Page images

There are some pleasing indications that a good, though silent, work, is going on among them.

“I am happy to report favourably of the attendance at public worship. It is, indeed, most encouraging; and I am doing what I can further to improve it. Here, perhaps more than in any other station in Ireland, this is the centre of action. At this point the cause must be consolidated, and from it our efforts must gradually extend themselves. I feel this now more than ever; and I am resolved to act accordingly.

“I ought to mention that we have just completed the re-flooring and reseating of our chapel. The entire work has cost us about £150, which amount, with the exception of a few pounds still to be gathered, we have raised among ourselves. It has been a considerable effort; but we are more than rewarded by the increased comfort and convenience of the place.

* Pray for us, dear brother, that the great Head of the Church may own and bless our labours.

“ Rev. C. J. Middleditch."



“In my last I gave you my recollections of your first and earliest agency in this country. Kindly now al. low me to enter more into detail. No one travelling through Ireland, at least Connanght, at the present time could form any conception of the manners and habits of the peasantry fifty years ago. Then on the threshold of every door there was an 'ass's shoe' to keep ' fairies' and all evil spirits' outside; "charms' for toothache; charms' to prevent the butter being taken from the dairy; stations for Pennance, numerous; devotional in the morning-in the even ing drunkenness and fighting attended by thousands. The Reek Moyne, the Krese in the west witnessed these gatherings; the Reek or Croagh Patrick especially, where St. Patrick, with a hazel stick, was supposed to have en tered into deadly conflict with the largest and last of Irish serpents, called, by way of distinction, the Devil's Mother. In my last I referred to the state of society, but not fully have I described that state, for so low was order, that actually young men would assemble and play at cards for a wife; of course. often the most beautiful and worthy would be won by the lowest of

the gang, and carried off by night. Last Saturday I met at Rabue, Captain Judge and another gentleman, who requested me to accompany them on an errand of mercy to Durrow, some four miles from Rahue, just the locality where the Earl of Norbury was assassinated some years ago; when Mr. Judge told me that, in that very parish, himself and party rescued, in 1821, one of these fair damsels thus won at a game of cards by one she had never seen or heard. This state of things was aggravated by Ribbon and White Boy Societies. To this I may add, that the first missionaries preached, and slept in houses where cocks, Lens, geese, ducks, pigs, and cows, were present. I slept myself in one house where, in the room with me, there were a bull and several cows; add to this, damp beds, little or no tea, after wading through a bog, or half swimming across deep, and dangerous rivers. I had myself, up to my breast' in a deep river, after preaching on the opposite side, to carry one of my congregation on my back. Now, thank God! all these things have passed away; no charms ; no asses' shoes; no pilgrimages; few stations; no pigs or cows in the congregation; well-aired beds; the social and comfortable cup of tea-security in one's lodging. One night, in the west, there was a fight where I slept, and the balls flew like hail about my ears-a peaceful and peaceable and sober population! Who, remembering as I do, what was, and wiïnessing what is, can forbear exclaiming, , What hath God wrought!' and that our mission was blessed in aiding largely this social and moral change, I am sure, will be acknowledged by all the good and pious in these districts. The spiritual change is also apparent. I do not wonder that brother Stokes, in his youth, should be desponding, but more mature age, will give him hope, for there is, indeed, a great change; for, by no means, have the priests the power, or the disposition to exercise the kind of power in exercise fifty years ago; but not only are the people generally better disposed, and more under the influence of the light of the day, but many of them have become true and decided Christians. I know that some of your early missionaries can furnish you with more ample detail, and more abundant fruit, get my recollections enable me to place before you no inconsiderable band."

