Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

have emanated from all classes of his late Majesty's subjects, not for the repeal of an obnoxious tax, but to have the liability of payment continued upon them. One circumstance in the debate we would briefly point out to the indignation of our readers. When Mr. Borthwick, in the course of his speech, brought home against the dissenters the argument, that our Saviour himself had paid a similar tribute, and to that end had wrought a miracle--when every member not insensible to religion deeply owned the force and cogency of this example, how did the feelings of ministers correspond with the sense of the house, or what was the consistent decency of their behaviour? Were they impressed with the awful censure of their proceedings implied in this reference to our Lord and Saviour ? Alas, no! They chose that opportunity to indulge their mirth. They laughed long and loud at the citation, and the reasoning of the honourable member, as if, in their opinion, their introduction was not only irrelevant, but absurd. Mr. Borthwick at the time remarked, that "he did not envy them that laugh;” but, for ourselves, we are glad that the disgraceful scene, so significant a feature of the times we live in, and so characteristic of a sacrilegious and reckless ministry,—we say, we are glad that it occurred. We needed it not, for we all along knew the men we have to deal with ; but it may, perhaps, tend to open the eyes of others, who, arguing from the past, find it hard to believe that public characters can in this country be so utterly lost to shame, as the conduct we have spoken of above necessarily implies. The people of England are not wanting in feeling, though they have not foresight; and this single mistimed exhibition of mirth, by outraging their holy impressions and associations, may do more to alienate their confidence from administration than a series of political mistakes and fallacies, and the evidence of total incapacity have hitherto been able to effect. The upshot is, that the settlement of the question is left contingent upon a committee appointed for the express purpose of quashing the whole business. The demoralizing scenes that have broken the peace of numerous parishes throughout the kingdom, will be repeated with an increase of irreligious exacerbation, and another year will probably be added to the already aggravated dilapidation of our churches. This must go on till the country shakes off the incubus which weighs upon her energies. It cannot now be long before Sir Robert Peel will be called upon, by general acclamation, to'guide the helm through so difficult a navigation as lies before the vessel of the State.

“ Incumbat si turbidus Auster, et unda,
Pulset utrumque latus : posito certamine nautæ
Contenti meliore manu, seseque ratemque
Unius imperiis tradunt, artemque pavore
Confessis finem studiis fecere procellæ.”

We run no risk in affirming, that surrounded as we are with difficulties of every species, nothing but the strongest and most uncorrupt sense of duty could prevail upon any set of men to undertake the recovery of the nation from the effects of the Melbourne nostrums. However, this country does not want a State physician, whose principles, whose maxims of policy, and whose personal character, can administer a remedy. Within a few months of his taking office, the vexatious question of church rates will be settled by the Right Honourable Baronet. It is probable that the consolidated fund will, after all, be the source whence a portion of revenue adequate to the exigencies of the case will be drawn. This would secure the just principle of compelling all to pay for what contributes to the benefit of all; but we would, with deference, submit to the Right Honourable Baronet, that he should avert, by anticipation, future contests and disputes, within and without the walls of Parliament. Let there be no ground left for disagreement upon details hereafter; the whole question should be brought to a definitive settlement. The expense inevitable on ascertaining what each parish will annually require, and in making estimates, establishing methods of payment, &c. should be foreseen and provided for in the first instance, and not left to contingencies. The house of Commons must be called upon to vote a certain sum, not merely as a substitute for the rate, but for the interest and principle of mortgages raised upon the security of it, for the purchase of burial grounds, and for the building, rebuilding, and reparation of many of the parish churches. The bill that shall repeal the existing law, as respects church rates, should contemplate all minutiæ, so as to leave no loophole for sacrilegious opposition to creep through, in after years. The amount of the fund must suffer no diminution, nor the principle of a church establishment be in any sense invalidated.

O'CONNELL AND THE VOLUNTARIES.

He gives

The member for all Ireland would fain delude the people of England, by taking under his protecting wing the voluntary principle, the adoption of which he knows must in this country compromise the existence of the Established Church. out, and would have us believe, that the Romish religion in Ireland is upheld and maintained by voluntary contributions. Never was there such a fallacy passed upon the world for truth. But circumstances reduced him to a dilemma, in which it was not possible for him to reconcile his political interests with fact. With his usual spirit he preferred his interest to any other consideration, and with his usual jesuitism he must have founded his assertion upon some mental reservation best known to himself. However, there is not a Roman Catholic above the condition of a serf in the sister kingdom, who, from his own experience, might not contradict the learned agitator. But the statement is intended to afford a prop to the tottering fabric of the Melbourne administration at the present juncture; and what scruple is such an individual as Daniel O'Connell likely to entertain in making it? A feeble-minded person would, indeed, have hesitated, lest the falsity were too palpable, and might be too easily exposed. But Mr. O'Connell, however, is not a man

man to be disturbed by any apprehensions. It was enough that the untruth answered his temporary purpose; and, we presume, he thought that an additional teint upon his veracity would tend not a jot to heighten his peculiar character with the public. To lay on a deeper shade upon his sable scutcheon were all one as to paint the lily, or throw a perfume on the violet.” The voluntaries may be obliged to him for the good will he seems to bear them in taking their cause in hand; but we cannot help thinking him a very inconsistent advocate, because the enforcement of an ecclesiastical impost would be not only more agreeable to his general principles, but more in accordance with those doctrines of the Romish church with which he is deeply imbued. That church has engrafted upon the laws of the Almighty a certain number of commandments peculiar to herself, with one of which only we are immediately concerned. We refer to the command obligatory on true believers, “to contribute to the support of their pastors," and " neglect not tithes to pay."*

And how, it may be asked, are these commands obligatory? Because in the Roman catechisms we meet with the following questions and answers:-Q. “Do the commands of the church oblige under pain of mortal sin? A. Yes.

