To the Rev. T. Thomason.
" Oxford, April 26, 1822.
" My beloved Brother,
" I am now on my return from Ireland, whither I have been with my dear friend Mr. Marsh ; he for the Gentiles and I for the Jews. As you will soon hear from me at large respecting your beloved James, I shall pass him over, with only saying, that I have taken his berth in the David Scott; that on the 23d of May I intend to go and see him receive his last prizes; and that on the 1st of June I hope your mother and I shall sail with him, as I did with you and my dear sister, as far as the pilot goes. Mr. Harrington and Sergeant Blosset, and your colleague Mr. Crau- furd, will sail with him, and all on the same deck, in contiguous cabins. O that God may preserve him in safety, and bring him to your bosom as the most dear and acceptable of all earthly treasures.
" Now for Ireland. You will wish to hear of my motions now in my climacteric, more especially as my dial has been' put back ten degrees.'
" There is among the prelates of Ireland, an augmented prejudice against the truth. The Primate and the Archbishop of Dublin have withdrawn, and others with them, from the Bible Society and all the religious societies. It appeared to me therefore, that, through the Divine blessing, I might do good by going there. The bugbear in their minds, is Calvinism; by which term they designate all vital religion. You well know that though strongly Calvinistic in some respects, I am as strongly Arminian in others. I am free from all the trammels of human systems ; and can pronounce every part of God's blessed word, [i]ore rotunda[/i], mincing nothing, and fearing nothing. Perhaps, too, I may say, that, from having published sixteen volumes, and preached for forty years in Cambridge, I may be supposed to give a pretty just picture of the state of evangelical religion, such as it really is. On this account I hoped, that however insignificant in myself, I might be an instrument of good: more especially, because in the last year I sent to every prelate there my sermons on the conversion of the Jews. It happened, too, that they were anxious to have me come over thither; and that Mr. Marsh was actually engaged to go for the Church Missionary Society. With joy therefore I accepted the invitation, being myself most willing to go; and accordingly I proceeded with Mr. Marsh, on Monday, April 8th, and got to Holyhead on Thursday; and we reached our destined home in good health and spirits on the Saturday afternoon.
" No sooner were we arrived than Irish hospitality evinced itself in an extraordinary degree. You, who know the precise line in which I walk at Cambridge, will be astonished, as I myself was, to find earls and viscounts, deans and dignitaries, judges, &c., calling upon me, and bishops desirous to see me. Invitations to dinner were numerous from different quarters ; one had been sent even to London, and to Cambridge, to engage us to dinner on the Bible-day. But let me enter on what will appear yet more extraordinary on the other hand. The archbishop, understanding that foreigners were invited to preach in Dublin, had said that he had no objection to Mr. Marsh or myself, but that he expected the minister to adhere to the Canon, which required the exhibition of our letters of orders previous to our admission to any pulpit in his province. Information respecting this had been sent us, and we came prepared : and the church-wardens were summoned to the vestry to record and attest the exhibition of them. In the morning of the next day I preached at St. George's Church, to a congregation of 1200, a kind of preparatory sermon for the Jews ; and God seemed to be manifestly present with us. In the evening I preached at another smaller church in the outskirts of the city ; and had reason to hope that the word did not go forth in vain.
"On the next day (Monday) I dined at the Countess of West- meath's, and met Judge Daly and many other characters of the highest respectability. Tuesday was the Jews' Society day. This society in Ireland takes the lead, and is carried on with surprising spirit. Their committee meets every Monday morning; and they give themselves to prayer as well as to the ministry of the various offices that are called for. The Archbishop of Tuam was in the chair: we met in the rotunda. It is however ill- adapted for speaking. The windows were open on both sides, so that the voice was carried out by the wind, and those in front could not hear: I did my best, however ; but not without suffering for it for two or three days. They looked to me as the representative of the society, and therefore I felt bound to exert myself to the uttermost. It was altogether a very interesting meeting.
