صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

nates the Irish clergy ‘a most injured, and persecuted, and destitute, and patient body of men;' speaking also of their very reduced state.' Such expressions, from such a quarter, were conclusive; and the more so, because the Tuam clergy had nobly declined to participate in a former offering of Christian sympȧthy; on the ground that others of their brethren were far more distressed than they. Upon this, uncle, I received a remittance of money, anonymously, with a request that I would apply it, in cases of individual difficulty, among the sufferers, according to my own judgment.'

'And where will you seek for these cases? How will you discover them?'

'The greatest distress exists in the Southern province, and that of Leinster, I believe. In some of those places, exemplary clergymen may be found, suffering even the extremity of what has been faintly sketched. I have written to clerical and other friends, on whom I can place implicit reliance, requesting from them the necessary information, particularly as regards the fathers of large families, or those with sick households. This ascertained, I shall divide the free-will offering, as far as it will go, under such direction as the Lord, in answer to prayer, may give me; and no names will be published, no feelings wounded, no rapacious hand directed where to make a seizure, to satisfy claims which, to say the best of them.'

'Enough, girl, enough,' exclaimed my uncle eagerly, I understand you. Oh, what a blessed work to be engaged in-and on the verge, too, of what threatens to be a trying winter season!' His eyes were full of tears.

6

are

'Ay, dear uncle, is it not delightful? But I must tell you more. The distress which, at present, has only reached a few, comparatively, of the clergy, in other parts of Ireland, menaces them as a body, more nearly than you may suppose. They are living principally on the credit still given by tradespeople, who well know that their characters guarantee an honourable repayment, whenever the means found. This credit, however, cannot last long; for the dealers themselves are often poor men; and cannot afford it. To answer the demand on their integrity, the clergy are suffering their life insurances to fall; and this, in most cases, leaves their families unprovided for. The call is urgent; and those who would first do good to the real" household of faith,” may prefer a plan that admits of greater discrimination than the mere public one. Some, however, prefer using the medium of the Irish Bishops; and the primate, I am told, possesses the full confidence of all the clergy; and sums lodged in his hands are by him applied with promptitude, judgment, and that delicate regard to individual feeling which every benevolent spirit must desire scrupulously to observe. The use made by our brethren of the assistance afforded will be to satisfy the claims of the trades-people who supply their families, and so to go on with them, until the government do something to rid themselves of the sin and disgrace that must cleave to them, while these faithful ministers of the Church by law established remain unsuccoured."

'What you have said of the Primate is applicable to other Prelates, I should hope.'

'Oh yes, to many. He is pointed out as holding

the most extensive communication, in his official capacity, with the entire body of the clergy; and happily enjoying their confidence, as a firm supporter of his persecuted Church. We all know that the Archbishop of Tuam, whose testimony has proved so valuable in this touching question, is one in whose heart's core lives the cause of his Master, and of that Master's faithful servants. They are fellow-helpers in a work, the sacredness of which, and its bearing upon the eternal interests of millions, no human power can estimate.'

'Thank you, dear niece, for so much welcome information. Welcome, as shewing that a way is opened for the admission and distribution of what none ought to withhold, who, by any degree of selfdenial can slip a mite into this most hallowed treasury. And now I will recompence you, by some intelligence that I lately heard from a very satisfactory source.'

6

Respecting the clergy, uncle?'

'Yes, inasmuch as it bears testimony to their past labours, and gives promise that the Lord has yet much work for which they are, perhaps, even now being prepared in a refining furnace. My informant assures me, that, at this moment the great mass of the people in Ireland are ready to renounce their apostate church: that the influence of the priesthood has dwindled into nothing, as regards their religious character, but maintains a political grasp on the minds of the people, who are taught to regard them as leaders in a party, pledged to obtain for them some mighty boon, the nature of which they do not comprehend, but take it for granted that it is to be universally beneficial.'

'So, when that bubble bursts, uncle, we may hope to see great things effected, for the real and eternal advantage of those interesting, misguided people?'

'There never was a more encouraging view than Ireland, in some points, presents to us; if we allow for her dark and distracted state through centuries of misgovernment and neglect. Bread has been cast upon those waters by many a hand, during the last twenty years, with little hope of finding it again, save what was founded on the divine promise. The days are rapidly accomplishing, the promise is hastening to a glorious fulfilment. I firmly believe that this deepening darkness is the prelude to a sudden burst of dawning light; and that the enemy is bringing up all his infernal hosts for the purpose of driving God's ministers from their stations, because he sees a mighty revolution at hand, menacing his long-established rule, and presenting a noble field for the operations of those who will go forth with redoubled energy,-when, their tribulation working patience, and their patience experience, they shall grasp, with the strong hand of faith, a hope that even now shines in the distance of their dark horizon-the glorious hope of seeing their beloved country become the abode of pure religion, and their unhappy persecutors the children of the Most High.' Sweet encouragement, indeed, dear uncle, for us who desire to minister to the saints at this awful crisis !'

[ocr errors]

A crisis it is, truly and emphatically, and as such we are bound to regard it. The good leaven that God's people have all, we must hope, in some way contributed to introduce among the Irish population, is now working to an extent little suspected

by them; and Satan labours with all his might to stay its progresssive influence. He presents us with every external discouragement, hoping to conceal the real state of the people from our eyes; but long he cannot do it. Look at the letter recently published, and see by what means the reign of terror,' is maintained, the growing convictions of men's minds suppressed. Observe what a picture is presented to the people, naturally kind-hearted, in the demeanour, the sufferings of the benevolent clergy of the persecuted church, contrasted with the tyranny, the rapacity, the pampered self-indulgence of their own priesthood. Remember that the word of God is quietly making its way into their villages and solitary cabins, by the ministration of scripture readers, and the wide establishment of scriptural schools. I could give you, niece, a striking illustration of what I now advance, but I hope to obtain it for your next number, from the hand of a deep and attentive observer, whose representations are founded on a personal experience of some years, passed amid the scenes that he will narrate. Now, in the prospect of an out-break of protestantism among the people, do you not see what would be the importance of the Protestant church-affording at once a rallying-point and a refuge to those who forsook the communion of Rome? Oh, believe me, the wolf desires nothing so much as the removal of those shepherds who are even now proving their readiness to lay down, like their Master, their lives for the sheep: and who wait to gather in others not yet of their fold!'

1 See page 442.

« السابقةمتابعة »