« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
themselves, a consistent scheme of falsehood, and by an appeal to forged miracles to impose it upon the world as a revelation from heaven. The object of the former miracles is worthy of a God of infinite wisdom, goodness, and power; the object of the latter is absolutely inconsistent with wisdom and goodness, which are demonstrably attributcs of that Being by whom alone miracles can be performed. Whence it follows, that the supposition of the apostles bearing false testimony to the miracles of their Master, implies a series of deviations from the laws of nature infinitely less probable in themselves than those miracles: and therefore, by Mr. Hume's maxim, we mn3t necessarily reject the supposition of falsehood in the testimony, and admit the reality of the miracles. So true it is, that for the reality of the Gospel miracles we have evidence as convincing to the reflecting mind as those had who were contemporary with Christ and his apostles, and were actual witnesses to their mighty works."
The power of working miracles is supposed by some to have been continued no longer than the apostles' days. Others think that it was continued long after. It seems pretty clear, however, that miracles universally ceased before Chrysostom's time. As for what Augustine says of those wrought at the tombs of the martyrs, and some other places, in his time, the evidence is not always so convincing as might be desired in facts of importance. The controversy concerning the lime when miraculous powers ceased was carried on by Dr. Middleton, in his Free Enquiry into the Miraculous Powers, &c. by Mr. Yate, Mr. Toll, and others, who suppose that miracles ceased with the apostles. On the contrary side appeared Dr. Stebbing. Dr. Chapman, Mr. Parker, Mr. Brooke, and others.
As to the miracles of the Romish church, it is evident, as Doddridge observes, that many of them were ridiculous tales, according to their own historians; others were performed without any credible witnesses, or in circum stances where the performer had the greatest opportunity of juggling; and it is particularly remarkable, that they were hardly ever wrought where they seem most necessary, i. e. in countries where those doctrines are renounced which that church esteems of the highest importance. See Fleetwood, Clarapede, Conubeare, Campbell, Lardner, Farmer, Adams, and Weston, on Miracles, article Miracle, F,nc. Brit. Dod
dridge's Lect. lee. 101 and 135; Lcland's View of Deistical Writers, letter 3, 4, 7; Hurrion on the Sftirit, p. 299, Sec.
MIRTH, joy, gaiety, merriment. It is distinguished from cheerfulness thus: Mirth is considered as an act; cheer, fulness an habit of the mind. Mirth is short and transient; cheerfulness fixed and permanent. *' Those are often raised into the Rreatest transports of mirth who are subject to the greatest depressions of melancholy; on the contrary, cheerfulness, though it does not give such an exquisite gladness, prevents us from falling into any depths of sorrow. Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment; cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity." Mirth is sinful, 1. When men rejoice in that which is evil. 2. When unreasonable. 3. When tending to commit sin. 4. When a hindrance to duty. 5. When it is blasphemous and profane.
MISANTHROPIST, umtttpnt, a hater of mankind; one that abandons societv from a principle of discontent. The consideration of the depravity of human nature is certainly enough to raise emotions of sorrow in the breast of every man of the least sensibility; yet it is our duty to bear with the follies of mankind; to exercise a degree of candour consistent with truth; to lessen, if possible, by our exertions, the sum of moral and natural evil; and by connecting ourselves with society, to add at least something to the general interests of mankind. The misanthropist, therefore, is an ungenerous and dishonourable character. Disgusted with life, he seeks a retreat from it: like a coward, he flees from the scene of action, while he increases his own misery by his natural discontent, and leaves others to do what they can for themselves.
The following is his character more at large.
"He is a man," says Saurin, "who avoids society only to free himself from the trouble of being' useful to it. He is a man, who considers his neighbours only on the side of their defects, not knowing the art of combining their virtues with their vices, and of rendering the imperfections of other people tolerable by reflecting on his own. He is * man more employed in finding out and inflicting punishments on the guilty than in devising means to reform them. He is a man.'wl-.o talks of nothing but banishing and executing, and who, because
he thinks his talents are not sufficiently valued and employed by liis fellow-citizens, or rather because they know his foibles, and do not choose to be subject to his caprice, talks of quitting cities, towns, and societies, and of living in dens or deserts."
