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with a very ill grace, I quickly left, after inviting the children to our Ragged School. Having, for a very long series of years, held a situation in one house of business, Mr. D., although only a labouring man, was enabled when in health to provide his family with the common necessaries of life. His wife, also, as I afterwards found, was an exceedingly industrious woman, and earned a few shillings a week by working at a "trotter yard,” but sickness had reduced the family to a condition of abject poverty,
I of course continued my visits, and their prejudice appeared to diminish, and as soon as advisable I introduced the subject of Roman Catholicism. On one occasion, on entering, I found a person present whom I did not recognise as any minister with whom I was acquainted; he inquired who I was, and was informed by me.
He did not appear at all disposed to interchange even the commonest courtesies of life, for immediately on hearing I was a City Missionary, he adjusted his hat, and left. I was informed he was “the Priest.” This led to a conversation respecting the Roman Catholic religion. “A great question is, Mr. D.,” said I, "what comfort and consolation does your religion afford you ? You are stretched by the Almighty on a bed of sickness and pain, your circumstances are those of extreme poverty, you have a young family whom you are likely to have to leave fatherless. What you require is mental support and comfort. Now we may depend upon it," I added, - that if the good God has given us a religion, it will afford all this—does your religion afford this to you?
The poor man began to cry; and, after a pause, “ Indeed, no," said he, “sure I'll be after telling
the truth-God help me, then my mind is dark and miserable, your reverence.”* I felt sad in contemplating the scene of human woe around me; and the Missionary must sympathize with woenot merely express sympathy, but must feel sympathy—“ Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ,” Gal. vi. 2.
“My friend,” said I, “a religion that does not comfort, is not worth having;” and then I declared to him the offices and work of Him by whom came
grace and truth," and told him of the Holy Spirit, “the Comforter.” “The word of God is
. quick and powerful,” Heb. iv. 12, and the sufferer appeared much affected. He could neither read nor write, and “his priests had never taught him thus," he said. Alas! no; good reason why; the witnessing and convincing of the Spirit of God in the heart of the believer that his sins are forgiven-this Rome dreads. Her strength lays in the crushed and abject spirit, and to offer it ashes and mourning, and penance, and the spirit of heaviness—thus to rivet the iron chain of priestly despotism, and serve her purpose. Rome preaches penance, not peace. Let the dread of future torment rule, cries Rome; let the nations perish in their sins; and whilst they pass in exchange for coin, we will never tire of ordaining penances, hearing confessions, granting indulgences, bestowing holy unctions, conjuring transubstantiative mysteries, and singing masses, both ante and posthumous.
The fabled Flora is represented in the spring of the year with poised wings, gyrating gracefully
* The poor, especially the Irish poor, are accustomed to apply this term very profusely to religious teachers.
over our earth, surveying the rolling orb with a kindly countenance, and scattering profusely the seeds of flowers, and fruits, and corn, for the pleasure and sustenance of man. Let Rome be represented as an incarnation of oppression, casting down upon the earth fetters, and fears, and snares, and torments. Make her a Ceres or Pomona, if you will, but let her cornucopia be filled with poison weeds. Who could deny the myth? Such is Popery.
Mr. D. received instruction from me during the space of two years, the whole of which period he was a great sufferer from an internal disease, which at last terminated his life. The reading and plain exposition of the New Testament, especially the Gospels, and the prayers I from time to time offered with him, were evidently much blessed to his enlightenment "in the knowledge of glory and virtue.' He was led to see the vanity and delusion of the Popish views he had once held, and to which he had been so bigoted. “I did believe once, said he," that the priests could put me into heaven, but thanks be to God for sending you to instruct me, I know better now; there's none but the blessed Lord Jesus Christ, that died for sinners, that can save my poor soul; I feel it, Mr. Vanderkiste, I do indeed, thanks be to God.” I have repeatedly asked him, whether he really believed formerly, that the priest had power to secure heaven for him; he would reply, “ Why, Mr. Vanderkiste, you have no idea how ignorant and blinded the people are in Ireland, or you wouldn't ask that question; they do believe it, the whole of them-pay your dues, confess to the priest, and it's all well with you," said he, nodding his head-“that's the way they're taught, poor things, and how should they know
better.” At last Mr. D., whose mind became more and more enlightened “by the Word of God and prayer," was enabled to come to the “full assurance of faith," and to a knowledge of the forgiveness of his sins. He was enabled blessedly to resolve the question :
“How can a sinner know,
My name inscribed in heaven ?"
“We who in Christ believe,
The Spirit of God with ours." Light chases away darkness. When Mr. D. attained to this faith, the chains of Rome were burst asunder, the scales fell from his eyes, he could say, “ This one thing I know, whereas I was blind, now I see.”
The interesting conversations I have held with this man would fill a little volume. His disease, an internal tumour, assumed a more threatening aspect, and after intense suffering he expired, witnessing to the last “a good confession” in Christ Jesus. Just before he died, he sent for me, and expired almost before the echo of the prayer of the Protestant visitor had died away. To be read to, and prayed with, seemed his great delight. “Mr. Vanderkiste,” he would say, “it's sweet to me;'
he might have added, " Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart,” Jer. xv. 16. I had many opportunities of watching Mr. D.'s outward conduct and demeanour, during the course of the very long and varying affliction which terminated his life. When able, he was careful in attendance on Protestant public worship, and his walk and conversation was “as becometh the Gospel of Christ.”
I will next allude to two sisters, who both lived and died upon my district. Both were educated in profession of the Roman Catholic superstition, and were two of the most desperate characters with whom I ever met.
One of these poor women died of cholera in 1849, and was visited by me up to the period of her decease: the other fell to the earth in a fit, in a neighbouring court, and died very shortly afterwards. The use of strong drink (principally large quantities of beer) had so completely bloated her system, that the blood had become too sizy properly to circulate. Both these sisters would be drunk daily for a week uninterruptedly, I detail their cases as illustrative of Roman Catholic ignorance and priestly delusion. These women, so far as they cared for religion at all
, clung to some of the deadly errors connected with the Romish system. I have no faith whatever respecting either undergoing any change of heart. The one who died of cholera assured me she prayed for forgiveness, but I doubt it was merely said to please
The priest was sent for whilst she was dying,