AUTHENTIC MEMOIRS OF THE Christian Church in China.
We imagine we shall need no apology for reprinting this curious and sensible piece : it is necessary only to inform the reader that it was first published in eight sheets 8vo. under the following title,
AUTHENTIC memoirs of the Christian church in China : being a series of facts to evidence the causes of the declension of Christianity in that empire. By JOHN LAURENCE DE MOSHEIM, chancellor of his majesty's university of Gottingen. Translated from the German. LONDON 1750,
AUTHENTIC MEMOIRS OF THE Christian Church in China.
THE following is an account of the revolutions among that part of the Romish communion, which is established in China, of the controversies which have arisen among the missionaries, and of the disturbance occasioned thereby, even amongst the subjects of the bishop of Rome in Europe. It may seem proper to begin where father Du Halde leaves off; but I find it indispensably necessary to go farther back to the infancy of the church in China. It will be difficult to understand what has passed of late, without knowing many of the preceding transactions. The whole history of this church is connected. The latest events are consequences of the measures first taken. Indeed there is another reason for this retrospect. Du Halde has not related all that he might and would have related, had he been an impartial historian; and in some instances he departs from the historical character, to assume that of a panegyrist and arbitrator. I think it expedient to guard the reader against the influence of his eloquence, as well as of his silence. This cannot be done by a mere continuation of his history. However I shall be as concise as possible. My authorities are unexceptionable. Most of them are borrowed from both the contending parties, neither of which will choose to dispute the equity of judgments pronounced at Rome, and of the bulls of Pope Clement the eleventh, and Benedict the fourteenth. And from these authorities my account is chiefly extracted. I shall carefully distinguish matters of doubtful or uncertain credit, and my own reflections will be easily discerned from the testimony of others.
The founders of the Romish church in China were three Italian Jesuits, who were sent into that empire by the superiors of their order towards the end of the sxteenth century; Roger, a Neapolitan, Paso of Bologna, and Matthew Ricci of Mazerata in the marquisate of Ancona. It is true, that before these, some other Roman ecclesiastics travelled to China, and promised to found a Christian church there. Du Halde and all the Jesuits are cautious of mentioning these predecessors of their brethren. And the Dominicans and Franciscans, who are at enmity with the Jesuits, give them incessant praise. The effect of great partiality, envy and indiscretion on both sides; on the one hand a needless caution, on the other an ill-grounded vanity. The Jesuits might safely mention, and their enemies would suffer little by forgetting them. Whatever their good intentions might be, their travels and labours proved fruitless. The only merit they have, is that of landing in China, before the Jesuits, and winning to preach there, if they could have obtained permission. It is certain, that the three Jesuits before mentioned, were the first founders of this branch of their church. They had learned the Chinese language before their arrival, so that they could immediately enter upon their commission.
Pasio and Roger had not been many years engaged in it, before they were recalled. Ricci was therefore the only one remaining, and he carried on his undertaking with great zeal and assiduity. In very few years he had a numerous congregation, consisting of the Literati as well as the populace. He was assisted in time by fellow labourers, but whilst he lived, he was at their head, in point of abilities as well as rank. He knew more perfectly than any of them, how to affect and win the minds of all orders of men, and to season the doctrine he taught according to the palate and genius of the Chinese. So that he justly merits the title given him, by his order, of father and founder of the church of China.
Ricci was a man of no common abilities. Besides a natural complacency, discretion and benevolence, he had great sagacity and learning, was patient and indefatigable to a high degree, ready in conforming himself to every one's opinions and views, and had an unbounded zeal to promote the interests of his church. He was perfectly skilled in mathematical learning, which of all others is most esteemed in China. This opened to him the hearts of the great and learned. He spent seven successive years among those idolatrous priests whom they call the Bonzees, and was instructed by them in the language, customs and learning of the Chinese. His parts and temper won him the affection and esteem of all his teachers. At leaving this school, he was well enough versed in Chinese learning to be a match for the greatest philosophers of the empire. He laid aside the habit of a Jesuit, because he perceived it brought him into contempt, and put on that of a Chinese philosopher. This improved the reputation he had already acquired by his accomplishments. The philosophers of the country embraced him as a brother and member of their society, and the people honoured him the more, for seeing him respected by their sages.
He wrote some books in recommendation of the Christian faith, which were eagerly read, for they were written in the language used at court, and among the Literati. The principal book he published was printed at Pe-king, the capital of the empire, in the year 1603, and is entitled, Of the Divine Law. This piece is censured and extolled by different parties. If we believe the enemies of the Jesuits, it is abominable, in that it connects and intermixes the doctrine of Jesus with the morals of Confucius. As I know no more of the book, than what is reported by the Jesuits and their adversaries, I cannot give my opinion. The life of Ricci is written at large by a masterly hand, father Orleans, a French Jesuit. It is hardly possible to read this life without admiring the great abilities of the man, tho' the application of them may not in every case be defensible.
