Imágenes de páginas

pacific conquest of the world; they did not roam for subjects in the regions of heathenism, of romance, or even of modern history, but sought them in the pages of Scripture. Thence, as from a mine, they dug the ore and cast the coin which was to circulate in all ages and countries. Thence, as from a quarry, they hewed their stones and wrought them into the enduring pillars of their own reputation. Consecrated by their close affinity to religion, these works seem to catch a portion of its perpetuity; and the Virgins of Raphael, the Infants of Correggio, and the Ecce-Homos of Carlo Dolce and Guido, levy their contributions of applause upon the people of many nations and successive ages. If we turn from painting to music, and it is asked “where is it that the richest repasts have been provided for this modification of taste?” We answer, “where music has been allied to religion.” It is Handel who is the musician of all times and countries. It is Handel who is called “immortal,” from the immortality of the subjects to which he has tuned his lyre. It is Handel who has almost caught a portion of the inspiration of his themes, and has sung the songs of angels in strains scarcely unworthy of them. It is Handel whom the connoisseurs in this fascinating art, forgetting the exclusive worship of Jehovah inculcated by his own harmonious lessons, have assembled to commemorate, in strains which belong alone to the Author of the language he harmonized. Let us turn next to poetry, and we shall find how immense its debts are to religion, or to those superstitions which were the shadow of it. How are the Iliad and Odyssey ennobled by their mythological machinery; by the scales of fate, the frown of Jove, the interpositions of Minerva! How does Virgil endeavour to throw around his scenery the fictitious splendour of the popular superstition in the storm of Neptune, and the descent to Tarta-,

rus! And why does Milton, inferior perhaps in the embodying of his ideas, and in the accomplishment of his vast designs, to these his elder brethren of Greece and Rome, yet take the first place in the procession of bards It is because he borrowed a lustre from celestial truth, which superstition did not supply. It is because he copied the heaven and hell which the ardent, though erring, imagination of Homer and Virgil fancied. It is because, spurning at the interest which the developement of human passions and the history of human crimes communicates, he climbed to heaven for the theme of some sublimer song. And finally, whence is it that Cowper, though unpopular in many of his topics, though careless in the structure of his verse, though somewhat overcharged in his satire, though sometimes dark, low, prosaic, is yet the delight of thousands who stand condemned by his verse It is not merely his true English spirit, his ardent love of liberty, his bold and idiomatical language, his strong vein of sense, his variety of imagery, his love of nature; but it is what has been called, by a somewhat reluctant panegyrist, the “magic of his morals.” It is because, if we may so say, he writes in the spirit of one whose lips had been touched by a coal from the altar of his God. It is because he never fails to introduce the Creator into the scenes of his own universe. It is because he sets the imagination roaming far beyond the bounds of space and time. It is because he draws so largely upon the fountains of Scripture, and so continually addresses man in the language of God. —But the length to which these observations have extended, warms us to dwell no longer upon this copious topic, than to ask, if religion be thus essential to the highest enjoyments of taste, shall any pretenders to taste be found among the impugners of religion Is not, this throwing away the lamp which would light them to their chosen treasures 2 Is it not trampling under foot a number of associations calculated to yield them that harvest of pleasure they most desire * We know, indeed, that the gratifications which religion thus yields to the refined taste are among its very smallest fruits. But still we urge the point, because we wish to shew the irreligious, that they are but clumsy architects of their own little fabric of happiness, that they are not worse Christians than philosophers, and that the enemy of religion is the enemy of taste. We urge it also to shew those of the young who may conceive that religion is calculated to give a sort of torpedo touch to the more refined sensibilities of our nature, to extirpate by a sort of Van‘dal attack all the gratifications of taste, to disenchant the scenery with which the creative hand of painting and poetry surprises and defights us; that religion is strong even at her supposed weak point; that she is rich even where she is confessedly the poorest; that she is the friend of all innocent pleasure, the ally of genius, the living fountain not less of our daily gratifications than of our eternal joys. A topic not less important than this remains still to be noticed. It appears (if indeed it could ever be disputable) incontrovertibly from this essay, that the beauty and sublimity of all objects depend much upon the associations with which they are connected. Now this proposition is so extensively true, that even religion may be disfigured by the medium through which, or the society in which, it is seen. It is indeed true that the really philosophical will learn, as in certain optical illusions, to correct the effect of a refraction such as this; and not charge upon the object the defects of the medium. But since all men are not philosophers, and therefore this sort of correctness cannot be expected, how ill do those serve the interests of religion who shew it to the world through a medium which must distort its proportions

