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hope of recovery, if I do not admire the working of the voluntary system. I am, Sir, yourLobedient servant,
Sik,—I copy out an advertisement and paragraph which have appeared in a most respectable provincial paper in this neighbourhood, and have reason to believe that they were inserted in others :—
"Chriitmae Eve, Midnight Service at the Catholic Chapel, 1 Road.
"On Tuesday evening, December 24th, at half-past eleven o'clock, HIGH MASS will be celebrated; on which occasion the choirs of both chapels will unite
their services, assisted by the following professional performers:—Miss B , Mr.
W , Mr. B , Mr. B , (who will preside at the organ,) and a number of
amateurs, who have kindly offered their service.
"A Sermon will be preached by the Rev. W. B , from the English College,
"The Committee of Mangemcnt have appointed gentlemen, who will shew strangers to seats; and, for the purpose of having the congregation respectable, none will be admitted without giving silver at the doors."
"MiBNiCHT Service—We refer our readers to an advertisement of Midnight
Service, in the Catholic Chapel, Koad, on Christmas Eve; and, from the
well known musical talent announced, together with the grandeur of the service at that solemn hour, we anticipate a rich treat."
Your attention is requested to these extracts, not as expressing any opinion of the journal from which they are taken, as both must be viewed in the light of advertisements, but as illustrating a dangerous feature in the present system of Romish tactics. Protestants are invited to High Mass. The idolatry is not hinted at; but they are to come and hear a rich musical treat. Well do the Roman catholics know, that with this, as other sins, there is but a step, and an easy one, from looking on with complacence to actual commission.
On former occasions, / know that Protestants (from some of whom more steadfastness of principle might have been expected) have accepted this invitation. Have they forgot the spirit of our fathers, who would rather have died than have attended Mass,—who proclaimed their opinion that it was a sin to go to Mass, or to the congregation where it was, except to reprove it? They would have declared such countenancing of popery to be—" Parting stakes with God, who should have all—giving part to the world, to the Romish rout, and Antichristian idolatry, now set abroad among us publicly."
I am, Sir, your obedient servant, M. W.
Sir,—Of the extent or details of any intended reform of church abuses we are as yet in ignorance; but I beg leave to suggest to those who have authority in these matters, the propriety of introducing a clause in the reformation bills, which might, by entirely removing a too often necessary, but painful and prejudicial interference from the lands of an incumbent, not only materially tend to the security of the just rights of ecclesiastical property, but relieve an individual, whose influence in so great a degree depends upon the good will of those amongst whom his lot is cast, from the disagreeable alternative of submitting to imposition, or resisting encroachment on his legal claims. Two imaginary, but by no means unusual, cases will at once illustrate my meaning. First, let us suppose the appointment of a clergyman to a parish in the gift of a college or any other corporate body. On his institution, as a point of duty, he is bound to investigate the nature and extent of his rights; and should he discover that his predecessor, for peace sake, or ignorance, had allowed any to lapse during his incumbency, his successor, in justice to those whose property he holds, and whose rights he represents, ought to replace these dormant claims on their original footing; but it is obvious he runs great risk in so doing, at the very outset of his ministerial career, of involving himself in disputes and petty warfare with his parishioners, to say nothing, should there be a squire resident, in nine cases out of ten, of adding him to the number of his opponents, and thus cutting himself off from that social and desirable intercourse which ought ever to exist between parties on whose pulling well together so much depends. Second, we will suppose the new incumbent to be either a connection or intimate friend of a lay landowner patron resident in the parish, who is, in most cases, as a matter of course, desirous of curtailing the rights and claims of the incumbent, by which, in addition to the actual influence and power he thereby gains, his rent roll is increased in the exact proportion by which he can neutrahze or check the few demands of the unfortunate titheholder. What is he to do in such a dilemma? If the appointment has been gratuitous, the slightest remonstrance on the detection of some interference with his dues, is denounced as ungrateful. "How great a matter a little fire kindleth" we all know. A spark speedily begetteth a flame, by which he will most assuredly be the greatest sufferer, unless he can make up his mind to passive submission, and allow this right and that right to pass into oblivion, till, compared with what it ought to be, his per-centage upon his income is seriously invaded. In this case, therefore, as in the preceding, though usually in a still greater degree, under the idea, that as the living is the patron's from whom he received, and who has, therefore, a sort of right to do what he will or can with his own, resistance or remonstrance becomes less a matter of conscience; and thus from generation to generation, the property, as far as its ecclesiastical rights are concerned, is gradually undermined and melted away.
