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* From the confusion arising from the imperfection of Hindoo chronology, from the desire which these Christians have to derive their origin from the earliest possible times, (which may perhaps have introduced false traditions amongst them,)and as all their authentic records are reported to have been destroyed during the persecutions of the church of Rome; from all these circumstances, whether we refer to the Hindoo accounts, to the St. Thome Christians themselves or to their persecutors, the Roman Catholics, we are not likely to arrive at any certain conclusion as to the exact time of their establishment in Malabar. Some circumstances, however, may be collected from undoubted authority, by which it may be inferred, that they have been for nearly fifteen centuries established in India; for we find, in ecclesiastical history, that at the first council at Nice, in the year 325. a bishop from India was amongst the number composing that memorable synod; and, in the creeds and doctrines of the Christians of Malabar, internal evidence exists of their being a primitive church; for the supremacy of the Pope is denied and the doctrine of Transubstantiation never has been held by them; and they regarded, and still regard the worship of images as idolatrous, and the doctrine of Purgatory to be fabulous: moreover they never admitted as sacraments extreme unction, marriage, or confirmation: all which facts may be substantiated on reference to the acts of the synod established by Don Alexis de Meneses, archbishop of Goa, at Udiamper, in the year 1599.
“The history of this council will be found most ably detailed in a work printed in French, and entitled, “The history of christianity in India," published at the Hague, in the year seventeen hundred twenty four, by La Croze, the celebrated librarian to the King of Prussia.
“The object of this work was to deduce, from authentic materials, the rise, progress, and establishment of christianity in the East; and to hold up to disgrace, and to merited indignation, the bigotted and unworthy conduct of the Roman Catholic church, in the persecution set on foot by her emissaries, under her avowed sanction, against the primitive Christians who were found settled on the coast of Malabar; and La Croze seems to
have discharged his duty to the public in a most faithful, interesting, and able manner.
“When the Portuguese first arrived in this country, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, they found a christian church using the Syrio-Chaldaic language, established in the neighbourhood of Cranganore; and, though it was published to the world many centuries be. fore that period, that such a church existed, yet we find their ignorance expressed in the wonder which it excited.
"These christians met the Portuguese as natural friends and allies, and rejoiced at their coming; but the Portaguese were much disappointed at finding the St. Thome christians firmly fixed in the tenets of a primitive church; and soon adopted plans for drawing away from their pure faith this innocent, ingenuous, and respectable people: however after using for nearly a century, all the customary arts and abominable persecutions of the church of Rome to no purpose, Don Alexis de Meneses, the archbishop of Goa. appeared amongst them; and, by his. commanding influence, his zeal, and his learning, and on the authority of what he called the council of Udiamper, forced the Syrian Metropolitan, his priests, and people, into the Roman pale. The archbishop, however, had not long quitted the scene of this triumph of bigotry, ere the people sighed for their old religion, and cherished it in: private; but on the twenty-second of May, 1653, they held a Congress at Alingatte, and great numbers, headed by their Metropolitan, revolted publicly from the Romish communion; nor has all the influence of the Roman Pontiff, and the kings of Portugal, been able to draw them away again from their old faith.
“Leaving the history of this interesting people, which is affectingly delineated in La Croze's book, 'I shall in this report, confine myself more particularly to the existing state of christianity in Malabar; and, in order that your lordship may have the subject clearly before you, I shall consider each sect: 1st, of St. Thome, or Jacobite Christians;... 2dly, The Syrian Catholics, who have been forced from the Jacobite Church into the Komish pale; and, 3dly, The Latin church.
St. Thome, ar Jacobite Christians. “ These people, who still retain their ancient creed and usages, consider themselves as the descendants of the flock established by St Thomas, who is generally esteemed the Apostle of the east. Their ancestors emigrated from Syria, and the Syrio-Chaldaic is the language in which their church service is still performed. They admit noimages within their churches, but a figure of the Virgin Mary, with the chịld Jesus in her arms, whch is considered merely as an ornament, and not a subject for idolatrous worship. They are generally denominated by the country people, Nazaranee Mapilles. Nazarance is obviously derived from Nazareth; but the origin of the word Mapillah is variously accounted for; by some it is ingeniously supposed to refer to the Virgin and Child,, the only image admitted within their churches; as Ma implies Mother, in various languages, derived from the Shanscrit; and Pillah, Child. Others again, construe the term to indicate the rank originally confered on these christians by the sovereign of Mala. bar. Poolah signifies a class, in a state synonymous with our secretaries. Ma or Maha signifies great or su. perior.
The term Mapillah is indiscrimately applied to Jews and Musselmen as well as to these christians, distinguishing each by the prefix of the Jew, Syrian, or Nazarene, or Musselmen.
It is certain that grants of honor and emolument were formerly possessed by these christians, given to them by a king of Malabar, named Peremaul, engraven on copper, five of which engravings are still in existence; a fac-simile of which I have seen in the possession of the resident of 'Travancore.