or "

change its complexion; or who present it in society by which it cannot fail to be disgraced! This subject admits of much enlargement. It may, however, be sufficient to hint at some of those disfiguring processes to which we have referred. Some thus degrade it, for instance, who teach its truths in a vulgar, canting, or needlessly technical phraseology. Others do it like dishonour, by associating it with absurd peculiarities, unauthorised demands, or capricious prohibitions; who send it abroad in a large-brimmed hat, cut off the ho of its coat, or deny it a bow to its neckcloth. But far deeper are the wounds which those inflict upon it who display it to the world shorn of those moral graces, those charms of temper and affections, which are some of its appointed passports to the heart. Are there not some who teach the world to associate frowns with religion; who clothe its neck with the thunders of disputation; who invest it with the porcupine coat of an irritable temper; who throw into its eye the glare of envy, and into its cheek the hue of jealousy; who arm it with the knife of controversy, and satire, and censoriousness We dare not trust ourselves to complete the sketch. It is a sort of portrait wholesome neither to conceive nor to contemplate. Rather would we call upon the friends of religion to present her to the world in all the native “beauty of holiness.” How sublime are the associations with which she is transmitted to us, both in the language of Scripture, and in the person of Christ! Let then the guardians of these “ oracles of God,” and the followers of this Master, adhere to the language of the one and endeaour to reflect the image of the other. It is a rule of eternal obligation, both as to the language in which we describe and as to the portrait which we exhibit of Christianity," see that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount:” see that all be cast in the moulds of heaven. Whilst we reproach the enemies of the Gospel with their aspersions upon religion as if offensive to taste, let us beware of supplying any ground for them. if her lessons are to have universal currency, we must teach them in the universal language of intelligence and good taste, and not in the patois of a party. If she is to be raised to the throne of the world, her soldiers must muster, not under the petty flags of faction, but under the mighty banner of the Cross. She must be presented to the world invested with her own infinite and immortal attributes; and we trust that, led by the hand of God, they will see the star, and worship. We here take our leave of Mr. Alison, and of the topic to which he has directed our attention, with some regret that our limits do not admit of a wider excursion with him. His book would be improved, we think, by one or two additional chapters on the unnoticed parts of his subject to which we have adverted; by a general abbreviation of the chapters already in our hands; by the simplification of some of his sentences; and, above all, by his treating at length, as he is bound, both in the character of a philosopher and a clergyman, upon the topic so inadequately touched by us—the importance of religion to the most exquisite enjoyments of taste. These defects, however, with the exception of the last, are but small spots in a brilliant performance. We should be glad to learn by a volume of sermons frem the same hand, that the author thinks as justly upon theology as on belles lettres; that he is an equally formidable enemy to all prejudices and errors; and that (if we may venture upon the allusion), having slain “the lion and the bear” of unsound philosophy, he is as terrible an assailant of the “giant” enemies of , religion, infidelity, worldliness, dissipation, and indifference.

Chaust. Observ. No. 122.

An Account of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge. London: Rivington. 1811.

