanctions your obstinate rebellion against ministerial authority ?”
Clara, when thus addressed, turned towards him who addressed her, and was struck by his resemblance to Father Adrian, though considerably younger ; the expression of his countenance was that of deepest melancholy, unmixed with anger, for he evidently viewed her with feelings of compassion, which not the stern discipline of Rome had yet subdued.
' “ Alas, Father,” said Clara, “ I stand here among those whom my replies will but the more exasperate; why, then, should I attempt to argue or to justify myself? My doom is sealed; I submit in silence."