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pretensious of certain candidates for popular favour, who flatter but to mislead, and whose recorded profiigacy agrees ill with their public professions of purity; and we are desirous, on this important and critical occasion, to repeat the warning: Those will prove but indifferent national reformers, who neglect the work of reformation at home. Besides, there is a much fairer prospect of correcting what is amiss in the administration, by a tenperate, conciliating, and loyal, yet firm and immoveably upright conduct, than by inflammatory harangues, or by bitter and contemptuous treatment of the government. For some farther remarks on the duties both of candidates and of electors, we beg to refer our readers to our volume for 1806, p. 651, and to many other preceding parts of our work. We will a present confine ourselves to reminding them, that the next Tarliament will not only have many arduous duties to fulfil, arising out of the singular situation of external peril and internal difficulty in which the aaoon is placed, but many also which unavoid-bly connect theiuselves with our best Christian feelings and sympathies. Our enemies are, indeed, numerous and powerful; our financial embarrassments are great and increasing, and not likely, in our view, to admit of any very efficient reinedy, without an entire change in the system of our currency--a change also, which, we admit, it becomes every day more difficult to effect".
* We have forborne of late pressing on the attention of our readers, our own unchanged opinions on the vital question of our currency; for certainly we deem is vital; because we were led to believe that people in general were only to be convinced by facts, of the truth which we wished to impress upon them, viz. the growing depreciation of our paper currency: and if we were anxious to impress tilis truth, it was with a view to an efficient remedy, which we also
The measures, however, to which we have now a more especial reference, are those which involve questions of high moral inportance;—the introduction of Christiauity into our Indian dominions; the more general diffusion of Christian education, and a better provision for an efficient establishment of active and laborious ministers of religiou, and for the institution of adequate places of religious worship, both in Eueland and Ireland; 1.he mature and dispassionate conside ration of the claims of our Cathclic population; and last, though not least, the rectification of the enormous abuses still existing in our WestIndian Colonies". Neither our time, nor our space, will permit us to enlarge on these topics. We would anxiously press them, however, on the consideration of our readers.
believed to be practicable, and not for the purpose of exciting discontent or despondency. But since we last touched on this subject, the evil has most alarmingly increased. The price of gold; which ought to be 3.17s. 10}d. the ounce, and which was then 4. 12s, is now 5). 10s. making an advance on the whole, as compared with our paper, of rather more than orty per cent. Silver has not advanced with the same rapidity ; but it is now 6s. 9d. the ounce, which makes the dollar piece equal to 5s. 10d. We have no intention of entering into any reasoning on this point at present, otherwise we should say, that it is inaccurate to call the difference in the nominal value of gold and silver an advance in the price of these articles, when it is neither more nor less than a deprecistion in the value of the paper currency to that amount. Is it possible to conceal from ourselves this fact, that the weight of twenty guineas in gold bullion will buy as much of corn, or any other article, as twenty-nine pounds in Bank notes will buy?
* See on this subject our last volume, p. 428.
T.Y.; A Friend to Farn Ness; Moniton; and C. L.; will be inserted.
We very readily comply with Mr. Whyte's request to be allowed to publish the paper on Self-examination, which appeared in our Number for July last.
It is with great regret that we have been obliged to postpone the insertion of many interest* ing articles of Religious Intelligence, particularly in regard to the institution of Auxiliary Bible Societies in different parts of the kingdom. The length of the papers inserted
in the early port of this Number, has also obliged us to exclude several communications
for which we had hoped to find a place.
Tothe Editor of the Christian Observer.
S, sir, you wish to gratify your V readers with some useful and authentic information respecting the Ethiopic Christians, and seem to invite such communications, I here transmit to you what I have collected from various books; being part of a work I may hereafter publish, under the title of Ecclesiastical Collections, chiefly Oriental, *: Y
Abassinia is a vast and extensive country, situated on the eastern confines of Africa, where it is bounded by the shore of the Red Sea towards the Straits of Babelmandel. Its extent is computed at a million of square miles. It contains several principalities, subject to the same sovereign, of which one, called Tigri, formerly the seat of the Ethiopian kings, comprehends twenty-four provinces: these principalities are, in reality, so many petty kingdoms. Abassinia, distinguishes Christian from Pagan Ethiopia; which last is considerably more extensive, and comprehends a number of nations. Gondar, or, as it is called, Gondar a Catma; i. e. the City of the Seal; is the capital of the empire, and the chief residence of the Emperor, and of the Abuna, or Patriarch, who has a handsome palace contiguous to , the patriarchal church. The city is three leagues in circumference, and contains a hundred Christian churches. Emfras, next to Gondar, from which it is distant a day's journey, is one of the most considerable cities of Abassinia, and the only one Crossr. Oassav. No. 130.
