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prove that Vigilantius is a link connecting these mountain Christians of the fourth century, amongst whom he lingered, and to whom he declaimed against Jerome, “ inter Adria fiuctus Cottiique regis Alpes," with the persecuted inhabitants of those secluded valleys in after ages. This is not a subject for present discussion; yet we cannot shrink from avowing our belief that the Gospel sun shone brightly on those valleys even in the earliest dawn of Christianity, and that there its light has never been obscured by the clouds of error and superstition which have darkened the world around. That God should keep alive his eternal truth in the hearts of his people, by the help of his Holy Spirit, without the aid of those means and ordinances which the pride of man thinks needful for the preservation of the pure word, is a thing hard to be believed by some, who have no hesitation in giving credence to the most marvellous tales of healing and life-giving power imparted to mouldering bones and decomposed human flesh. Vigilantius probably found clergy in that mountain region holding the same opinions as himself. Ambrose mentions some, in the secluded parts of his patriarchate, who refused, on the plea of ancient custom, to submit to the yoke of celibacy; and Jerome exclaims against the bishops who were partakers in Vigilantius's crime! At all events, he would there be able to give free utterance to the thoughts engendered by the unchristian temper and superstitions which he had witnessed during his sojourn in the East. After his return to his country he retired to Calagorris
, and there prepared himself by study to encounter his formidable adversary; and it was not till two years after his visit to Bethlehem that he put forth his attack upon Jerome, in which he accused that father of heterodoxy on the Origenist question. Jerome's reply was bitter and sarcastic, taunting Vigilantius with his obscure origin, whilst at the same time it informs us that he spent his time in study, that he had transcripts of Origen's works, that he read both Greek and Latin authors, that he employed scribes and copyists, and that he studied the Scriptures, which Jerome thought ill-suited to his former occupation. After this epistle, which had no reference to the opinions subsequently avowed by Vigilantius, we hear nothing of him till the year 404, when a complaint was lodged against him with Jerome, by Riparius, a priest in the diocese of Tholouse; and again in the following year, Riparius, in conjunction with Desiderius, another priest in the same diocese, appealed a second time to Jerome, and sent him a copy of Vigilantius's writings. Jerome's letter to Ripa
rius in 404, and his Treatise against Vigilantius in 406, contain all the information we possess respecting the opinions propagated by the Reformer; and we will give a summary of them in Dr. Gilly's own words :
* Jerome's book against Vigilantius contained the worst that could be said of him. In it we may be assured that we have the accuser's brief before us, with the sum and substance of all he had to advance against the Reformer of Aquitain; and we can confidently affirm that Vigilantius had done nothing worthy of being branded as a heretic or a blasphemer. Not a word is alleged
in proof of his having spoken or written against any of the articles of the Apostles' Creed, or against a single point of doctrine or discipline which the concurrent voice of Scripture and tradition had proclaimed to be essential to Christianity,
The utmost that we can extract from the indictment is, that he stigmatized as idolatrous and unscriptural the adoring homage paid to the relics and tombs of the martyrs by their superstitious votaries—that he objected to prayers for and to the dead—that he repudiated the yoke of celibacy imposed on the clergy--dissuaded from sending alms to Jerusalem-and questioned the merits of asceticism.” (pp. 454, 455).
In some part of Dr. Chalmers' voluminous writings there is a passage, if we remember correctly, in which, arguing in favour of the cathedral dignities of the Established Church, he observes, that whenever the welfare of our Zion has been threatened either by the open assaults of infidelity, or by the insidious encroachments of superstition, there has always stepped forth some able champion, cased in the panoply of truth, and armed with choice weapons drawn from the stores of sacred litera.ture, ready to do battle in behalf of the Church of Christ.” And nobly has Dr. Gilly discharged his duty as a warrior in the Christian cause; encountering the enemy on their own position, wresting from them the vantage-ground which they had chosen, and routing them in utter discomfiture from the field. Would that such champions were multiplied to the Lord's people an hundred-fold ! 'Then would the high purposes for which those repositories of ecclesiastical learning were designed be amply fulfilled; and not even from the most envious members of our communion would a single voice be lifted up, or the faintest murmur heard, against the continuance of those rich endowments.
Art. VIII.- Memoranda of Irish Matters, by Obscure Men of
Good Intention. Dublin : S. J. Machan. 1844. 2. Speech of Viscount Bernard, M.P., on Mr. Ward's Motion in the House of Commons, August 2, 1843.
London: Hatchards. 1844. 3. Ireland before and after the Union with Great Britain. By
R. M. Martin, Esq. London: Orr and Co. 1844. 4. The Truths of Protestantism Contrasted with the Errors of
Popery; and the Character of Popery, as illustrated in Past
and Present Times. Glasgow: M.Phun. 1837. 5. How will Peel treat Ireland ?-an Address to the Catholics of
Ireland. By VERUS. London: Painter. 1844. THE man who sits down to calculate and write an almanac possesses an immense advantage over him who undertakes to convey his thonghts, speculations, or experience to the public upon matters connected with Ireland. The former may, at least, enjoy the pleasant conviction that his ruminations and his labours will preserve their freshness and effect for one entire year; but the writer upon Irish affairs may find all his toil useless, and his speculations old, ere the ink has dried upon his manuscript. Write as rapidly or as thoughtfully as he may, his sentiments, when published, may be of less value than an almanac, not of the present, but of the past year. Events, circumstances, plans, and plots are so constantly shifting, progrsesing, and varying, that before one set of them may be described they have already lived their little day, and become objects of history, rather than of speculation. New events have already happened; other circumstances have arisen ; an entire change of plans has been adopted; and novel plots have thrown the old ones into oblivion. The convicted leaders of rebellion are one day consigned to their well-merited punishment by a large majority of the judges of the land, and the next they are restored to liberty and mischief by a small majority of lords of the law, all Whigs; and, of course, without the slightest suspicion of being in the least degree swayed by political bias.