MISER, a term formerly used in reference to a person in wretchedness or calamity; but now denotes a parsimonious person, or one who is covetous to extremity; who denies himself even the comforts of life to accumulate wealth. Avarice, saya Saurin, may be considered in two different points of light. It may be considered in those men, or rather those public bloodsuckers, or, as the officers of the Roman emperor Vespasian were called, those sponges of society, who, infatuated with this passion, seek after riches as the supreme good, determine to acquire it by any methods, aod consider the ways that lead to wealth, legal or illegal, as the only road for them to travel.
Avarice, however, must be considered in a second point of light. It not i only consists in committing bold crimes, but in entertaining mean ideas and practising low methods, incompatible with such magnanimity as oar condition ought to inspire. It consists not only hi omitting to serve God, but in tryinR to associate the service of God with that of mammon.
How many forms doth avarice take to disguise itself from the man who is guilty of it, and who will be drenched in the guilt of it till the day he dies! Sometimes it is /irudence which requires him to provide not only for his present wants, but for such as he may have in future. Sometimes it iscliarity which requires him not to give society examples of prodigality and parade. Sometimes it is parental love obliging him to save something for his children. Sometimes it is circumspection, which requires him not to supply people who make an ill use of what they get. Sometimes it is necessity, which obliges him to repel artifice by artifice. Sometimes it is conscience, which convinces him, good man, that he hath already exceeded in compassion and alms-giving, and done too much. Sometimes it is equity, for justice requires that every one should, enjoy the fruit of his own labours, and those of Ii is ancestors.— Such, alas 1 are the awful pretexts and subterfuges of the miser. Saurin's Ser. vol. v. ser. 12. See Avarice, CovetOusness.
MISERY, such a str.te of wretchedness, unhappiness, or calamity, as
renders a person an object ofcouipav si on.
MISCHNA, or Misna (frnmnw. iteravit,) a part of the Jewish Talmud.
The Mischna contains the text; and the Gemara, which is the second part of the Talmud, contains the commentaries: so that the Gemara is, as it were, a glossary on the Mischna.
The Mischna consists of various traditions of the Jews, and of explanations of several passages of Scripture: these traditions serving as an explication of the written law, and supplement to it, are said to have been delivered to Moses during the time of his abode on the Mount; which he afterwards communicated to Aaron, Eleazar, and his servant Joshua. By these- they were transmitted to the seventy elders; by them to the prophets, who communicated them to the men of the great sanhedrim, from whom the wise men of Jerusalem and Babylon received them. According to Prideaux's account, they passed from Jeremiah to Baruch, from him to Ezra, and from Eztb to the men of the i;reat synagogue, the last of whom was Simon the Just, who delivered them to Antigonus of Sncho: and from him they came down in regular succession to Simeon, who took our Saviour in his arms ; to Gamaliel, at whose feet Paul was educated; and last of all, to Rabbi Judah the Holy, who committed them to writing in the Mischna. But Dr. Prideaux, rejecting the Jewish fiction, observes, that after the death of Simon the Just, about 299 years before Christ, the Mischnical doctors arose, who by their comments and conclusions added to the number of those traditions which had been received and allowed by Ezra and the- men of the great synagogue; so that towards the middle of the second century after Christ, under the empire cf Antoninus Pius, it was found necessary to commit these traditions to writing; more especially as their country had considerably suffered under Adrian, and many of their schools had been dissolved, and their learned men cut off; and therefore the usual method of preserving their traditions had failed. Rabbi Judah on this occasion being rector of the school of Tiberias, and president of the sanhedrim in that place, undertook the work, and compiled it in six books, each consisting of several tracts, which altogether make up the number of sixtv-three. Prid. Conner, vol. ii. p. 463, ike.ed. 9, This learned author computes, that the Mischna was composed about the l.wih year of our Lord; but Dr. Lighifoot says that the Ralibi Judah compiled the Mischna about the year of Christ 190, in the latter end of the reign of Commodus ; or, as some compute, in the year of Christ 220. Dr. Lardner is of opinion that this work could not have been finished before the year 190, or later. Collection of Jewish and Heathen Testimonies, vol. i. p. 178. Thus the book called the Mischna was formed ; a book which the Jews have generally received with the greatest veneration. The original has been published with a Latin translation by Surenhusius, with notes of his own and others from the learned Maimonides, &c. in six vols. fol. Amster. A. D. 1G98—1TC3. See TalMud. It is written in a much purer style, and is not near so full of dreams and visions as the Gemara.