where the Mahometans are allowed the public exercise of their religion, aud where their houses are intermixed with those of the Christians. The population and strength of the empire maybe inferred from the numerous armies they can raise in a short time, and at a small expense. They wage war with the pagans annually, for the security of their own dominions, and to prevent the growing power of their enemies, especially the kings of Galla and Changalla. Their armies are .very large: one commanded by the emperor in 1699, or 1700, consisted of between four and five hundred thousand men. In Europe, says my author, we have long been in an error about the colour of the Ethiopians; because we have confounded them with the Blacks of Nubia, who are their neighbours. Their natural colouris brown, or rather that of the olive; their stature is tall and majestic; they have good complexions, beautiful eyes, well-set noses, thick lips, and white teeth : whereas the inhabitants of Nubia, or Sennar, have flat noses, thick lips, and very black complexions. The language of the country is a dialect of the Arabic, called by some the Amharic tongue, and is probably no more than a corruption of the ancient. Ethiopic, formerly .spoken in the kingdom of Tigri. The Ethiopic is their learned language; and herein all their ancient writings are extant, and all books of prime note in the religion and laws of the empire continue to be written, because they esteem it a noble tongue. They pretend to have derived it from Chaldea, and therefore 4 L
call it also Chaldee. It is in this Janguage that the holy Scriptures are written and read in their churches, as also their liturgies and other church books. The sovereign of Abassinia is a Christian prince; and from the extent of his dominions, and the multitude of his subjects, he claims the title of Emperor. It is by virtue of his profession of the Christian faith that he holds the empire, and bears the imperial titles. His motto is, “Jesus, Emperor of Ethiopia, of the Tribe of Judah, victorious;” and this is the seal of the empire, displayed by a lion holding a cross, which are his arms. His titles of embassy to foreign princes announce his descent, religion, and government, in the usual forms of Oriental magnificence, of which we have a specimen in letters of embassy sent to Pope Clement VII., and Don Emanuel, King of Portugal, as follows: * David the Beloved of God, Pillar of the Faith, of the blood and line of Judah, Son of David, Son of Solomon, Son of the Pillar of Sion, Son of the Seed of Jacob, Son of the Hand of Mary, Son of Nahu after the flesh, Emperor of the Great Ethiopia, and of all the kingdoms and countries thereon depending, &c. &c.” It may be observed, that formerly, not only Abassinia, but all Ethiopia, was subject to the Emperor; but these domains, having fallen into paganism, were lost to the empire; nevertheless, the title of sovereignty is claimed by all that succeed to the throne of Abassinia. Next to the Emperor is the Abuna, i.e. our Father, who is the patriarch, and sole bishop of all Abassinia: he ordains all priests and deacons, appoints them to benefices, nominates the superiors of monasteries, and has an absolute power over the monks, who are there very numerous; he is the only bishop of the Ethiopic church, but is himself subject to the patriarch of Alexandria in Egypt, by whom he is consecrated and invested with the powers and title of his office.
The Abuna is nominated by the Emperor, who is supreme in all ecclesiastical as well as civil affairs. We may judge of the greatness of the ecclesiastical establishment from this, that, at one ordination, the Abuna is said sometimes to ordain ten thousand priests and five or six thousand deacons. The whole ceremony of the ordination consists in this: the Abuna, sitting down, repeats the beginning of the Gospel over the heads of such as are made priests. and gives them his benediction with an iron cross, which he holds in his hand, weighing seven or eight pounds;–but as for the deacons, he gives them his benediction without reciting the Gospel. The Ethiopic church is entitled to the veneration due to every Christian church of early foundation. It is a tradition among the Abassinians, that their empire became Christian in the days of their celebrated Queen Candace, who was converted by the Eunuch baptized by Philip the deacon, as it is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. But however this may be, the constitution of their church, and the purity of its doctrine, bear evident signs of an early original; and though it may not have been of apostolic foundation, yet it probably was planted not later than the expiration of the apostolic age. Ruffinus writes, that their conversion was brought about by the instrumentality of one Frumentius, in the fourth century; but this seems a far less probable statement; and could I enter into the subject, ample testimony might be produced in favour of an earlier date. The Ethiopic Christians acknowledge the boy Scriptures to be the only rule of faith and practice. They worship one God in Trinity. They believe in the incarnation of the Son of God; and that Christ is perfect God and perfect man. They own the merits of Jesus Christ to be sufficient for eternal salvation. They celebrate the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, and
administer the latter in both kifidate clergy and laity, conformably to the custom of all the eastern churches. Finally, they use the Nicene Creed in their liturgy, which comprises the fundamental articles of the Christian faith. As to forms and ceremonies in worship, wherein all churches differ more or less, as well in the east as west; in these the Ethiopian Christians have prescribed for themselves, as other churches have done, though perhaps with less deviation from the principles of Christianity than is to be found in seme of the western churches. Circumcision is with them a national custom, and not a religious rite: they circumcise their children, both male and female, eight days after the birth; but this is not done out of a compliance either with the Jewish law, or with the practice of the ancient Judaising Christians: they assign other reasons for it. They baptize their male children at forty days old, and females on the eightieth day after the birth, except in cases where there is danger of death. The children, it is said, are not immersed in the water at baptism, but only dipped, or sprinkled. Adult baptism is performed in the following manner:—The priest be. gins with reciting Psalm LI., and then perfumes the person with incense, and asks his name; certain other prayers are then recited, and several parts of the body are anointed with holy oil; the priest then lays his hand upon the head of the person, while he renounces the devil and his works, makes his vow to Christ, and rehearses the creed ; after which he is again anointed with oil. The remainder of the consecrated oil is then poured into the baptismal water, when the priest descends into the pool; and the new convert, being conducted thither by the deacons, is plunged thrice under water by the priest, who uses the form of words, “I baptize thee,” &c., taken from Matt. ch. xxviii. 19. After baptism he is assisted by the deasons, who lead him out of the pool,
