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try, which deceived equally its friends and its adversaries. With but few exceptions, its acts were private, its power concealed, and its form muffied, except to a few, who, from political or beiter motives, enquired into the subject. Protestants were ignorant of the nature and circumstances of the religion, and while Protestantism held high its mitred head in lavoured influence, the active agents of Popery were moling their secret way, subverting the faith of the
poor Protestant, and extending over the country their pernicious toils. In an evil hour for Rome, she changed her system. The nature of Protestantism is unsuspicious, and her habits not a kin to espionage. The nature of man is indolent, and while the Protestant divine in his study cast a complacent look on the tomes of controversial theology, which were the fruit of the labours of the two last centuries, and enumerated the names of Barrow, Stilling fleet, Ussher, or Chillingworth, he smiled with contempt at what Rome could do ; forgetting the Proteus nature of the system, and that but little learning, and less reasoning are required to pervert the ignorant and uninstructed. This might have gone on—the system would have extended itself, and when wakened from their slumber of security, the Clergy would have been without ftocks, and their Churches without congregations. But the system of the enemy changed. It became necessary to evince the power of the Church. A grand and simultaneous movement was essential. The Church, in all its imposing dignities and trappings, its awful condescension, its hereditary powers must be produced, and that must be won by terror which would not be conceded to demand. The emphatic people of Ireland must have a religion of corresponding pomp, and while the splendid front of the Metropolitan Chapel,' darkened the unassuming parish Church, and the Roman Catholic Archbishop questioned the rights of the establishment, and the Roman Catholic Priest denied her ordination, Rome sent over her bull of Jubilee, which, with all its necessary attendants of pastorals, explanations, stations, and indulgences, was regularly published and proclaimed. We do not know if such had usually been the case, on any former instance of semisecular blasphemy; we do not know if the Roman Catholic Bishops of Ireland, who so indignantly disclaim the imputation of divided allegiance, had formerly assumed a power which we believe to be illegal,* and which, not even Spain, though so degraded, had permitted till the present time; but we do trace to this same Jubilee, much of the re-action which has been excited. As the political character of the Church of Rome, and its monstrous alliance of things sacred with things temporal, were developed during the elections, so the nature of its doctrines, the audacity of its spiritual pretensions, the demoralising influence of its tenets, were prominently and effectually displayed by the Jubilee ;--not all the ingenuity of J. K, L. could lend consistency, or common sense to the instrument; and the glaring absurdity of its unhallowed claims, so decidedly opposed to whatever is pure and holy in religion, must have
• We believe it subjects the publishers to the penalties of a premunire.
awakened doubts in the mind of the most devoted. The wretched pamphlet which has been ascribed to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Kildare and Jeighlin, but betrayed the weakness of the cause it was intended to serve, and shewed how little, in the nineteenth century, could be said by the most unscrupulous defender of the faith, in favour of this gainful treasury of the Roman See.
But this was not enough : as if to increase the effect which this instrument, and its attendant pastoral, had upon the thinking part of the community, the lower orders of the Roman Catholic Clergy enforced the Jubilee, with all its exactions, in such a manner on their flocks, as to induce a suspicion, that it was not “them,” but “their's” that was sought, and that the real gain was not to the souls of the devotees, but to the pockets* of the officiating clergy. In truth the gross absurdities that weigh on the doctrine of indulgences, and which, however palatable in the 13th, are very unsuitable to the 19th century, must have produced a revulsion in the minds of all thinking Roman Catholics; and it is a sight that moves our pity and astonishment, to see such men as Butler, and Milner, and Doyle, vainly struggling in the toils of their own infallible Church, and trying ineffectually by evasion, denial, and distinction, to reconcile her semi-pagan fables with common sense and common Scripture. We believe that the Jubilee is seldom mentioned without exciting “a sigh” from the conscientious, and "a smile" from the sceptical Romanist, and that it filled no unimportant place in the developement of the sys. tem of that Church during the last year. Men stood aghast at the boldness that could at the present time bring forward the gross toys and trumpery of superstition which had amused or bewildered our ancestors; and as the secular tendencies of the Church were displayed in the union of the priest and the demagogue, so the unerring hand of experience stamped on its doctrinal character, ROMA SEMPER EADEM; always uniform in boldness and assumption, always the same in error and superstition: time passes over her without making any impression, for her boasted infallibility receives no lessons from experience; and she will expirefor expire she will—in all the decrepitude of age and all the presumptuous folly of childhood.