MISREPRESENTATION, the act of wilfully representing a thing otherwise than it is. "This," as an elegant writer observes, " is one of the greatest mischiefs of conversation. Self-love is continually at work to give to all we say a bias in our own favour. How often in society, otherwise respectable, are we pained with narrations in which prejudice warps, and self-love blinds!—How often do we see that withholding part of a truth answers the worst ends of a falsehood! How often regret the unfair turn given to a cause, by placing a sentiment in one point of view, which the speaker had used in another! the letter of truth preserved, where its spirit is violated! a superstitious exactness scrupulous'v maintained in the under parts of u detail, in order to impress such an ideac/t integrity as shall gain credit for the ;ni*repivsenter, while he is designedly mistaking the leading principle! How may we observe a new character given to a fact by a different look, tone, or emphasis, which alters it as much as words could have done! the false impression of a sermon conveyed, when we do not like the preacher, or when through him we wish to make religion itself ridiculous! the care to avoid literal untruths, while the mischief is better effected by the unfair quotation of a passage divested of its context! the bringing together detached portions of a subject, and nuking those parts ludicroifc. when connected, which were serious in their distinct position! the insidious use made of a sentiment by representing it as the o/iinion of him who l.ad only brought it forward in order to expose it! the relating opinions which had merely been put hypothetically, as if they were the avowed principles of him we would discredit! that subtle
falsehood which is so made to incorporate with a certain quantity of truth, that the most skilful moral chemist cannot analyse or separate them! for a good misrefiresenter knows that a successful lie must have a certain infusion of truth, or it will not go down. And this amalgamation is the test of his skill; as too much truth would defeat the end of his mischief, and too little would destroy the belief of the hearer. All that indefinable ambiguity and equivocation; all that prudent deceit, which is rather implied than expressed; those more delicate artifices of the school of Loyal a and of Chesterfield, which allow us, when we dare not deny a truth, yet so to disguise and discolour it, that the truth we relate shall not resemble the truth we heard; these, and all the thousand shades of simulation and dissimulation, will be carefully guarded against in the conversation of vigilant Christians."— Miss H. More on Ednc: vol. ii. p. 91.
MISSAL, the Homish mass-book, containing the several masses to be said on particular days. It is derived from the Latin word missa. which in the ancient Christian church signified every part of divine service.
MISSION, a power or commission to preach the Gospel. Thus Jesus Christ gave his disciples their mission, when he said, " go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." See next article.
MISSION, an establishment of people zealous for the glory of God and th« salvation of Souib, who go and preach the Gospel in remote countries, r.nd among infidels. No man possessed of the least degree of feeling or compassion for the human race can deny the necessity and utility of Christian missions. Whoever considers that the major part of the world is enveloped in the grossest darkness, bound with the chains of savage barbarity, and immersed in tile awful chaos of brutal ignorance, must, if he be not destitute of every principle of religion and humanity, concur with the design and applaud the principles of those who engage in so henevolent a work. We shall not, however, in this place, enter into a defence of missions, but shall present the reader with a short view of those that have been established.