Mr. Berry gives a long list of converts whom he himself knew, and adds

"These with others, whose names I can. shores of the Atlantic-a magnificent not recollect. All these, through your mountain behind our dwelling. As early agents, haverenounced sin, and accepted a as the lark, with my dog, before ten free salvation through the blood of Christ. years of age, on the mountain top, or Others whom I have known, declared that, with my fishing-rod plunged to the when they had arrived in America, they middle in the grand, great sea; but would openly profess the one Lord, the when the Bible was read, and the Lord one faith and baptism. Surely I have Jesus revealed, these vain thoughts cause of deep gratitude to God for all passed away, and a higher and nobler His mercies, and I trust I am grateful; ambition took possession of me. grateful to your mission; just then hav. “ Yours affectionately, &c., ing been, like all Irish lads, proud and

“ THOMAS BERRY." ambitious. I lived on the bold, grand, "Rev. C. J. Middleditch. Contributions received in behalf of the Baptist Irish Society, from February 18th, to

March 17th, 1864.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



MAY, 1864.




PERMIT me, Gentlemen, and Chris- dowed Church, occasioned, very natian Brethren, to ask your attention turally, much commotion among the to a brief paper on recent events, members of that Institution. The and on the obligations they appear charge of heresy was preferred to me to impose.

against one of the authors, and Since the last Session of the argued before the suitable judicial Baptist Union, circumstances have tribunal, and after a long and learned transpired which have filled thou- investigation, the writers of the sands among us with surprise, which objectionable works were acquitted of are destined sooner or later to be having published anything which productive of momentous results, legally disqualified them for holding and which will occupy a conspicuous official place in the communion they place in the historic story of the preferred. day.

The members of the Baptist body Some time ago, a volume known would be the last persons in her by the name of “ Essays and Re- Majesty's dominions to abridge the views” appeared, the production of right of private judgment, to limit men of distinction and position, the freest circulation of opinion, or which was widely circulated and to arraign the decision of the highest read. This is not an occasion for court in the realm. They are accuspronouncing an opinion on the tomed to regard the jurisprudence of merits of these works, for criticizing the country, whether in its principles their respective or comparative lite- or its administration, as being, with rary claims, otherwise than just to all its defects, among the highest observe that they present us with ornaments and strongest bulwarks the results of daring, rather than of of the land. They may, in their profound thouglit, and tend to un- fanaticism, anticipate the arrival of a dermine the foundations of our faith, day in which lords spiritual and civil, and to prejudice those views of grave lawyers, and graver divines, Divine truth which are held sacred will not be required to sit in solemn by the great evangelical school. conclave, and decide on the merits These papers, written by gentlemen of Christian doctrine by prayerholding official stations in the En- books, and articles, and homilies


-the compilations of men-rather tacle grows upon us, as we observe than by the unerring Word of God. those who hold the tenets so openly

But what appears so strange to avowed, retaining their connection those of us who are not within the with the Church. If the thunders favoured pale, who stand outside the of the law cannot disturb, the whisfence within which the great pugi- pers of conscience might admonish. lists contend, is, that the opinions Secession from any community is broached by the Essayists, and em- open to us all, and moreover is braced by their admirers, should be eminently graceful when our symreceived as though they were novel, pathies with it are impaired. But - that notions as old as the Gnostics, division is a vice, and one we have gathered up and put into systematic been accustomed to associate with form in a later age by Faustus So- vulgar or envenomed minds. We cinus, which have periodically be have a right to think as we please, wildered the great dreamers of Ger- but we have no right to sow discord many and haunted like pale ghosts in the bosom of an associated comthe purlieus of the Church of God munity. It is easy to frame palliain alī times, should be treated as a tives for such a course, and to dress vision, as the discovery of more than them in plausible guise, but sensitive usually enlightened and puissant honour and true nobility of nature minds. It is recorded of the Gibeon- recoil alike from the sin and its ites, in olden times, that “they put excuse. It is the obvious duty of old shoes and clouted upon their those who conscientiously imbibe feet, and old garments upon them; opinions at variance with those reand all the bread of their provision tained by the body, they may for a was dry and mouldy."

