Page images

foreign gooroo, who was not their own, had given them such a work to make a jest of them, and that in this persuasion, some were of opinion, that it should be thrown into the fire; but the majority wishing to become acquainted at least with the outlines of the work, called for the purpose on a brahmin poorohita; or astrologer, living in their neighbourhood (which circumstance of christians having recourse to a pagan astrologer, to expound the gospel to them is not the least curious); that the poorohita having perused one or two pages in their presence, told them that it appeared to him to be a curious book, but that it was written in so loose aud incoherent a style, and in so obscure a manner, that it would require some days to become acquainted with the whole. He therefore dismissed them, telling them to come back after a few days. When the christians returned, the poorohita gave them the following curious answer, assuring them, in a low tone of voice, that he had thoroughly perused the work with attention, and that it was nothing more or less than a treaty upon magic; adding, that it was worked up in obscure and incoherent sentences, quite unintelligible to sudras ; as is always the case," said he, "with works treating upon occult and pernicious sciences," and strongly recommending them to destroy, or otherwise get rid of it as it was a great sin to keep so pernicious a book in their possession. Such is the account those poor simple fellows gave me of the gospel of St. Matthew. The fact is, that the poorohita himself had been unable to understand any thing about it; but as he was unwilling to confess his ignorance before sudras, he thought he had better give them this awkward explanation. This anecdote will give you some idea of the versions of the Holy Scriptures now extant in the country, and of their utility."

[ocr errors]

Upon the whole we have derived much pleasure from the perusal of the Abbé's letters, and if he could avoid those faults which we have pointed out, we could wish to see him write again. He has been on the spot many years, he undoubtedly possesses information much more abundant than he has been pleased to communicate to us yet. He owes it then to societyhe owes it to truth-but above all he owes it to his own holy religion to let us know the real state of things in these missions -let him expose these Protestant Missionaries by facts still more glaring than any he has yet produced-for he must be possessed of such facts,-because even we from only reading their own accounts are possessed of some. We have no objections that he should state any thing, provided it be fact, favourable or unfavourable to the Catholic missions. All we want is true relations, and we will draw our own conclusions. But let him always bear in mind that he may serve the new master, under whose banners he is lately enlisted, without betraying the an


* The Abbé is said in the public prints to have brought with him the highest testimonials of integrity of character from persons in power in India. The Ca

cient cause, to which he devoted himself when he took the character and dignity of a Catholic Priest.


tholic will heave a sigh, and exclaim, does the Abbé stand in need of" defensoribus istis."

To the Author of a Book called


SIR-It is a matter of surprise to many English Catholics as you say it is to you, that the enlightened prelates and other Catholic writers of Ireland should not have taken up the challenges [unequalled for their arrogance and insolence since the days of Goliah] which you have repeatedly thrown out to them, in the book which you call A COMPLETE EXPOSURE OF THE LATE IRISH MIRACLES. But few of my countrymen are acquainted with the state of depression and terror under which the catholics of Ireland groan, and how far more formidable the weapons, both material and legal, of their Orange and ministerial enemies are to them than their pens or their arguments. Hence it is for us, Catholic Englishmen, to avenge the menacing insults you offer to our Irish brethren, rather than themselves; because from the just and liberal spirit of English Protestants we know that we can do this with perfect safety. True, we have not the same franchises that have been awarded to them, but we enjoy far more real freedom than they. Hence the great and good O'Leary, when he was in England, proved that the proudest peer in parliament, could not, even in his place, affront the Irish priesthood with impunity. You need not, Sir, have told us that you have treated of a theological subject without being a divine, because your dissertation bears intrinsic evidence that you are not one; and on the same evidence I venture to pronounce that you are a limb of the law; there being that disingenuity and endless caviling in sifting some of the witnesses against you, the same abuse in addressing others of them, and the same overbearing confidence in laying down your own dogmata, which characterise the

