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the Roman Catholic church made an attempt, rather indirectly, to raise the standard of the cross there. His reasons for doubting the fact of the Nestorians having introduced Christianity into China, are the following, viz. “The first is, that no authentic Chinese records that I have yet seen, make the least mention of the coming of that sect into China, or of their efforts, doctrines, sufferings, or extinction there. Nor, with the exception of the Stone Tablet of See-Gan, mentioned by some Romish missionaries, have any monuments, inscriptions, remains of old churches, &c. been noticed by any Chinese writer, that I have seen or heard of. The second is, that no part of the Nestorian doctrines, or ceremonies of worship, seem to have mingled themselves with any of the Pagan systems of China; at least so far as I can yet discover.” In the year 1307, the gospel is said to have made so great progress in China, under the Roman Catholics, that Peking was erected into an archbishopric. The names of Francis Xavier, and Matthew Ricci, are well known; the latter laid the foundation of the Romish church in China. After describing the success which the missionaries met with for years, and the sufferings which they endured, the writer concludes thus: “The Europeans who were the life of the missions, have either died, been banished, or fallen by the hands of their persecutors: and the handful of converts which they had made (for compared with the Pagan Chinese, they were not, in the most flourishing state of the Catholic religion, as one to ten thousand), partly for want of the holy scriptures, and partly for want of living teachers, are falling back rapidly to heathenism.” It must however be observed, that there now exists a Greek church in Peking, at which the “Russian commercial resident and others from that country attend;” but it is not known that this church has made any attempts to spread the gospel among that people. In the “sketch” which the writer gives of “the national and religious character of China,” he evinces an extensive acquaintance with his subject. He traces the history of that nation from its infancy, composed of small states, gradually increasing until (by the conquest of the Tartars, by whom the empire is now governed) it has become a wonder among the nations of the earth. “It is now, (says Dr. Milne,) 175 years since the present dynasty obtained the government of the whole Chinese dominions. Since then, there have been two national characters in the empire, of a very opposite kind, affecting each other by a mutual reaction. The intrigue and deceit of the Chinese, and the rude courage of the Tartar, unite in what may be consiVol. II.-Presb. Mag.
dered the present national character of China: and in as far as this union exists, it will render her more formidable to her enemies, than nations at a distance imagine.” Her political character does not appear in a favourable light, if we consider what the writer declares in the following impressive language. “If in her intercourse with foreign countries, China cannot with truth and justice, make all things appear honourable to herself, she makes no difficulties about using other means. She discolours narrative—she misquotes statements—she drags forth to the light whatever makes for her own advantage, and industriously seals up in oblivion whatever bears against her. She lies by system; and, right or wrong, must have all to look well on paper. This view of the national character of China, is not more true than lamentable; especially when we consider, that the character of a nation is formed by the sentiments and conduct of individuals: and that these again are the result of principles taught in the country, or reigning in the heart.” The change from barbarism to that state of civilization to which China has attained was extremely slow. “For it appears from the Chinese records, (says Dr. M.) that as far down as 918 years, B. C. there are instances, in which beloved ministers and slaves were killed at the death of their prince, to bear him company and serve him in the other world. They were barbarians in literature as well as in manners; for they could neither read, nor write, nor cypher. “In letters, nature itself became their teacher; the first ideas of writing were suggested to them by the impression of the feet of birds on the sand, and the marks on the bodies of shell fish. Their written character continued for a long period, purely hieroglyphic: but after passing through various changes, suggested partly by convenience, and partly by genius, it gradually lost its original form, and approximated to one better adapted for the purpose of government and literature.” It appears, that the arts and sciences have for many years, yes, for ages, made very little progress; nay, according to the representation of the last English embassy to the court of Peking, in 1816, conducted by Lord Amherst, it would seem, that they are declining. If this be so, (and we cannot doubt it,) nothing but the introduction of Christianity on an enlarged scale, can revive them. They are blindly devoted to antiquity, and consider whatever is ancient, as the “prototype” of all that is great, and glorious, and excellent. Notwithstanding the present degraded state of China as to literature and morality and religion, Dr. M. confirms the opinion so justly entertained, that in some of the Chinese writings are found many compara. tively correct sentiments on numerous subjects. But at the same time, when the whole picture is fairly exhibited, it pre
sents to our view a most melancholy representation of the state of such multitudes of moral beings, who are continually passing away to eternity. The following remarks of the author, will give us some adequate idea of the pitiable condition of that people. “Many striking aphorisms—many correct views of life— many bright and pertinent thoughts, concerning the mutual intercourse of mankind, and the management of business—many useful maxims for the government of families and nations, and for the regulation of the temper in individuals, are to be found in Chinese books; especially those of the sect of Confucius, both ancient and modern. But the good effects of these are in a great measure counteracted, either by the entire silence which they preserve on the subject of the existence and perfections of God, or by the distorted views which they give of his character and government, or by a great preponderance of false principles in general. As we ought not, in judging of the character of a people, to deny what is good in them, so we ought not to run away with a few of their useful maxims, as fair specimens of their creed and conduct. When we perceive, on the attentive examination of the books and prevailing practices of the Chinese, that some of those sentiments which they most value, and which appear most important in the eyes of strangers, arise from false theories of the universe, or are enforced on the principles of astrology, or