Kind reader, may I take you
for my friend this morning, and ask you, in fancy, briskly to walk with me
more than a long Irish mile! The haze of autumn lies on the Wicklow
mountains, and, not far away, looms darkly to a Protestant eye, that
strong citadel of Popery—Maynooth. We may not attempt invasion there, but
would fain speak to some of her shackled slaves, of the free and glorious
liberty of the gospel of Jesus. We come to a cabin-door, where last week
we found a troubled mind. Poor woman! she was waking to the reality of sin
and judgment to come. She had gone to the priest, had tried long penances
and confessions, but still the burning weight remained. Earnestly had she
listened to the words of Him who came to free the bound, and give the
weary and heavy laden rest. "Oh," she said, "I never heard words like
these before; I never knew before I could go to Jesus without coming to
the priest." Eagerly did she learn the invitation in Matt. xi. 27-30.
Shall we not again tell her of the good words of Jesus? But in vain. The
mother, fearing another visit, now stands in the door, and angrily answers
our inquiries, "Ah, you can't see my girl; we have our own holy directors,
we mind them; you need not be coming here; we'll have none of your
readings here." So we turn away, with a lingering word of Him, the way,
the truth, the life, and a longing hope that the poor weary one may yet
find rest. We pass a cottage or two (not having courage to knock at
bettermost-looking doors,) and go into a real Irish cabin. The door does
double duty, as window and chimney, and we will not mind a little smoke.
Potatoes are on the fire, the table, the floor. The pig, the fowls, the
rosy, ragged urchins, are all dining most cozily together. There was no
chair, so the potatoes are swept off the one stool—sit down, kind reader.
The mother stares, as we pat the rosy cheeks of Mick, and Mat, and Pat,
and says, "No quality ever sat down there before." A poor, half-witted,
deformed boy creeps in, and stares at us, too. "Poor Phil!"—we know he
often makes the sign of the cross, and mutters strange prayers, especially
"if a neighbour died, Phil would long be praying for the dead." So we
point upward, and tell him, "Jesus up there loves poor Phil, and that
'Christ Jesus came into the world' to save sinners, yes, to save Phil."
And in gibberish accents, he says it over and over, and the wild stare
softens; may that blessed word give understanding to this simple one! Then
all listen, and we read some precious "Prayers and Promises," selected
from God's Word by a Scotch lady.
We must trudge on again,
and pass a field of labourers; they stop to watch us, and call out, "There
goes the teacher;" and many fearful curses are heaped on us and all
Bible-readers. But there is One, whose covert wing is around us, and we
only fear for the peril their own dark souls are in.
We will go into this lonely
cottage; it is wonderfully clean, and has a chimney. A strong girl and a
very sickly one are working, and they civilly ask us to rest. We speak of
things to come—of realities unseen and eternal. The strong one says, "Ah,
I never trouble myself about religion; it will be all right when my end
comes, if I go to mass now and then." The sick one says, "If I do go to
purgatory, our priest can soon pray me out." We tell them of the only
purgatory that cleanses from all sin—the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son.
We tell of the one great High Priest, who ever liveth to make intercession
; of the One "mighty to save." We take out our supply of tracts, and we
tell them about the sick lady who loves to write out the words of Him who
loves the lost. Won't they take one of them? "Well, we never took a
Protestant's tract before, but we'll keep this." At the next house, a pale
girl of fourteen is sitting by her mother, who tenderly tells how her "Darlint
Biddy is fading fast away." For once, we are suffered to read out of our
Testament the words of Him who called the little ones to come. We offer a
tract; the child hesitates, for it is a Protestant one, but the mother
says, "Take it, Biddy, I am sure they are good words." So there the little
seed was strewn.
Here are five cabins; we
will knock at the last door. An aged woman says, "Now, don't you come in
here; we mustn't listen to you—go and talk to old Mick." At the next door
we meet with rude repulse —the woman adds, "You should tell us about the
Virgin; don't you know she's the adorable mother of God; and I can tell
you, without her intercession, you'll never be saved." "No, my friend, I
am not come to tell you about the Virgin, but of that blessed name which
is above every name—of the Lord Jesus, who ever liveth to make
intercession for us." "There, now, don't be talking to me, go to old
Mick." So to old Mick we go. This is not the first visit. Mick has nearly
finished making a basket, he looks up, with "Good morning, Miss; I hope
you've thought of my last words to you—that you are out of the true
Church, and if you die, your soul has no more salvation than the sole of
my shoe! "
"Well, Mick, and what did
you think of my last words? 'He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting
life.' Christ is the Head of the Church, Mick, and 'He that hath the Son
hath life.'" Mick—"Ah, ah, you can talk plenty out of the Bible; but I
tell you, the Bible is a dead letter without our priest; and if the priest
told me the Bible was a lie, I would believe him first." "Let me ask you,
Mick, did you ever hear the Bible, or read it?" " I! no, to be sure, never
in all my life." "Well, now, just for once, let me read you its true
words, Mick; they give life, and joy, and hope to me, Mick. Your priest
can't unsay what the Lord Jesus Christ said, 'Search the Scriptures.'"
Mick— "Well, well, asey now, but I dare not hear you read; our priest
won't have it anyway; and I tell you there are more souls brought to
damnation by that Bible-reading than anything else." "Well, Mick, if you
won't let me read, I must tell you that it is not your Church can save
yon, for 'Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other
name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.' It is not
your priest that can absolve you, for 'If any man sin, we have an advocate
with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.' This may be the last word I
speak to you, Mick ; but it is from the Bible, where Jesu3 Christ says, 'I
am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by
We will try the next door.
An old woman follows us in, and she listens to a few words about the Lord
Jesus. The woman of the house interrupts, and prevents another word, and
goes on thus— "There's no help for us, but through the blessed mother of
God. It is she that's without spot or stain, a pure and holy Virgin. It's
she that has the only power to intercede for us sinners. Oh, holy Mary,
Queen of Heaven, I adore thee! ay, I love thee with all my heart and soul;
never will I hear of any other; O Mary, pray for me."
We must leave them. We must
pray for them that thus sit in darkness. We must aid those who are daily
walking among them. I mean that noble band of Scripture-readers, who, with
the lamp of life in their hands, go forth into the night of Popery.
The early setting sun warns
us to hasten homeward. We will raise our hearts to Him, the Sun of
righteousness, and pray that He will yet arise, with healing in his wings,
to all with whom we have been speaking. And longings rise within, better
to do His work, closer to follow His footsteps, that we, too, may do the
will of our Father, even as it is in heaven.