But Ricci with all his abilities, learning and experience, would have been the pastor of a very small flock, had he pursued only the methods of preaching and converting common to the Romish clergy. The prudence of his society was of eminent use to him, and seconded his labours more effectually, than the simplicity of the gospel. The Jesuit missionaries preach Christianity very differently from the other monks and ecclesiastics. A Dominican, a Franciscan, an Austin friar, or a secular priest, when he becomes an apostle, carries nothing with him, but a warm zeal for the faith, his school learning, which is of more detriment than use to him, and a considerable stock of superstitious opinions. Besides this, many of them are willing to make advantage of the credulity of the people, and promote the credit of their religion by a pious fraud and a pretended miracle. This is the whole spiritual apparatus of an ordinary Romish missionary. But a Jesuit leaves his school learning at home, and instead of it carries with him some rules of prudence inculcated into him by his superiors and instructors. Of these rules the following are the principal :
I. A missionary, who hopes for success, must assume the character of a divine, or philosopher of the country
in which he preaches. This conduct removes great part of the prejudice ufually entertained againft foreigners. A Jefuit therefore, as soon as he enters upon his office in a heathen country, changes his character. In India he becomes a Braman; in Siam a Talapoin; in China either a Bonzee, or a Confucian and philosopher; in Africa he appears a Marabou. A poor Capuchin or Dominican retains his European character, and makes that of a mendicant friar, confident with that of a preacher. Hence he is of little or no repute, whilst the Jesuit, in his mask, gains the hearts and attention of the people,
II. A missionary must make it his earned endeavour to be favoured at court. In order thereto, he must leave no means untried, by presents, by respect, by attendance, and other the like practices, to ingratiate himself with those who are at the head of affairs.
III. He must, if possible, insinuate himself so far, into the confidence of the great and powerful, that he may be consulted in matters of state and government. A missionary, who has succeeded in this, may preach on securely. There are some other rules under this head, which for the fake of brevity I omit.
IV. A missionary must conform to the opinions and customs of the people he is sent to, provided they be not manifestly inconsistent with the faith he is commissioned to preach.
V. He must make use of whatever has the appearance of truth and piety in the religion of the country where he preaches, and endeavour to reconcile it to his own doctrine. It is not material, that this cannot be done without distorting the heathen as well as the Christian religion. The little sin committed upon such an occasion is amply attuned for by the benefit it produces.
VI. He mud not abolish, or prohibit, ancient customs and ceremonies, to which an ignorant people is generally much attached. Let the people retain the customs of their fathers. It is sufficient to sanctify them, that is, to separate all that is manifestly idolatrous and superstitious, and with a good design to make the rest consistent.
VII. A missionary must have money, and trade may enable him to procure it. If therefore he can privately carry on a little commerce, he does well. It is no disgrace to his office, whilst he converts his gains to the service of God.
I might enumerate more of these rules, but it would be needless, as the rest follow from these. If it be asked, what authority I have to assert, that the Jesuits observe these rules in their missions? I answer, it appears not merely from the writings of their enemies, but from their own conduct. As this is in all their missions their constant practice, it is highly probable, that directions for those purposes are given them by their fraternity. Indeed most of these a Jesuit would hardly be ashamed to confess. Perhaps he may treat the third and the last as mere calumny; but the rest he would call instances of apostolical prudence. The most able of their brethren have already done so. I appeal to Fabri, to the great Gabriel Daniel, to their writings published in the Chinese, and to the letters of their missionaries.
Ricci most diligently observed the principal of these directions, and by their means invited and drew many persons of all ranks in China into the church he had founded. He lived, wrote, conversed, and dressed like a Chinese philosopher and scholar. His learning and other merit recommended him to the persons in power. He reconciled the ancient religion of the country, in some measure, to the first principles of theology, and united the maxims of the great Confucius with the words of life by delivered Jesus Christ. He suffered his converts to follow the customs of their fathers, and to observe, as before, those ancient usages and ceremonies, which were founded in the laws of the empire, prohibiting only whatever admitted of no gloss or pretence, and might affect the first truths of Christianity.
The religion of China is twofold. One as ancient as the empire itself, and in all probability introduced by its founders. The other is of much later date, and imported from India not long after the birth of our Saviour. The latter has idols, temples, sacrifices, priests, monks, festivals, and many external rites and ceremonies. The former is free from all these, and is, perhaps, the most artless and simple of all the religions that ever were taught in the world. It prescribes reverence to an invisible being, residing in the visible heaven, and distributing from thence happiness and misery amongst mankind ; but it enjoins no particular worship to him: so that temples, priests, assemblies, sacrifices and rites, are things entirely foreign to it. The Emperor alone, at certain times, offers a sacrifice to this powerful being in the name of his people. The moral part of this old system is short and easy : it consists in honouring the servants of Tien or Chang-Ti, (for so the supreme being is called) that is, the spirits presiding over the mountains, rivers, forests, and other parts of the earth, and in some duties necessary to the welfare of the public, and of every particular family. Excepting these duties, it allows great latitude to the natural inclinations and appetites of men.