A. Yes. Q. Where shall they go who die in mortal sin? A. To hell for all eternity.” Now, our readers will doubtless agree with us that this “ order in council,” to pay tithes and contribute to the support of the priests,” is backed by as stringent a penalty as any mere human punitive enactment; and as they would be inclined to infer à priori, so is it shown in the event. We believe were government so lost to all sense of decency and duty, as to offer to take the Romish priests and hierarchy into the pay of the State, that the proposition would be rejected with disdain by those parties, since they would lose, by the most liberal arrangement, a sum greater than the whole revenue of the Protestant Church in Ireland. In affirming this we are not speaking out of the record. Such is the voluntary system boasted of by Mr. O'Connell ;---such are its wonderful effects. And those tithes which he pretends the Romish church in Ireland would decline receiving are actually commanded to be paid in those identical catechisms, wherein the Roman Catholic children are instructed by the National Board of Education. Tithes are directed to be paid, so soon, that is, as circumstances will admit of it, and payment to the priest is also enjoined, both under the most awful sanction that human imagination can conceive. And yet we Saxons are to be coolly told, that the Roman Catholic priests in Ireland depend for their maintenance upon voluntary contributions; we are to be persuaded that they repudiate the idea of an alliance of Church and State! But Mr. O'Connell has much the same notion of voluntary contribution as he has of freedom of election. The vote of an Irish freeholder is freely tendered, in view of the death's head and cross bones,-and his ecclesiastical dues are voluntarily surrendered, lest awful denunciations be dealed out against him.

* Reilly's Catechism.

THE IRISH CHURCH BILL.

After ejecting Sir Robert Peel from office upon this very point; after all the boasting speeches of themselves and accomplices on this vital question, involving the principle of encroachment on the church of Ireland to all future time; after all their vain and simulated promises,-the expectations they have held out to a deluded nation; after twisting their scheme every way, and writhing themselves in every posture, the government is obliged fairly to abandon the appropriation clause, and resort to a mode of dealing with the Irish church, difficult in practice, but, if possible, still more unprincipled. The present bill, like that on which the House of Lords passed sentence last year, commutes tithe into a rent-charge, to be paid by the owner of the property of the first inheritance. But there is to be no delay. It operates from the hour in which it shall have received the sanction of the legislature. The mischief begins instanter, a mischief awfully aggravated in all its details, and ominous of ruin to the Irish branch of the church of England. The landlords are to be benefited at the expense of the Establishment, for the contemplated rent-charge is to fall short by 30 per cent. of the tithe hitherto legally due, if not always brought to account. But the crowning feature of the measure, and one most characteristic of its framers, is that there is to be a further deduction of 10 per cent. as the lives of the existing clergy drop in, which will be left to the trusteeship of the Roman Catholic priest, under the thin delusive pretence of providing mental aliment for the poor of all persuasions. The revenue, of which it is proposed to despoil the Irish church, is to be applied in promoting the falsely called national system of education. But the national schools (so called) have become, under the auspices of the priests, almost exclusively Roman Catholic; and it follows that Protestants are, in point of fact, excluded from their benefits. By the precious amendment of their original scheme of spoliation, our ministers

[ocr errors]

are not content with filching 30 per cent. from the already impoverished protestant clergy. The new appropriation clause requires 40 per cent. tò feed the ravenous maw of papistical spoliation. Nay, the rejected bill was not intended to come into operation until after a period of forty-three years, whereas the present sets to work at once, defrauding every cure of the Establishment, from the archbishopric of Armagh to the most meagre vicarage (as the lives fall in), of ten pounds out of every hundred pounds per annum. It just amounts to this, that instead of the Church finding herself plundered of 30,0001. per annum at the end of forty-three years, the government has the effrontery to transfer directly from the protestant ecclesiastical exchequer 50,0001. per annum into the hands of her sworn and bitter enemies. What the protestant clergy are robbed of, goes to perpetuate a species of religion inimical to all national independence, peculiarly opposed to the insular policy of the British empire, and repugnant to the word of God, which it corrupts by substituting many false mediators for the one single name by which alone all men are saved; and while the process of depredation is precipitated, the sum mulcted from the Establishment for objects that involve her eventual overthrow is greatly increased. Under what insidious cover would our ministry fain perpetrate their wickedness? It appears that by the 28th of Henry VIII., a law confirmed by certain acts of Elizabeth and William III., the incumbent of each parish in Ireland was obligated to keep a school for the good bringing up of the youths of the realm; that is, as is most obviously implied, if not expressed, not merely with the view of spreading the knowledge of the English language, but for the manifest and intelligible purpose of inculcating amongst an alien people English feelings and English sympathies; and more especially and above all was this statute enacted, that the christian faith might be more readily diffused amongst a benighted and idolatrous population. What resemblance our governors, by the grace of Daniel O'Connell, can discern between such admirable objects, and the fatal consequences involved in their iniquitous bill, it passes our wits to discover.

The protestant clergy to be sure will have to be at the cost of these schools, but the popish priests are to superintend them. Instead of making Englishmen of the poorer classes in Ireland, the obvious tendency of this bill is, to estrange them from this country; to affect their allegiance to the queen of England, and to ground upon the basis of education itself the hatred of the lower Irish for us Saxons. And worse than all, so far from extending the knowledge of the reformed religion, the funds derived from this fresh plunder of the church of God are to be appropriated according as the popish priest—at once the treasurer, the auditor, and the teacher-shall please to direct; namely, to instructions from a mutilated Bible, and in the

« ForrigeFortsett »