« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
last year, an able and well-appointed mission has been established here : as might be expected, the strongest opposition is made by the enemies of Scriptural Education ; nevertheless, the people are much interested, a spirit of enquiry awakened, and those who labour in this long-neglected field, sow the seed in humble confidence, that the Lord of the harvest will grant the increase. Two clergymen of the Established Church, (one of them now able to preach in Irish,) have devoted themselves zealously to the work; two Schools, which have been sometime established, are eagerly attended by an average of 80 children in each-another has been lately opened with encouraging prospects. A Sunday School, (the formation of which forms a new era in the history of Achille) receives from 50 to 70 pupils, notwithstanding the denunciations of the priest, and the infliction of the rod. Four Scripture-Readers are actively engaged among the people, while a tract and pamphlet, written by one of the Missionaries, have been eagerly examined by the few natives who can read; and the former, translated into Irish by the brethren, has circulated through the greater part of the province of Connaught.
The island of Achill is about ten miles in length, and has the advantage of several lofty mountains, which gene. rally afford good shelter; the mission-house has, notwithstanding, often shaken before the tremendous storms that sweep along the bosom of the Atlantic, and down these precipitous heights. The Arrans, off the Coast of Galway, are the last of the isles that can be noted. Distant about ten miles from the mainland, communication is entirely cut off during five months of the year, while at all times it is uncertain. There are bere three thousand people deprived of all the advantages most prized in a civilized country. Documents laid before the civil authorities, bear an affecting testimony to the privations endured by Protestants, officially connected with these islands, rearing their families in the absence of all moral or religious assistance; —and be it remembered, that on all the larger islands, there are coast-guards stationed, in like circumstances. Some have passed ten years without seeing a minister of the Gospel, or partaking in any religious service whatever. Some have encountered hazardous coasting voyages in an open boat, to procure the sacrament of baptism for their children ; while others, less scrupulous or more ignorant, have received it from Romish priests, and ended by seeing their children become Roman Catholics. « What melancholy scènes have I witnessed," writes the respectable father of a family, “ during eight years' residence here ! - What ignorance among the living! What unmitigated suffering in death! How distressing was it to see-and-sinking under protracted illness, devoid of all the consolations of religion-what á situation for the father of six children! As regards eternity, we might as well be in Siberia.” These simple and heartfelt expressions, convey a lively idea of the state of our Protestant brethren conected with the islands; and if they are thus circumstanced, it is need less, to attempt any delineation of the state of the poor natives. It is difficult to describe-difficult to 'conceive their situation. Father Molash, the long-worshipped idol of Innismurry, and the cursing altar, on which the inhabitants imprecate the vengeance of heaven upon their ene. mies, are become too well known, and the heathenism to which our people have been reduced, in the absence of all Scriptural instruction, too notorious to need any comment. The Island Association earnestly pleads for the benefit of those long-neglected thousands, and that the Gospel of eternal life may be sent to them by competent and suitable inessengers, now, even in the eleventh hour! They entreat the assistance of all who love the cause of Christ, according to the talent entrusted to each. Their clerical friends are requested to make known among their people, at Missionary or other meetings, the state of the Is. lands. In a word, all who feel an interest in this labour of love, are invited to assist, by their remembrance at a throne of grace-by their contributions and collections, and by extending information in soch a manner, as may best awaken the slumbering sympathies of their fellow countrymen and fellow-christians.
P. s.-In tbe Island of Achill, a fine boy, 11 years old, having been for some time at Mr. Nangle's school, and showing the most earnest attention to his lessons, was missed from his accustomed place is the class for many successive days. At length one of the teachers wentito seek after the little absentee, and to enquire from his parents the cause of his detention. They were bigotted Romanists, not holding learning in the same estimation with Jemmy, and the mother did not hesitate to assign the cause of the boy's removal. “He is not ill, I thank you,” said she, “but he's just crazed about his books, and anyhow I
see he's getting godly like yourselves, and so I'll have none of these ways brought in here." Accordingly day after day this poor blind parent resisted the tears and entreaties of the little scholar. All was in vain. There was no return to his dear teachers permitted. But nature is stronger than superstition or bigotry. Jemmy began to pine-his appetite forsook him-his spirits were gone--and the boy looked so ill, that the mother's heart could hold out no longer, and she yielded her consent to his return. The boy's spirits were soon restored—the bloom came back to his cheek—and ere long he might be seen sitting among the adult pupils in the Irish night-school, and not unfrequently loitering behind others, less interested than him. self, for the purpose of joining in the family worship of the Missionary, after which this dear child would return with light heart and step, guided over the rugged mountainpath by an Achill Lantern-that is to say, a turf partially ignited, which the gusts of wind along the stormy shore continually stir into a feeble flame.