" The Bible meeting was the next day. The archbishop again was in the chair: and his address was the finest thing I ever heard. The Primate and the Archbishop of Dublin had withdrawn their names from the society; the Archbishop of Tuam therefore stood on very delicate ground. This he stated ; but observed, that as they had not declared their reasons for withdrawing, and he could discover none himself, he must continue to uphold it. He spoke with a dignity suited to his rank, yet with the meekness of his Divine Master. Perhaps Paul before Festus will give you the best idea of his whole action, spirit, and deportment. I doubt not but that he will hear of that speech at the day of judgment. After the reading of the Report I left the assembly: for after the exertions of the preceding day I greatly needed rest. Thursday was the meeting of the School Society: that was in a smaller room, and Earl Roden in the chair. It was a most delightful meeting : and my dear fellow-traveller, Mr. Marsh, produced a vast sensation, as indeed he generally does ; such a playful suavity as his I never heard. On the Friday, at the Church Mission Society, the Archbishop of Tuam again presided. If I could have accepted of all the invitations, they would have lasted almost to this time.
" On Saturday I preached my Jewish sermon to a good congregation, who collected £114, and my sermon is printing there: and as I preached it three days ago before the University of Cambridge, it is printing here also at Cambridge, where I am finishing this letter. I shall send you a copy. In the note* you will see perhaps a harder blow at Calvinism, [i]as an exclusive system[/i], than it has ever yet received. It has been assaulted severely by enemies, times without number ; but here it is wounded by a friend : and I hope the blow will be felt, to the restraining of its friends and the reconciling of its enemies to my views. I believe in final perseverance as much as any of them; but not in [i]the way[/i] that others do. God's purpose shall stand ; but our liability to fall and perish is precisely the same as ever it was: our security, as far as it relates to Him, consists in [i]faith[/i]; and, as far as it relates to ourselves, it consists in [i]fear[/i].
" But I see that if I go on, my paper will not hold half that I have to say. Let it suffice therefore to add,- that as I was not expected in other parts of Ireland, I went no further, but returned on the following Monday to Holyhead On the morning of my return there was as violent a storm as had been known in that sea for twenty years: and already I have seen an account of ten ships lost in it; one king's ship of eighteen guns, three packets, (I myself was in a packet.) three large foreign ships, and three smaller, besides many fishing vessels ; and I doubt not several other ships of which I have not heard. Through the tender mercy of God I was kept from any apprehensions, having my mind sweetly employed in travelling between heaven and earth, with all my friends successively in my head ; you and yours were not forgotten. I trust that in your best seasons I am not forgotten by you ; and I hope that my life is yet preserved for further usefulness in the Church of God.
" On my return I stopped a few days at Oxford, accounting it a matter of importance to see, if I could, some of the Dons. I had two opportunities of seeing several, particularly the Provost of Oriel; with whom I dined and held most profitable conversation. He accords more with my views of Scripture than almost any other person I am acquainted with; and I hope our conversation was made useful."
* The Note referred to by Mr. Simeon is the following:
" It is worthy of remark, that whilst Calvinists complain of Arminians as unfair and tmscriptural, in denying [i]personal[/i], though they admit [i]national[/i], election, they themselves are equally unfair and unscriptural in denying the danger of [i]personal[/i] apostasy, whilst they admit it in reference to [i]churches[/i] and [i]nations[/i]. It is lamentable to see the plain statements of Scripture so unwarrantably set aside for the maintaining of human systems. Happy would it be for the Church, if these distinctions were buried by the consent of all parties, and the declarations of Holy Writ were adhered to by all, without prejudice or partiality!
"The Author's views of this subject are simply these. All good is from God, dispensed by Him in a way of sovereignty according to the counsels of His own will, and to the praise of the glory of His grace. All evil, whether moral or penal, is from man; the moral, as resulting from his own free choice; the penal, as the just and necessary consequence of his sins. The Author has no doubt but that there is in God's blessed Word a system; but it is a far broad.:r system than either Calvinists or Arminians admit . His views of that system may be seen in the Preface to this work."
Respecting this note Mr. S. wrote not long before his death:" This [i]I[/i] regard as very important."