tie the mind down to earth, and lead the people to idolatry, what judgment can we pass on them : When we behold the best of her rulers, and the most enlightened of her sages, (e. g. Confucius) worshipping any God or no God at all, just as suited time, place, and taste of the age; what shall we think of their hearts, virtues, and productions? Can we suppose these systems capable of directing the bulk of the people to God, which leave their authors to worship the heavens and the earth, mountains and rivers, the gods of the kitchen, and the spirits of the dead? The current of Chinese idolatry widened and deepened as it flowed, by the accession of tributary streams from western and eastern Tartary. Their successive conquerors, along with their national customs, introduced also their national gods and superstitions. At the present time the gods of China are, to use an expression of the sect of Fuh, Hang-hosha-soo, i.e. “in number like the sands of Hang river.” Most of the forms of mythology which make any figure in the page of history, now exist in China; except that their indecent parts, and their direct tendency to injure human life, have been cut off. The idolatry of ancient Canaan, of Egypt, of Greece, of Rome, of Chaldea, and of India, are all to be found here, though with some slight variations. China has her Diana, her (Eolus, her Ceres, her Esculapius, her Mars, her Mercury, her Neptune, and her Pluto, as well as the western Pagans had. She has gods celestial, terrestrial, and subterraneous; gods of the hills, of the vallies, of the woods, of the districts, of the family, of the shop, and of the kitchen! She adores the gods who are supposed to preside over the thunder, the rain, the fire; over the grain, over births and deaths. She worships the host of heaven. She worships the genii of the mountains, rivers, lakes, and seas; together with birds, beasts, and fishes. She addresses prayers and offers sacrifices to the spirits of departed kings, sages, heroes; and parents, whether good or bad. Her idols are silver and gold, wood and stone, and clay; carved or molten, the work of men's hands. Her altars are on the high hills, in the groves, under the green trees; she has set up her idols at the corners of the streets, on the sides of the highway, on the banks of canals, in boats and in ships. Astrology, divination, geomancy, and necromancy, every where prevail. Spells and charms every one possesses. They are hung about the neck, or stitched up in one's clothes, or tied to the bed posts, or goods safe without them. The emperors of China, her statesmen, her merchants, her people, and her philosophers also, are all idolaters.
“Such,” concludes the writer, “is the state of China. Such, after enjoying the philosophy of Confucius for more than two thousand years! Such, after Roman Catholic Christianity has existed in it upwards of two centuries! Such it was when the mission to China was proposed; and such it is at the present time.
It is known that Dr. Morrison accompanied Lord Amherst, in the year 1816, to the court of Peking; and it must be gratifying to the Christian community to learn, that the Dr. wrote a short memoir of the embassy, which we hope he will soon publish. From his intimate acquaintance with the Chinese language and literature, and from his habit of close investigation, for a long time, of all that belongs to this interesting people, we may hope, that much valuable information will be presented to the world.
With what unceasing industry the members of this mission have applied themselves to their honourable work, will appear from the fact, that more than 140,000 tracts and catechisms, and portions of the sacred scriptures, have been printed in the Chinese language, besides 20,500 in the Malay. The whole of the Old and New Testaments have been completed, and the pleasing reflection is indulged, that the way is now prepared, for the emancipation of the vast population of this mighty empire, from the oppressive tyranny of the prince of darkness.
A correspondent in the city of New York, has furnished us with a volume of admirable sermons and essays, on the duty of Christians in relation to the Jews, never published in this country. The same gentleman has kindly promised, for our pages, some account of the rise and progress of the “London Society for promoting Christianity amongst the Jews,” which we doubt not will be interesting and useful; a portion of which may be expected in our next number. This subject has not received that attention, from the American churches, to which it is entitled. If we believe, as the Bible teaches, that Israel shall be brought in to Christ, with the fulness of the Gentiles, our prayers and labours of love should be directed to the former no less than to the latter: and the present aspect of Providence seems to indicate that the time to favour that miserable, and too long neglected people, is come.
The following pertinent observations are taken from a sermon contained in the volume just named, by the Rev. Thomas Scott, jun., preached at the Parish church of St. Paul, Bedford, (England,) for the benefit of the Jews' Society. After giving a melancholy, but just picture, of the state of the Jewish nation, the author proceeds, under his second head of discourse, to consider the duty of Christians toward this unhappy people.
“When we reflect on the immense debt of gratitude which we owe to this nation; when we think on all the endearing bonds which must bind the heart of a Christian, to those who are the children of faithful Abraham; among whom arose all those eminent saints, whose examples we admire, and by which we are daily edified; the people from whom we have received the whole word of God; and from whom sprang that glorious Redeemer, who hath rescued us from hell: when, in short, we reflect on all that must make a pious mind love those “in whom all the nations of the earth are blessed,’ we cannot but be astonished to think, that their most lamentable state has scarcely been heeded by the disciples of Christ. In this there has been a most striking contrast between the disciples and their Master. In few things have the bulk of professed Christians shown themselves so far from being like minded with Christ.
“In the midst of all the malice of the Jews, in the prospect of all the torture, which he was just going to endure at their hands, the Saviour could forget his own sorrows, to weep over Jerusalem and the miseries that were coming on her unhappy children! Even in that ‘hour and power of darkness,” when all his foes triumphed over him; and he was led forth, amidst the contempt and execration of almost the whole Jewish nation; he endeavoured to turn the lamen. tation of his few followers from himself to that devoted people: “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.” Yet these very miseries, over which they were called to weep, have been, and are now, beheld by Christians without concern!
“Even after our Lord's resurrection, when the measure of Jerusalem's ini
* Luke xxiii. 27, &c.