« AnteriorContinuar »
ceeded for a time in Congo; and so many came to receive baptism there, that the poor missionaries could scarcely eat, drink, or sleep. But alas! the secret transpired that the native name for this ordinance was curia mungua-" eating salt !" a taste for that (to them) rare luxury, being the inducement to this wholesale reception of the ordinance, as one part of the ceremony, according to the Romish ritual, consists in placing salt upon the mouth (Leyden's Africa, vol. i. p. 80).
The present state of these nations is thus described by Captain Tuckey, in his Expedition to the Zaire (p. 369):
The vast shoals of Catholic missionaries poured into Congo and the neighbouring parts of Southern Africa, from Italy, Spain, and Portugal, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, appear not to have advanced the natives one single step in civilisation; and the rude mixture of Catholic with pagan superstitions, which was found among the Sognio people on the left bank of the Zaire, close to the sea coast, was all that could be discovered of any trace of Christianity after the labours of these pious men for three hundred years. Some of these people came off to the vessels, and they are represented as being the very worst in every respect of all the tribes that were met with on the banks of the river, being dirty, filthy, and overrun with vermin. One of them was a priest, who had been ordained by the capuchin monks of Loando, and carried with him his diploma or letters of ordination; he could just write his name and that of St. Antonio, and read the Romish liturgy; but so little was he of a Catholic, that his rosary, his relics, and his crosses were mixed with his domestic fetiches, and so indifferent a Christian, that this 'barefooted black apostle,' as Dr. Smith calls him, boasted of having no fewer than five wives."
But The Annals of the Propagation of the Faith disclose a more deep and permanent work, which we should be wanting in candour were we to pass over thus lightly. This institution has passed its seventeenth anniversary, and its rapidly augmenting revenues now amount to more than a million and a half of francs; and "while the members of the association are increasing in number, their united prayers are becoming more powerful. Each sun that rises or sets beholds a family of five hundred thousand Christians in prayer together, saying, with one voice, 'St. Francis Xavier, pray for us.' To this harmonious concert heaven is not inattentive, and its benedictions descend more abundant and more fruitful upon infidel countries" (Annals, May, 1839). What St. Francis Xavier, distracted with the impossibility of listening to so vast a multitude of applicants, is to effect for them in the court of heaven, we do not see; but one thing is certain, that the zeal, the self-denial, and the laborious exertions of these Romish missionaries, equal, if they do not excel, those of the messengers who simply publish the glad tidings of the Gospel, and that the apparent and numerical success is in some directions greater than that of our Protestant brethren. In the district of Lebanon there has been some considerable success among the Druses, involving persecution to the converts. It is curious to see the Popish emissary denouncing the restriction of religious knowledge to the priests, as is the case altogether among the Druses.
The Bishop of Tipasa writes, June 10, 1838 :—"I have the happiness to begin my narrative by an event of great consolation-I mean the conversion of the Druses, which the hand of the Lord is gradually bringing about. You are aware that they constitute more than the third of the population of Libanus, and that but little is known of the religion they follow, because its mysteries are reserved to a single class of men, called Akaal, that is, wise-men, who are bound to the observance of the most rigorous secresy. The mass of the people are kept in profound ignorance, being obliged to believe what the wise-men alone have any knowledge of. Such had been hitherto the tyranny which these irrational doctrines exercised over the mind, that it was with extreme difficulty any of the people could be brought to shake it off, and embrace Christianity. *
“We set out, then, early in the morning, and after travelling with difficulty along the steep and rugged paths which traverse our mountains, we arrived towards noon at a little village called Broumana: there, under the shade of an enormous figtree, we stopped to repose ourselves for a while. We were no sooner seated than we found ourselves surrounded by men and women of every age, who kissed my hands and begged my blessing. I took them for Maronites; for it is the custom of those Christians to manifest in that manner their respect for bishops, and especially for the delegate of the holy see. Yet, upon inquiring, the greater number replied,
We are Druses; but we recognise in you a dignity which has a right to the respect of all men.' They then entreated me in the most humble and earnest manner to bless their houses and their silk-worms. I could not refuse so religious a request: I went, accompanied by Father Francis and the servant of Count Miniscalchi. It is impossible to describe with what lively expressions of attachment, with what marks of honour, I was received. I blessed their humble dwellings; and those poor people, presenting a vessel of water to me, 'Master,' said they, bless this water, in order that we may water our silk-worms with it, and thus preserve your benediction.' The thanks I received, and the ardent wishes which they expressed for my happiness, cannot be here repeated. I could not help admiring the confidence of those infidel tribes in the authority of the Christian priesthood, so often despised or forgotten amongst those nations that call themselves civilised. Woe to them whom the pride of human knowledge causes to scoff at the consoling wonders of faith!