season have approved and served, to It appears to us an anomaly that leave that body in uninterrupted such opinions should be promulgated possession of the doctrines and pracwithin the precincts of a church tice it prefers.. Dissenters from the whose creed, services, and sacraments English Church have been denounced are prepared for it, stereotyped and as schismatics, but this is the name imposed by authority,—within which proper to those, whatever their rank no one who ministers at its altars or pretensions, who renouncing her can legally change a petition or in- leading tenets, still continue within troduce a collect. Such a deviation her pale. Attempts are made to from recognized standards would not cover this policy under the veil of be tolerated in the free churches of independency of thought. None of the land. Any pulpit among Dis- us would interfere with the entire senting communities, which should freedom which this phrase impliesbe the seat and centre of contra- we claim it for ourselves, and courdictory tenets, of doctrines as varied teously and heartily concede it to in their import as human fickleness others; but let us take the penalty could render them, would soon be with the privilege. Others exercise purified from its inconsistency, or their thoughts as well as we. If the the preacher would become as one great majority of those with whom I crying in the wilderness. Is the have been accustomed to unite in the Established Church, as it is some- way of instituted fellowship, see that times vauntingly called, to be the my ideas on matters vital to its most unstable and equivocal pre healthful and harmonious continu. ceptress in the realın?

ance are utterly at variance with But the strangeness of the spec- theirs, and I readily admit it, and yet

hem be theology, it not wide

Icleave to the fellowship—if I cease to become increasingly distinct, we sustain those views and truths which have too high an opinion of the great I was solemnly sworn to build up, but body of them to suppose that the yet I remain in the communion, I endowments they inherit would renam doing my utmost to destroy; this der them deaf to its appeal. The selfis not independency, but licentious- sacrifice involved in such a course ness of thought. When men take to would meet with an ample reward, thinking through the medium of and the material benefits relinquished their desires, they are in danger of be more than compensated by those leaving the bracing region of inde- which would be speedily created. pendency, and of straying into the The hope of amendment may lead relaxing precincts of expediency. them to hesitate to rend themselves

Like all other innovators, these from the Institution they adorn, a hope, gentlemen give us nothing in re. however, which, since the memorturn for that which they take away. able decision of the Privy Council, Treading in the footsteps of their rests, in our opinion, on very slender school, they follow the path of nega- grounds. When the Queen, as its tive theology, a course which, when Head, decides through her highest once entered, it is not usual to for- Court that every variety of religious sake, and which opens out into wide opinion may be held by those who but most dreary wastes. They quietly, take orders in the Episcopal Church, moreover, ignore the thinkers and the door is thrown open by a hand writers who have preceded them. which no inferior power can paralyze, Grotius, Lardner, Warburton, White and it needs no great sagacity to see by, Howe, Owen, with the galaxy to that less regard than ever will be had which they belong, are left in the to doctrinal tenets by those who seek oblivion which awaits all who reject admission to its pulpits. If the the philosophy of a progressive Chris- latitudinarian ground taken in the tianity, who believe that as a scheme “Essays and Reviews" be pronounced of truth it is perfect, sufficient and legally consistent with the subscripdivine. Yet, strange to say, these · tion, oaths and solemn asseverations enlightened instructors who would which meet the novice on the very be the guides of others, do not agree threshold of the Church—if Episcopal among themselves, but indicate vary- ordination, with the prestige of aposing attainments in their new re- tolical descent, can be enjoyed by searches, so that it is difficult to those who hold doctrines of which choose among them, or to decide at the Apostles never dreamt, and deny whose feet to sit. They agree only in those which these inspired teachers removing the ancient landmarks, and conveyed, he must be sanguine inindulging in conjectures of their own. deed, who sees notwithstanding all

The state of affairs is rendered the this a prospect of improvement. No, more complex by the presence of a there is in it the presage of increasing large and exemplary body of evan- spiritual decay—“ a kingdom divided gelical labourers in the bosom of the against itself cannot stand." The Church. It is not for us as lookers- light of example bright and strong on to dictate to these gentlemen the is not wanting to guide thoughtful path they should pursue. They can and conscientious men amidst their best appreciate the difficulties as well embarrassments. Who among them as the responsibilities of their posi- can forget the early Reformers ?-or tion. Should the voice summoning affect to ignore the Puritan Fathers ? them to separation wax louder and or fail to call to mind a Whitfield

« PreviousContinue »