Page images

the subject of Mesmerism, then called “ Animal Magnetism." Under my previous and entire ignorance of any thing of the sort, I was much surprised, and even astounded, by his account of the effects produced, and I must say received it with a strong measure of scepticism; at the same time, he yielded to my request, and made me acquainted with the manipulations usually employed. In the course of a few weeks, I was induced to make trial of the means in which I had been instructed, on a young lady who was visiting at my house : and, to my utter astonishment, in process of time every extraordinary symptom he had foretold actually took place;—the involuntary shutting of the eyes,-perception through some other medium than that of the senses,-exclusion from all other

persons and objects except the Mesmeriser and his communications, &c. &c. ;-in short, a state or condition entirely distinct from the natural one, and exhibiting powers and properties entirely idiosyncratic. I saw enough to carry conviction to my mind of the development of a powerful but mysterious agency, and at the same time of the truth of what I had been told. But here I stopped; I thought it incompatible with my circumstances as a clergyman, to prosecute a subject at that time under universal odium, and to go out of my way to encounter prejudices which might attach to my ministrations as well as to my personal character.

With the exception of two or three friends, whose piety was as sound as their philosophy, and who were equally convinced with myself of the truth of what they witnessed, I kept the whole thing locked up in my own bosom, till within the last two or three years, when the subject became more generally canvassed. I have lately read Mr. Townsend's book—a book which testifies his high literary attainments, and to which I can satisfactorily refer you as the best and most lucid statement of the facts of Mesmerism ;-I have also seen the results produced by Dr. Elliotson and one or two others;—and though never introducedto any of these gentlemen either at or after their lectures, yet the public exhibition of these results was sufficient to attest their exact coincidence with what I myself had produced forty years ago ; and, at the same time, to shew the regularity and uniformity of the symptoms of the Mesmeric state, as opposed to what is casual or accidental.

I could add much more; but my object has been, not so much to convince you, Sir, of the truth of Mesmerism, as to induce you to pause before you enter the lists, though under another's banner, as a decided antagonist in a case where a thorough investigation has not been previously and personally made.

I am sure you will take this communication in good part ; I thought it a duty which I owed to you and to myself, as well as to the cause of truth.

I would just observe, that with the application of Mesmerism to phrenology I have nothing to do ; and for this plain reason, with the latter subject I am perfectly unacquainted.



At the request of our reverend correspondent we have omitted his name; but his veracity is unquestionable. We do not, however, retract our statements, believing them to be founded in truth. The careful and able report of the French commissioners of inquiry was decisive as to the fraud or fallacy of Mesmer's pretensions. We question not the powerful influence of an excited imagination; for all that imagination can do we give full credit; and many of its effects may be extraordinary, and apparently preternatural. - Man,” said the Paris commissioners, “possesses the power of acting upon his fellow-creatures, of agitating their nerves, and even throwing them into convulsions ;' and it may be, of causing what is called the Mesmeric sleep. But this is a very different thing to giving, as it were, new senses, by which a person can read a book placed behind his back, or discern what is doing in a house a hundred miles off. All the alleged phenomena of this kind we confidently believe to be either trick or delusion. The case related by our reverend correspondent, we doubt not, would admit of solution if all the circumstances were fully known; but we more than doubt whether the experiment was conducted with due accuracy to guard against incorrect conclusions.


To the Editor of the Christian Observer. It has been asserted, on several occasions, that the Scotch Bishops, at their last restoration, were persons who had never been ordained episcopally. Can any of your correspondents tell me where I can find authority for this fact, if it be a fact? I have looked in several quarters without being able to find any satisfactory information.

E. D. W. *** We consign the above query to our correspondents; but we will quote a passage which we have before noticed from Dr. Bernard, who writing in 1658, in illustration of Archbishop Usher's “ Judgment of the Ordinations in the Reformed Churches,” says:

“ If the ordinations of Presbyters in such places where Bishops cannot be had were not valid, the late bishops of Scotland had a hard task to maintain themselves to be Bishops, who were not (even) priests; for their ordination was no other. And for this a passage in the history of Scotland wrote by the Archbishop of St. Andrew's is observable; that when the Scots Bishops were to be consecrated by the Bishops of London, Ely, and Bath, here at London-House, anno 1609, he saith a question was moved by Dr. Andrews, Bishop of Ely, touching the consecration of the Scottish Bishops, who, as he said, 'must first be ordained Presbyters, as having received no ordination from a Bishop.' The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Bancroft, who was by, maintained that thereof there was no necessity, seeing, where Bishops could not be had, the ordination given by Presbyters must be esteemed lawful; otherwise that it might be doubtful if there were any lawful vocation in most of the Reformed Churches.' This applauded to by the other Bishops, Ely acquiesced; and at the day, and in the place appointed, the three Scottish Bishops were consecrated."

