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of the Government; but when Government interfere with religion, we consider watchfulness a duty; and when the interference seems to us calculated to do most serious in. jury, we lift up our voice to warn the Protestant, but especially the Presbyterian Protestant, people of the danger with which their religion and their privileges are threatened.
We feel the more anxious to press this subject upon public attention, because by some means, and, we suspect for some purposes, the public, especially the Presbyterian public, have been kept in profound ignorance of the contemplated measures. A favoured few, who have access to the votes of Parliament, may be acquainted with the mat. ter; but the public, in general, are as ignorant of the plan proposed in the Parliament of England, as they are of the proceedings of the Parliament of Tahiti, in the South Seas. We feel more anxious still to press the matter upon public attention, because (alas! that it should be true) the Presbyterians of Ireland have not a single Presbyterian Representative in the British Parliament; hare not a man who personally knows their condition, studies their interests, coneurs in their religious principles, or feels involved in their public fortunes. Friends they have, and they are grateful to them; and were it not inviduous, they would single out names that are written in their hearts; still it is melancholy, that the great body of Protestants in Ulster should, in religious sympathies, be without one single representative in the councils of the nation. And just be. cause they are unrepresented, we are now about to call upon the people to examine their danger, and represent themselves. It is our business now to show what the danger is—it is then for the people themselves to lay their solemn opinions before Parliament; and whether they will hear, or whether they will reject our petitions, we shall
, have one consolation-we have done our duty like free men and Christians.
As we are earnest to bring įhe whole matter before the eye of the community, we shall.state the facts of the case in the following consecutive order :
1. A commission of education inquiry was appointed by Government, in the year 1824, who continued their sittings during two or three years, examined, upon oath, the clergy of different denominations, agents of societies, masters of schools, and professors of colleges, and pub. lished their minute researches in nine folio volumes.
2. In the year 1828, a committee of the Commons was appointed to examine these volumes, and report to the House. This report, when drawn up, consisted of six pages, and was submitted to the House, during the unavoidable absence of one of the commissioners of education in. quiry, in whom the Protestants of the kingdom reposed their confidence, and though, as we have reason to believe and know, he had earnestly requested it might be delayed till his return.
3. Upon this report, a Bill has been introduced into the House, read pro forma, and printed, in order to afford time and opportunity for the consideration of such a momentous subject.
4. Bot though printed, it remains to the public a profound secret, at least a thing generally unknown. It has nów been nearly two months issued, yet until last week, we were ignorant of its nature and contents. We inspected it for a few minutes, but could not obtain it for deliberate examination. In Belfast, amongst the parliamentary papers of the Library and News-Room, we have searched for it in vain; and at this moment, though most anxious to obtain a sight of it for quotation, we know not where that sight may be gained.
And it is peculiarly worthy of remark, that though the Moderator of the Synod of Ulster is expressly nominated a commissioner in the proposed Bill, he has yet, so far as we know or believe, received not a single copy, has not been favoured with a hint of his contemplated honours, nor been enabled to lay the matter before his brethren for their opinion or advice. It remained for us, as it were by accident, to be favoured with the discovery, and to awaken public attention to some notion of their impending danger.
5. The first effect of this Bill will be to annihilate the Kildare-Place Society. A Society against which no Romanist could ever establish a substantive charge; a Society which had the merit of pleasing the Protestant population generally, and to which the Presbyterian people were peculiarly attached. But the Society, and the Protestant eommunity at large, and the Presbyterian community in particular, must all be sacrificed to conciliate the good will of the Römish Hierarchy.
6. And what think you, friends, do the Report and Bill purpose to set up in the stead of the Kildare-Place Society ? You shall hear. They purpose to establish a new Board
of Education in Dublin, Well; and who think you are the members ? Why--the Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of the same, the Provost of Trinity College, the President of the Royal College of Maynooth, and the Moderator of the General Synod of. Ulster. Moreover there are to be certain persons chosen, if we well recollect, resident in Dublin, and others from the provinces. Of the whole Board, one half is to be Protestant, Presbyterian, or other Dissenters, the other half always Roman Catholic: the members first appointed by Parliament always to elect their own successors, with the exception of the few who are members ex-officio.
7. And now what, think ye, are the modest powers and important duties of this sweetly amalgamated Board ? We shall rehearse them in order, as they rise to our recollection. Our detail, however, of the system being merely from memory, may be found defective; but will not, we trust, be found, in any thing, materially er. roneous. 1., On application from special vestries, they are to have power to tax the parishes for erection of school. houses, and the local expenditure of schools. 2. To have the power of appointing all teachers in the endowed schools, whom they have examined and approved. 3. Power of dismissing all such schoolmasters. 4. The editing, and circu. lating, and authorizing of all books for the schools. 5. The decreeing of the time to be occupied in literary education, say four days in the week; and the time to be occupied in separate religious education, say one day for Protestants, and one for Roman Catholics. 6. The right and duty of demanding from the children certificates of attendance at their respective places of worship. We really dare not tax our memory with the entire powers of this most concordant and puissant Board; but, on what we have stated, we must beg leave to offer a few practical remarks, touching the merits or demerits of the plan.