The later religion, that idolatry I mean, which was introduced by FO, or FOE, a celebrated Indian impostor, has a considerable party among the populace and women, but it is only tolerated. The wife men, and those of distinction, profess the old religion, which is besides the religion of the state, professed and even preached by the Emperor himself, and protected by the laws of the empire. Ricci was too wise and cautious to embrace the other party. And this, which he did embrace, happened to be so circumstanced, that he formed hopes of reconciling it to the Christian faith. He therefore signified to the people, that he was only come to renew, and, by the addition of some essential tenets, to reform the antiquated religion of their forefathers, that he preached the same Tien or Chang-Ti, whom the old laws of their country pointed out to them, and that his moral system was in truth no other than that, which was proposed by their great philosopher Cong-fu-zu or Confucius, after the example of the first sages and fathers of the empire. This was naturally pleasing to a people more vain and tenacious of the reverence due to their ancestors, than any nation in the world. I will not join in the accusation, that he purposely wrested and falsified the Christian doctrine, to adopt it to the opinions and prejudices of the Chinese. His enemies and the enemies of his order have not yet clearly proved this charge. But thus much cannot be denied, that he in several respects misinterpreted the old Chinese faith, to render it more agreeable to nature, reason, and true religion.
China is the country where the Genius of ceremony principally resides. The people are by long tradition and by the laws of the empire inured to so many rites and customs, that nature seems totally suppressed in them. Whatever is done in public is done by number, weight and measure, by a certain rule and proportion. A particular council is established to take care of the support of national customs, and to punish the contemners thereof. Most them were introduced chiefly for reasons of state, and have no connection either with the old or new religion. But some few have a religious appearance, and seem to be consequences of certain doctrines. The principal of these are the veneration of their ancestors and of the great philosopher Confucius. Every family an China is bound at certain times to assemble in a hall, which is called the hall of the fathers and forefathers, and there to pay a kind of worship, somewhat like sacrifice and idolatry, to their ancestors, whose names are written on little tables or registers hung up in the hall. They prostrate themselves before these tables, kill beasts, burn gilt paper in honour of their fathers, and promise themselves, that heaven will reward these marks of love and respect: towards those, from whom they are descended. Much the same tribute of respect is paid by all the Literati to the great teacher of the empire, Confucius.
Ricci, however disposed to indulge his converts in the customs and laws of their country, hesitated much at these ceremonies, which seemed to amount to a spiritual sacrifice. He deliberated eighteen years, whether he would permit them or not ? The result of so long a deliberation was, to tolerate them, not as religious, but political customs. This resolution was doubtless chiefly suggested by the desire he had to enlarge his flock, and to secure it from reproach and persecution. Whoever in China neglects the usual reverence to his ancestors, forfeits the character of an honest man and good citizen ; and whoever neglects that paid to Confucius, forfeits all pretensions to public honours and employments. So Ricci would have made but few disciples, and those must have been continually molested, had he prohibited this custom. He therefore looked about him for arguments to reconcile the toleration of it to his conscience. Men are seldom at a loss in a case like this. The understanding is deluded by the will, and a slender reed assumes the air and strength of a pillar.
The reader will judge better of the force of those arguments, which convinced Ricci of the innocence of the ceremonies he was willing to tolerate, by perusing them. " The Mahometans, said he, who are enemies to idolatry, perform these honours to their ancestors and to Confucius. There they are not idolatry." As if Mahometans were judges in Christian cases of conscience; or as if the opinion of a Chinese Mahometan, that is, of half Mabcmetan, was of weight to determine what is superstition and idolatry. Again, "The Chinese respect neither their ancestors, nor Confucius, as deities or saints ; their reverence to their ancestors is only to them, as persons to whom they owe their lives, and Confucius is honoured merely as a philosopher and legislator." Here the matter in question is taken for granted. " Those who kill the beasts at these ceremonies are not priests, but butchers." This would be some argument, were it essential to a sacrifice, to have it slain by the hands of a priest. Further; “In the year 1384. the Emperor by an edict; prohibited columns to be erected to Confucius, and that sort of honour to be paid him, which is usually paid by idolaters to persons deceased." This is supposing, that laws are always strictly obeyed, or that it is impossible for them to grow obsolete. He alledged again, “that the same honours, which are paid to deceased ancestors and to Confucius, are likewise paid to the living Emperors and the great officers of state." It is strange, so judicious a man should forget, that marks of honour derive their value from the persons to whom they are exhibited, and that consequently those offered to persons deceased, and living, are of a very different nature. A man of sense would never conclude, that because he may innocently prostrate himself before the Emperor, he may therefore with a safe conscience fall down before the image of a person deceased, or before the table, upon which his name is recorded.
Besides, the honours done to the Emperor and his ministers are not the same with those others ; at least no beast is ever killed for an offering to the Emperor and his Mandarines. He urged in the last place, " that these customs were established in China before idolatry took place there, therefore they are not idolatrous.” This argument takes it for granted, that there could be no idolatry in China, before that of Foe was introduced.
However bad as these reasons were, they satisfied the doubtful conscience of the Jesuit. He permitted his converts to reverence their ancestors and Confucius after the custom of their country, with only some few limitations. Whatever was not expressly required by the laws of the empire relating to this ceremony, he enjoined them to omit, and at the observation of the rest, to lift up their hearts to God. That is, to outward appearance they were to worship their ancestors and Confucius; inwardly, in spirit, they were to worship God. Thus the converted Chinese deceived the unconverted, who were assembled with them in the hall. The Christians bowed with seeming devotion to the tables of their ancestors, and thus avoided offence, whilst they were addressing their thoughts and bending their souls to God.
