« EdellinenJatka »
ed by the men an inferior race; and, in general are confined to the house for life, like irrational creatures. In every countenance now before me I thought I could discover the intelligence of Christianity. But at the same time, I perceived, all around, symptoms of poverty and political depression. In the Churches and in the people, there was the air of fallen greatness. I said to the senior Priest, You appear to me like a people who have known better days.' It is even so,' said he, * We are in a degenerate state compared with our forefathers. He noticed that there were two causes of their present decay. "About 300 years ago an enemy came from the West, bearing the name of Christ, but armed with the Inquisition : and compelled us to seek the protection of the native Princes. And the native Princes have kept us in a state of depression ever since. They indeed recognise our ancient personal privileges, for we rank in general next to the Nairs, the nobility of the country ; but they have encroached by degrees on our property, till we have been reduced to the hum. ble state in which you find us. The glory of our Church has passed away ; but we hope your nation will revive it again. I observed that the glory of a Church could never die, if it preserved the Bible.' We have preserved the Bible,' said he ;' the Hindoo Princes ney. er touched our liberty of conscience. We were formerly on a footing with them in political power; and they respect our religion. We have also converts from time to time ; but in this christian duty we are not so active as we once were; besides, it is not so creditable now to become Christian in our low estate. He then pointed out to me a Nambory Brahmin, (that is, a Brahmin of the highest cast) who had lately become a Christian, and assumed the white vestment of a Syrian Priest. • The learning too of the Bible,' he added, is in a low state amongst us. Our copies are few in number; and that number is diminishing instead of increasing; and the writing out a whole copy of the Sacred Scriptures is a great labor, where there is no profit and little piety.' I then produced a printed copy of the Syriac New Tes. ament. There was not one of them who had ever seen a printed copy before. They admired it much ; and
every Priest, as it came into his hands, began to read a portion, which he did fluently, while the women came round to hear. I asked the old Priest whether I should send them some copies from Europe. "They would be worth their weight in silver,' said he. He asked me whether the Old Testament was printed in Syriac, as well as the New. I told him it was, but I had not a copy. They professed an earnest desire to obtain some copies of the whole Syriac Bible; and asked whether i would be practicable to obtain one copy for every Church. I must confess to you,' said Zecharias, "that we have very few copies of the prophetical Scriptures in the Church. Our Church languishes for want of the Scriptures. But,' he added, the language that is most in use among the people is the Malayalim, (or Malabar) the vernacular language of the country. The Syriac is now only the learned language, and the language of the Church : but we generally expound the Scriptures to the people in the vernacular tongue.'
“I then entered on the subject of the translation of the Scriptures. He said a version could be made with critical accuracy; for there were many of the Syrian Clergy who were perfect masters of both languages, having spoken them from their infancy. But,' said he, 6 our Bishop will rejoice to see you, and to discourse with you on this and other subjects.' I told them that if a translation could be prepared, I should be able to get it printed, and to distribute copies among their fisty. five Churches at a small price. That indeed would give joy,' said old Abraham. There was here a mur: mur of satisfaction among the people. If I understand you right, said I, the greatest blessing the English Church can bestow upon you, is the Bible. It is so," said he. And what is the next greatest,' said I. "Some. freedom and personal consequence as a people.? By which he meant political liberty. "We are here in bondage, like Israel in Egypt. I observed that the ; English nation would doubtless recognize a nation of fellow-Christians ; and would be happy to interest itself in their behalf, as far as our political relation with the Prince of the country would permit. They wished to know what were the principles of the English Govern
ment, civil and religious. I answered that our Government might be said to be founded generally on the principles of the Bible. " Ah,' said old Zecharias,' that must be a glorious Government which is founded on the principles of the Bible.' The Priests then desired I would give them some account of the History of the English nation, and of our secession from their enemy the Church of Rome. And in return, I requested they would give me some account of their history. My communications with the Syrians are rendered very easy, by means of an Interpreter whom I brought with me all the way from the Tanjore Country. He is a Hindoo by descent, but is an intelligent Christian, and was a pupil and catechist of the late Mr. Swartz. The Rev. Mr. Kohloff recommended him to me. He formerly lived in Travancore, and is well acquainted with the vernacular tongue. He also reads and writes English very well, and is as much interested in favor of the Syrian Christians as I myself. Besides Mr. Swartz's catechist, there are two natives of Travancore here, who speak the Hindostanee Language, which is familiar 10 me. My knowledge of the Syriac is sufficient to refer to texts of Scriptures; but I do not well understand the pronunciation of the Syrians. I hope to be better acquainted with their language before I leave the country."