“ It has heen long believed, that these christians held the tenets of the Nestorian heresy, and that they were obliged to leave their own country in consequence of persecution : however it appears that the creed which they now follow denies that heresy, and seems to coincide in several points with the creed of St. Athanasius, but without its damnatory clauses.
· Baron Von Wrede has written a memoir on the subjert of these christians, which appeared in the 7th volume of the Asiatic Researches, and which has the merit of calling our attention to these people; though it is no
better than a lame transcript of information which may be fully and satisfactorily obtained in La Croze's book, from whence every material part of that memoir is obviously taken ; indeed, wherever the Baron departs from his author, he becomes less interesting, or misleads his reader. That the Christians in Malabar were early taught the tenets of Nestorius, is proved by La Croze, on the direct authority of Cosmas, an Egyptian merchant, (himself a Nestorian,) who published his voyage to India in the year 547. It seems, however, not improbable that Christians had been planted on the shores, long before the time of Nestorius, and, I am inclined to regard the tradition of its having spread hither in the age of the Apostles, as very far from fabulous.*
“With respect to their religious tenets, writers may and will disagree: upon such subjects human reason avails nothing. The disputes which on these points have agitated the world, are in general no better than the
perverse offspring of verbal differences.
The following is a version of the present creed of these people, being a written communication from the Metropolitan to the Resident at Travancore:
“ In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, We, the Christians, believers in the religion of Jesus Christ, subject to the Jurisdiction of Mar Ignatius, patriarch of Antioch, being loyalt Jacobians, hold the following creed:
· Eusebius informs us, that there were Christians in India as early as the year 189, who had the Gospel of St. Matthew in Hebrew, which they declared was received from St Bartholomew.
4 Eastern Christians, who renounce the communion of the Greek church, who differ from it both in doctrine and worship, may be comprehended under two distinet classes. To the former belong the Monophysites or Jacobites, so called from Jacob Albardai, who declare it as their opinon, that in the Saviour of the world there is only one nature; while the latter comprehends the folJowers of Nestorius, frequently called Chaldcans, from the country wh re they principally reside, and who suppose that there are two distinct persons or natures in the Son of God. The Monophysites are subdivided into two sects or parties, the one African and the other Asiatic. At the head of the Asiatics is the patriarch of Antioch, who resides for the most part in the monastry of St. Ananias, which is situated near the city of Merdin, and sometimes at Merdin his Episcopal seat; as also at Amida, Aleppo, and other Syrian cities. The government of this prelate is too extensive, and the churches over which he presides too numerous, to admit of his performing himself all the duties of his high office; and, therefore, a part of the administration of the pontificate is giv. en to a kind of colleague, who is called the Maphrain, or primate of the east and wbose doctrines and discipline are said to be adopted by the eastern church beyond the Tigris. This primate used formerly to reside at Tauris, a city on the frontiers of Armenia; but his present habitation is the monastry of St. Matthew, which is in the neighbourhood of Mousul, a city of Mesopotamia. It is further observable, that all the patriarchs of the Jacobites assume the do nomination of Igoatias-Mosheim, vol. 4. Section xi. Page 257.
- We believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three persons in one God, neither confounding the
per. sons nor dividing the substance, one in three and three
“ The Father generator,-The Son generated, and the Holy Ghost proceeding.
“None is before nor after other in majesty, honour might, and power: co-equal, unity in trinity, and trinity
“We do not believe with Arius and Eunomius, that there are three different and separate substances.
“ We do not believe as Sabellius believes, by confusion of substance.
“ We do not believe, as Macedonius said, that the Holy Ghost is less than the Father and Son.
"We do not believe, as Mawney andt Marciavus said, that the body of Christ was sent down from heaven.
“ We do not believe, as Julianusg said, that Christ was only man.
“ We do not hold, as Nestorius, the doctrine of two natures, and two subsistances in the Messiah.
“ We do not believe as the Chalcedonians said, that there are two natures in the Messiah.
“ But we believe by the doctrine of the Trinity, that the Son is coequal with the Father, without beginning or end--that in the appointed time, through the disposition of the Father and Holy Ghost, without disjoining from the right side of the Father, he appeared on earth for the salvation of mankind that he was born of the Virgin Mary, through the means of the Holy Ghost, and was incarnate, God and man. So that in the union of the divine and human nature, there was one nature and one substance. So we believe."
“ The service in their church is performed very nearly after the manner of the church of England: and when the Metropolitan was told that it was hoped that one day an union might take place between the two churches, he seemed pleased at the suggestion.
“The present Metropolitan Mar Dionisius, is now old and infirm, bat a very respectable character, and of the most venerable and prepossessing appearance. A person has been sent from Mousul, a city in Mesopotamia, | These I surpose might be Manes and Marcian. Perhaps Julian, Bishop of Halicarnassus.