The title of the present article will probably su, prise many of our readers. They will be greatly disappointed, however, if they are led to expect from it a discussion of the comparative excellence of the systems of education of Bell and Lancaster, to which the sermon of Dr. Marsh, prefixed to this account, might be supposed to invite us. They will be no less disappointed, if they look for a critique on the tracts of this Society, for an exposition of its various claims on the public gratitude and support, or for a statement of the circumstances in the management of its affairs which may tend to diminish the weight of those claims. We mean to direct the attention of our readers to the single point of the information which the Society has this year thought proper to give to the public respecting the Syrian Christians of Malayala. We briefly alluded to this subject in the abstract of the Society's Report in our last number, p. 59, intimating an intention to consider it more fully hereafter. Be it therefore known to , our readers, that the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge have published, in their last Report, some particulars concerning the Syrian Christians, which have been transmitted to them by their missionaries in India. The Society had put a question to these missionaries, whether it would be practicable to employ the Syriah Christians in their Indian mission in conjunction with them, the German and Danish missionaries. The reply to this inquiry, as stated in the Society's Report, we will now lay before our readers. “In reply to a query, whether Syrian priests could be employed in the missions, they (Messrs. Kolhoff and Horst) enclose a memorandum, stating their reasons why they decline a union with those priests, as

they hold doctrines which militate against the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, the Augustine Confession, and the Nicene Creed. This memorandum the Board deem proper to be submitted to public inspection.” The memorandum is as follows:

“Already, in 1725 and following years, our predecessors, the missionaries at Tranquebar and Madras, by the advice of their friends in Europe, endeavoured to make acquaintance with the dignitaries and priests of the St. Thomas or Syrian Christians, and to unite them with the Protestant Church; or, at least, to bring them to agree in doctrine with the Protestants. They hoped that the hatred of the Syrians against the Papists would favour such a union. They employed for this purpose a very learned divine of the Reformed Church at Cochin, the Reverend Valerius Nicolai, and they spoke with several Syrian priests that came to the coast at different times. But they were at last obliged to give up all hopes of such a union. The following abstract of the result of these researches will shew how unfit the Syrian clergy are to be Protestant missionaries.

“The Syrian Christians are split into two sects directly opposed to each other, yet equally receding from the orthodox doctrine of the Christian church; Nestorians and Eutychians. They pray, moreover, to the Virgin Mary and to the saints (though not precisely to the same as the Church of Rome), and desire their mediation. They believe that good works are meritorious. They hold the doctrine of works of supererogation. Their public prayers and admimistration of the sacrament are in a tongue not understood by the people. Celibacy has grown customary among their priests, though it is not enjoined. Thus their doctrine militates against the 2d, 5th, 11th, 14th, °4th, and in a manner also against the 32d articles of religion, and against the Nicene Creed.

“They are so ignorant that they could not even be used as sub-assistants to our native Catechists, and of course, as such people use to be, they are obstinate and would demand of us to conform to their persuasion and ritual instead of conforming themselves to that of the Church of England.

“Their proper language is not Syriac, vut the Malayalin idiom. They only make shift to tead as much Syriac as is necessary to ce' brating the mass, and reading their *** ** h are almost the same with those * Atul o'a'is.

“The cast out of which all the priests are taken are the Cassanares, and the priests claim an equality with the highest cast of that country, the Nairs; and, on this account, they have hardly any intercourse with people of lower casts", whereby they incapacitate themselves for the propagation of Christianity.

“We hope that the above reasons will justify our request, that we may be excused tion, admitting those Christians to a union of faith with ourselves, and to the office of teachers in our orthodox congregations, in violation of our ordination oath.”

“The Rev. Mr. Pohlé, in reply to the same query, observes “that he can only mention, with respect to the Christians of the Syrian church, what his predecessors, the former German missionaries, had reported on that subject in their German Missionary Accounts, which he had got translated into English by Mr. Horst, and a copy whereof he had subjoined; from which he drew, as a conclusion, the impracticability of uniting in missionary concerns with those Christians; adding, however, that their present situation might probably be better known if some person acquainted with their language were to reside among them for a year or two, for the purpose of gaining sufficient information respecting their present state. The extracts here with transmitted,” the Society adds, “are so interesting and pointed that it has been deemed proper to subjoin them.”