But if the events, circumstances, plans, and plots connected with Ireland are ever varying, and assuming new features and spheres of action, the condition of Ireland herself is, in one sense, stationary. While other nations may be compared to gallant and richly-freighted vessels making their way over the ocean of life, acquiring wealth by their commercial enterprize, or enjoying their dignity by enterprize achieved, Ireland is like a sunken ship, with only her tops above the wave, designating the spot where she is not. Froin the fair surface of that ocean on which she was so eminently calculated to hold a proud and an imposing position, Ireland has been dragged to the bottom by the irresistible power and weight of political Popery. There she lies, fast bound in chains that defy her attempts to rise; and there the noble and richly-charged argosy is the victim of a crew of conspirators, who, under the pretence that they can raise her unscathed to the surface, to take her place once more among her sister barks, are rifling her of her richest treasures, and fattening on their ill-got plunder. Their efforts to raise the noble ship are made without honest concert or skilful science. The only means for success are disregarded or unknown; the sunken hull is, in detached parts, blown into fragments; and as the pieces of the old wreck are driven to the surface, they are greedily seized by the mob watching for them, and carried off as part and parcel of that rich old freight—the nationality of Ireland.
But before we proceed any further, let us at once admit a great, a startling, and perhaps, to many of our readers, an unexpected truth. England has not done justice to Ireland ! England has inflicted a positive, grievous, and deadly wrong upon that country; and England owes full compensation, though she has endured a full and bitter measure of punishment, for the justice she has withheld and the evil she has inflicted. For the sins of omission as well as of commission for the negative as well as the positive injury, reparation is due, as retribution has been felt. Years back was Ireland branded, by our ancestors, with the burning stamp which has seared her very bones; and now the sins of the forefathers are heavily, and not unjustly, visited upon the children. What this injustice and foul wrong were we will now briefly explain. By the commission of them we committed a heavy sin ; by their continuation we did what irreligious statesmen would deem infinitely worse—we committed a gross political blunder.
There was a time when the claim of Ireland to her title of the “ Isle of Saints” was not alone undisputed, but well maintained and deservedly conceded. How soon or by what mysterious means the winged seeds of the fairest flower that ever bloomed and gave beauty to the earth, were wafted to her green and fertile shores, is only known to us through the medium of poetical tradition and graceful legend.* But story and song are em
• St. Colman, defending the Church of Ireland against the innovations of that of Rome, says—“ We abide by the custom of our fathers, which was given to us by Polycarp, the disciple of St. John.” And “ here we may observe (adds the Dean of Ardagh, in his history) the apostolic succession
balmed in the spirit of truth; and of this we are certain, that the Christianity which sprung humbly at Bethlehem, and was exalted at Calvary, was the pure and primitive Christianity which, meeting obstacles by the way, only to lightly surmount them, passed over other lands where it found a home; but after struggles against persecution and sealings of martyrdom, and lighting on the shores of Erin, deposited its seed, and was straightway a tall and goodly tree. Beneath the branches and under the shadow of that tree reclined all the virtues, made brighter by Faith, and more radiant by Hope. Peace was there universal and undisturbed. Love there dwelt and spread its gentle influences. There Charity was active; and there were found that wisdom and that science which made the far island of the West as renowned for its sages as for its saints; and which, based upon Christianity, were only exercised for the glory of God and the benefit of man. The light of truth shone high upon the rock of Ireland over a wide and tumultuous sea of heathenism and barbarity rolling in thunder around. That light was a beacon which guided many a half-drowned and fainting struggler through the waves of doubt or infidelity to a haven of faith and security; and from that beacon was fired many a torch which carried back the illumining wisdom of Christianity to lands yet covered with the veil of darkness and torn by the violence of savages. That flame gave a glorious increase of light, and warmth, and splendour to all who sought of it, nor suffered itself a diminution. Nay, it gained by what it gave; imparting the means of immortality to others, and every hour more meriting its own. That beacon might still have been shedding its saving light above the world's waters, but for those who rudely extinguished it. It was England who committed this rash act, and is now reaping its necessary consequences. It was England that tossed the fair and guiding flame into the dark and hissing waves that roared beneath it, and in its place erected the false and destructive beacon of Political popery. From that hour has the fair and ancient reputation of Ireland perished. She may have had of the Irish Church clearly pointed out: St. John the Evangelist; Ignatius, the immediate disciple of St. John ; Polycarp, the disciple of Ignatius ; Pothinus, Irenæus, and others, the disciples of Polycarp, who preached the Gospel with great success in Gaul, through whose means flourishing Churches were established in Lyons and Vienne, of which Pothinus was the first bishop. From thence the Gospel sounded forth through all that country. Bishops Lupas and German, the descendants of these holy men, ordained 'St. Patrick, and made him chief bishop of their school among the Irish ; and from St. Patrick, to the present day, we have a regular succession of bishops, not from Rome, nor through Rome, but through the successors of the Apostle John, the patron of the Irish Church.”—Dean of Ardagh's History, p. 29, cited by Lord Bernard, in his Speech in the House of Commons, on Mr. Ward's motion.