To The Church Without a Name, The Truth, Two By Twos
Revised Jan. 24, 2007
For some weeks past evangelistic services have been held in a wooden hall erected at Bourney, midway between Roscrea and Templemore. For some reasons the preachers, who principally came from Roscrea met with great opposition and almost personal violence by crowds assembled nightly with the avowed object of disturbing the worshippers; bands playing up and down the road, followed by groans, boohs and epithets of a most grossly vulgar type. As this conduct was likely to lead to a serious breach of the peace, several police had to be present nightly to afford protection, and this had more or less of a deterrent effect on those who showed hostility. However, a more effectual means of putting an end to the meetings was adopted last week when the hall was practically demolished and the organ carried out and smashed into pieces.
This has led to a claim being lodged for £50 as compensation for the malicious damage. In connection with the outrage, John Kinnally was arrested on suspicion but on the case coming before the Roscrea magistrates on Monday, Mr. E. G. Preston, D. L., said he would ask their worships to discharge him as he, Mr. Preston, had not sufficient evidence to justify him in going on with the proceedings. Mr. Menton, who appeared to defend--I suppose you will compensate him? Mr. Preston--No indeed, we will not, he mixed himself up with a disorderly crowd and will have to take the consequences.
In the House of Commons, replying to a question by Mr. Hogan, Attorney-General Atkinson said that religious services had been conducted nightly by Methodist for the past month, in a covered building in a field adjoining the public road at Bourney. Crowds had assembled on several occasions on the road, and by groaning, shouting and other disorderly conduct had endeavoured to disturb the services. It had been found necessary, in order to protect worshippers who were acting entirely within their rights, from insults, and possibly assault, to have in attendance a force of police. So far as the police had been able to ascertain, the preachers had not made use of any language of an insulting character to Roman Catholics, unless the expression of religious opinions with which the Roman Catholics disagreed were considered an insult to them. The petty sessions clerk at Roscrea attended the services as he had a perfect right to do, and was not in any way blameable in that respect. No additional expense to the district has been involved, as the police were drawn from another district of the same county. Mr. Abraham--May I ask, is there no meeting house in Roscrea which would hold all the worshippers without their resorting to this open place? The Attorney General--I am not aware, but they have a right to be protected.
To the Editor "King’s County Chronicle:"
Sir—I have seen the letter, in your last issue on the above subject,
and beg you will allow me, in conjunction with many other ratepayers of
the district, to protest in the very strongest possible manner against
the damage done to the wooden house of unauthorised preachers being levied
by presentment off the respectable residents.
The facts of the case should be made public. Some months ago, without the consent or approval of the Protestant Rector, two or three professedly members of the Church of Ireland, but, virtually a little of everything or anything that suited their own ideas, started lay preaching in their house. This only proved a burlesque, and made the promoters of it "a laughing-stock" to the whole respectable community, both Catholics and Protestants alike, "who only wish to see, and only believe in consistent living," and not idle making and empty professions, which are only dross or chaff. These obstinate and self-opinionated saints, and their followers, which are only very few from within the parish, the larger portion being the honourable Roscrea contingent, who are determined to mind their souls, instead of their business, at the risk of poaching on other men’s premises, and intruding where they are not wanted, and where I believe they will come to grief if they try to persevere.
These, at length, gave place to the intrusive wooden house company, whom nobody knows who or what they are. The two or three farmhouses of Aghsmear, being the promoters of the evil, and the cause of all the damage done, ought in all justice be compelled to bear the entire cost of it. No one can be allowed to take their full swing of pleasure, without having to pay for it. It also ought to be inquired into on whose property that wooden structure was set up, and whether with or without the permission of the landlord of the ground.
The whole thing has so far proved only disgusting hypocrisy and profanity, and a moral nuisance in the neighbourhood. It is to be hoped that the law will be able to grasp the situation, and will peremptorily forbid people who are neither pious, sensible, or educated, making fools of themselves, and proving a very serious stumbling block in the way of the giddy, the weak, and the simple. It may be said by such persons, we will do as we like in our own houses—our house, so long as we pay the rent, is our castle. Be it so; still all religion is against people who make their house a decoy for the unruly and worthless members of other men’s flocks.
The parish of Bourney has two chapels and one church, has ample means of grace, and active, earnest clergy always available, and wants no more. My object in this letter is not so much to draw public attention to an existing nuisance, as to fix the eye of the local authorities, that when a raid has been made on the wooden house to its injury and removal, we need not be surprised if the laggers of the latter-day saints be the next to suffer.
It was a great impertinence for strangers, young uneducated men, not in Holy Orders, to make thus bold, without the sanction of priest or minister. And not only so, but to go round systematically to the houses of both creeds, inviting them to their meetings. They have been abundantly told their own, and the holy women of Aghsmear ought to be told the same. This sort of scheming and tricking has raised up general indignation in the place. And all law-abiding residents could not be too pressing in drawing this grievance and its probable consequences under the special and particular notice of the authorities.
—Yours, etc. A LOYAL SUBJECT
To the Editor of the "King’s County Chronicle:"
Dear Sir,—I have no wish to reply to "Loyal Subject’s" letter in your last issue. It would, indeed, be a poor cause that found it necessary to answer such an opponent; but as I have no doubt there are many of your readers who know very little about these "halls" and their work, I should like with your kind permission to say what I personally know about them. I may speak with some authority on the subject as there was recently a "hall" on my land for some weeks with my full approval, and I have attended many of the meetings.