These ext, acts, however, it will be unnecessary to transcribe, as the substance of them has been already given in the memorandum of Messrs. Kolhoff and Horst. We shall, however, have occasion to refer to them.

Mr. Paezold also gives his decided opinion, that it would be impracti.

* It is a remarkable circumstance, that the immediately preceding report of this society. viz. that for 1810, contains a letter of these very gentlemen, Messrs. Kolhoff and Hots. in which they anxiously defend themselves from a similar charge brought against them by the missionaries of the London Missionary Society; a charge originating probably in misapprehension in both cases.


cable to employ the clergy of the Syrian church in the Society's missions, “they being sectaries of the Nestorian and Eutychian principles, praying idolatrously to the Virgin Mary and to the Apostle St. Thomas, and laying a great stress upon many very superstitious ceremonies. Before they could be employed in a Protestant mission, they must themselves,” he observes, “be converted from the error of their ways, of which little if any hope could be entertained.” The missionaries therefore, it is obvious, have no knowledge themselves of the Syrians, who live in a country far remote from them; but they had found some notices of them in looking over the Journals of their brethren the Danish missionaries, between the years from 1725 to 1738, as appears from the extracts above mentioned, where no allusion is made to any communication of a later date. These former missionaries also had not themselves visited the Syrian Christians; but they had seen, as appears by the extracts from their journals, some Syrians evidently of the Romish church, who came to Madras on a pilgrimage to St. Thomas's Mount, as is usual with the Roman Catholics in India. That the only Syrians they saw were of the Romish church is fully proved by these very extracts, which ascribe to them the use of “ missals” and “mass,” the acknowledgment of “ the supremacy of the pope,” and “subjection to a Portuguese bishop,” &c. &c. Such Syrian Christians as have joined the Church of Rome are well known to be in a degenerate and most illiterate state, and they are justly so described by the missionaries.

But it does not appear that they

ever saw one of those Syrian Christians of Malayala who continue separate from the Church of Rome. They state, indeed, their having seen a Nestorian Syrian priest; but

he also must have belonged to that

church, for he spoke of “the adoration of the mother of God,” and

informed them, that he had been ordained by Mar Gabriel, a Nestorian bishop, who “ celebrated mass,” and used a “missal,” and who, we are afterwards told, when solicited to unite in the true orthodox doctrine, answered “in a papistical strain.” The journals of the Danish missionaries further record, that they had some correspondence with Valerius Nicolai, a Dutch minister at Cochin, respecting the Syrian Christians. It appears that, about the year 1729, Mr. Nicolai had written several letters to a Syrian bishop, one Mar Thomas, with a view to reclaim him from an error in doctrine by proofs from holy writ, (the bishop maintaining, as is alleged, a tenet of Eutyches, that Christ had but one nature), but this bishop had declined giving any answer till he should receive permission from his patriarch in Syria. From the perusal of these journals the Society’s present missionaries had come to the conclusion, that the Syrian Christians of Malayala “are Nestorians, and worship the Virgin Mary,” and that, therefore, they cannot be admitted to “an union of faith with themselves.” Such is the account which, in the year 1811, the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge have thought proper to publish respecting the Syrian Christians of Malayala. Its publication, however, could only have been proper on the supposition that no more recent and authentic accounts of this interesting people could be obtained. It is possible, indeed, that the worthy missionaries of the Society, who'are chiefly Germans, and have little intercourse with the longlish in India, were ignorant of the existence of any such accounts. But it seems hardly possible that, to some members at least of the Board for managing the affairs of this society, it should not have been known, that in the year 1805, the Madras Government sent the Rev. Dr. Kerr, senior chaplain at the presidency of Mao

« AnteriorContinuar »