1. To us it appears to possess the distinguished, recom. mendation of being utterly impracticable. We have not, and most probably we never sha have, the honor of knowing the Archbishop of Dublin; but we do, in his writings, know and respect Dr. Whately; and we only wish to see the learned Protestant author of “Errors of Romanism traced to their Origin in Human Nature,” in conclave with the Most Rev. Doctor Murray, expurgating the Bible. We do, however, know the Moderator of the Synod of Ulster;
and we know the extensive body, of which he is the tem. porary head; and of him and them we can tell, with the certainty of a prophetic prediction, that into such an "unprotestant alliance they will never enter. Spirits of Hamilton, and Wishart, and Knox! you are with your God and your Saviour, in rest and in glory, else would the base compliance burst your “marble cearments," and call forth the frown of a righteous indignation-could the sons so far degenerate from the fathers, as to commingle with Rome in any act of recognition.
So far then as regards the Presbyterian body, the scheme can never succeed. But what if the Established Church comply-then will the Presbyterian body be left to lament their own neglect and obstinacy. We dare not speak for the feelings of the Established Church, though we should fondly hope they still retain the Protestant decision of the Latimers and the Ridleys; and that were the Bill passed into a law, they would yet 'refuse compliance. But supposing they comply, there will be the nobler and the higher ground on which Presbyterianism will lift up her standard of “unchanging blue," the emblem of her simplicity and her truth; and should she stand alone, she will stand in a good and holy cause, in which her God will conduct her to final and glorious victory.
2. We have said that this proposed scheme contains “ deceptive recognition of Presbyterianism ,” it is deceptive, for if the Synod of Ulster and their Moderator were, like silly fishes, foolish enough to swallow the bait; or like reckless Esaus, profane enough to "sell their birth-right for a mess of pottage;" it is a bait so worthless, and a mess s0 miserable, that the act would as much mark their folly as their venality. For the Board, let us suppose, of THIRTY, or what number you will, more or less, is to consist of onehalf Roman Catholics, one-half Protestants—that is, be it known and understood, fifteen Roman Catholics, fourteen members of the Established Church, and one Presbyterian !! Excellent! Most excellent! The Presbyterians, we tell the Parliament, constitute nearly one-half the Protestants of Ireland ; and in a Board, say of thirty members, they are to be favoured with one representative!! What will the Reformers of the age say to this style of representation ? But the Presbyterians are perhaps poor ; they are below the ten pound franchise. We tell the framer of the report and father of the Bill,—the Presbyterians of Ulster are not
poor. They are rich and successful merchants; they are industrious and independent farmers; they are laborious and skilful mechanics; they are a peaceful, educated people; and if not always the aristocracy of rank, they stand high in the aristocracy of intellect; and were they to form a part in such a heterogeneous and debasing scheme, it is not by one re. presentative they would come into a joint Board, but by a representation equal to their constituency ; nor would they come seeking a partial monopoly of influence for them. selves, but an equable representation of every denomination deserving to be recognized on account of numbers, principles, and property.
The more efficiently and certainly to prevent any Presbyterian influence in this illjointed Board, it is provided, that the members shall receive no remuneration for their labours, unless for time bona fide dedicated to committee, when specially appointed. The plan of no emolument we highly approve ; salaried commissioners, in all such cases, we utterly detest. But in this scheme more is meant than meets the eye. For when remuneration is granted, the one out of thirty, the solitary, unpatronized one, gets it not; he is left to labour at his own expense. Then the two Archbishops are resident in Dublin, he in Ulster. They are rich: the one abundantly provided for by the state; the other, judging from his equipage, not quite so poor as a primitive apostle. Meantime the Moderator.of the Synod of Ulster is often almost literally "passing rich on forty pounds a year;" and yet he must travel to Dublin as often as the Board meets, and supply, as best he can, his congregation at home. He is therefore in a situation that disables him from doing his duty, were he ever so minded to do it. The expenses of his travelling and attendance would double his yearly income, so that dire necessity would compel him to stay at home, and remit all his duties to his lordly colleagues. Surely the Presbyterian people are not to be cajoled by this most preposterous proposal-a proposal which to us seems manifestly calculated to hoodwink their eyes, tie
up their hands, and, under pretence of national education, rob them and their children of their Bibles and their religion.
We have said that this system attempts the establishment of Popery by Act of Parliament. And so it does, as will be evident from the following analysis :-). Were this · Bill to pass into law, the principles of the report being