페이지 이미지

the provisions of the “School Act” were faithfully carried out. In the discharge of his duty he sometimes found himself in collision with the dignitaries of the Romish Church, but he was not afraid, when necessity was laid upon him, to measure swords even with an archbishop. A pamphlet now lies before us, and is also mentioned at the head of this article, which contains a correspondence entitled: “Dr. Ryerson's Letters in Reply to the Attacks of Foreign Ecclesiastics Against the Schools of Upper Canada, Including the Letters of Bishop Charbonnel, Mr. Bruyere, and Bishop Pinsoneault.” Those attacks make an octavo pamphlet of 104 pages, and are characterized, on the one hand, by deep duplicity, insinuations, misrepresentations, and a determination at all hazards to secure the control of the education of Roman Catholic children by the Church without making reports to the government; and on the other hand, the letters are characterized by that cogency of reasoning, incisive argument, and clear, terse langnage which distinguishes all Dr. Ryerson's writings.

During the same period, Dr. Ryerson addressed a series of letters to a leading politician, who was at one time a great power in the land. The doctor was of the opinion, right or otherwise, that the said gentleman was becoming allied to those who were resolved to break up the school system of Ontario. Their object professedly was to reform existing abuses, but, as he conceived, it was neither more nor less than to adopt measures whereby “more power to the pope” would be the result. IIe felt it to be an imperative duty to buckle on his armor and go forth to meet the Goliath who once strong advocate of Protestantism. No controversial letters that have come in our way are at all equal to those now under consideration. They are not surpassed even by those of “ Junius.”

While the controversy between Dr. Ryerson and his honorable opponent was in progress, some of the doctor's friends believed that it was probable the honorable gentleman's political party would soon be at the helm of affairs in Ontario, and they were anxious, therefore, that he should not so far commit himself that, even should such an event occur, he would be

likely to be removed froin his office as Chief Superintendent. · It was well known that at the time of his appointment there

was a

were those of the High-Church party who were greatly indignant that a “ Methodist Preacher” should be elevated to such an honorable position in the land; but Dr. Ryerson was never in the least alarmed about the consequences resulting from his course of action. He said to the writer, when conversing on the subject, “ They may do as they like,” and in his concluding letter to the honorable gentleman he thus refers to the supposition:

It is possible, sir, that you may attain the object of your political ambition, when, as a Minister of the Crown, you will doubtless endeavor to carry your threats against me into execu. tion. It is possible, in the mysteries of Providence, and the freaks of unsuspecting credulity, that you may yet be able to undo and trample to dust the work I have been endeavoring to construct and build up, and that you may be able to avenge yourself upon me by reducing my family and myself to poverty; but as I have never indulged the desire for wealth, so I do not fear poverty. Your threats of loss of salary and office do not, therefore, terrify or disturb me. I have confidence in the justice of my native country, which I have endeavored to serve from my youth, that it will not leave me a prey to your machinations in old age. But be that as it may, though you may reduce me to want, you cannot make me a slave; though you may cause me to die a very poor man, you cannot prevent me from dying a free man, or from defending, as long as I am able, the right of individual choice in regard to schools and religious instruction on the part of both Protestants and Roman Catholics, the rights of school electors, of trustees, and of municipalities against the subversive attempts of Mr. and yourself.

In 1876 Dr. Ryerson resigned his position as Chief Superintendent of Education, and spent the evening of his days in comparative quiet, though he did not cease to take a lively interest in all public affairs. The government dealt with him most generously by continuing his full salary of $4,000 until his death, and on his demise awarded a gratuity of $10,000 to his widow. Such a magnanimous act entitles them to the grateful remembrance of all classes of the community. Ile wrote a series of Essays on “ The Epochs and Characteristics of Methodism in Canada,” which were published in the “ Methodist Magazine,” and have now been collected and embodied in one volume. They are a full repertory of facts and incidents, which will be of inmense value to the future historian of Methodism.

Dr. Ryerson also, in his later years, completed his “ II istory of the Loyalists of America and Their Times,” which was published by the Methodist Book Room in Toronto, in two handsome large volumes, which will be perused with pleasure by all who take an interest in the history of their country, and especially of that important class who made such immense sacritices and endured such great sufferings on behalf of the empire. They were truly heroes, and the author, who was himself a son of one who took part in the scenes of the American Revolution, was, therefore, familiar with the narrative of their hardships, as they made themselves homes in the wilderness of Canada. Ile was justly proud of his ancestry, and was never weary of rehearsing the incidents connected with their eventful history.