In the sixteenth century, the Romish
church particularly exerted herself for
the propagation of their religion. The
Portuguese and Spaniards pretend tr>
| have done mighty exploits in the spread
1 of the Christian fairh in Asia, Africa,
and America; bat. when we consider the loperstitionstbey imposed on some, and the dreadful c rod ties they i-.fficted co other*, it mere thai counterbalances any rood that was done. For a time, the Dominicans, Franciscans and other religious orders, were very zealous hi the conversion of the heathen; but the Jesuits out did them all in their attempts in the conversion of African, Asian, and American infidels. Xavier spread some hints of the Romish religion through the Portuguese settlements in the East Indies, through most of the Indian continent, and of Ceylon. In 1549 he sailed to Japan, and laid the foundation of a church there, which at one time was said to bare consisted of about 600,050 Christians. After him, others penetrated into China, and founded a church which continued about 170years. About 1580, others penetrated into Chili and Peru, in South America, and converted the natives. Others bestirred themselves to convert the Greeks, Nestorians, Mnnophysites, Abyssinians, tbe Egyptian Copts. "It is, however," as one observes, "a matter of doubt whether the disciples of a Xavier, or the converts of a Loyola and Dominic, with their partisans of the Romish church, should be admitted among the number of Christians,ar their labours be thought to have contributed to the promotion or to the hindrance of tbe religion of Christ. Certain it is. that the methods these men pursued tended much more to make disciples to themselves and the pontiffs of Home, than to form the mind to the reception of evangelical truth." With ardent zeal, however, and unwearied industry, these apostles laInured in this work. In 1622 we find the pope established a congregation of cardinals, de. propaganda fide, and endowed it with ample revenues, and everv thing which could forward the missions was liberally supplied. In 1627, also. Urban added the college for the propagation of the faith ; in which missionaries were taught the languages of the countries to which they were to be sent. France copied the example of Rome, and formed on establishment for the same purposes. The Jesuits claimed the first rank, as due to their zeal, learning, and devotedness to the holy see. The Dominicans, Franciscans, and others, disputed the ps-.lm with them. The new world and the Asiatic regions were, the chief field of their labours. They penetrated into the uncultivated recesses of America. They visited the uutried regions of Siam, '1 onquin, and <'ochm China. Thev entered the vast
empire of China itself, and numbered millions among their converts. Thev dared affront the dangers of the tyrannical government of Japan. In India they assumed the garb and austerities of the Brahmins, and boasted on the coasts of Malabar of a thousand converts baptised in one year by a tingle missionary. Their sufferings however, were very great, and in China and Japan they were exposed to the mest dreadful persecutions, and many thousands were cut off, with, at last, a final expulsion from the empires. In Africa the Capuchins were chiefly employed, though it does not appear that they had any considerable success. And in America their laborious exertions have had but little influence, we fear to promote the real conversion of the natives to the troth.
In the year 1621, the Dutch opened a church io tbe city of Batavia, and from hence ministers were sent to Amboyna. At Leyden, ministers and assistants were educated for the purpose of missions under the famous Walcus, and sent into the East, where thousands embraced the Christian religion at Formosa, Columba, Java, Malabar, Sec. and though the work declined in some places, yet there are still churches In Ceylon, Sumatra, Amboyna, Sec.
About 1705, Frederick IV. of Denmark, applied to the university of Halle, in Germany, for missionaries to preach the Gospel on the coast of Malabar, in tbe East Indies; and Messrs.Ziegenbalg and Plutsche were the first employed on this important mission; to them others were, soon added, who laboured with considerable succss. It is said that upwards of 18,000 Gentoos have been brought to the profession of Christianity.
A great work has b?en carried on among the Indian nations in North America One of the first and most eminent instruments in this work was the excellent Mr. Elliott, commonly called the Indian apostle, who, from the time of his going to New England, in 1631, to his death, in 1690, devoted himself to this great work by his lips and pen, translating the Bible and other books into the natic dialect. Some years after this, Thomas Mahew, esq. governor and patentee of the islands of Martha's Vineyard, and some neighbouring islands, greatly exerted himself in the attempt to convert the Indians in that part of America. His son John gathered and founded an Indian church.which, after his death, not being able to pay a minister, the old gentleman himself, at seventy years of age, became their instructor for more than twenty years, and bit grandson and great grandson both succeeded him in the same work. Mr. D. Brainard was also a truly pious and successful missionary among the Susquehannah and Delaware Indians. His journal contains instances of very extraordinary conversions.