Dr. Bernard cites, as his authority for this story, Archbishop Spotiswode's “ History of the Church of Scotland from the year of our Lord 203 to the end of the reign of James I.” Our correspondent may turn to the work and see if the statement be correct. The Archbishop's History we presume will be re-published by the new “ Spotiswode Society," which proposes to furnish an antidote to the publication of the works of the Reformers by the Parker Society. Spotiswode was an able and learned man; and his zeal for the recovery of the Church of Scotland to episcopacy was so great, that he is said, in pursuance of that object, to have made fifty journeys to London, then practically several times as distant as it is now. He died in London in 1639, broken down with age, sickness, and grief; and was buried in Westminster Abbey. His father was a zealous Presbyterian, and one of the compilers of the first Book of Discipline.


To the Editor of the Christian Obserrer. It appears to me that the present Total Abstinence proceedings call for serious attention. The friar who is so active in the cause, is generally considered a well-meaning individual; and, on this account, there are not a few who deem to think that he may be safely tolerated, or even countenanced. But this, I think, is a great mistake. When he is called a well meaning man, I conclude that it is thereby meant that he is sincere in his principles. If he be so—which I am very far from questioning-he is, on that very account, the more dangerous; for the sincere Romanist must be devoted to principles subversive of all that we prize, alike in religion, in our civil, and in our social blessings. If therefore this friar be sincere, his object, however it may be aimed at through an apparent benefit, is one that every Christian is bound energetically to oppose.

That the great object of this movement is to lead the nation towards Rome, is very manifest; for the whole principle and mode of proceeding is essentially Popish. Whoever has watched Romanism in any place, will have observed, that it is an invariable part of her policy to oppose the manifestation of some one vice, while she leaves others unchecked. If we look to Ireland we shall see this fact illustrated. We might there, indeed, find many instances of this policy, but let us select the example afforded us by this Total Abstinence movement. The fact that so many thousands, nay it is said millions, have renounced the use of intoxicating liquors, proves sufficiently the power of the priesthood; but, while they parade before the nation this triumph of apparent morality, what have they effected for the real moral or social improvement of the people over whom they possess such unbounded sway? Have they taught them to abhor the crime of murder ? Have they taught them habits of industry or order? Is not the condition of those whose moral guides they profess to be, that of the most pitiful moral and social degradation ? It is proved that they have the power, had they the will, to restrain them from criminal excesses. But this is Romanism ; let her boast of one mechanical act of apparent morality, and she is content to let the passions in other directions take their unbridled course. Perform for her but some act of bodily penance, and all is well; fast, in obedience to her command, at some stated season, and at other times you may live to the world.

But it is only the manifestation of the vice she opposes, which Romanism restrains. It is indeed the very loud declaration of this Capuchin that he puts out of question, in his present mission, all consideration of religion, which, confessedly, is the only power that can remove the principle of vice out of the heart. In truth it is impossible for genuine Popery to do more than restrain the outward act; she has no principle in her theology to renew the heart. It should also be remembered, that Popery is a system contrived in all particulars to adapt itself to fallen human nature. It does not endeavour to raise man to spirituality, but it brings itself down to harmonize with the propensities of the natural heart. Now it is manifest from thousands of facts, that men will gladly submit to very heavy physical chains, if they may so be called, upon the acts of sin, provided only a change of heart, a moral change, be not required. Thus we see the Hindoo inflicting a variety of pains and penalties, and imposing a number of vows upon himself; and it is the very essence of every false religion thus to substitute externals for internals ; vows and penalties, for moral principles. Romanism, in this respect, is true to its kind. She endeavours to bind with fetters the legion vices of the human heart, but leaves her unhappy patient among the tombs, and, like the legion, shrinks back from Him who could cast out the devil. The whole system of monasticism is the development of this principle. It leaves the world to rage in the heart, as Jerome feelingly describes his own experience, while it imprisons the body from the world. Mr. Mathew is honestly applying this remedy of Rome to drunkenness. He is professedly avoiding the heart ; while he is endeavouring to prevent, by vows, the external act. Is it well for any Christian to countenance the spread of this Popish system among Protestants ? Is it right to lend a hand to that which has such a manifest tendency to lower the standard of the requirements of the Gospel—which makes white the sepulchre, but leaves it within full of all uncleanness?