Whilst none but Jesuits were preaching in China, Ricci's manner of converting and his connivances proved successful. The Christians, however oppressed in some parts, increased by these means exceedingly. But their tranquillity was disturbed by the Dominicans and Franciscans, who came in the year 1630 to assist the Jesuits, in cultivating the vineyard they had planted. The new labourers, being entirely unacquainted with the Jesuitical rules of converting, were astonished when they saw Christians prostrate before Confucius and the tables of their ancestors, and boldly declared that their conscience obliged them to condemn so superstitious and idolatrous a practice. A warm controversy ensued betwixt them and the Jesuits. Neither party being disposed to yield, the matter was referred to the decision of their supreme judge at Rome. The enemies of the Jesuits were plaintiffs. A Dominican friar, John Baptists Moralez, set out for Rome, and laid before the congregation De propaganda side, his own and his brethren's doubts concerning the Chinese ceremonies tolerated by the Jesuits among their proselytes. The congregation, as usual, called in the opinion of many divines on the subject of this complaint, and at last determined, that those ceremonies were superstitious and intolerable. As the Dominican had represented the hall of the ancestors as a temple, and the whole ceremony as idolatry and sacrifice, they could not well pass a milder judgment. Pope Innocent the tenth confirmed it on the 12th of September in the year 1645, and commanded all preachers of Christianity in China, under pain of excommunication, to conform to this decree, till the holy see would determine otherwise. The Jesuits in China received this injunction with veneration, and laid it aside with contempt. This is, their usual manner of treating those decrees of the bishops of Rome, which contradict the customs, maxims and opinions of their society. They are bound more strictly, than any other order, to obey the Pope, and no order obeys him less than they. It may be accounted for among other reasons by this, that their superiors and their learned brethren, are esteemed by them to be better judges of what is useful and pernicious to the church than the Popes and their councils. To this injunction, at least, they paid so little regard, that several years passed before they sent a counter-representation to Rome. In the mean time they permitted what was forbidden by the decree, and thought themselves justified, because the decree was grounded on a false report. Their disobedience however occasioned much disquiet and offence. At length, therefore, they judged it necessary to send one of their brethren to Rome, to solicit the repeal of the decree obtained by the Dominicans.
Martin Martini was the solicitor. He discharged his commission with the greatest dexterity. Instead of applying to the congregation, who had passed the former sentence, and who he foresaw would hardly retract their own judgment, he went immediately to the then Pope Alexander the seventh himself, and represented to him, in a writing at large, that those Chinese customs were free from idolatry and superstition, and tended only to the peace and welfare of the empire. The Pope left the decision of the matter to the holy office or court of inquisition, undoubtedly at the solicitation of the Jesuit, whose business it was to keep it out of the hands of the congregation De propaganda side. The event answered his wishes. The holy office rejected the rites, which the Jesuits had rejected, and permitted those which they had permitted. Their judgment was approved and confirmed by the Pope, on the 23d of March 1656. The Jesuits at first received this favourable decision as a shield, to be made use of in case of necessity. They did not publish it in China, but retained it privately, by way of answer to any future aggressors. But in time their caution abated, and their shield was converted into a sword. They produced the decree imported by Martini, and maintained it to be a rule for the conduct of ail the Romish clergy in China, since it annulled that decree, which had been sent by the hands of Moralez. This indiscretion renewed the war. The Dominicans and Franciscans importuned the Pope and his ministers with fresh complaints and remonstrances, protested in the most solemn terms,, that the ceremonies in question were the worst of abominations, and desired that the holy office would inform them, whether the former decree of Pope Innocent the tenth, was indeed annulled by this new one produced by the Jesuits ? The inquisition gave an answer, which might seem suspicious or forged, had we no authority for the genuineness of it, besides that of the enemies of the church of Rome. But the infallible testimony of Pope Benedict the fourteenth, who recites it in his famous bull, Ex quo singulari, &c. renders the truth of it beyond all dispute. The inquisition answered, " That the former decree of Pope Innocent was by no means annulled by this of Pope Alexander; that both were to be observed, each according to its circumstances, and according to the tendency of those questions and doubts which had occasioned it". The two decrees, which were both to be in some measure valid, were as different as light and darkness. The one condemns the Chinese ceremonies, the other permits them. And both were to be observed by the missionaries in China. There are but two solutions of this difficulty. Either the holy office meant, that if the Dominicans had made a true representation of the Chinese customs, then the decree obtained by them would be in force, and take place of the other; but if the Jesuits had truly represented the nature and tendency of these customs, then the decree imported by them would be Valid. Or if this was not their meaning, it could be no other, than that every one might follow his own opinion; whoever was persuaded, that the honours paid to Confucius, and to their ancestors, were idolatrous and superstitious, might adhere to the first decree; and whoever judged them to be innocent and indifferent might follow the second. Whether we admit this, or the other sense, the answer of the holy office amounts to nothing, and leaves every missionary in China to act according to his own persuasion and conscience. This is the practice at Rome: when two powerful parties contend about matters of religion, the judgment pronounced is commonly interpretable in favour of either fide. Such are the decisions of that visible head of the church, who pretends to infallibility and extraordinary illumination! This answer, which left both sides in possession of their own opinion, was given in the year 1609, and Clement the ninth, who was then Pope, made no scruple to honour it with his apostolical sanction.
