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Jacob Boehmer, whom he admired, in obscurity and nonsense ; and, instead of imparting instruction to his readers, did no more than excite in them a stupid kind of awe by a high-sounding jingle of pompous worus

i See Jo. Woll. Jaegeri Historia Sacra et Civilis Sæc. xvii. Decenn. I. p. 90. Petri Poireti Bibliotheca Myslycor. p. 161, 174, 233, 286.

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SHORT VIEW, OR GENERAL SKETCH

OF THE

ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY

OF THE

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

Introductory

1. The history of the Christian church, during the present age, instead of a few pages, would alone require a volume, such are the number and impor- observation. tance of the materials that it exhibits to an attentive inquirer. It is therefore to be hoped that, in due time, some able and impartial writer will employ his labours on this interesting subject. At the same time, to render the present work as complete as possible, and to give a certain clue, to direct those who teach or who study ecclesiastical history, through a multitude of facts that have not yet been gathered together, and digested into a regular order, we shall draw here a general sketch that will exhibit the principal outlines of the state of religion since the commencement of the present century: That this sketch may not swell to too great a size, we shall omit the mention of the authors who have furnished materials for this period of church history. Those that are acquainted with modern literature must know, that there innumerable productions extant, from whence such a variety of lines and colours might be taken, as would render this rough and general draught a complete and finished piece.

11. The doctrines of Christianity have been propagated in Asia, Africa, and America, with equal zeal, concerning both by the Protestant and Popish missionaries. the per But we cannot say the same thing of the true spi- en eau chada rit of the gospel, or of the religious discipline andere la version institutions that it recommends to the observance in particular. of Christians; for it is an undeniable fact, that many

of

those whom the Romish missionaries have persuaded to renounce their false gods, are Christians only as far as an external profession and certain religious ceremonies go; and that, instead of departing from the superstitions of their ancestors, they observe them still, though under a different form. We have indeed pompous accounts of the mighty success with which the ministry of the Jesuits has been attended among the barbarous and unenlightened nations ; and the French Jesuits in particular are said to have converted innumerable multitudes in the course of their missions. This perhaps cannot be altogether denied, if we are to call those converts to Christianity who have received some faint and superficial notions of the doctrines of the gospel; for it is well known, that several congregations of such Christians have been formed by the Jesuits in the East Indies, and more especially in the kingdoms of Carnate, Madura, and Marava, on the coast of Malabar, in the kingdom of Tonquin, the Chinese empire, and also in certain provinces of America. These conversions have, in outward appearance, been carried on with particular success, since Anthony Veri has had the direction of the foreign missions, and has taken such especial care that neither hands should be wanting for this spiritual harvest, nor any expenses spared that might be necessary to the execution of such an arduous and important undertaking. But these pretended conversions, instead of effacing the infamy under which the Jesuits labour, in consequence of the iniquitous conduct of their missionaries in former

ages,

have only served to augment it, and to show their designs and practices in a still more odious point of light. For they are known to be much more zealous in satisfying the demands of their avarice and ambition, than in promoting the cause of Christ; and are said to corrupt and modify, by a variety of inventions, the pure doctrine of the in order to render it more universally palatable, and to increase the number of their ambiguous converts. 11. A famous question arose in this century, which made

a great noise in the Romish church, relating to The famous the conduct of the Jesuits in China, and their manla fruges of ner of promoting the cause of the gospel, by per

mitting the new converts to observe the religious Christians ! rites and customs of their ancestors. This quesanebent rites. tion was decided to the disadvantage of the mis

gospel,

contest rela

Chinese

sionaries, in the year 1704, by Clement XI. who, by a solemn edict, forbad the Chinese Christians to practise the religious rites of their ancestors, and more especially those that are celebrated by the Chinese in honour of their deceased parents, and of their great lawgiver Confucius.This severe edict was nevertheless considerably mitigated, , in the year 1715, in order to appease, no doubt, the resentment of the Jesuits, whom it exasperated in the highest degree. For the pontiff allowed the missionaries to make use of the word tien, to express the divine nature, with the addition of the word tchu, to remove its ambiguity, and make it evident, that it was not the heaven, but the Lord of heaven, that the Christian doctors worshipped ;a he also permitted the observance of those rites and ceremonies that had so highly offended the adversaries of the Jesuits, on condition that they should be considered merely as marks of respect to their parents, and as tokens of civil homage to their lawgivers, without being abused to the purposes of superstition, or even being viewed in a religious point of light. In consequence of this second papal edict, the Chinese converts to Christianity are allowed considerable liberties; among other things, they have in their houses tablets, on which the names of their ancestors, and particularly of Confucius, are written in golden letters; they are allowed to light candles before these tablets, tó make offerings to them of rich perfumes, victuals, fruits, and other delicacies, nay, to prostrate the body before them until the head touches the ground. The same ceremony of prostration is performed by the Chinese Christians at the tombs of their ancestors.

The first of these papal edicts, which was designed to prevent the motley mixture of Chinese superstition with the religious institutions of Christianity, was brought into China, in the year 1705, by cardinal Tournon, the pope's legate; and the second, which was of a more indulgent nature, was sent, in the year 1721, with Mezzabarba, who went to China with the same character. Neither the emperor nor the Jesuits were satisfied with these edicts. Tournon, who executed the orders of his ghostly master with more zeal than prudence, was, by the express command of the emperor, thrown into prison, where he died in

a Tien Tchu signifies the Lord of Heaven.

24

VOL. IV.

Protestant missions.

the year 1710. Mazzabarba, though more cautious and prudent, yet returned home without having succeeded in his negotiation ; nor could the emperor be engaged, by fither arguments or entreaties, to make any alteration in the insututions and customs of his ancestors. At present the state of Christianity in China being extremely precarious and uncertain, this famous controversy is entirely sus. pended; and many reasons induce us to think, that both the pontiffs and the enemies of the Jesuits will unite in permitting the latter to depart from the rigour of the papal edicts, and to follow their own artful and insinuating methods of conversion. For they will both esteem it expedient and lawful to submit to many inconveniences and abuses, rather than to risk the entire suppression of popery in China. iv. The attempts made since the commencement of the

present century, by the English and Dutch, and

more especially by the former, to diffuse the light of Christianity through the benighted regions of Asia and America, have been carried on with more assiduity and zeal than in the preceding age. That the Lutherans have borne their part in this salutary work, appears abundantly from the Danish mission, planted with such piety, in the year 1706, by Frederic IV. for the conversion of the Indians that inhabit the coast of Malabar, and attended with such remarkable success. This noble establishment, which surpasses all that have been yet erected for the propagation of the gospel, not only subsists still in a flourishing state, but acquires daily new degrees of perfection under the auspicious and munificent patronage of that excellent monarch Christian VI. We will indeed readily grant, that the converts to Christianity that are made by the Danish missionaries, are less numerous than those which we find in the lists of the popish legates ; but it may be affirmed, at the same time, that they are much better Christians, and far excel the latter in the sincerity and zeal that accompany their profession. There is a great difference between Christians in reality and Christians in appearance; and it is very certain, that the popish missionaries are much more

IT b Tournon bad been made, by the pope, patriarch of Antioch ; and Mezzabarba, to add a certain degree of weight to his mission, was created patriarch of Alexandria. - fter his return, the latter was promoted to the bishopric of Lodi, a preferment which, Dough inferior in point of station to bis imaginary patriarchate, was yet more valuable u point of ease and profit. See a fuller account of this mission in Dr. Moshiem's 'Authentic Memoirs of the Christian Church in China,' p. 26, &c. N.

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