Total abstinence is in itself an unscriptural, and essentially a Romish, method of counteracting the vicious use of any creature. We find no traces of such a system in Scripture. Our Lord and his Apostles had to reclaim drunkards, and they did reclaim them ; but we never read of their adopting any such method as this. But Rome has ever endeavoured to remedy the abuse of God's gifts, by enjoining total abstinence from the use of them. She knows not the doctrine which can teach to use this world as not abusing it.” She has no means of teaching moderation, and therefore forbids altogether use of what God has allowed and given to man. Hence is it that she shuts up men and women in wretched, useless, and unclean seclusion; and forbids to some what God has allowed, and esteems “honourable in all,” lest excess should be committed, as though God had not been wise in his permission. Is it well to accustom the minds of men to this Popish idea ?

There are many other particulars in which this friar's proceedings savour of Rome, and which, while they prove his honesty towards the schism to which he belongs, make his proceedings more dangerous, and clearly point it out to be the duty of every Christian to discountenance him and his designs. I might mention, as examples, the display of Popish banners—the distribution of medals with Popish devices—the desecration of the Sabbath, which is such an universal accompaniment of Popery-and many others.

In answer to all these objections, some may perhaps think that they are in some measure counterbalanced by the advantages of even outward sobriety. Sobriety is an excellent thing, even outwardly; but it is surely purchased too dear, if men be lead, for it, into fatal errors as to the nature of morality. In what has been done among the Irish Romanists, we only see the power of one vice to expel another; of superstition to drive out drunkenness. Mr. Mathew puts religion out of view, and therefore we only the more clearly perceive, in the whole affair, a very sad exhibition of the debasing influence of Romanism at the present day; for here we see one, not by any moral suasion, but simply because he is a priest, possessed of power to a most amazing extent over the minds of multitudes. True, he here sways them towards a thing that is good; but what must we think of a system that thus prostrates men's minds to the priesthood, and to what evils may not this blind subjection be turned ?

The friar who at present displays his powers among us, is naturally a very plausible and smooth person, who comes amongst us with very fair professions, with words "smoother than butter, and softer than oil ;" but Romanism is well skilled to select the fit instrument for her work. Chameleon like, she changes her colour to correspond with the object that is at hand. Her variations are infinite. As she can be bound by no oath, so she can be fixed—willingly—to no form. England is not yet ready for full-blown Popery. In this friar we see Popery calculated for the meridian of London ; but we have only to look towards Tuam to see it calculated for its chosen meridian. An intervening sea cannot alter the system. What it is, and to what results it leads, we are permitted to read, as in a book, in superstitious, poor, and lawless Ireland. I believe that this man's mission is part of a system to familiarize men's minds with Priests and Popery, to endeavour to persuade us that the latter has improved. Every watchman, therefore, should be on his tower. Christian morality and Gospel motives should be opposed to human contrivances and requirements; and, as it has been said, “none but good men can give good things,” so it should be impressively taught that no religion which is not true can produce good works.

W. W. H.


REVIEW OF IRISH EPISCOPAL CHARGES. 1. A Charge to the Clergy of Dublin and Glandelagh ; delivered in

St. Patrick's Cathedral, 1843. By the Most Rev. RICHARD

WHATELY, D.D., Archbishop of Dublin. 2. Primary Charge of the Lord Bishop of Cashel, Emly, Waterford,

and Lismore, (the Right Rev. ROBERT Daly, D.D.), delivered in

July, 1843. 3. A Charge delivered to the Clergy of the United Dioceses of Ossory,

Ferns, and Leighlin, at his Primary Visitation. By the Right Rev. JAMES THOMAS O'BRIEN, D.D.

We have devoted many pages to and Archbishop Whately, in partireviews of Episcopal Charges bear- cular, has written several times, and ing upon the Tractarian contro- with great ability, upon the subject. versy ; but though we have travers- Not however to go back and grasp ed England, and made several ex- more than we can conveniently recursions to India and America, we view, we will confine our remarks have not done “justice to Ireland.” to the last Charge of Archbishop We might have quoted some excel- Whately, and the recent Primary lent admonitory passages from the Charges of Bishops Daly and pen of the Archbishops of Armagh, O'Brien. The last of these is a Dublin, and the late (and last) document of great value. It is Archbishop of Cashel, Dr. Sandes; not a brief address, but a volume and also from Dr. Mant, Bishop of of nearly three hundred pages, in Down and Connor, and some other which the subject is discussed with prelates ; for though none of these that power of argument and adheMost Reverend and Right Reve- rence to scriptural truth, which we rend monitors have gone to the admired in the now Right Reverend full extent of the investigation, they author's treatise on Justification, have expressed themselves in deci- reviewed in our volume for 1836, sive terms in regard to particular p. 285. portions of the Tractarian system; The Established Church of Ire

« PreviousContinue »