Those who are friendly to the establishment, while they see the injustice and impropriety of such a system, will also see the necessity of rendering a clergyman independent, and the propriety of diminishing every chance of collision between him and powerful parties whose interests may blind their eyes to better feelings. To them, therefore, I would submit the consideration, whether it would not be highly desirable to place the inspection of clerical rights under a commission, thus—that on the appointment of any clergyman to a cure, coiumissioners, named by certain authorities, were, before he took possession, to make diligent inquiry into the state of the incumbency, respecting the rights and privileges dormant or unattended to during the life of the late possessor, with power to establish the claims of his successor, and take upon themselves the odium, if so we must term it, of contending for what is justly and fairly due. I need scarcely point out the advantages which would accrue from such a measure. They will be obvious to every candid reader. Had such a commission existed aforetime, and stood between the clergy and the parishioners, we should not have so often heard of acrimonious feelings on both sides, aggravated by an unfortunate juxtaposition, adverse to that friendly intercourse which ought ever to exist, and without which a Christian spirit can never take root and flourish.
STATE OF THE IRISH CLERGY.
January 4, 1834.
Sir,—The state of the Irish clergy at this moment, owing to the cruel and vexatious delay in the distribution of the money voted to them by Parliament, is almost beyond description. As a specimen of their condition, I send you the following extracts from two letters,—one of which I received this day. My object in asking you to publish them is not to raise any subscription for the sufferers, but to enable your readers to see the extremities to which the clergy in this country are reduced. I have known the writers of these letters intimately for many years; and, although I suppress their names, (for obvious reasons,) I can vouch, in the fullest manner, for the truth and authenticity of their statements. They are both beneficed* clergymen, one of the diocese of Armagh, the other of Waterford, and both have large families. The former writes thus:—
81 Z>«r., 1833.
"Mv Dear , I dare say you are not ignorant that the clergy have
not yet received any of the money from Government, which was voted for their relief last Session. My memorial for aid has been lodged at the Castle eight weeks; and I am informed that, until February next, the money will not be issued. In the mean time, we are suffering extreme distress. For my own part, I know not how any longer to support my family; all of whom are, in common with myself, suffering privations of the most distressing nature. I venture to hope that if you can relieve me to the extent of three pounds you will."
The other writes as follows:—
"My Dear , I am about to ask a favour of you in my need, which,
if you can grant it, would be a great relief to me at present—it is to send me
a couple of pounds We are completely run out of money, and are
consequently suffering much privation, and all by the vexatious delay in Government with respect to the loan; and which has brought the clergy round me to a state of distress which I can scarcely describe. We were all in
* One of them is in possession of a living which ought to produce 900L a year: for the last three years lie has received almost nothing.
full expectation that the money would have been issued long ago, and we were husbanding our little means until then; but now we see no probability of being paid until the latter end of February or March—our little means are exhausted, and we shall have to endure much for a couple of months. This is the case all around us; and, when we meet, our word is, how shall we live until then? And, what is worse, our creditors, who were led to expect money at Christmas, are now put off, and are clamorous; many of them proceeding against the clergy, so that I scarcely know a man in this neighbourhood who is not in an attorney's hands, which will add considerably to their debts, and take from their money. This was mentioned to Government by many influential persons; but they will not go out of their way, and have declined to advance money. We have been cruelly used by them; and the situation, into which most of the men around me have been brought, they can never recover from. To suppose we shall get a shilling from the people next year, under the forced composition, is an absurdity to which nothing could persuade men but the strangest infatuation, so that we shall have suffering upon suffering,— and the clergy will be made so odious by the attempt of some to recover their dues by fire and sword, that I know not how they will be able to live in the country. We shall be forced next year to apply again to Parliament for relief,—and that relief (if granted) we shall not receive for at least half-ayear, if not more, after the application, so that our prospects are most gloomy. Government will yet find the evil of depressing a class of men, who, in Ireland, are almost the only educated, active, and useful resident gentry of the country, and throwing the peasantry, in their poverty, on the charity and exertions of men who never felt for, nor relieved, distress, and whose enmity to British connexion and government is openly avowed and professed. To whom will they give the management of the proposed Poor Laws ?—or, in short, the management of any thing devised for the relief of our starving and wretched peasantry? I see that we are on the eve of something very bad,— the spirit of the peasantry is worse than it ever was; and, if we should have partial or general riots, they will be most dreadful in their consequences.* But, notwithstanding this painful state of things, I do not fear for the cause of religion—it is flourishing greatly amongst our Protestants, and the exertions of the clergy are not relaxed."