Our readers will remark that we have not adduced the violence and fury of the Roman Catholic Association as among the modes of developing the character of Popery in Ireland. The language and sentiments of that body have been so long before the public, that no new light can be thrown upon any subject by them, and we would as soon think of judging of the state of society in a country, by the strut and rant of actors on a stage, as of the Roman Catholic body by those who got up the melo-dramas of the
* In one instance which has come to our knowledge, an individual, wbo, during the course of the operation of the Jubilee wbich she was attending, having been obliged to remove to a little distance, was required to commence the entire system again, or at least to pay for it, indiguantly asked, was there not the same God on each side of the river, and never afterwards visited a Mass House.
Association for the people. Still these exhibitions prove the nature of the system they would support; they characterise at least the taste of the persons they address; and the spirit which is manifested of deep hostility to the Established Church, of hatred to Protestantism, of alternate ferocity and fawning towards the Dissenters, is such as to stamp still deeper the religious character of the body. With their politics we have nothing to do; but the nature of their Church and its too obvious tendency to temporal objects, so interweave its twofold aspect, that not all our care can uniformily keep them separate. Nor do we say or think that the developement of the political and doctrinal character of the system of Romanism, has produced universally on the mass of its subjects the effect that it was evidently calculaied to do; certainly not. To the latter the minds of the Roman Catholics have been too long accustomed to start back from its exhibition; and the pæans of political victory still ring in the ears of the deluded peasantry, associated with all they had been taught to regard as most sacred But still an effect has been produced. The thinking part of the body must be shocked at the secular tendencies of the Church, and the reasoning must blush for the absurdities of its practices. What secu. rity can any Roman Catholic have that he has understood his creed or his duties, when, in contradiction to the plainest dictates of common sense, and the most frequently repeated asseverations of his teachers, a Bull from Rome may overturn all his conciliatory schemes, all his fancied philosophic views, and visions of regenerated Popery ? An effect has been produced,-and not only on the Protestant but the Roman Catholic public: we trace its effects in the invigorated spirit of Scripture-reading—in the extension of schools—in the eagerness with which public meetings are attended-in the spirit of dissent which has appeared in many parts of the country,-above all, in the remarkable conversions of Cavan. To this circumstance, which would of itself render the year remarkable, we would beg to call the attention of our readers, and to ask them, whether the causes of such an event-an event which, if predicted, would have been disbelieved or derided—an event which opens up a brighter field of exertion than any which Ireland or her sons have ever run—whether the causes of that event be not most deeply interesting ?
Now we are well aware, that the conversions in Cavan and elsewhere have been treated as impositions on public credulity ; that they have been ascribed to bribery or fanaticism ; that the Roman Catholic finds it convenient to treat them with contempt, and the Protestant, from unfortunate consistency, to doubt or disbelieve. We have no interest to support, and no party to advocate; we have made all the enquiries of which the circumstances admitted the possibility, and we do believe that the numbers who have Sabbath after Sabbath, throwing aside the cloud of error and superstition which has environed them, made profession of a pure faith and evangelical creed, and joined the little army of confessors who had preceded them,—we do believe that they have been generally influenced by pure principles of conviction, have been led to a knowledge of salvation, by hearing and reading the revealed word of truth, and “ through evil report and good
report,” have resolved, out of an anxious desire to bear testimony to the truth, instead of gently sliding into the bosom of the Established Church, to make an open and public profession of their faith. We know, too, that so far is the effect of Scripture-reading from being limited to those who have publicly conformed, that many, very many, who still adhere to the profession of the Roman Catholic Church, have laid aside many of its most injurious and exclusive dogmas,--and that, so far from the excellent men whose names have been introduced into the discussion, encouraging a lawless spirit of change, they have in all cases exercised a most vigilant and scrupulous anxiety to guard against it—that they have uniformly examined with strictness all who present themselves, and have as uniformly refused to admit those to conform, of whose motives or whose information they have entertained a reasonable doubt.
