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CHARACTER OF THE CONVERTS. 321
is one of the most common causes of persecution. 8th. The disputes between the missionaries themselves, regarding the ceremonies, have frequently excited troubles. To these causes, may be added the refusal of Christians to have their deceased friends buried with the idolatrous ceremonies required by their relatives, upon which the latter occasionally carry the matter before the officers, or resort to petty annoyances. On one occasion, the Christians threatened to carry the corpse into the house of the pagan relatives for them to do as they pleased with it, which silenced them, as it is deemed very unlucky to have a dead body brought into the house. The transportation of crucifixes, medals, and other religious images, wine for communion, books and pontifical garments, through the country, when detected, brought trouble upon the bearers. These were needed in the missions, and the bishop of Caradre often mentions his desire to his brother for a piece of the true cross, and his gratitude at its reception. These things keep up the spirit of devotion among the neophytes, and “God wrought several miracles among them to authorize the practice.” These articles, in the estimation of both priest and people, probably have no little influence over the demons which vex and harass the pagans, but which never trouble the Christians. St. Martin, writing to his father from Chingtu fu, the capital of Sz'chuen, in 1774, says: “The most sensible proof for the pagans, and one always in force, is the power the Christians have over demons. It is astonishing how these poor infidels are tormented, and they can find remedy only in the prayers of Christians, by whose help they are delivered and then converted. Seven or eight leagues from this spot is a house which has been infested with demons for a month ; they maltreat all who come near them, and have set the dwelling on fire at different times. They have had recourse to all kinds of superstitious ceremonies, calling in the native priests, but all to no effect; and the master of the family where I am staying has now gone to assist them. He is a man of lively faith, and has already performed many miraculous cures.” M. Gleyo, writing from the same region, speaks in the same strain. “It is but four months since a man was converted in
this neighborhood. He declared in presence of an assembly of Christians weeping with joy and gratitude on his behalf, that when he was on the point of giving himself to God, seven devils appeared in his chamber to intimidate him, and made many reproaches and menaces for his hardihood in wishing to abandon their services. Remembering the sign of the cross he made it. Immediately the devils fled away, and with so much precipitation that they broke down the door of the house in their haste to escape.” When persons educated in a country like France allow their converts to entertain such ideas, even if they do not favor them themselves, and countenance their endeavors to exorcise the possessed, we cannot look for a very high degree of knowledge or piety. If they are brought out of pagan darkness, it is but little if any better than into light hardly bright enough to enable them even to distinguish trees from men.
SIMILARITY BETWEEN BUDHISM AND ROMANISM. 323
The points of similarity between Budhism and Romanism have already been noticed, and the converts from one to the other see but little more change than they do when going from Budhism to the metaphysical speculations of the learned jukiau. If Romish priests have allowed their converts to worship before pagan images, provided a cross is put into the candles, it would not be difficult for the latter to put the names of their departed parents behind the “tablets of religion,” and worship them together. Similar to such a permission is the combination of the cross and dragon carved on a Romish altar near Shanghai, given on the opposite page, and at which both pagans and Christians could alike worship.
Agnuses, crosses, &c., are easily substituted for coins and charms, and it does not surely require much faith to believe the former as effectual as the latter. The neophyte takes away the tablet in his house or shop having shin, a on or spirit, written on it, and puts up another, on which is written shin, chin chu, tsau tien ti jin-wuh, or “God, true Lord, Creator of heaven, earth, man, and all things,” and burns the same incense before this as before that. Chinese demigods are changed for foreign saints, with this difference, that now they worship they know not what, while before they knew something of the name and character of the ancient hero from popular accounts and historical legends. They cease indeed to venerate the queen of Heaven, holy mother Matsupo, but what advance in true religion has been made by falling down before the Queen of Heaven, holy mother Mary 2 The people call the Budhist idols and the Romish images by the same name, and apply much the same terms to their ceremonies. Such converts can easily be numbered by thousands; and it is a wonder, indeed, when one considers the nature of the case, that the whole population of China has not long since become “devout confessors” of this faith. Conversions depend, in such cases, on almost every other kind of influence than that of the Holy Spirit blessing his own word in an intelligent mind and a quickened conscience. The missionaries write, “that being forced in three or four months after their arrival to preach when they do not know the language sufficiently either to be understood, or to understand themselves, they have seen their auditors immediately embrace Christianity.”