"On my return to the fig-tree, where my fellow-travellers were lying on their carpets, I was soon surrounded by a numerous circle. I particularly noticed an old man, still fresh and hale, who nobly bore his fourscore and five years, and whose manners were not without a certain grace. His countenance exhibited a strong expression of that simplicity which characterises old age, and on his whitened brow might be easily discovered the serenity of a mind full of benevolence towards all; he had with him a son in the flower of age, and two young daughters. The good old man and his son took pleasure in entering into a conversation on religion with Father Francis, who, being perfectly acquainted with Arabic, readily gratified their wish in that respect. Father,' said they to him, 'we have a faith, of which we know nothing but the existence of a supreme Being; the rest is known only to a few, and that with an obligation of burying their knowledge in the profoundest silence; what, Father, do you think of this?" Father Francis replied in his simple eloquence, by giving a rapid sketch of the principal religions, and showed them that the first duty of religion is to enlighten the mind, and to discover to us, by the light of divine revelation, what is beyond the natural limits of our intelligence; that this revelation ought to be common to all, because all are obliged to know, love, and adore God; that in fine, a religion which conceals its dogmas and laws is a senseless religion, made for followers more senseless still. At these words, the Druses, convinced, replied: Ah! we always said so; we are like the brutes of the field, who know nothing, and who do no good. As for my part,' added the old man, 'I have discovered that the religion of Christ lays every thing open, and shows us what we were and what we shall be. I have therefore begged the Maronite bishop to instruct and baptise me; but he hesitates, lest he should provoke persecution from the Mussulman authorities.'"
Would this language be used in the latitude of Ireland?
The missions of the Romanists in India seem, however, to be the most prosperous, though prosecuted under great difficulties, as the following account of the entrance of Mr. Maubant into Corea will serve to shew :
"On the 12th of January, at midnight, continuing my Apostolical journey, I arrived at Pien-Men, from which place I took with me five Coreans. I had to pass by three posts of Custom-House officers :-one at Pien-Men, and the two others on the frontiers of Corea. I was told what I had to do in order to pass them; but my confidence was in God and the Blessed Virgin, whose protection I soon experienced. We succeeded in passing the first post, and then crossed the forests and desert plains which separate Mantchoulia from Corea, and which are about twenty leagues long and twelve broad. The left or eastern side is bounded by branches of a famous river, called in Chinese, Ya-Lo-Kiang; that nearest Corea is the boundary of the Chinese Empire. During three or four months of the year, the river is frozen over; it is only at this period of the year, that the Missionaries can enter that country, until some other way be discovered. We prolonged our journey so as to arrive about ten or eleven o'clock at night, at the last branch of the river, on the left bank of which is the second and most dangerous Custom-House.
"At length having met, not without uneasiness, some merchants who had stopped to take their evening repast, overcome with fatigue, we reached the most difficult pass from the preceding midnight we had not ceased walking. Peter Som-Pey, one of my guides, took me on his shoulders across the river to within a perch of the dreaded Custom-House, which is, at the same time, the entrance to a city called
I-Tchou. The walls, through which there is an aqueduct, not far from the GuardHouse, are washed by the river. Instead of exposing ourselves to the danger of being questioned and examined, as travellers ordinarily are, we kept along the aqueduct. One of my three guides had crossed, and was at a musket's shot in advance, when a dog, the vigilant companion of the Custom-House officers, perceiving us, began to bark. "Tis over with us,' thought I within myself; 'caught in the act of furtively entering the city, we shall be arrested and recognised. The will of God be done!' The Almighty was pleased to be favourable to us: by the negligence of the officers we were suffered to pass on. The third post, situated at the entrance of the second enclosure, was passed in the same manner, and with the like success. At the distance of a few paces beyond this, I was introduced into a miserable hut, which was like a baker's large oven, and had been arranged by three Christians for the late bishop. I there met one of my guides, who had gone on before me. partook of a wretched collation of raw turnips and some rice boiled in water; six of us then stretched in this narrow dwelling, to take a little rest. Two or three hours after, we had to take another meal of the same kind as that which we had eaten before, and resume our journey an hour before sunrise.
