« EdellinenJatka »
sire to know its present character, and whether it can boast of a religious or civilizing efficiency.
The Roinish church in India is coeval with the Spanish and Portuguese empires in the east: and though both empires are now in ruins, the church remains. Sacred property has been respected in the different revolutions; for it is agreeable to Asiatic principle to reverence religious institutions. The revenues are in general small, as is the case in the
Roman Catholic countries at home; but the priests live every where in respectable or decent circum
stances. Divine service is regularly performed, and the churches are generally well attended; ecclesiastical discipline is preserved; the canonical European ceremonies are retained; and the benefactions of the people are liberal. It has been observed that the Roman Catholics in India yield less to the luxury of the country and suffer less from the climate than the English: owing it may be supposed, to their youth being surrounded by the same religious establishments they had at home and to their being still subject to the observation and counsel of religious characters, whom they are taught to reverence.
3. Besides the regular churches there are numerous Romish missions established throughout Asia. But the zeal of conversion has not been known during the last century. The missionaries are now gen. erally stationary; respected by the natives for their learning and medical knowledge, and in general for their pure manners, they ensure to themselves a comfortable subsistence, and are enabled to show hospitality to strangers.
4. Ona general view of the Roman catholic church we must certainly acknowledge that, besides its principal design in preserving the faith of its own members, it possesses a civilizing influence in Asia; and that notwithstanding its constitutional asperity, intolerant and repulsive, compared with the generous principles of the protestant religion, it has dispelled much of the darkness of paganism.
of the extent of the proposed Ecclesiastical Establish
ment for British India.
A regular ecclesiastical establishment for British India may be organized without difficulty, Two bishops might suffice, if India were less remote from Britain: but the inconvenience resulting from sudden demise, and from the long interval of succession from England, renders it necessary that there should he three or more men of episcopal dignity; an archbishop and metropolitan of India, to preside at the seat of the supreme government in Bengal; and one bishop at each of the two subordinate presidencies, at Madras and Bombay. These three dioceses should embrace respectviely all our continental possessions in the east. To these must be added a bishopric for Ceylon, to comprehend all the adjacent islands, and also New Holland and the islands in the Pacific Ocean. The number of rectors and curates in each diocese must be regulated by the number of inilitary stations, and of towns and islands containing European inhabitants: with an especial attention to this circumstance, that provision may be made for keeping the establishment full, without constant reference to England. The necessity of such provision will be illustrated by the following fact: In Bengal and the adjacent provinces there is at present an establishment of six military chaplains; but that number is sometimes reduced one half. When a chaplain dies or goes home, his successor does not arrive, in most cases, till two years afterwards,
Considerations deduced from the propriety or necessity
of an ecclesiastical establishment.
1. Has it ever been fully considered on what ground a religious establishment has been given to all the other dependencies of Great Britain, and denied to India? It might be deemed as sacred a duty of the mother country to support Christian institutions among us, as among the English in the West Indies; and particularly in Canada and Nova-Scotia, both of which provinces are honoured with episcopal institutions. Our peculiar situation seems to give to us a yet higher title to such advantages. Living in a remote and unhealthy country, amidst a superstitious and licentious people, where both mind and body are liable to suffer, we have, it will be allowed, as strong a claim on our country for Christian privileges as any other description of British subjects. of the multitude of our countrymen who come out every year, there are but a few who ever return. When they leave England, they leave their religion forever.
2. It will not be an objection to a church estabHishment in India, that it has the semblance of a royal institution. Nor is it probable that it will be opposed on the ground of expense. By the late cessions and conquests, provinces have been added to our sovereignty, whose annual revenues would pay the whole ecclesiastical establishment of England many times over.
3. This is the only country in the whole world, çivilized or barbarous, where no tenth is paid; where no twentieth, no hundredth, no thousandth part of its revenue is given by government, for the support of the religion of that government; and it is the only instance in the annals of our country where church and
state have been dismembered. We seem at present to be trying the question, “Whether religion be necessary for a state;" whether a remote commercial empire, having no sign of the Deity, 'no temple, no type of any thing heavenly, may not yet maintain its Christian purity, and its political strength amidst Pagan supertitions, and a voluptuous and unprincipled people?
4. When the Mahomedans conquered India, they introduced the religion of Mahomet into every quarter of Hindostan, where it exists unto this day; and they created munificent endowments for the establishment of their faith. The same country under erir sovereignty, has seen no institution for the religion of Christ.
5. How peculiar is that policy, which reckons on the perpetuity of an empire in the east, without the aid of religion, or of religious men; and calculates that a foreign nation, annulling all sancity in its character among a people accustomed to reverence the Deity, will flourish forever in the heart of Asia, by arms or commerce alone!
6. It is not necessary to urge particularly the danger from French infidelity and its concomitant principles, as an argument for a religious establishment in India; for although these principles have been felt here, the danger now is much less than formerly. Under the administration of Marquis Wellesley, Frenchmen and French principles have been subdued. And nothing would now so consolidate our widely extended dominions, or prove more obnoxious to the counsels of our European enemies in their attempts on this country, than an ecclesiastical establishment; which would give our empire in the east the semblance of our empire in the west, and support our English principles, on the stable basis of English religiom
7. The advantages of such an establishment, in respect to our ascendency among the natives, will be
incalculable. Their constant observation is, that “the English have no religion;" and they wonder whence we have derived our principles of justice, humanity, magnanimity, and truth. Amidst all our conquests in the east; amidst the glory of our arms or policy: amidst our brilliant display of just and generous qualities, the Englishmen is still in their eyes " the Cafir;" that is the Infidel.
8. The Scriptures have been fately translated into some of the vernacular languages of India. The natives read these scriptures, and there they find the principles of the English. “But if these scriptures
. be true,' say they, “where is your church?” We answer "at home.” They shake the head, and say that something must be wrong; and that although there are good principles in our holy book, they might expect something more than internal evidence, if we would wish them to believe that it is from God; or even that we think so ourselves.
Objections to an ecclesiastical establishment considered.
“Is an ecclesiastical establishment necessary. Our "commercial Indian empire has done hitherto with
1. Perhaps the character of our Indian empire has suffered by the want of a religious establishment From whatever cause it proceeded, we know that the moral principles of our countrymen were, for many years, in a state of public trial before the tribunal of Europe, in relation to this commercial empire; and that Indian immorality was for a time proverbial.
2. It was observed, in extenuation, at that period, that the case would have been the same with