“Wherefore he saith-awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the
dead, and Christ shall give thee light."-Eph. v. 14,
Some may, perhaps, conceive that this is a strange order. They may allege that it would be unreasonable to expect compliance. They may be ready to say,
“How can you suppose that the lifeless will hear your exhortations ? They have not the power to obey your calls." Such objections have been repeatedly urged against the doctrine of the utter impotence of man. How often may we have been told that this view of christianity is absurd—that it reprosents the singer as altogether without strength, and then requires bim to perform that which he cannot possibly accomplish. Let it not, however, be forgotten, that this ar. gument applies to the New Testament itself, and that it bears with as much force against the writings of Paul as against those of any of the modern advocates of free grace. The Apostle inculcated in the strongest language the total helplessness of man, and yet he said, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead." Let, then, dispu. tants beware. Let them take heed that they do not im
pugn the tenets of the book of inspiration. Besides, admitting in the most extensive sense the corruption of human nature, we may yet, with perfect consistency, beseech the transgressor to repent. And why do we address to bim the entreaty ? Not because we think he has already power to obey, but because we believe there is a quickening virtue accompanying the Word which can impart to him life and strength. Man, indeed, is dead in sin, but the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Its communications owe all iheir value to that sovereign Spirit who brings them home to the sinner's heart, and who makes them efficaci.
Were it not for bis holy influences, the preaching of the cross would, indeed, be foolishness. When Jesus stood by the cave where Lazarus was interred, and commanded him to come forth, are we to infer that life still lingered in the body of his friend? Were not his limbs inanimate and putrifying ? Lazarus obeyed, not because the vital spark remained, but because even the dead must bear the voice of the Son of God, and respect his summons. There was an energy attending the word of Christ which restored animation to the cold and decaying frame. Such is the case with sinners. Their recovery from a state of spiritual death is to be ascribed to the agency of Him who imparts a living power to the word of the truth of the Gospel. They are as the dry bones in the vision of Ezekiel and the instructions of the prophet correspond to the commismission of the Gospel-minister. “ The Lord said unto me, prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord; so I prophesied as I was commanded, and as I prophesied there was a noise, and, behold, a sbaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. Then said he unto me, prophesy unto the wind. Prophesy, son of man, unto the wind. Thus saith the Lord God, come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood upon
their feet, an exceeding great army." Ezek. xxxvii. 4, 7, 9, 10.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION, the 'FOUNDATION of
NATIONAL PROSPERITY-A SERMON, by the Rev.JAMES MORGAN. Belfast. 8vo. P.p.32. M'COMB. 1835.
(From a Correspondent.)
The present discourse, as appears by the title, was delivered a few Sabbaths since to the Belfast Sabbath-School Union, from the words in Prov. xiv. 34, “Righteousness exalteth a nation." Before proceeding to establish the principle of the text, the author notices some of those « defective resources” so much extolled at present as the means of national regeneration. No expose could be more judicious or seasonable. We live in a period when one expedient is resorted to after another, by which to amelio. rate the civil and social condition of the commonwealth, when rash and ill-digested theories are propounded and embraced with intense avidity, and men of all ranks and estates in Britain are led captive by delusion. The guides of popular opinion, whether in the parliament or from the press, have lent their aid to practise a foul deception on the nation; and it is time that all right-hearted men should make a determined effort to roll back the tide of random speculation, which, if not repelled, may deluge the whole community with the troubled waters of universal anarchy and confusion. The false resources to which the minds of men are eagerly directed are reduced, in this discourse, to the four following--government, commerce, literature, and arms : and while there is every disposition manifested to assign to each its rightful measure of importance, yet it is shewn successfully that in tbemselves they are but misera. ble and meagre substitutes for that righteousness which exalteth a nation. And yet in our own country how frequently are the aggregate, but especially the two first, insisted on as the main elements of the nation's happiness and aggrandizements! How often are governments charged with innumerable evils which they have not originated, and cannot possibly remove! What an unhappy tendency prevails with many to transfer the blame and guilt that are all their own to the rulers of the people! And again, how many adventitious virtues are ascribed to trade, and how idly do many look to national wealth, as a principal ingredient in national prosperity ! To dissipate these dangerous and delusive impressions is a task unworthy of neither the philosopher nor the divine. This task has