"I set out therefore, still on foot; and at two or three leagues from I-Tchou met two Christians with a pair of horses: thenceforward, I generally continued the journey on horseback. I should have been better concealed, if, as in China, it was usual to travel in vehicles; but the inhabitants of Corea are not acquainted with that mode of transport. Two days before my arrival at Han-Yang, capital of Corea, I met five Christians, who were sent to meet me by the Chinese priest, Mr. Yn. We were now twelve in number: more than enough to attract notice, and add to our danger. Hence, Paul Ting and Francis Tchio, my two principal guides, divided us into two bands; in which order we entered the city, where my desires had long before preceded me. I was conducted to the houses purchased two years before by the Christians with the trifling sums sent on different occasions by the Bishop of Capsis. Mr. Yn was awaiting my arrival with a few Christians, by whom I was cordially received."
Much persecution attends these converts:
"Those poor children of the new Church of Corea must conceal their religion from the Pagans who surround them; otherwise, if discovered, they are driven like lepers from their dwellings, and subjected to every indignity; or they are denounced to the Mandarins, by whom they are scourged, imprisoned, exiled, and even sometimes put to death. Peter Houang, arrested in consequence of being thus denounced, died last year in the prisons of Han-Yang. 'What!' replied he to the magistrate who ordered him to be flogged in order to make him apostatise, 'old age has brought me to the brink of the grave; for thirty years I have observed the commandments of the Lord, creator of heaven and earth, and you would have me lose, by one dishonourable word, the love of my God!'
"In order to avoid the dangers to which they are exposed when they are discovered by the Pagans, they immediately sell their property, or abandon it, if they cannot find a purchaser, and fly to the mountains or forests, where they hope to find security and peace."
Nor would their teachers fare better if arrested :
"The recital of the torments inflicted upon five Confessors of the Faith, detained in prison; the cruelty with which the legs were broken, and the lips torn, of a pious widow, who expired under those torments on the 2nd of January, the day of my arrival; the continual alarm in which I was, lest we should be seized and subjected to torments still more cruel, made a deep impression upon me for some days. I then felt that martyrdom, considered in prayer, at some thousand leagues from the danger, does not produce the same effect as when viewed on the eve of undergoing it; but if the force of nature is not always uniform, the grace of God which supports us is everywhere the same.
"Fabulous stories are circulated, some parts of which have reference to us, and shew, even by their absurdity, the kind of magic with which the Catholic priest is invested in the minds of the Pagans. Other more serious causes of alarm have been given us. A few days ago, a Christian woman heard an informer say, 'We are very busy in seeking for the temple of the Christians. A new-married couple of a distinguished family, who had been secretly instructed in the Christian religion by their
grandfather, were suspected, after his death, by their adopted father, because they refused to take a part in the superstitious practices which are usual on such occasions. Upon their confessing they were Christians, he became so incensed as to threaten their lives. As they were yet only catechumens, they baptised each other, resolved, if they escaped death, with which they were threatened, to live the remainder of their lives in continence. They were disinherited; the husband was forced to come to the capital, and provide for his subsistence by opening a school; whilst the wife was obliged to retire to her own family, who are all Pagans."
The missionaries reckon 6280 Christians in Corea.
Such are some of the works of this "Society for the Propagation of the Faith." The mode in which the "sinews of war" are supplied is detailed to us thus, for instance, in France :
"At the approach of Lent, when the Christian people are invited to practices of austerity, the Archbishop of Sens repeats the warning of Daniel :-Redeem thy sins with alms' (Dan. iv. 24). But of all modes of charity, that appears to him preferable which breaks to our indigent brethren the bread of understanding, and pays the ransom of their souls."
Another mode of raising supplies, which some Protestants might envy, is published on the cover :
"The sovereign Pontiffs, Pius VII., &c., have granted to all the members of the institution,......the following indulgences, applicable to the souls in purgatory:— 1. A plenary indulgence on the festival of the Finding of the Holy Cross; on the festival of St. F. Xavier; and once a month, on any day at the choice of each subscriber, provided he says within the month the appointed prayers. To gain the indulgence he must be truly sorry for his sins, go to confession, receive the holy Communion, and visit devoutly the Church, &c. &c.
"2. An indulgence of a hundred days each time, that the prescribed prayers, with, at least, a contrite heart, will be repeated, or a donation made to the missions, or any other pious or charitable work performed."
Let not, then, those who love the truth as it is in Jesus, dream of an easy victory over antiquated superstitions tottering to their base," as we sometimes hear anticipated; but let us calmly behold those things of which our Lord has warned us before" the tares and the wheat growing together until the harvest;" satisfied to fill up our appointed measure of service, and well assured that our labour shall not be vain in the Lord.
“THE CAKE OF BARLEY BREAD; OR, EMANCIPATION OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST FROM PROTESTANT DOMINATION. Br WILLIAM VIVIAN, OF TOR, DEVON."