In the fame year commenced the golden age of the church in China. It had been long and severely persecuted. At the death of the Emperor Xung-Chi the first of the Tartar family now on the throne, his successor Cang-hi, or Cam-hi, was not of the age for government. During his minority, his regents conspired with the nobles to extirpate the Christian doctrine, which had then spread very far. The execution of this design was begun in a manner, that struck terror into every Christian teacher and hearer in China. John Adam Schall, the celebrated German Jesuit, who was then seventy-four years of age, at the head of the Chinese mission, and in a considerable post at court, was in the year 1664 thrown into a dungeon, and narrowly escaped a most cruel death. The next year it was unanimously resolved by all the ministers of state, that the Christian law was false, and dangerous to the empire, and therefore it was forbidden under pain of death. Upon this the Christians, and their pastors, endured a variety of sufferings. In 1669, the young Emperor took the reins of government himself, and immediately the horrid storm against the Christians ceased. This prince had uncommon talents : he was particularly the patron of arts and sciences, and hence the church derived its prosperity, during his long and glorious reign. Most of the Jesuits in China were well-versed in those parts of learning and mechanics, which Cam hi esteemed. He therefore invited them to court, availed himself of their advice in council, gave them considerable employments with large salaries, and even intrusted them with a share in the government. This favour of his to the Jesuits procured for the church all the protection it flood in need of, and promoted its increase. It flourished considerably more, when several French Jesuits arrived, who by their engaging address, by being conversant in the Chinese language, as well as that of the Tartars, by their skill in mathematical learning, in politics, in mechanics, in medicine, and in other branches of knowledge, entirely won the Emperor's heart. They soon discovered the monarch's inclinations and views, and by employing all their genius and sagacity in pleasing and entertaining him, at last became necessary to him. They were his instructors, whom he daily attended to, his friends, his physicians, and his counsellors; they served him as painters, turners, watchmakers, founders, accomptants, astronomers, and matters of the ordnance. In short they directed every thing at the court of Pe-king. The Christian faith and its professors shared in this extraordinary prosperity of the Jesuits. The Emperor, to gratify his favourites, pub- limed in the year 1692 that celebrated edict, by which the Christian religion was declared to be good and salutary, and all his subjects were permitted to embrace it. At their request he send an embassy to the Pope, built them a magnificent church within the walls of his palace, and commanded all his vicegerents, and ministers, to act with tenderness towards the Christian. There was but one instance, in which he disappointed them : they flattered themselves with the hopes of persuading him at last to be a Christian; and he greatly encouraged these hopes by attending closely to their instruction, by praising their doctrine, and by his signal favours to them, their fellow-labourers and their followers. But he died without the pale of the church in the year 1722. As far as could be conjectured from his life and actions, he was of that persuasion, which among the Tartars is called the faith of the great Ganghiz-kam. This religion consists of some few tenets, which excepting the command of the sabbath, bear great affinity to the ten commandments of Moses.
But the Christian church in China, in the midst of this visible prosperity, during the reign of Cam-hi continued internally divided and torn. The Jesuits pursued their own manner of converting, and the other missionaries were offended at it, and preached a very different gospel. Hence arose two congregations, which hated and despised each ether. The Jesuitical Christians honoured their ancestors and Confucius: the rest abhorred this practice as a species cf idolatry. The latter treated the former as pretended or half Christians, and these again treated them as insolent contemners of the laws of the empire. The disorder was incurable, because the last answer of the holy inquisition had left both parties at liberty to act; as they thought fit. The Dominicans, and their associates, had not interest to procure a fresh decree, and the Jesuits were too prudent to desire one. The former therefore endured with regret an evil they could not redress, and waited for a favourable opportunity to revive the contest they could not continue. In the year 1684, fortune favoured them with such an opportunity. A society of clergy had been instituted at Paris in 1663, for the propagation of Christianity among the infidel nations. The members of this society provide for the education and instruction of youth, in a house appropriated to the purpose, in order for their mission as apostles of Christ to those that have not yet heard of the gospel. The member themselves accept this office, if called to it by the head of the church, or by those, who, under him, have the care of the conversion of the heathens. These missionaries are celebrated at Rome, as zealous, faithful and indefatigable men, and frequently the bishops or legates of the Pope into the infidel countries, are chosen from their body. Some of them arrived in the year 1684 in China. The most distinguished among these, was Charles Maigrot, a doctor of the Sorbonne, whom the Pope had dignified with the title of apostolical vicar, and whom the Jesuits themselves confess to have been a man of great piety and integrity. He became afterwards Bishop of Conon. The new missionaries were barely arrived in China, when the Dominicans and their associates, who had hitherto been forced to silence and submission, laid before them their complaints against the Jesuits and their converts. They were heard with attention and favour. But it was proper to attack the Jesuits with caution. Maigrot and his brethren took several years to consider the matter in dispute ; at length, after a full examination, they joined with the party against the Jesuits, and began with declaring, that the Chinese words Tien, and Chang-Ti were improper to denote the true God, whom Christians adore; since they signify no more than the visible heaven : and in the next place that no Christian could, wish a safe conscience, comply with the Chinese custom of honouring Confucius and their ancestors.
