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Itinerant preaching, and not authorship, becoming a minister of the
gospel-Endowing the Church with £100 a year for ever, a vicar's apology for his Irish style—The object of this production is to defend Evangelical doctrine, to advocate liberty for all classes, and to remove the abuses and evils, in the worldly system of the Church, in dealing with poor Vicars—Sympathy among all classes for poor clergymen-Settled systems, and even vows to carry out what is evil, should be disregarded in order to do good.
O commit religion to writing belongs to God and
to inspired men, for He wrote the Commandments, and they wrote the Bible by His direction. A good minister of the Gospel, therefore, takes what is written by God to people, instead of making himself of importance at authorship. My office is not to write, but to walk to sinners, and to read the Gospel of Christ to them. But the difficulties in the way of endowing my church, and of providing materials for public worship, to enable Christ's ministers to preach the Gospel, have caused me, against my will, to approach Christians in writing. Instead of art, I prefer my natural Irish course of using a vocal trumpet, and of being quick on the wing.
I have written the following account, falling asleep, after having travelled forty miles on foot each day, while raising the sum of £1,700 in subscriptions from house to house, all over the country for my church. As this sum will give over £100 a year, for each Vicar of my parish, from the Funds of Queen
Anne's Bounty Office, and the "Common Fund” of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, God's people will not be offended at my troubling them with my Irish style of writing. These prefer my endowing the church with £100 a year against disestablishment and disendowment, to giving English literature to "the Athenians and strangers, who spend their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing"-Acts xvii., 21. As Popery is considered, by English statesmen, to be a respectable affair in accepting half-a-crown, by the Pope, for an indulgence for crime committed, as theft, against God, the Queen, and the robbed person, I trust the English will accept £100 a year, for ever, from me, as an indulgence for having crossed the Irish Sea to study their language and literature. The Irish language being my native tongue, writing this is the only possible way of becoming an Englishman.
The following pages contain correct views of Evangelical religion. False doctrine and wrong-doing, wherever found, are condemned in them; but they oppose persecuting any man for his religious opinions.
This account of church matters shews some of the abuses and evils, in reference to the treatment of poor vicars, which should be removed from the worldly affairs of the Church ; and it aims at reforming her. Much will be found here to shew the horrible state of affairs in parishes, where ministers are not allowed a sufficient maintenance. I have fought, in these pages, the battle of poor vicars, by exposing the badness of the system which starves clergymen, and which lets souls go to hell in consequence. The government
authorities, and all rulers in Church and State, endorse the bad treatment shewn toward poor vicars by the lay-tithe owners, who are the modern Egyptian task-masters over God's people and ministers. I have removed the curtain which conceals the crafty proceedings of those worldly bishops and of those aspiring Church dignitaries, who act as if they kept poor vicars starved and degraded, on purpose, to secure homage to themselves, and to enable them to appear the greater and grander by the contrast.
My aim is to open the eyes of the public to the existing state of things, in order that something may be done for poor clergymen, and that the souls in their parishes may be reclaimed from vice and rescued from going to hell. Exalted Church dignitaries never advocate a reformation, because what is called "the Church" has been a persecutor of the weak, for big men's interests, since the day that Constantine the Great made it a part of the machinery of the State.
The sympathy for poor clergymen is beyond all bounds; for my list of subscribers represents all opinions and views, denominations and parties. But poor vicars must ask their wants, as in my case. Here will be found the nobleman, the bishop, the tradesman, the high and low churchman, the dissenter, and even the liberationist.
I have prevailed on the enemies of all clergymen to subscribe to this church. My excuse for making th tell lies, and to break their word and vow, after having declared they would not subscribe, is, that theologically it is better to break a bad word, vow, or
even an oath to do evil, as to commit murder, than to keep it. Herod was wrong in putting his word and honor before goodness or the duties of religion, by beheading John the Baptist, in order to keep his oath. It is better that the Irishman should change his mind, than continue in it, who has made a vow to starve his landlord by paying him no rent, and to hasten his death by shooting him. And above all, it is better that poor clergymen, their wives and children, and the souls in disendowed parishes, should be rescued, than to let the crafty system continue or appear respectable which arranges their ruin. What is right and good should be done, for its own sake, under all circumstances. Tact and prudence may be observed or allowed in doing it; but these things are often cunningly resorted to, in order to prevent the good thing from being done at all. Men and things are, in the Nineteenth Century, judged by their own merits, and not by the fancies of others.
A list of subscribers, representing almost every parish in Norfolk and Suffolk, or my own diocese, cannot fail to be interesting. The subscriptions raised in other counties will appear at a future time; but time and space do not admit them here.
I return my most grateful thanks with Irish warmth to all those who have helped this case; especially to my noble patron for giving me for my church an endowment of £20 a year, and to my good bishop for starting my fund with £50.
BRYAN O'MALLEY. Flitcham Vicarage,
King's Lynn, January, 1880