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SHORT VIEW, or GENERAL SKETCH
THE history of the Christian church du-C
XVIII. I ring the present age, instead of a few i pages, would alone require a volume, such are Introducto
ry observa. the number and importance of the materials that tio 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 fame 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 ga. thered 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 au. thors who have furnished materials for this period of church-history. Those that are acquainted with modern literature must know, that there are innumerable productions extant, from whence VOL. VI.
CE N T.such a variety of lines and colours might be taken, XVIII.
as would render this rough and general draught a
complete and finished piece. Concerning 11. The doctrines of Christianity have been proous state of Pagar
eripagated in Asia, Africa, and America, with equal the church Zeal, both by the Protestant and Popish missionin general, aries. But we cannot say the same thing of the and of the Romish true spirit of the Gospel, or of the religious discichurch in pline and institutions that it recommends to the particular.
observance 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 thai, instead of departing from the superstitious 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 altogther 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 special care, that neither hands should be wanting for this spiritual harvest, nor any expences spared that might be necessary to the
execution of such an arduous and important c E N T. undertaking. But these pretended conversions, XVIII, 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 shew 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, Thefamong which made a great noise in the Romish church, contest re*
"lating tothe relating to the conduct of the Jesuits in China, lawfulness and their manner of promoting the cause of the of allowing
the Chinese Gospel. by permitting the new converts to Chris observe the religious rites and customs of their to observe
indunuh di their anancestors. This question was decided to the dis
se cient rices, advantage of the missionaries, in the year 1704, by CLEMENT XI. who, by a solemn edict, forbade 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 parenis, and of their great lawgiver ConFUCIUS. This severe edict was, nevertheless, con. siderably mitigated in the year 1715, in order to appease, no doubt, the resentment of the Jesuits, whom it exasperated in the highest de. gree. 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
[a] Tien Tchy signifies the LORD OF HEAVEN.
CENT. also permitted the observance of those rites and
ceremonies that had so highly offended the adver. saries 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 religi. cus point of light. In consequence of this second papal edict, the Chinese converts to Christie anity 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 de. signed to prevent the motely 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 com. mand of the emperor, thrown into prison, where he died in the year 1710. MEZZABARBA, though more cautious and prudent, yet returned home without having succeeded in his negociation; nor could the emperor be engaged, by either argu. ments or entreaties, to make any alteration in