This declaration was the rupture which occasioned that long and bitter animosity between the Jesuits and their fellow-labourers in China, transmitted through many changes to the present time. Maigrot used every argument and remonstrance to bring the Jesuits over to his opinion. But it was a vain expectation, that a body of men would be flexible, who possess the heart of the greatest Monarch on earth, enjoy affluence, dignity and respect, and are besides, in their own opinion, so much more wise and meritorious than other men. They persisted in their conduct, and threw out menaces of the Emperor's and the Pope's displeasure. Maigrot was so little disheartened at this, that it rather animated him. He commenced the war, and ventured to become the aggressor in the year 1693. A manifesto of his was published, in which by virtue of his apostolical office, he interdicted, to all Christians and their teachers, the use of the names Tien or Chang-Ti, and the worship of Confucius, and their ancestors, under pain of excommunication. This might be truly stiled a piece of spiritual heroism ; that a stranger, who wanted both money and friends, and was neither a, bishop nor plenipotentiary from the Pope, should dare to bid defiance to men, who enjoyed all the intimacy of friendship with the sovereign of their country, and that he should venture this, without applying to his principal at Rome, and by his own authority supersede a decree of the holy inquisition, and that confirmed by a Pope. Religious zeal makes no difficulty of surmounting ordinary rules ; this seems to be his only excuse. He was sensible himself, that his conduct would require much apology. In the same year therefore, in which he published his injunction, he sent it to Rome with a letter to the Pope, and an humble petition, that judgment might be passed at Rome, whether he had done well or ill. In his letter to the Pope he complained strongly of the Jesuits, and allured his holiness that it would draw tears from his eyes to see the mischief and abominations introduced into the church in China by these ecclesiastics. These papers and complaints were seconded very powerfully, in the year 1696, by the personal appearance and application of Charmot, a fellow-labourer of his. He earnestly solicited the Pope, and the court of inquisition, for a due examination and judicial decision of the affair, and was vigorously assisted in his solicitation by the enemies of the Jesuits, that is, by a very considerable number of persons of rank and abilities in all parts and countries of the Romish communion. The matter was delayed for some years at Rome, doubtless because the Jesuits employed all their friends and interest to prevent an inquiry. At last Pope Innocent the twelfth, who then filled the chair, was prevailed with, and appointed in the year 1699 a committee of the most learned and principal members of the holy office, maturely to examine and adjust this dispute. But he died in 1700, before the committee had time to make any progress in it.
His successor, Clement the eleventh, immediately upon his promotion to the papal see, ordered them to proceed. He was more favourably inclined to the society of the Jesuits than his predecessor. And had he followed his inclination, he would have saved them their anxiety about the event, by dissolving the committee. But the Pope is not always at liberty to indulge his own humour. The affair was become too important to be laid aside. The church of Rome was alarmed, and all Europe waited impatiently to see on which side the victory would be conferred. Both parties employed the ablest hands to set forth their cause in public writings. The society at Paris, to which Maigrot, Charmot, and the other combatants of that party belonged, warmly espoused the cause of their members, and printed a strong address to the Pope, in which they represented the Jesuits in China as deceivers and corrupters of the faith : these, on the other hand, delivered a paper, which commanded attention and respect, and seemed alone more powerful, than all the writing and complaints of their adversaries. The great Emperor Cam-hi sent a testimony under his own hand, that the customs rejected by Maigrot were mere political ceremonies, upon which the peace and welfare of the empire in some measure depended. And a thousand Chinese, believers as well as unbelievers, learned and unlearned, rich and poor, confirmed upon oath their Monarch's testimony. Never was an accusation opposed by more specious and respectable evidence. There was now no room to hinder the affair from taking its course. After six years had been spent in consulting and deliberating, judgment was at length pronounced. On the 20th of November in the year 1704, the holy office decreed, " That the two Chinese words Tien and Chang-Ti would no longer be applied to God, but that instead of them the word Tien-Chu, which signifies Lord of heaven, should be introduced that the tables upon which was written in Chinese letters King-Tien, or the Honour of heaven, should be removed from the Christian churches ; that Christians should by no means assist at those sacrifices, which are offered in spring and autumn, at the time of the equinox, to Confucius and their ancestors, that they should likewise absent themselves from those houses and temples, which are built in honour of Confucius, in order to pay to that philosopher the worship due to him from the Literati of the empire; that they should thenceforward upon no account pay that worship, which is paid by the Chinese to their ancestors, where or in what manner soever it be offered ; and in the last place, that those tablets of their forefathers, upon which was written in Chinese letters, The seat of the soul or spirit of N. should be removed from the houses of all Christians."
These severe injunctions were softened by some little indulgences. The new converts were permitted to appear along with their relations in the halls of their forefathers, and to be spectators of the ceremonies there performed, but without partaking in them in the least. The inquisition judged this might be done to avoid hatred and bitterness, especially after a previous declaration, that they were Christians, and disapproved of the custom they were to attend. They were farther indulged in hanging up the tables of their ancestors in their houses, without any other inscription but the name of the deceased, and a declaration affixed, containing the Christian faith concerning departed souls. And they were allowed to retain such of the ancient Funeral rites, as were free from superstition and all appearance of it, provided they were first instructed by the bishops and other principal divines, which of those ceremonies might be esteemed innocent. These trivial indulgences were inefficient to soften the resentment of the Jesuits at the unexpected decree.
