The New Zealand Evangelist
In a religious as well as a political point of view, Spain is not devoid of interest. The following extract is from the pen of a shrewd observer, who lately visited the Peninsula on a Missionary tour of observation.
“I have said that Spain is in a transition state. It is obvious from the conversations I have had with those who are acquainted with the state of the country, that an important change in the religious views and character of the people is in process. This change had begun to show itself before the abolition of the conventual establishments, and the recent appropriation of part of the patrimony of the church. These innovations have, however, done much to shake the already tottering fabric of superstition, and to overthrow the already decaying influence of the Romish priesthood. No one can enter Spain now, without being struck with the discrepancy betwixt his preconceived notions of the superstitious reverence of the Spanish lower orders for the mummery of Romanism, and the actual state of the fact. I am not acquainted with any part of Europe, in which popery is acknowledged, where less reverence or devotion is to be observed among the common people in their religious ceremonies; and it is notorious that many superstitious observances have now quite disappeared. Am I gratified with this? I acknowledge that I am. Not that I am prepared to maintain, that no religion at all is, in itself, better than Popery; but because, while the influence of the priesthood over the minds of the people remained unimpaired, the introduction of the Bible, generally, into Spain was almost hopeless. A new era in page 135 the religious history of the Peninsula has begun. Spiritual despotism—the most dangerous enemy which the truth has to encounter—is no more; and civil despotism is quite incapable of excluding the Bible entirely from the land. Now that the anathemas of the priesthood are disregarded, the people are eager to receive the word of God; and experience everywhere proves, that where a people are desirous of welcoming the light, not all the most stringent regulations of the most bigoted and tyrannical of despotisms can keep them altogether in darkness. Bibles are at this moment pouring into Spain, in spite of corregidor, alcalde, and aduanero. The channel of illumination is indeed a strange one, but God often employs strange agents for his holy purposes; and we observe the worst passions of man, yea, the very devices of the devil, invented for very different ends, directly, though unintentionally, working to promote the glory of the Most High, and to advance the Redeemer's kingdom. The fierce and reckless smuggler is at present the instrument in the hand of the Lord, employed for blessing the coasts of Spain with God's precious Word! A strange evangelist! but a successful one. The very fact that he finds the illicit trade in Bibles a profitable one, and capable of repaying the toils and dangers incident to his desporate profession, is a fact which speaks volumes for the desire of the Spanish people to receive this hated and forbidden book—hated by priests, and forbidden by tyrants; but, God be thanked, beloved and cherished by all who know its value; and earnestly sought after by thousands more, who have but a faint and indefinite conception of the infinite worth of the priceless treasue which they seek.
Bless, O Lord, thy holy word, even from such unholy hands,”— [Robertson's Visit to the Peninsula.]