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In closing the labours of another year, it may be proper to look back through the path we have travelled, and to cast our eyes around us, over that great theatre on which man has been moving and acting. The year 1847 has been one of considerable moment in the line of history. Looking at that which, as Englishmen, most concerns us, we see on every hand not a little to excite gratitude for the past, with much to awaken solicitude for the future. At the close of 1846 all in the horizon of Britain was dark and menacing. The horrors of famine heavily impended over the three kingdoms. The skill of man was so baffled in its attempts to descry the hidden cause, and to explain the calamity on natural principles, that it assumed in the minds of most the aspect of a national judgment. Such was the magnitude of the evil that the
power of Empire to do more than slenderly to mitigate the affliction of millions was humblingly demonstrated. It was soon discovered that the wealth of one nation, and that the richest on the face of the earth, might speedily be exhausted, not in feeding to the full, but in supplying the slender pittance essential to preserve life to the people of another. Imperial bounty may boast its achievements in dealing with local distress, confined to hundreds or to thousands; but when the claimants become a nation, comprising millions, its impotence is quickly felt, and its insignificance surely demonstrated. In this way we are taught more justly to appreciate the magnificence of the bounty of Him who openeth his hand liberally, supplying the wants of every living thing, giving rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling the hearts of men with food and gladness.
But this is not the only lesson which has been taught to observant men by Ireland's misery, which supplied the means of testing the principles and illustrating the character, both of classes and of countries. Now that the season of excitement and the day of danger is past, and the events themselves removed to a considerable distance, the sphere of moral vision is cleared up, and the powers of right reason have room to operate. Looking back, then, to the day when the jaws of Famine threatened to devour millions of the Papal Irish, how did the Papal Nations of Continental Europe act towards them? How short the tale of their sympathy! By those Nations, notwithstanding religious affinity and territorial vicinage, for aught that was done, or attempted to be done, four or five millions of the Irish might have been swept into eternity!
But how did matters stand with respect to Great Britain ? Where were the mass of her nobles and of the proprietors of her broad acres on that day? How insignificant the space required to record their deeds on the roll of benevolence! And what is to be recorded of the Church which claims them, and which may be said to exist very mainly for them ? Short, likewise, is the record of her deeds. ter, then, shall we direct our eyes for exhibitions of spontaneous humanity,—costing more than sighs and tears, and finding its meet expression in substantial viands and solid gold ? For these we shall look, nor look in vain, among the divers bodies of British Dissenters. Amongst these, whatever may be said of the discretion of the
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deed, there was a display of patriotic benevolence and Christian humanity to which the world's history supplies few parallels. Yes; it is impossible for the historian of Nonconformity, during the year 1847, to view with feelings other than those of grateful exultation the magnanimous deeds of his people. Pity it is, alas! that the deeds have not, on the whole, had a worthier object, and have not been answered by a more meet return.
Of senatorial beneficence we have made no mention, forasmuch as Parliamentary bounty is cheap, costing little to those who bestow it, and, in the end, generally producing little to those who receive it. But leaving the senate we cross the ocean. Whatever the apathy of England's Church and England's Nobles, and of the Papal Nations of the Continent, Ireland's neighbours, her woe excited in the generous bosoms of multitudes, the descendants of Britons, beyond the Atlantic, emotions of benevolence, redounding to the honour of American humanity, and expressing itself in deeds of imperial magnitude. Such deeds as those done by men of the New World tend to soothe the spirit of the philanthropist, while he surveys the widespread affliction and beholds the cruel selfishness of a distracted world.
But last, and worst, and most humiliating are the lessons supplied by Ireland herself. Earth presents no spot on which human nature exhibits so little that is lovely with so much that is repulsive, disgusting, and alarming. In Ireland everything is wrong; there is no health in the Nation. The blood of the body, politic and social, is so corrupt, that the slightest scratch becomes a gangrene, threatening mortification and death. The seat of the dread malady lies deep in Irish nature, and seems beyond the reach of human hands. Nothing but the gospel can cure it; but for that gospel it is probable the way must be prepared by afflictions and judgments, the mere report of which will make the ears of men to tingle. Ireland is, beyond all other nations on our globe, the realm of discord, where insubordination, folly, madness, and murder keep perpetual holiday. The time is come when both the Christians and Statesmen of Britain, each in their own way, must betake themselves to the consideration of the subject of Irish maladies and their proper remedies in a spirit which befits the occasion. These things must they do, or continue to be themselves the subjects of an endless torment from that source, and become, perhaps, through Ireland's means, at length undone! In the course of the ensuing year we hope to contribute our full share to this religious and patriotic undertaking.
Cordially thanking our friends for all their kindness and favour through another year, and once more casting ourselves on their indulgence and the promise that faileth not, we remain, their grateful and devoted friends and servants,
Christ's Appearances before and after his Biblical Illustration
361, 410, 463
Suggestions addressed to a Good Man“who
Observance of the Sabbath in Baxter's
No Work, no Reward
Encouragements to Prayer
63 Cruelty of the Heathen
Christ All in All :
Colonial Missionary Society
The Fathers of the Christian Church
Comic and Light Literature
A Hint on Extravagance, to Missionary
Financial Economy of Churches
Christian Witness and Christian's Penny