Clement the eleventh had two years before this, in 1702, appointed a legate with almost unlimited powers, to visit the new congregations of papistical Christians in Afia, particularly the Indian and Chinese, and by wholesome laws and regulations to accommodate the differences arisen among them. The person fixed upon, was Charles Thomas de Tournon, of an ancient and noble family in Lorrain, a divine, who by his piety and probity had acquired the general esteem and affection of the court of Rome. The Pope himself, to convey the higher authority to his office, consecrated him patriarch of Antioch. It is common at Rome to create patriarchs, archbishops and bishops, as merely titular, as theatrical emperors and kings, I mean that they only represent certain patriarchs, archbishops and bishops. Tournon was one of these nominal patriarchs, and had not the least jurisdiction in the city, or territory, from which his title was borrowed. He embarked on the fifth of August 1703, and landed at Fondicherry on the coasts of Coromandel on the sixth of November in the fame year. Here he staid till the eleventh of July in the next year, and arrived in China in 1705. The Jesuits received him with all the marks of honour which a legate of the Pope could expect from the subjects of his matter. They even exceeded their duty : they procured him access to the great at court, and an audience of the Emperor, permitted the most honourable of their converts to attend him in his public entries, and prevailed with the Emperor to distinguish him by various favours from all other ambassadors. But this respect lasted only whilst they had hopes, that he would at least have found out a medium betwixt them and their adversaries. The moment he declared against them a terrible storm arose against him. Tournon was of that party in the church of Rome, who are called the Rigids, and therefore naturally an enemy to the Jesuits and their doctrine, which is more lax and moderate. It might be easily foreseen, that one of this character would not favour them, and their manner of converting : he signified as much soon alter his arrival, but for some time kept his zeal within certain bounds. Whilst he was prudent, they continued obliging and respectful. But his prudence fail d him as soon as he had an account from Europe of the judgment of the Inquisition against the Jesuits. In the year 1707, he published a strict ordinance in the name of the Pope, agreeably to the decree of the holy office, and under pain of excommunication prohibited all that was prohibited in that decree. This so embittered the Jesuits, that they determined he should feel the whole weight of their resentment. They and their partizans first appealed from him to the Pope, and thereby evaded the censure of disobedience. Next they represented his procedure to the Emperor, as a violation of his prerogative. Indeed it is hard to acquit him of a crime like this. Cam- hi, as was related before, .had fent a writing under his own hand to Rome to disculpate the Jesuits, and attest,that the Chinese meant by the word Tien, not Heaven, but that Infinite Spirit, who dwells in heaven, and governs the universe; and that the ceremonies permitted by the Jesuits were not religious, but political, and ancient customs of the empire. And here a stranger, a legate of an European bishop, boldly and publicly opposes the Emperor, and in his own dominions, without his knowledge, makes a law to prohibit the subjects from practices enjoined by the laws of the empire. No sovereign prince would differ a conduct like this ? to pass with impunity. It is doubtless, that Tournon, pious as his meaning was, far transgressed the bounds of prudence and respect. He was, in truth, not qualified to discharge reputably and usefully the great and important commission he was intruded with. His good disposition was under the influence of a narrow spirit and weak understanding, of which his writings, letters, and injunctions, printed by Norbert and others, furnish abundant proof: they contain dry and insipid thoughts, so swelled, indeed, by pompous expression, that the careless and injudicious reader can hardly distinguish their flatness and impotence. Cam-hi was exceedingly provoked, when the Jesuits informed him, that the European, to whom he had been so gracious, had presumed to withstand him and his edict, and to know more of the religion of his country than himself. He therefore immediately published a strict mandate, by which all Romish ecclesiastics in China were forbid, under severe penalties, to teach any thing contrary to the laws of the empire, and to the ancient traditions of the Chinese. Most of them obeyed. The few, who paid greater regard to the patriarch's injunction, were imprisoned, treated with great severity, and banished the empire. Tournon himself was ordered immediately to quit the country, or to be punished as a traitor. He did not wait for the reception of this order, but hastened to Macao, there to embark, and avoid the fury of the Emperor, or rather of the Jesuits. But whilst he was preparing for his departure, it was recollected at the court of Pe-king, that if he was suffered to return to Rome, he would certainly make heavy complaints of his persecutors. A fresh order was issued to secure his person, and detain him a prisoner at Macao till the return of two Jesuits, whom the Emperor dispatched to Rome. The unfortunate Tournon was forced to change his character of an apostolical legate and law-giver, for that of a state-prisoner, and to pass four years in great trouble; and anxiety, under a strong guard, in the house of the Bishop of Macao. His enemies the Jesuits were his keepers, and they doubtless were not negligent of their charge. It is possible, that their adversaries have considerably aggravated his distresses and indignities in prison. They did not probably so far forget the prudence essential to their order, as to treat a legate of the Pope, like a common malefactor. And they could never have been pardoned at Rome, had they been entirely unmindful of their duty to the Pope and him. But thus much is certain, that whatever little respect they may have shewn him, was mixed with various instances of bitterness, contempt and mortification. Clement the eleventh was amazed when he heard of the fate of his legate, and thought the best method of alleviating his misery was to raise him to the highest dignity next to his own. He honoured the prisoner with a cardinal's hat, in hopes that his merciless keepers would treat a cardinal with more civility and respect: than a patriarch. But the new cardinal and the authority he affected, were subject of ridicule at Macao. His troubles continued till a severe fit of sickness put an end to his life on the eighth day of June, 1711. The adversaries of the Jesuits pretended allover Europe, that he had been poisoned, and that the poison was administered to him at Pe-king by Pereyra, a Jesuit. But this rumour has rather the air of calumny. To what purpose can they be supposed to have imprisoned him at Macaa, and prevented his voyage, if they were allured, that he carried death in his bosom. The motion of the ship and other inconveniences of so long a passage must have hastened the effect of the poison, and soon put an end to his miserable life. It is reproach sufficient to the Jesuits, that they cannot clear themselves of the imputation of extreme injustice and violence exercised upon a legate of the Pope, a cardinal, and a man of piety. The body of the deceased cardinal was, after some years, conveyed to Europe, and his funeral obsequies were performed at Rome, amidst the tears and lamentation of the Pope and all his court. Clement the eleventh, in a celebrated panegyrical oration, which he spoke in memory of him in a full congregation of cardinals, extols him as a faint and a martyr. And if the Jesuits had less power at the court of Rome, than they have, he would probably before now have been admitted into the kalendar of that church. Their enemies are waiting for a convenient opportunity to solicit the canonization of this great sacrifice to their resentment and to his own indiscretion.