and put on him a white under-garment, to signify purity of soul, and over it a red west, in token of his sale wation purchased by the blood of Christ; and being thus initiated into the church of the faithful, he partakes of the holy communion. At his dismissal he is presented with milk and honey; and the priest, laying his hand upon his head, gives him his benediction; “Son of baptism, go in peace.” The holy sacrament is administered in both kinds, and is received standing both by priests and people. The officiating priest administers the bread, and the deacon the wine in a spoon. The bread is leavened, except on certain days of humiliation and fasting, when they use unleavened bread; and the wine is prepared from the stones of raisins. They observe Saturday, in remembrance of the Creation, and solemnly keep the Christian Sabbath, or Lord's-day. Their public worship, which they attend once on that day, continues for several hours, when they observe the usual services proper, for its solemnization, prayer, reading the Scriptures, singing, and exhortation, or delivering a discourse or homily. In some of their churches they have music, to which they sing; but their instruments and psalmody are not agreeable to an European ear. What is singular among them is the practice .#. dances, to the sound of cymbals and kettledrums, which, they say, is in imitation of David: they call it rejoicing before the Lord. It may be presumed, that this practice is observed more particularly on festivals. Their fasts are many, and they keep them with great strictness. It is not lawful to communicate in private, or any where else but in the church, with an exception only in favour of the Emperor, when he receives the communion in his royal chapel. This office completes their divine service at all times, being administered every Sunday in every church, after the custom of the primitive Christians.
Their churches are built in the usual form of those in the East, and in imitation of the Temple of Jerusalem ; having a sanctuary and an outer court. In the sanctuary stands the holy table, set on four pillars; upon which is placed the tabot, or chest with the utensils for the consecrated elements; and over this is a canopy. The outer court, or body of the church, resembles that of 1he cathedral churches amongst us, and consists of a spacious pavement, on which stand the pillars that support the superstructure, or roof, and which is without pews or seats. Age and infirmity compel many to lean where they can for rest; and as their service continues for several. hours, and no sitting is allowed, most churches accommodate the weak with a sort of crutches fixed for the purpose, which is also the practice among the modern Greeks. As to the tabot, or holy chest, it is thought to be in imitation of those used by the Christians in the ages of martyrdom, when, being forced to meet in caves and burying-places in the night, for fear of their persecutors, they carried the sacred elements and utensils in chests made like a coffin, the better to escape the notice of their cruel enemies, and secure a peaceful celebration. In after times, these chests were brought into the churches, and by degrees were made to resemble a table; but the Ethiopian Christians alone seem to retain it in the ancient manner, having both table and chest, though the latter is made in a tabular form. In other churches, especially in the West, the table is the altar, without a chest. These Christians have so great a veneration for their churches, as the temples of God, that, in riding by them, they alight from their mules and walk a space, and then remount. When they enter, they put off their shoes at the door; and never spit upon the pavement, or commit other indecencies in or about the house of worship.
It is observed they have pictures in their churches, but do not allow of any statues; and though they have crosses, they will not suffer crucifixes to be used : it is counted a heinous offence among them to carry even a picture of Christ crucified.
Monks and monasteries abound in Abyssinia. The monks labour hard in the fields and gardens; fast daily till three in the afternoon; and assemble for devotion at midnight, and other stated hours: they are subject to priors and superiors, who are all appointed by the Abuna. Their monasteries are more like villages than the Roman convents; and as the country is fertile, and land is plenty, their labours procure them an easy support. The most celebrated of their monasteries is that of Allelujah, which formerly had four thousand monks. The monkish life is purely voluntary, and they are allowed to decline it whenever they please. Some of them are schoolmasters and tutors; and others, of superior ability, are preferred to civil offices, and become principals and governors of |. The Ethiopic clergy, ike the Greek, are allowed to marry once; but on a second marriage they are degraded. Marriage is forbidden the monks; nor can their children be admitted to the priesthood: so that if they are inclined to marry, they must quit the order of monachism.
With respect to learning among the Ethiopians, little can be said. They are, it seems, ignorant of other languages; and this, with the nature and situation of their country, shuts them out from a free intercourse with learned and commercial nations. They possess few books, except such as concern the religion and laws of their country; and these being of ancient compilation, and written in their ancient language, the Ethiopic, the reading and understanding of them is esteemed a considerable acquirement. It is said, however, that some Jesuits discovered, in one of their churches, a