Now there are two classes of Protestants who may look on such scenes with incredulity or doubt. Those who are absolutely indifferent to the progress of religion, and who feeling that in themselves there was not that principle which could induce them to renounce one advantage, or deny themselves one pleasuresuch may in perfect consistency doubt or deny the efficacy of religious principle as an impelling motive to such sacrifices as are necessarily consequent upon a desertion of the Church of Rome; they must resolve every thing into the prospect of temporary or temporal interest, and for this simple reason, that they can conceive nothing higher. To such we would say, that no interest is presented in the present case—that the most scrupulous anxiety has been manifested to guard against even an imputation of the kind, and that the Nobleman whose name has necessarily, from his residence, been connected with the transaction, has been no farther concerned in it, than by not refusing his protection or countenance to those who have claimed it. But there are others, who, forgetting that “the arm of the Lord is not shortened,” nor “his counsel void,” are inclined, from the very strangeness of the circumstance, to doubt its truth, and not seeing such incidents in their own experience or their own circles, to ascribe it very much to the influence of temporary or political motives—to hesitate in giving the sacred name of religious conversion to what may
be a delusion. But the history of the Reformation bears ample testimony in favour of the facts alluded to. How was the sacred flame which has enlightened and warmed Christendom how was it first generated and subsequently supported ? Was it not by the free circulation of the Scriptures—by the application of its doctrines through the form and energy of preaching-by bringing the tenets of the dominant Church to the test of the word of God, and applying that “ hainmer” to “ the rock” of Peter's infallibility? Was it not by pursuing precisely the same means, and in precisely the same class of society, that the feeling of religious liherty pervaded the land ; and mitred Prelates and haughty Nobles were met in discussion by the simplicity of the Bible-reading peasant ? If such has been the fact, why should it not be so now? why should not the same Bible, from which all religion must emanate, be as powerful as it was of yore ?--and if that Re
formation which every Protestant believes must take place, is to take place by the operation of human causes, blessed by the Spirit of God, what course should be pursued, or what effect expecied, different from these ?
We willingly give the first place among these causes to the in. creased circulation of the Scriptures, and the increased desire to become acquainted with the contents of God's book. It is morally impossible that for so long a period the Scripture-disseminating Societies should have laboured in Ireland, without producing some effect-arresting some of the careless-awakening some of the indifferent.- enlightening some of the blinded-or guiding some of the bewildered. It is impossible that so many thocsand copies of the word of life should have been cast among the population of Ireland without producing some result; and although the seed was unseen in its fall, and unmarked in its operation, it fermented in secret, and is now bearing the glorious fruit of promise. During the last year, above 30,000 copies of the sacred Scriptures have been circulated in this country by one Society.Can we suppose that it could have been without effect-that the bread had been thrown upon the waters not to be found again-that the word had gone forth and found no answering echo? We know what a single copy of the Scriptures could do, when Providence directed to its pages the enquiring mind of an Augustinian monk; and the same spirit that opened the understanding of Luther, presides now, too, over the faithful reading of the Word. By eve. ry examination we have been enabled to make upon the subject, we feel convinced that the flood of light which has been poured in upon the Irish mind in Cavan, had its origin in the simple and serious perusal of the book of God.
To this many other causes concurred, and one in particular, which we have great pleasure in noticing, as it enables us to pay our tribute of Protestant gratitude to a most valuable association, The Irish Society-a Society to which we have no hesitation in saying that Ireland's reformation owes much ; a Society which seizing upon the very prejudices of the people, employs them in the service of God, and sanctifies their not unnatural affection for their native language, by converting it to a medium for conveying religious instruction ; a Society which, in fine, first perceived the value of the instrument which had been left in this country to pull down the strong holds of ignorance and error, and has employed it for the service of God. By the simplicity of its plan, the admirable arrangement of its mechanism, and the proved honesty of its agents, this Society has been able to make its way among the Roman Catholics of Ireland with a success not before contemplated ; and the peasant who would shudder to retain with contumacious audacity an English Bible or Testament, contrary to the command of his ghostly father, is tempted where his native language and character are at stake, to question his infallibi, lity or honesty who would ask him to surrender either. And the Irish Bible infallibly leads to a Rhemish Testament, that as certainly to a Testament of the authorised version, and at no remote period to a Bible with marginal references, the height of the am