« הקודםהמשך »
uch Chris? it is weerficial
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 gospel, in order to render it more universally palatable, and to increase the number of their ambiguous converts. III. 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 manTamerlinese or ner of promoting the cause of the gospel, by perallowing the mitting the new converts to observe the religious
ir rites and customs of their ancestors. This ques
tion was decided to the disadvantage of the mis
Christians to observe their ancient rites.
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, to 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.
the year 1710. Mazzabarba, though more cautious an prudent, yet returned home without having succeeded i his negotiation; nor could the emperor be engaged, b either arguments or entreaties, to make any alteration in th institutions and customs of his ancestors. At present thi state of Christianity in China being extremely precarious and uncertain, this famous controversy is entirely suspended; 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 Protestant present century, by the English and Dutch, and missions. 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
all that the chean watepected for the Die 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
O b Tournon had 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. After his return, the latter was promoted to the bishopric of Lodi, a preferment which, though inferior in point of station to his imaginary patriarchate, was yet more valuable in point of ease and profit. See a fuller account of this mission in Dr. Moshiem's ' Adthentic Memoirs of the Christian Church in China,' p. 26, &c. N.
Private ene mi-s of the
ready, than the protestant doctors, to admit into their communion proselytes, who have nothing of Christianity hus. the name.
We have but imperfect accounts of the labours of this Russian clergy, the greatest part of whom lie yet involve in that gross ignorance that covered the most unenlighie. ed ages of the church. We learn nevertheless from modern records of that nation, that some of their docto* have employed, with a certain degree of success, their zeal and industry in sprealling the light of the gospel in those provinces that lie in the neighbourhood of Siberia.
v. While the missionaries now mentioned exposed themselves to the greatest dangers and sufferings, in order to diffuse the light of divine truth in these remote and darkened nations, there arose in Eu- gospel. rope, where the gospel had obtained a stable footing, a multitude of adversaries, who shut their eyes upon its excellence, and endeavoured to eclipse its immortal lustre. There is no country in Europe where infidelity has not exhaled its poison ; and scarcely any denomination of Christians among whom we may not find several persons, who either aim at the total extinction of all religion, or at least endeavour to invalidate the authority of the Christian sys. tem. Some carry on these unhappy attempts in an open manner, others under the mask of a Christian profession: but nowhere have these enemies of the purest religi, and consequently of mankind, whom it was desigved in render wise and happy, appeared with more effrontery ang insolence, than under the free governments of Great Bri tain and the United Provinces. In England, more especially, it is not uncommon to meet with books, in which :10t only the doctrines of the gospel, but also the perfections of the Deity, and the solemn obiigations of piety and virtue, are impudently called in question, and turned into der
Fc This observation, and the examples by which it is supported in the follor sentence, stand in need of some correction, Many books have indeed been pubis in England against the divinity, both of the Jewish and Christian dispensations ; ; is justly to we lamented, that the inestimable blessing of religious liberty, which is wise and good have improved to the glory of Christianity, by setting its doctrinesti precepts in a rational light, and bringing them back to their primitive simplicity, been so far abused, by the pride of some, and the ignorance and licentiousness of as to excite an opposition to the Christian system, which is both designed and adap! lead men, through the paths of wisdom and virtue, to happiness and perfection. nevertheless carefully to be observed, that the most eminent of the English unbelie were far from renouncing, at least in their writings and profession, the truths of woái they call natural religion, or denying the unchangeable excellence and obligations of virtug
sion. Such impious productions have cast a deserved reproach on the names and memories of Toland, Collins, Tindal, and Woolston, a man of an inauspicious genius, who made the most audacious, though senseless attempts, to invalidate the miracles of Christ. Add to these Morgan, Chubb, Mandeville, and others. And writers of the same class will soon be found in all the countries of Europe, particularly in those where the reformation has introduced a spirit of liberty, if mercenary booksellers are still allowed to publish, without distinction or reserve, every wretched production that is addressed to the passions of men, and designed to obliterate in their minds a sense of religion and virtue.
vi. The sect of atheists, by which, in strictness of speech, Atheists and those only are to be meant who deny the existDeists. ence and moral government of an infinitely wise and powerful Being, by.whom all things subsist, is reduced to a very small number, and may be considered as almost totally extinct. Any that yet remain under the influence of this unaccountable delusion, adopt the system of Spinoza, and suppose the universe to be one vast substance, which excites and produces a great variety of motions, all uncontrollably necessary, by a sort of internal force, which they carefully avoid defining with perspicuity and precision.
The Deists, under which general denomination those are comprehended who deny the divine origin of the gospel in particular, and are enemies to all revealed religion in general, form a motley tribe, which, on account of their jarring opinions, may be divided into different classes. The most decent, or, to use a more proper expression, the least extravagant and insipid form of deism, is that which aims at an association between Christianity and natural religion, and represents the gospel as no more than a republication of the original law of nature and reason, that was more or less obliterated in the minds of men. This is the hypothesis of Tindal, Chubb, Mandeville, Morgan, and several others, if we are to give credit to their own declarations, which indeed ought not always to be done without caution. This also appears to have been the sentiment
and morality. Dr. Mosheim is more especially mistaken, when he places Collins, Tindal, Morgan, and Chubb, in the list of those who called in question the perfections of the Deity, and the obligations of virtue ; it was sufficient to put Mandeville, Woolston, and Toland, in this infamous class.