Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

vealed truth so unimportant as that we should grudge the toil of searching it out ? And if“ the testimony of Jesus be the spirit of prophecy”-that is, if he be the theme and burden of all its visions, can we count any effort a toil which is put forth to understand that testi. mony? How can we consent to forego the study of those oracles, which reveal to us the Messiah, not merely in the sufferings that are past, but in the glory that is yet to come ?

We have thus presented to our readers some of the chief motives by which Mr. Bonar aims to stir up

his brethren to this all-important study. It would have been easy to lengthen these extracts, by quoting some of his highly graphic descriptions of the present age. For these we must refer our readers to the work itself. Passing by the well-sustained arguments contained in the following chapters in favour of the premillennial advent, we shall in our next number give some extracts from the chapters on the Prophetic style,' and “ the Types,' which seem to us peculiarly calculated to open to the student fresh lines of interesting thought.

(To be continued.)

THE EXPERIMENT OF THREE HUNDRED

YEARS.

A pamphlet, bearing this title, by the Rev. H. B. Macartney, has just been sent to us. It is a statement of facts respecting the efforts made by the English Government to make known the Gospel to the Irish nation, from the period of the Reformation to the present day. We are told, that the Author, a personal friend of our honoured predecessor, originally intended it for our Magazine. We may, therefore, be justified in making large extracts, and would beg our readers to promote the circulation of a pamphlet containing so much information on a subject, from which, however painful the contemplation, it is our duty not to turn aside. When the Maynooth question was brought forward, a noble Lord pleaded for it on the ground of Restitution : it might be difficult to prove the duty of restoring to a child a bottle of arsenic, of whose poisonous qualities it was unconscious; but Mr. Macartney has made out a far stronger case of restitution, and shown that England does owe Ireland a debt, which all our societies, special appeals for her spiritual exigencies, &c. have, as yet, failed fully to pay. The following extracts will show the object of his pamphlet :

• We concede, therefore, that if it be true that England has for three hundred years been really labouring, through the instrumentality of the Irish Church, to evangelize the Irish people, she has so failed in her righteous

efforts, that it is high time for her to change her mode of acting, and either to modify that establishment, or seek some other instrumentality through which to accomplish her pious purposes. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary that we should meet this question fully and fairly, and examine what has been, during the last three hundred years, the conduct of England towards this country, with regard to spiritual matters. That a portion of the wealth possessed by the Irish clergy in the beginning of the sixteenth century was preserved to their successors, is an unquestionable fact ; that the disposal of the whole of that property was virtually in the hands of the English government, and, consequently, according to the British constitution, in that of the British people, is equally certain ; but the use made of that property, whether it was really, as it no doubt was in name, devoted to the spiritual well-being of the people, is a question which we must ask, and which we must, if possible, answer.'

Our question is—Was religion in any form, from the ultra high-churchism of Laud, to the, in church matters, latitudinarianism of Fletcher of Madeleyfrom the Arminianism of these two divines, to the Calvinism of Newton or Toplady, was anything in the shape of doctrine or discipline--was religion in any shape or form cared about or supported by the British government in Ireland ? or has not their overwhelming influence been at all times, with one brief exception, directed to crush everything like spirituality internally, and everything like missionary exertion externally ? This may seem a startling question, but I put it fearlessly, and in the conviction that but one answer can be given.'

The history of Bishop Mant, an Englishman, an Ox

onian, a strict churchman, supplies our Author with evidence, and he traces the history of the Irish Church from the reign of Henry VIII. Of this reign, an epitome is given in the following words :

'It appears, then, that in the reign of Henry VIII. the matter of the king's supremacy was, in all sincerity, pressed upon the Irish church, and was admitted ; that that church was robbed even to a greater extent than that of England ; that the godly men who were promoted, on account of their zeal for the king's prerogative, received every possible discouragement in their efforts to substitute the truth of God for the errors they were invited to put down; that the monasteries were dissolved without the endowment of one single college or school ; that, to use the language of our venerable historian, the king, “when he relieved the church from the impediment of the monastic institutions, forebore to provide thereby for the religious education of her people, as well as to bestow upon her any secular benefit, and left her incapacitated for necessary activity, and beset by difficulties ;” (p. 183,) but that nevertheless, the very appointment of these men, all slighted, robbed, and insulted as they were, was made, by the mercy of God, instrumental in introducing into the land some glimmerings of Gospel light, the results of which the great day may disclose. But who, on reviewing this simple statement of facts, can say that, in the reign of this prince, one step had been taken by England towards the evangelization of this benighted country, and yet, Lord Gray (the then deputy) might, on his return from his government, have stood up among Henry's peers, and spoken of his fruitless efforts to introduce the Reformation into Ireland, with as much truth as the great majority of his successors.'

Even the reign of the sainted Edward passed over without any earnest efforts for the conversion of Ireland ; that of Mary may of course be omitted. Under the vigorous rule of Elizabeth, measures were taken to compel outward conformity, but the pitiable state of the church may be seen from the following extract from a letter, written nearly twenty years after her accession :

• The following extracts from a letter of Sir Henry Sidney's, the lord deputy of Ireland, written to the queen in 1576, though long, are too important to be omitted or abridged :—" The lamentable estate of the most noble and principal limb thereof, the church I mean, as foul, deformed, and as cruelly crushed, as any other part thereof, by your only gracious and religious order to be cured, or at least amended, I would not have believed, had I not for a great part viewed the same throughout the whole realm ; and was advertised of the particular estate of each church in the bishopric of Meath, being the best inhabited country of all this realm, by the honest, zealous, and learned bishop of the same, Mr. Hugh Brady, a godly minister of the Gospel, and a good servant of your highness, who went from church to church himself, and found that there are within his diocese two hundred and twenty-four parish churches, of which number one hundred and five are impropriated to sundry possessions, now of your highness, and now leased out for years, or in feefarm, to several farmers, and great gain reaped out of them above the rent, which your majesty receiveth : no parson or vicar resident upon any of them, and a very simple or sorry curate for the most part appointed to serve them; among which number of curates only eighteen were found able to speak English, the rest

« EdellinenJatka »