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Last month has seen once more the anniversary of most of our Christian Societies, the true glory of our land. There has been much to cheer and animate us in these meetings. The year has been one of unexampled pressure ; and yet the Bible Society, the Church and the Wesleyan Missionary Societies, the Pastoral Aid Society, and we believe several others, have had to report an income greater than in any year previous. The tone of the speeches, and the facts detailed in them, were alike gratifying and hopeful. A large blessing has clearly rested on these works of love. A spirit of growing sympathy and union has been manifested in various branches of Christ's visible Church, so that, in the review of the past month, we may well thank God, and take courage.
But, amidst all that is cheering and delightful in these late anniversaries, there is one truth which ought to weigh deeply on every conscience, and to mingle humility and fear with our grateful thanksgivings. God has plainly, even now, a controversy with our land. The famine in Ireland continues, and is now aggravated by fever and pestilence. The scourge, though more gently applied, reaches our own island, in an alarming scarcity of every kind of provisions. The pressure extends to all classes. It is felt, even in the royal palace, and at the tables of the money-changers, as well as in the cottages of the poor labourers, and
the alleys of squalid want in our great cities. The hand of God is undeniably upon us. Our rulers have owned, in part, the reality of the judgment. Multitudes, in the late Fast, confessed their sins, and the sin of the nation, before God; and still the scourge continues to waste, and the heavy burden to weigh upon us, and it is our duty to ask, again and again, wherefore it is that God contendeth with us.
The question is still more urgent, for another reason. We are now on the eve of a general election. The character of the new Parliament will, almost certainly, decide the course of our national policy for years to come. If ungodly members are chosen, that policy will be godless. If lukewarm Protestants, of little or no faith, are elected, the apostasy of Rome will advance with giant strides and increased effrontery.
The public "testimony to God's truth will be cast aside. Instead of repenting publicly of former acts of sin, in the countenance and support of idolatrous rites, these sins will be redoubled and multiplied. Like Pharaoh, the nation will harden itself more and more in a blind unbelief of God's righteous Providence, and the present famine may, in this case, prove only the beginning of sorrows.
How needful, then, that every Christian elector-yes, and every Christian lady-should see clearly, at this time, the national sins to be confessed ; and the nature of that public repentance we must all practise, if the hand of the Lord, in heavy judgment, is to be removed from us.
There is danger here, doubtless, of a partial and onesided view. It is a bad sign, when Christians find the only cause of God's displeasure to be some particular sin, whether private or public, from which they are themselves free. This would not be the wisdom from above, but a form of secret pride, doubly offensive in an hour of affliction, when all should be abased in the presence of God. When God visits a nation, after a time of mercy and forbearance, all the sins, both public and private, committed in that time of mercy, must help to fill the cup of iniquity, and make it overflow. Covetousness, sabbath-breaking; open blasphemy, fierce and selfish competition, literary pride and unbelief, the fever of worldliness in our great cities, the masses of neglected heathenism in our vast population, the drunkenness and profligacy of our towns, and even of our country villages, the iniquities of our opium-trade, and other forms of hateful Mammon-worship, with our long neglect of temporal and spiritual destitution, in Ireland and our own country, all are grievous sins, and they have all concurred to bring us under the Divine displeasure. None of them should be overlooked in our confession of the past, or in our purposes of amendment, both privately and as nation, in time to come.
All this we fully and firmly believe. But still the question remains,—Is there no sin more plainly pointed at than others by this sudden stroke of God's providence—no public sin, which may seem to have filled the cup and made it overflow, and to have been the very signal for this severe visitation ? Our readers will probably, most of them, agree with us, that such a sin there is, unrepented of till this hour. Their own religious instinct will suggest the answer. But since many, both of open unbelievers, and liberalized Christians, will dispute and deny the truth, it is well to remind one another of the evidence on which it rests, that our prayers and our efforts may be aimed, earnestly and continually, against this one great evil, which now threatens to bring down judgment and heavy affliction on our land.
What is the corner-stone of our British constitution ? It is the solemn covenant of our State, in the person of its monarch, to be guided by the supreme authority of God's holy word. One main part of that covenant is in these terms, 'I Victoria, do solemnly and sincerely, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, that I do believe that, in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, there is not any transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever, and that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary, or any other saint, and the sacrifice of the mass, as they are now used in the Church of Rome, are superstitious and idolatrous. And I do solemnly, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, that I make this declaration, and every part thereof, in the plain and ordinary sense of the words, as they are commonly understood by English Protestants, without any evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation whatsoever, and without any dispensation granted me for this purpose by the Pope, or any other authority or person whatso
Now, if this declaration were not true-if transubstantiation were a real fact, and the worship of the Virgin and saints quite lawful, then our State would be founded on a direct lie, an open affront offered for centuries to the God of heaven. But these statements are true, eternal truth,—and therefore what follows? The Jesuit Coster has told us long ago, ' If transubstantiation be not true, then are (Roman) Catholics among the worst idolaters that were ever seen under the sun. The Egyptians have worshipped sheep and crocodiles, but none ever before worshipped a piece of bread.' Unless, therefore, the throne, the Church, and the Parliament,
are all founded on a hideous lie, our Legislature, two years ago, by the confession of Romanists themselves, ordained openly the propagation of idolatry throughout Ireland, at the national expense. They affirmed the principle : they enrolled it on the statute-book, imbedded it deep in our finances, and were hindered only by motives of expediency from carrying it out into fuller operation. The Crown, and in the Crown the whole State, proclaims solemnly, in the sight of God, that the service of the mass is idolatry, the worship of a mere piece of bread. The premier, in the name of parliament, proclaimed that it was wise to help in providing the consolations of religion'-in other words, the consolation derived from worshipping one or many idols, for seven millions of our countrymen. The legislature, by the voice of all its leaders, and its own solemn act, declared that this was wise conciliation ; that it would heal the troubles, assuage the discord, and relieve the wants of Ireland ; that resistance to it was bigotry and injustice, and that the fear of God's anger on such a course was the merest dream of antiquated folly.
What was the direct and immediate result of this frightful inconsistency, this national adoption, with our eyes open, of nationally-confessed idolatry? Two months had hardly passed, when the blight began to appear, the precursor of that famine which now presses like a terrible nightmare on the whole nation, from the palace to the cottage, perplexing all the counsels of our states
The political agitation of Ireland was only increased. In the very act of making one feeble, insufficient effort to restrain its threatening sedition, those who had conciliated it by endowing idolatry, within the year, weredriven from the seat of government; and the sedition was quelled only by a mightier power, the direct hand