I Temain, yours &c, T.f
Sir,—If you would deign to admit into your Magazine the following proof that all dissenting teachers are not inspired, I doubt not but that it would have the effect of amusing some of your clerical readers, and probably, also, of opening the eyes of some of the misguided, and too easily deceived, vulgns. In a neighbouring parish, my friend, the incumbent—who, by the way, in consequence ot the smallness of his living, which, though the population exceeds six hundred, amounts only to one hundred pounds per annum, has been obliged, injustice to himself and his large family, to accept the offer of an adjacent curacy, where his ministerial fidelity and truly pastoral zeal have been so
• The writer of this has been for almost fifty years an active parish priest in Ireland, and was employed as a magistrate during the rebellion in 1798.
t The writer has given his name to the Editor.
appreciated, that in about two years his congregation has increased so much that, lately, the Wesleyan minister found it necessary, publicly, in his sermon, to lay to the charge of nearly all his hearers the sin of becoming churchmen—has, for some time, been much annoyed by the Primitive Methodists. One preacher of that sect, in particular, perfectly electrified the natives. My friend, among the rest, was urgently invited to go to chapel. Deeply sensible of the heinousness of the sin of schism, and of the guilt incurred by those who, in any way, give countenance to it, he, of course, immediately refused. One day, however, thanks to the famous preacher's lungs! or rather to the preacher's famous lungs! he, unexpectedly, from his own grounds, enjoyed the treat, such as it was. He heard the man distinctly. The first impression produced on his mind was, that what he was hearing was not quite original, but greatly resembled something he had lately read. He went home, and referred to a report, in the "Pulpit," that happened to be in his possession, of a sermon by Parsons, from the text, " I will glorify the house of my glory." He returned with it to his former situation, and verified the excellence of the preacher's memory. That his poor deluded flock might no longer thus be led astray, and imposed upon, by regarding as inspiration what was but a retentive memory, he sent the report round the village for the perusal of his parishioners, and the result happily proved to be, that the "famous preacher," thus divested of his plumage, no more came to foment divisions, the congregation was dispersed, and returned to their former shepherd. May the Lord diminish the number of such deceivers, and turn their hearts unto himself! May he enlighten the poor deceived, and teach them to know their truest friends!
I am, Sir, your obedient servant, H. N.
P.S. Whilst I am troubling you, Sir, might I be allowed to inquire whether the commendation bestowed, in your Magazine, on "The Manual for a Parish Priest," extends to that part of it where the author recommends his clerical brethren not to include in their pastoral calls, or visit in the time of sickness, " such as have forsaken the church, who enter its doors only when the service does not interfere with a regular attendance at the conventicle"? In my little parish, the only sectarians are a few Methodists. They all communicate at the church, and attend there in an afternoon, but not in a morning, when the service interferes with that.of the meeting-house. How should I act towards them? What is the advice of those who have had the most experience on the subject? Has the "Elder Brother's" been tried and found to answer ?*
• The Methodists are a very different body from Dissenters. When persons communicate with us, although there may be practices among them of which wc must in principle highly disapprove, we cannot think them aliens from us. What the "elder brother" says, relates to those who are confirmed aliens.—Ed.