But the Moravians have exceeded all in their missionary exertions. They have various missions: at\d. by their persevering zeal, it is said, upwards of 23,000 of the most destitute of mankind, in different regions of the earth, ihave been brought to the knowledge of the truth. Vast numbers in the Danish islands of St. Thomas, St. lau, and St. Croix, and the English islands of Jamaica, Antigua, Nevis, Barbadoes, St. Kitts, and Tobago, have by their ministry been called to worship God in spirit and in truth. In the inhospitable climes of Greenland and Labradorc they have met with wonderful success, after undergoing the most astonishing dangers and difficulties. The Arrowack Indians, and the negroes of Surinam and Berbice, have been collected into bodies of faithful people by them, Canada and the United States of North America, have, by their instrumentality, afforded happy evidences of the power of the Gospel. Even those esteemed, the last cf human brings, forbrutishness and ignorance, the Hottentots, have been formed into their societies; and upwards of seven hundred are said to be worshipping God at Bavian's Clonf, near the Cape of Good Hope. We might also mention their efforts to illumine the distant East, the coast of Coromamlel, and the Nicotar islands; their attempts to penetrate into Abyssinia, to carry the Gnspel to Persia and Egypt, and to ascend the mountains of Caucasus. In fact, where shall we find the men who have lab urtd as these have! Their invincible patience, their well -regulated zeal, their self-denial, their constant prudence, deserve the meed of highest approbation. Nor are they wearied in so honourable a service; for they have numerous missionaries still employed in different parts of the world. See Moravians.
Good has been also done bv the IVesleyan Methodists, who are certainly not the least in missionary work. They have several missionaries in the British dominions in America and in the West Indies. They have some thousands of members in their societies in those parts, See Methodists.
In 17*1. n society was Instituted
among the Ba/uisis, called, "The Particular Baptist Scciety for propagating the Gospel among the Heathen;" under the auspices of which missionaries were sent to India, and favourable accounts of their success have been received. We leam, with pleasure, that through their indefatigable industry, the New Testament, and part of the Bible have been translated and printed in the Bengalee \ and that parts of the Scriptures have been translated into ten of the languages spoken in the East. See Periodical Accounts of this society.
In the year 1795, The London Missionary Society was formed.—This is not confined to one body of people, but consists of Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Seceders, Methodists, and Independents, who hold an annual meeting in London in May. As the state of this society is before the public, it would be unnecessary here to enlarge; suffice it to say, that it is now on the mast permanent and respectable footing, "It has assumed consistency and order; it combines integrity of character, fortitude of mind, and fixedness of resolution, with a continued progression of effort for the exalted purpose of presenting the doctrines of the blessed Gospel to the acceptance of the perishing heathen, and of exhibiting an uncorrupt example of their tendencies and effects in their own characters and conduct."
Besides the above-mentioned societies, others have been formed of less note. In 1699, a society was instituted in England for firomoting Christian Knowledge. In 1701, another was formed for the propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts. In Scotland, about the year 1700, a society was instituted for iheProftagation of Christian Knowledge Recently, some clergymen of the established church have formed one among themselves. Societies for spreading the Gospel also have been instituted in various other places. From the whole, it seems evident that the light and knowledge of the glorious Gospel will be more diffused than ever throughout the earth. And, who is there that has any concern for the souls of men, any love for truth and religion, but what must rejoice at the formation, number, and success of those institutions, which have not the mere temporal concerns cf men, but their" everlasting welfare as their object! My heart overflows with joy, and mine eyes with tears, when I consider the happy and extensive effects which are likely to take place. The untutored mind will receive the peaceful principles of religion and virtue; thr savage barbarian