It must be evident to every reflecting person, that the attention of believers in the present day is directed, to an extent altogether without parallel in the previous history of the Church, towards ascertaining what are the true grounds of Christian fellowship-" "how they ought to walk and please God." It is not now, as in the days of Luther, the one question, "How shall man be just with God ?" which is agitating the minds of men; but a few scattered gleams of light have broken through the clouds of darkness which enveloped the minds of the saints, as to their true position, their duty to walk in separateness from the world, and in union one with another; and the children of God are inquiring on every side, what mean those words of our common Lord, "That they may be ONE." It is no marvel if, in the long and dark night of the Church's apostasy (an apostasy not confined, be it remembered, to the Church of Rome, which Protestants would desire to make the scape-goat to bear away their iniquities also); it is no marvel if these gleams of light but suffice often to make "darkness visible" "as the morning spread upon the mountains," or that those who desire to walk in the light, should, through the remaining darkness that is in them, make many false steps, and, like children, should have many falls, ere they learn to balance themselves aright. It is, therefore, a happiness to see the children of God trying to walk, even if we are constrained to wonder at the crookedness of some of their steps. Mr. Vivian, the founder of the
Tor Church, Devon, was, we believe, truly a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and one who desired to make the Bible his sole rule of faith and practice. We say was, because he has recently entered into rest, ceasing from his labours in the vineyard of the Lord, and practically experiencing the truth that to depart and to be with Christ is far better.
An impartial testimony is borne to the Christian consistency of his private character by the Rev. R. B. Paul, M.A., an opponent of Mr. Vivian's, who thus speaks in his answer to The Cake of Barley Bread:-" Had I been ignorant, as probably many of [the neighbouring clergy] are, of the holiness of your life, and your apparent devotion to the service of the Redeemer, I might have been content to leave your arguments to make their way in the world as best they might; but it would be uncandid to conceal from you, that your personal character is likely, in my opinion, to give your reasoning an adventitious force which it could never have derived from its own vigour."
Mr. Vivian's views, which were those on which the little company of believers at Tor were collected, are developed in the work the title of which stands at the head of this paper. In this pamphlet, we find some things well and powerfully stated, and fervent expostulations, such as the following passage, to which we can cordially respond :
"Can it be, I say, that (while holding in their hands the commandment of their God to edify one another,' and the distinct declaration of His Spirit that 'the whole body, compacted by that which every joint supplieth, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love') the sincere followers of the Lamb are yet persuaded, that the proper means whereby believers grow in grace and in the knowledge of their Lord and Saviour, are the occasional addresses of individuals appointed by their fellow-men to occupy the place of all other joints of the spiritual body, and to set forth only the doubtful or scanty measure of their individual acquirements?
"Babes, and less than babes in understanding of the things of God, come forth from their schools and colleges; some just old enough to take you over as a "gift" from some one who has made merchandise of you, or, by the price of political venality, obtained this power over you; some quick enough with their tongues to draw and keep together congregations; to swell the ranks of denominations, which, while disclaiming the riches, are alike grasping after the power, of the world: and to such you submit yourselves to be led and taught in matters of everlasting moment!" (Part ii. p. 3).
Well might Mr. Vivian add, "But I am aware of the consequence if I continue to speak thus plainly; for the insincere ears of modern times will not endure sound doctrine in the plain terms of simple truth!"
Our readers will be prepared to learn that Mr. Vivian advocated what is oftentimes termed "liberty of ministry," but which might be more correctly rendered liberty for the Spirit "to divide to every man severally as He will."
He thus writes:-"No, dear brethren, however the inventions of Satan or man would obscure it, the glorious truth is not erased from our Bibles, that this is the ministration of the Spirit. Every one, therefore, in whom dwelleth the Spirit, is duly ordained and called of God to minister in all holy things, as that "self-same Spirit divideth to every man the ability. It is this great truth which is resisted by the 'stated ministries' of men ;-those absurd and wicked systems whereby it is assumed that the appointment and sanction of men is necessary to render valid the written commandments of God, or that the gifts and graces of His Spirit are not to be recognised until man's judgment be pronounced upon them" (Part iii. p. 46).
In these points there is nothing very peculiar in the views stated by Mr. Vivian, as it is a general, though reluctantly extorted, confession in reference to the present systems of man's devising, that "in the beginning it was not so." But the main feature which strikes our attention in the Tor church is the appointment of old men eldership. "The aged men of a church are the elders thereof, even though no office be assigned to them." "If any be yet unconvinced, I refer them to the declaration of the Apostle Peter, that he also was an elder;' which can have no probable meaning beyond that of his being an aged believer, seeing that his office of Apostle was above every other office in the Church, and included the power of all; and yet once more to the commandment of God (1 Pet. v. 5), and to the consideration of that I