lower order of legal pleaders. Your abuse indeed, as when you address the most Rev. Dr. Murray at every turn, by the apellation of Titular or Tolerated Bishop, adding "your miracles are impositions, and those who seek to pass them are impostors;" this I say has met with just correction from a Protestant brother whose christian charity and candour, and whose enlightened and diversified erudition, vindicates the Irish bar, and forms a contrast to your own spirit. His words are these in speaking of your pamphlet. "It is vituperative, abusive, scornful, and utter disbelief." Rhapsody on Miracles, p. 37. And again, "The writer ought not to address Dr. "Murray in a tone of the most affronting jeer. Still less ought "he, in language, as explicit as insulting, to attribute to cler"gymen of fair character and reputation, to prelates of a "christian church, subordinately established amongst us, that "they were accomplices in an imposture, gross, scandalous, "and profane." p. 50. To this, Sir, I will add, with reference to your above-mentioned usual address to Dr. M. that if you had studied theology and church history, you would know that the catholic bishops, deriving as they do, their orders and spiritual jurisdiction from the apostles themselves, are the real bishops of their respective sees. Queen Elizabeth and her parliaments could give no other than local jurisdiction, and of course, could make no other than titular bishops.—-But, indeed, you give us sufficiently to understand that, in treating of religion, your attention is merely fixed to its outward form, and worldly endowments, without reference to the essence of it; for speaking of the Vindicator's observations on the revenues and tythes of the Irish protestant church, you term them a subject of" such paramount importance that they bear down and exclude all trifling topics of criticism." Pref. to 2d Edit. p. xvi. I foretold that such would be the consequence of the above-mentioned observations from a catholic pen, however trite they are in the writing and conversation of protestants. Yes sir, any man may attack and deny the Thirty-nine Articles, and teach that religion consists, in believing whatever we please with Bishop Watson; Dicere quæ sentis, et sentire quæ vis.—Tacit ; scoff at all religion as a late Bishop of Derry was used

or he


to do but woe betide the catholic who should say that the Irish protestant bishoprics are too richly endowed, and that the rectors, who are lounging at our English watering places ought not to lease out the potatoe-gardens of the starving Irish peasants.

To come now to the subject of miracles: you give us Hume's definition, where he pronounces a miracle to be a violation of the laws of nature, this you say is unobjectionable. No doubt it is so to a materialist; but to a christian it is highly objectionable: for he knows that God rules nature mostly, indeed, in a uniform manner, but sometimes in an extraordinary manner, and that his laws are never violated except by the perverse will of intelligent and free beings.-Another definition you give us from Johnson, namely, " an effect produced above natural or human power." This also, Sir, I object to as defective, because the infernal spirits can produce many effects above natural or human power, as the canons of your church and the public laws suppose. Such were the first plagues of Egypt, which, nevertheless, were not true miracles. Your definition, therefore, borrowed from Johnson, must be enlarged in the following manner: an effect produced by a divine power above natural or human power. Many such miracles may have happened and may hourly happen in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath, and in the waters under the earth, which God has not subjected to our senses. But what then you will say is the criterion of those effects which are subjected to our senses to know whether they are or are not miraculous. You exact a metaphysical and infallible criterion; whereas, I, judging by the scripture miracles, by the evidence of christianity, and by natural religion, deny that there is any such metaphysical and infallible criterion of them. No, Sir, we must be content to walk by such light as God is pleased to give us, provided it be sufficient to show us our way, and not stand still and neglect our duties, because he has not given us noontide light. In other words, we must be satisfied with moral certainty in this business, as we are in the care of our bodies, and in all other human concerns; and woe to us, if from a proud and captious spirit, or from interested motives, we refuse to

believe, when God makes his wonderful works or incomprehensible truths sufficiently known to us. As the great, the rich, and the studious are more generally subject to that spirit and susceptible of those motives, than the bulk of mankind; so they may be said in general, to be worse judges in the present matter than the latter are. Thus the rich and learned scribes and pharisees were constantly cavilling at the miracles of our Saviour, sometimes denying their reality, sometimes requiring that they should be performed in the heavens, and sometimes ascribing them to Behelzebub, the Prince of the Devils: while the common people attributed them to their true author, and rendered him thanks for the same. After all, they had the same senses that their superior had, the same common sense, and the same experience of the laws of nature. These endowments, Sir, with a due attention to the character and conduct of Jesus Christ, and of the ends to which his prodigies were subservient, formed that moral evidence in their regard, on the strength of which they believed in these miracles, and were, in fact, the criterion of them.

I am almost ashamed, Sir, to notice such pitiful cavils as you bring forward against the miraculous cure of Mrs. Stuart; that of Miss Lalor you hardly venture to look at. You object that the former lady does not define the disease of which she was cured. It was not her business to do so; but her principal physician does this when he pronounces it to be of an apoplectic nature;" of which kind there are many species. The lady herself deposes that the first symptoms of her complaint were stagnations, which produced a "total suspension of all faculties." You say that you have consulted in vain, all your medical books to discover what these symptoms mean. Do pray then consult them again under the head, Apoplexy; you will find this to consist in "a privation of the senses and all sensible motion of the body, excepting those of the heart and the lungs, with a great deprivation of the principal faculties of the soul." This exactly answers Mrs. Stuart's description of her case. There are, however, many degrees and many variatious of this disease, one of which is the Incubus, vulgarly termed the Night Mare. I presume you have sometimes ex

« EelmineJätka »