We pass no decision upon these converts, except what is given or drawn from the writings of their teachers. Human nature is everywhere the same in its great lineaments, and the ef. fect of living godly lives in Christ Jesus will everywhere excite opposition, calumny, persecution, and death, according to the liberty granted the enemies of the truth. That there may have been true converts among the myriads of adherents to Romanism is probable; but what salutary effects has this large body of Christians wrought in the vast population of China during the 250 years since Ricci established himself at Nanking ! None, absolutely none, that attract attention. The five or six thousand native Romanists at Macao are as a whole less enterprising and industrious than their pagan countrymen; and they are no more charitable or cleanly. What they are in the interior is not known except by hearsay from a few natives. The letters of some of the missionaries written to their own friends, breathe a spirit of pious ardor and true Christian principle worthy of all imitation. Among the best letters contained in the Annales is one from Dufresse to his pupils then at Penang. It is a long epistle, and contains nothing, with one exception, which the most scrupulous Protestant would not approve. The same may be said of most of the letters contained in the same collection written in prison by Gagelin, a missionary, who was strangled in Annam in 1833. It is hardly possible to doubt, when reading the letters of these two men (Dufresse and Gagelin), both of whom were martyred for the faith they preached, that they sincerely loved and trusted in the Savior they proclaimed. Many of their converts also exhibit the greatest constancy in their profession, suffering persecution, torture, imprisonment, banishment, and death, rather than deny their faith, though every inducement of prevarication and mental reservation was held out to them by the magistrates in order to avoid the necessity of proceeding to extreme measures. If suffering the loss of all things is an evidence of piety, many of them have proved their title to it in many ways. But until there shall be a complete separation from idolatry and superstition; until the confessional shall be abolished, and the worship of the Virgin, wearing crosses and rosaries, and reliance on ceremonies and penances, be stopped; until the entire Scriptures and Decalogue be given to the converts; and until, in short, the great doctrine of justification by faith be substituted for the many
PROTESTANT MISSIONS TO THE CHINESE. 325
forms of justification by works, the mass of converts to Romanism in China can hardly be considered as much better than baptized pagans. Their works and influence upon their pagan countrymen show how little leaven of godliness there has been in the lump, and both priest and people cannot well refuse to be judged by evidence furnished by themselves. Turn we now to a brief survey of the efforts of Protestants among the Chinese, and the results which have attended their labors, although their number has been too few, and their missions too recent, to lead any one acquainted with such labors to expect great results. The details furnished by Dr. Medhurst in his work upon China of missionary efforts at Canton, Batavia, Malacca, and elsewhere, are so ample and minute as to obviate the necessity of repeating them in this shorter sketch, seeing too that his book is easily procured. The first Protestant missionary to China was the Rev. Robert Morrison, of Morpeth, England, who was appointed by the London Missionary Society in 1807, and proceeded to Canton by way of New York, for the East India Company refused all missionaries passages in their ships either to China or India. He arrived at Macao in September, 1807, and proceeded to Canton almost immediately; here he lived in a quiet and unobtrusive manner, in a room in the factory of Messrs. Milner and Bull of New York, mixed but little either with foreigners or natives, adopted the Chinese costume, and endeavored to make the acquaintance of the people. His time was mostly occupied in study, and his confinement to his room and diligence in acquiring the language erelong began seriously to affect his health ; but better judgment induced him soon to resume his own dress, and associate with his countrymen and other foreigners in China more than he had done. He early made the acquaintance of Sir George T. Staunton, whose friendship he retained till his death ; Mr. Robarts, the chief of the British factory in-China, also furthered his views, and advised him to avow his intention to the Chinese of translating the Scriptures into their language, on the ground that it was a divine book which Christians highly esteemed, and which the Chinese should have the opportunity of examining. In consequence of difficulties connected with the trade, he was obliged to leave Canton in 1808 with all British subjects, and repair to Macao, where he deemed it prudent to maintain a careful retirement in order not to attract undue notice