The preachers are young men, and in every case, so far as I know, have abandoned some calling more or less lucrative to preach the Gospel. I know of one case in which £6 per week has been given up. They ask for no money, and get very little. What they do get in full measure is hard words and hard usage. But they have counted the cost and are willing to suffer for the sake of the Master whom alone they love and in whose name they have gone forth, and who warned His disciples "If they have persecuted me they will also persecute you."
If any proof was wanted as to the reality of their work it would be found in the intensity of the malignity and hatred it calls forth as evidenced by a "Loyal Subject’s" letter. The "halls" are built for the most part by the preachers themselves. They are put up on sites voluntarily given; they do no harm to any, and are an incalculable blessing to many, and they have a perfect right to be protected against outrage and loss. If they endure "hardness" of the cause they have at heart they are not without encouragements. The greatest, and one they often have, is to find men like "A Loyal Subject" who persecuted them in times past now preaching the faith which once he destroyed. May it be so in this case.
—Yours faithfully, C. Butler-Stoney.
To the Editor King’s County Chronicle,
Sir,—I have just read the letter of your correspondent in "King’s County
Chronicle," 19th April, who signs himself "a loyal subject". I have never
seen this wooden house nor do I know what denomination of Protestants worship
in it, but surely, sir, we live in a free country, and every man is at
liberty to worship God according to his conscience. The days of religious
intolerance and bigotry have gone for ever.
Your correspondent must be some ecclesiastical Rip-Van-Winkle, who has been asleep since the middle ages and has just wakened up. Nothing is gained by vulgar abuse—low, coarse "Billingsgate" should not be indulged in by any Christian man. He says these preachers are ‘making fools of themselves’ and so St. Paul wrote in 1st Cor, chap 4, verse 10, "we are fools for Christ’s sake" and no doubt these early Christians were considered as a great "nuisance" in their time as the Wooden Hall Preachers are now by certain "lewd fellows of the baser sort."
--I am, yours, &c, A Chip Of The Old Block.
To the Editor King’s County Chronicle.
Sir,—Kindly allow me a space in your columns to say how thankful I and
many others are for those despised unordained lay preachers, who are going
about the country proclaiming the unadulterated Gospel in all its fulness
to the sadly neglected parishioners of those whose duty it is and, alas!
have failed to do except through the medium of crosses and crucifixes,
&c. No marvel they should term their hearers, the ignorant laity, when
they see them satisfied to sit under such teaching. But not content with
befooling and defrauding their dupes they organise a system of persecution
against those God-loving, God-serving men, who have left all and gone out
without scrip or purse (trusting in the arm of Omnipotence to supply their
every need, spiritual and temporal,) to tell what Christ has done for them
not through the preaching or teaching of any ecclesiastics who seem never
to have experienced the invisible baptism themselves—consequently have
failed signally in ever producing a convert.
Your correspondent intimates that the R.C. priests assists in the persecution—this I doubt—if so I believe it is through the influence of nearer friends, who have ever been the avowed enemies of dissent. I have every respect for the R.C. clergy, who conscientiously worship God, but for men who hold the truth and teach a lie no word can express my contempt. Where do we find those unordained disturbers in their leisure hours? Not in the concert room, not in the tennis ground, not trifling over the pipe and glass. In their leisure hours we find those despised men on their knees waiting on God. What is the result? The redeemed souls are coming to Christ in thousands, having heard, through them, of the love of God so full and free.
Let the persecutors remember that no weapon formed against the feeblest child of God shall prosper; let them also beware lest hap’ly they should be found to fight against God. The idea of asking permission of any man, clerical or otherwise, to come into a place to speak for Christ is ridiculous and absurd in the extreme. Praise God the days of tyranny are past. The world is every preacher of the Gospel’s parish—none making them afraid. I suppose after a little we must ask leave to say our prayers. I would strongly recommend your correspondent to be more careful of the language he uses, or he may find the authorities grapple with his case. Is he aware that his expressions in your last issue are actionable?
—Yours truly, A Sypmpathiser
To the Editor "King’s County Chronicle."
Sir,—May I suggest to your correspondent, ‘Loyalist,’ that whether we are in the nineteenth or twentieth century, we are certainly not living in the fifteenth; and that not only is the auto da fe out of date but even the stoning of Wesley or Whitfield later on at clerical instigation would be a mistake at present. Next, that besides the Irish for Roman Churches there exists in Ireland a "tertium quid," which is wrong headed enough to doubt that the Holy Ghost would have descended through the Borgias and the Medici to Dean Swift’s highwaymen bishops—or that those orders can be valid which the source whence they claim to derive repudiates, and that to such the appeal of ‘Loyalist’ will have but little force. Lastly, that there being no State Church in Ireland, and all sects exactly equal before the law, the religionists of whom ‘Loyalist’ writes have as good a claim for their wrecked conventicle as Canon Smith for his broken cross.
—Your obedient servant, An Old Cromwellian, April 23rd, 1900
(This correspondence must now close.—Ed.)
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