It is more than probable that some of our readers may not agree with some things which they will find in the author's history, as, for instance, the manner in which he speaks of the Puritans, who claimed the most “ardent attachment to their dear mother,' the Church of England, and yet had not been long on this side the Atlantic before they not merely adopted Congregationalism, which they had a perfect right to do, but commenced a violent persecution upon Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Baptists, and Quakers. It was made an offense to use the · Book of Common Prayer,' even in private families. Roger Williams and his fellow Baptists were driven out into the wilderness, and found a refuge in Rhode Island. Banishment, fines, imprisonnents, and confiscations were the normal weapons of these apostles of liberty. ... Truly, the history of New England Puritanisin is not edifying."

Many of the descendants of the loyalists became valuable citizens of Canada, and not a few of them to-day occupy important positions in their native land. They are to be found in all the professions, and, in connection with their fathers, have taken an active part in the affairs of the country, and are justly proud of the noble position which it now occupies among the nations of the earth. In preparing this historical work Dr. Ryerson spared neither expense nor labor that he might make it as complete as possible. For this purpose he crossed the Atlantic and spent several months in London, that he miglit avail himself of the rich treasures of literature to be

found in the British Museum. His style is always vigorous and perspicuous, and while he never forgets that he is the narrator of events, he always takes care to express his own opinion on all the matters which come before him.

While Dr. Ryerson loved his country, he never forgot the Church of his youth. No matter what might be the perplexities of his office, he was always in his place in the sanctuary on the Lord's Day, and his pastor, the Rev. John Potts, D.D., testifies, “ that there was no more sympathetic hearer in the Metropolitan Church than he was.” As long as he was able he went to and fro preaching the Gospel, and it is computed that he preached not less than 10,000 serions, and no matter how much his journeys inight cost him, when doing Church-work for more than thirty years past he did not even charge his traveling expenses. The Church honored him by assigning himn to posts of honor and responsibility, and allowed him to be chief superintendent of education, though he always declared that he was ready at any moment to obey the call of his brethren and return to circuit work.

Dr. Ryerson was a many-sided man. IIe was truly progressive. On the question of class-meetings some thought him to be a little erratic, and when he introduced his resolutions to the Conference, several years ago, on this subject, there was considerable commotion, and some of his brethren in the ministry took strong ground against hiin. There were others, however, and the writer claims to be of the number, who were of opinion that the doctor did not receive the fair play at that time to which he was justly entitled. Those who wrote and spoke against him assumed that he was desirous to do away with class-meetings altogether, whereas he merely desired that attendance at class-ineeting should not be a test of membership, but that it should be a prudential means of grace; and it is a remarkable fact that, as time advances, a vast number of “the people called Methodists,” as well as the ministers, are beginning to be of the same opinion. We do not see any necessity why class-meetings should not be continued in the Church ; they should be held every-where; but appearances in all branches of the Methodist family seem to indicate that attendance on class-meeting will soon to be a test of membership. The Lord's Supper is a script


ural ordinance instituted by Christ, and why should attendance on this ordinance not be the test of membership in all Churches?

Dr. Ryerson was a great man, and yet he was as humble as a child; he was beautiful in his simplicity. At the Conference love-feasts he always spoke with deep emotion, and as he advanced in years lie ripened for heaven. Four years before he died he wrote the following sentences, which were found after his decease :

March 24, 1878. I am this diy seventy-five years of age, and this day fiftythree years, after resisting many solicitations to enter the ministry, and after long and painful struggles, I decided to devote my life and all to the ministry of the Methodist Chorch. The predominant feeling of my heart is that of gratitude and humilia. tion-gratitude for God's unbounded mercy, patience, and compassion, in the bestowment of almost uninterrupted health and innumerable personal, domestic, and social blessings, for more than fifty years of a public life of great labor and many dangers; and humiliation under a deep-felt consciousness of personal unfaithfulness, of my defects, errors, and neglects in public duties. Many tell me that I have been useful to the Church and to the country, but my own consciousness tills me that I have learned little, experienced little, done little in comparison of what I might and ought to have known and done. By the grace of God I am spared; by his grace I am what I am; all my trust for salvation is in the efficacy of Jesus' atoning blood. I know whom I have trustel,” and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. I have no melancholy feelings or fears. The joy of the Lord is my strength. I feel that I am now on the bright side of seventy-five. As the evening twilight of my eartlily life advances, my spiritual sun shines with increasing splendor. This has been my experience for the last year.

With an increased sense of my own sinfulness, unworthiness, and helplessness, I have au increased sense of the blessedness of pardon, the indwelling of the Comforter, and the communion of saints,

Here, upon bended knee, I give myself and all I have and am afresh to Him whom I serve, but very imperfectly, for more than threescore years. All helpless myself, Í most humbly and devoutly pray that Divine strength may be perfected in my weakness, and that my last days on earth may be my best days—best days of implicit faith and unreserved consecration, best days of simple, scriptural ministrations and public usefulness, best days of change from glory to glory, and of becoming meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, until my Lord shall dismiss me from the service of warfare and the weariness of toil to the glories of victory and the repose of rest.


« 이전계속 »