“ Ranniel, a Syrian Church, Nov. 12th, 1806. . " This Church is built upon a rocky hill on the banks of the river; and is the most remote of all the Churches in this quarter. The two Kasheeshas here are Lucas and Mattai (Luke and Matthew). The chief Lay members are Abraham, Georgius, Thoma, and Philippus. Some of the Priests accompany me from Church to Church. I have now visited eight Churches, and scarcely believe sometimes that I am in the land of the Hindoos; only that I now and then see a Hindoo tem. ple on the banks of the river. I observed that the bells of most of the Churches are within the building, and not in a tower. The reason they said was this. When a Hindoo temple happens to be near a Church, the Hindons do not like the bell to sound loud, for they say it frightens their God. I perceive that the Syrian Chris. tians assimilate much to the Hindoos in the practice of frequent ablutions for health and cleanliness, and in the use of vegetables and light food. .
“I attended divine service on the Sunday. Their Liturgy is that which was formerly used in the Churches of the Patriarch of Antioch. During the prayers, there were intervals of silence; the Priest praying in a low voice, and every man praying for himself. These silent intervals add much to the solemnity and appearance of devotion. They use incense in the Churches, it grows in the woods around them; and contributes much, they say, to health, and to the warmth and comfort of the Church, during the cold and rainy season of the year: At the conclusion of the service, a ceremony takes place which pleased me much. The Priest (or Bishop, if he be present) comes forward, and all the people pass by him as they go out, receiving his benediction individually. If any man has been guilty of any immorality, he does not receive the blessing; and this in their primitive and patriarchal state, is accounted a severe punishment. Instruction by preaching is little in use among them now. Many of the old men la. mented the decay of piety, and religious knowledge ; and spoke with pleasure of the record of ancient times, They have some ceremonies nearly allied to those of the Greek Church. Here, as in all Churches in a state of decline, there is too much formality in the worship. But they have the Bible and a scriptural Liturgy ; and these will save a Church in the worst of times. These may preserve the spark and life of religion, though the flame be out. And as there were but few copies of the Bible among the Syrians (for every copy was transcribed with the pen) it is highly probable that, if they had not enjoyed the advantage of the daily prayers, and daily portions of Scripture in their liturgy, there would have been, in the revolution of ages, no vestige of Christianity left among them. *
* In a nation like ours, overflowing with knowledge, men are not always in circumstances to perceive the value of a scriptural Liturgy. When Christians are well taught, they think they want something better. But the young and the ignorant, who form a great proportion of the cominunity, are ediñed by a little plain
« The doctrines of the Syrian Christians are few in number, but pure, and agree in essential points with those of the Church of England; so that, although the body of the Church appears to be ignorant, and formal, and dead, there are individuals who are alive to righteousness, who are distinguished from the rest by their purity of life, and are sometimes censured for too rigid a piety. In every Church, and in many of the private houses, there are manuscripts in the Syriac Language ; and I have been successful in procuring some old and valuable copies of the Scriptures and other books, written in different ages and in different characters."
“ Cande-nad, a Church of the Syrian Christians,
November 23, 1806. .« This is the residence of Mar Dionysius, the Metropolitan of the Syrian Church. A great number of the Priests from the other Churches had assembled by desire of the Bishop, before my arrival. The Bishop resides in a building attached to the Church. I was much struck with his first appearance. He was dressed in a vestment of dark red silk; a large golden cross hung from his neck, and his venerable beard reached below his girdle. Such, thought ], was the appearance of Chrysostom in the fourth century. On public occasions, he wears the Episcopal mitre, and a muslin robe is thrown over his under garment ; and in his hand he bears the crosier, or pastoral staff. He is a man of highly respectable character in his Church, eminent for his piety, and for the attention he devotes to his sacred functions I found him to be far superior in general learning to any of his clergy whom I had
instruction frequently repeated. A small Church or Sect may do without a form for a while. But a national Liturgy is that which preserves a relic of the true faith among the people in a large Empire, when the Priests leave their ARTICLES and their conFESSIONS OF FAITH. Woe to the declining Church which hath no Gospel Liturgy! Witness the Presbyterians in the West of Eng. land, and some other sects, who are said to have become Arians and Socinians to a man. The Puritans of a former age did not live long enough to see the use of an evangelical Formulary.