« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
the institutions and customs of his ancestors  CENT
XVIII. At present the state of Christianity in China being extremely precarious and uncertain, this famous controversy is entirely suspended; and many reasons induce us to ink, that both the puntiffs 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 commence- Protestant ment of the present century, by the English and missions. 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, planned 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
 Tournon had been made, by the Pope, Patriach of Antioch ; and ME Z ZABARBA, 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 mis.ion in Dr Mosheim's authentic Memoirs of the Christian Church in China, p. 26. &c. N.
CENT. that excellent monarch CHRISTIAN VI. We XVIII.
will, indeed, readily grant, that the converts to Christianity that are made by the Danish mis. sionaries, are less numerous than those which we find in the lists of the Pop'sh 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 ready, than the Protestant doctors, to admit into their communion proselytes, who have nothing of Christianity but the name.
We have but imperfect accounts of the labours of the Russian clergy, the greatest part of whom lie yet involved in that gross ignorance that covered the most unenlightened ages of the church. We learn, nevertheless, from the modern records of that nation, that some of their doctors have employed, with a certain degree of success, their zeal and industry in spreading the light of the Gospel in those provinces that lie in the neigbour.
hood of Siberia. Private V. While the missionaries now mentioned ex. enemies of posed themselves to the greatest dangers and sufthe Gospel.
ferings, in order to diffuse the light of divine truth in these remote and darkened nations, there arose in Europe, 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 Chris. tians among whom we inay 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 system. Some carry on these unhappy attempts in an open manner,
others under the mask of a Christian profession ; CENT. but no where have these enemies of the purest religion, and consequently of mankind, whom it was designed to render wise and happy, appeared with more effrontery and insolence, than under the free governments of Great Britain and the United Provinces. In England, more especially, it is not uncommon to meet with books in which not only the doctrines of the Gospel, but also the perfections of the Deity, and the solemn obligations of piety and virtue, are impudently called in question, and turned into derision (C). 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 iniracles of Christ. Add to these MORGAN, CHUBB MANDEVILLE, and others. And writers of the same class
[c] This observation, and the examples by which it is supported in the following sentence, stand in need of some correction. Many books have, in eed, been published in England against the divinity, both of the Jewish and Christian dispensations; and it is justly to be lamented, that the inestimable blessing of religious liberty, which the wise and good have improved to the glory of Christianity, by setting its doctrines and precepts in a rational light, and bringing them back to their primitive simplicity, has been so far abused by the pride of some, and the ignorance and licentiousness of others, as to excite an opposition to the Christian system, which is both designed and adapted to lead men, through the paths of wisdom and virtue, to happiness and perfection. It is, nevertheless, carefully to be observed, that the most eminent of the English unbelievers were far from renouncing, at least in their writings and profession, the truths of what they call natural religion, or denying the unchangeable excellence and obligations of virtue 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.
CENT. will be soon found in all the countries of Europe, XVIII.
particularly in those where the Reformation hasintroduced 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 obli. terate in their minds a sense of religion and
virtue. Atheistsand VI. The sect of Atheists, by which, in strictness Deists. of speech, those only are to be meant who deny
the existence 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 uncontroulably 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 motely tribe, which, on account of their jarring opinions, may be divided into different classes. The most de. cent, 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 obli.terated in the minds of men. This is the hypo, thesis 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 of an ingeni.
ous writer, whose eloquence has been ill employed CENT. in a book, entitled, Essential Religion distinguished
♡ XVIII. from that which is only Accessory [d]; for the whole religious system of this author consists in the three following points:--That there is a Godthat the world is governed by his wife providenceand that the foul is immortal; and he maintains, that it was to establish these three points by his ministry, that Jesus Christ came into the world.
VII. The church of Rome has been governed, The Ro. since the commencement of this century, by CLE, mish church
-and its NENT XI. INNOCENT XIII. BENEDICT XIII. pontiffs, CLEMENT XII. and BENEDICT XIV., who may be all considered as men of eminent wisdom, virtue, and learning, if we compare them with the pontiffs of the preceding ages. CLEMENT XI., and PROSPER LAMBERTINI, who at present fills the papal chair under the title of BENEDICT XIV. [e], stand much higher in the list of literary fame than the other pontiffs now mentioned; and BENEDICT XIII. surpassed them all in piety, or at least in its appearance, which, in the whole of his conduct, was extraordinary and striking. It was he that conceived the laudable design of reforming many disorders in the church, and restraining the corruption and licentiousness of the clergy; and for this purpose held a council, in the palace of the
[d] The original title of this book (which is supposed to have been written by one MURALT, a Swiss, author of the Lettres sur les Anglos et sur, les Francois,) is as follows; Lettres sur la Religion essentielle à l'Homme, distinguèe de ce qui n'en est que l'accessôire. There have been several excellent refutations of this book published on the continent ; among which the Lettres sur les vrais principes de la Religion, in two volumes 8vo. composed by the late learned and ingenious Mr BOUILLER, deserve particular notice.
[e] This history was published while BENEDICT XIV. was yet alive.