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This schism has continued to our times. Catharine treated the sectaries with lenity; and we do not find that they have been persecuted since her decease. Her chief attacks, in point of persecution, were directed against the abettors and advocates of democracy; and her son Paul, in that respect, followed her example.
The Russian plebeians and peasants are remarkable for superstition. Many absurdities are related of them in that particular: but it will be sufficient to mention the practice of having about the person, or in the apartments of a house, representations of saints (called gods) painted on boards. These pictures are viewed with an air of high respect and reverence; and, on entering a room, persons bow to them, and repeatedly cross themselves. Even many of the opulent have these little idols in their possession, and court the favor of these imaginary, gods.
Among the multiplicity of tribes subject to the Russian emperor, are many Mohammedan and Pagan communities. The former are indulged with a toleration of their worship;, and missionaries are employed to convert the latter, without dragooning them into the adoption of Christianity.
In Armenia, the majority of the people are still Christians, of the Monophysite sect. They appear to be more addicted to fasting than the professors of any other religion whatever ; for it is said, that they have one hundred and fifty-six fast-days in the year. Their festivals also amount to a surprising number: but it is not true, that all the days in the year are appropriated to one or other of those opposite observances. Many of the natives of Armenia are dispers. ed over the different countries of the East, being tolerated as sectaries, and encouraged as traders,
The Georgians were accustomed to steer between the doctrines and practices of the Greeks and Armenians: but, as they are now subject to the sway of the Russian emperor, they lean more to the former system.
The Nestorians, whose leading opinion is contrary to that of the Monophysites 5, are scattered over a great part of Asia. It has been disputed, whether the Christians who inhabit the Malabar coast are really Nestorians. Dr. Buchanan denies that they are of that sect; but Mr. Wrede maintains that they are.
The probability is, that the members of many of the churches upon that coast are of the Nestorian persuasion, while others have become Jacobites or Monophysites. However that may be, these congregations are far from being respectable, the members being in a state of ignorance and misery
That species of Christianity which had been introduced into China, was tolerated for many years by the emperor Kang-hi: but, in the year 1716, he was persuaded by his pagan ministers to revive two edicts against the Christians. By one of these ordinances, they were prohibited from building churches, and making converts; and, by the other, no missionaries were suffered to preach, unless they were furnished with an imperial patent, specifying their native country, the religious order to which they belonged, the time of their arrival in China, and their engagement not to return to Europe. They remained in this state of depression until the death of Kang-hi, in 1722; and then, instead of being relieved from it, they were subjected to farther restrictions. Yong-ching, the new emperor, banished or imprisoned some of the princes of his family, and many grandees, for their favorable dispositions toward Christianity, and ordered the missionaries and their associates to be driven from the provinces into the city of Canton. Ten years afterward, they were sent to the isle of Macao; and all attempts of Christians to re-enter the empire were forbidden by the jealousy of the court.
The churches were de
& See Mosheim's History, cent. v. part ii. chap. V. sect. ix. xxii.
molished or secularised; and the natives who had embraced catholicism, were compelled to renounce it, or conceal their obnoxious opinions.
The religion of Jesus can boast of very few triumphs in Africa. The Christianity of Congo, or of Zanguebar, is unworthy of mention : but, in our religious progress, we must take notice of Egypt and Abyssinia.
The Copts, or the descendants of the primitive Christians of Egypt, persist in their attachment to the Monophysite doctrine. Their priests are ignorant and uninformed; but the people treat them with great respect. Monastic seclusion is very common among this sect, and great austerities are practised by many of the monks and nuns. Beside a Coptic patriarch, there is a Greek patriarch in Egypt; but the church which he rules is in a declining state.
Christianity flourishes more in Abyssinia than in Egypt, because the sovereign is himself a Christian.
The hopes of restoring the Romish worship in that empire were entertained by pope Innocent XII., who was encouraged in his views for that purpose by Louis XIV. The Jesuits were eager to obtain the honor of this employment; and Poncet, a French apothecary, was sent from Cairo by the consul Maillet, with Brevedent, a respectable member of the former fraternity. The latter died in Abyssinia; but M. Poncet was introduced to the king (Yasous I.), whom, however, he did not find willing to become a convert, or to suffer his people to re-embrace catholicism. M. du Roule was afterwards deputed to the same court: but he had scarcely reached Sennaar, in 1704, when he was murdered by the natives, at the instigation of the Franciscans, who were disgusted at seeing the Abyssinian mission in the hands of the Jesuits. Oustas, who usurped the throne in 1709, was well affected to the Romish system, and secretly communed with those Franciscans who yet remained in the country: but he did
not attempt to influence the consciences of his people. David, who succeeded him in 1714, ordered three of those strangers to be apprehended; and, being condemned as heretics in an assembly of the clergy, they were stoned to death h.
Another convocation followed, which led to intes tine commotions. A new abuna or metropolitan announced to the clergy his idea of the consubstantiality of Christ ; an opinion contrary to that which had been proclaimed at the gate of the palace. The ecclesiastics of his party, elate with their supposed triumph, insulted the emperor and his court by songs and shouts; for which offence, above a hundred of them were instantly massacred by a body of pagan soldiers, and the streets of the capital were filled with slaughter. During several subsequent reigns, the af. fairs of the Abyssinian church were not so important as to claim our notice. With regard to the ambassy prepared by pope Benedict XIV. for the purpose of effecting a reconciliation with that church, it may suffice to observe, that it was an abortive attempt.
The state of this church, during the eighteenth century, was less corrupt and degenerate than the Jesuit missionaries represented it. It was said, that a repetition of baptism was annually administered to all adults; but this assertion has been disproved, or, at least, strongly denied. It was also imputed to the priests that they gave the eucharist improperly. They do not, indeed, make use of words so fully expressive of a belief in transubstantiation, as those of the Romish ecclesiastics : but that point reflects not the least discredit upon them.
h Bruce's Travels to discover the Source of the Nile, book iv.,
i The abuna represented Christ as being "one God, of the Father alone, united to a body perfectly luman, consubstantial with ours, and by that union becoming the Messiah.” The emperor maintained, that the Redeemer was “ perfect God and perfect man, by the union one Christ, whose body was composed of a precious substance called bahery, not consubstantial with ours, or derived from his mother." "Neither of these opinions will be deemed strictly orthodox by sound divines.
When Mr. Bruce visited Abyssinia, he was surprised at the extraordinary number of churches in that empire. These were erected near running water, for the convenience of those ablutions which the people practised according to the Levitical law. The walls were almost covered with pictures of saints or other representations; but no figures embossed or in relievo were exhibited; for they considered the use of these as a species of idolatry. Each parish had an arch-priest, who superintended both its spiritual and secular concerns. The priests and deacons were allowed to marry ; but the monks, who occupied huts near the churches, were required to live in a state of celibacy. The reading of Scripture, and recitation of homilies of the fathers, formed, beside the eucharist, the chief portions of divine service.
History of the Ecclesiastical Communities of the Lutherans and
A SENSE of religion seems to be impressed on the minds of all nations, even the most rude and unci. vilised : but, as it appeals less to the external senses than to the mind and the heart, its nature renders it peculiarly liable to dispute. The attributes of the Deity, the mode in which he governs the world, and interferes in the concerns of mortals, give occasion for varieties of sentiment, among those who are unwilling to suppose that God ever revealed his will to mankind; and, even where revelation is believed and fully admitted, many doubts arise, and diverse opinions are entertained and defended. Persons who agree in essential points, differ in those of less moment, and contend, as pro aris et focis, with all the vehemence of animosity, and all the bitterness of zeal. Hence, among the opposers of popery, who, in one sense,