The overthrow of cardinal Tournon was of no use towards the recovery of the Jesuitical cause, it rather inflamed matters more. The Pope, before he received advice of the imprisonment of Tournon, had approved, and in every respect confirmed his injunction. It was therefore necessary to carry on the same measure. The holy office assembled on the twenty-fifth of September, in the year 1710, in presence of the Pope, and came to a new resolution, or rather confirmed and improved that formerly made. They rejected the appeal to the Pope, with which the Jesuits in China had warded off the cardinal's injunction; and decreed, that, without farther exception or objection, the judgment passed in the year 1704, and the injunction of Cardinal Tournon should remain in full force. They prohibited besides, under the most severe ecclesiastical penalties, the publication of any books or pamphlets concerning the Chinese ceremonies, and declared previously, that all such, as should appear from the press, should be ranked among the list of prohibited books. This seems to be a clear and strong decree; but it was not strong enough to humble the mighty Jesuits. Extensive as the papal power is, it cannot reach them at the court of Pe-king in the Emperor of China's palace. The decree was immediately sent to the Bishop of Pe-king who resides at the city Lin-zing-teou, and he was ordered forthwith to cause it to be delivered to the Jesuits. It arrived towards the end of the year 1713, and in January 1714, the bishop dispatched his vicar-general Charles Castorani, a Franciscan monk, to deliver it into the hands cf the Court- Jesuits. Castorani executed his commission with great humility, and was received with extraordinary insolence. They told him without ceremony, that if he would presume to read this decree, or any way to divulge it, they would complain of him to the Emperor. He understood their meaning, and having no ambition of martyrdom, retired privately, well satisfied with experiencing no other effect of their resentment, but contempt.
The Jesuits invented various apologies for this fresh instance of disobedience. But it was at length determined at Rome, to disregard their pretences and humble their pride. Clement the eleventh was so provoked upon the first news of this obstinate rebellion of his beloved sons, as he calls them, that he immediately proceeded to the celebrated bull Ex ilia die. It was drawn up with expedition, and issued out on the nineteenth of March in the next year 1715. This famous bull answers in Asia to the same Pope's bull Unigenitus in Europe. The former controverted, the latter defended by the Jesuits , the former proved the source of great confusion among the papists in Asia, the latter in Europe. Both have been the occasion of an expence, trouble and detriment to the papal see, of which it is not easy to foretell the end. Never was Pope so unfortunate in his bulls as Clement the eleventh. The constitution Ex ilia die is in some measure a contrail to that called Unigenitus. It redresses as it were by its zeal against. the lax and indulgent maxims of the Jesuits, all the grievance occasioned by the constitution Unigenitus, which favoured them and their doctrine. Hence the Jesuits are as much offended at the former, as the Jansenists at the latter. The Pope begins with reciting all that had been done in the Chinese controversy. Next he sets forth, with expressions of grief, the many artful inventions, wherewith the Jesuits, whom he does not mention, had presumed to invalidate the last decree of the holy see, clear and limited as it was. To obviate at once and for ever this unaccountable insolence, he commands in the strongest terms a Pope is capable of, all the clergy in China, and the monks in particular, under pain of that excommunication, which none but the Pope himself can remit, except in the hour of death, strictly to observe as sacred, the decrees hitherto palled by the Inquisition, and the ordinance of the Cardinal Tournon, and under no pretence whatever to transgress them. With the same rigour and caution he enjoins all ecclesiastics, who would be sent to China, and other Asiatic countries, to take an oath to obey his commands without any reserve, and that no person whatever should be admitted to the lowest office, without having previously taken this oath. To secure the observation of it more strongly, the oath was not only to be taken viva voce, but to be subscribed by every ecclesiastic, and the oaths thus subscribed were all to be transmitted to the holy office at Rome. In the last place the Pope commands, with the highest degree of caution and severity, that no ancient indulgences, no general or particular rights and privileges, no tradition, no evasions, whether already invented, or thereafter to be invented, should avail in the least against these constitutions, and that they should remain in force as an eternal and irrevocable law. It was concluded with an express order, that this bull should be sent and notified to all the clergy, and especially to the Jesuits. It is needless to recite the oath at large. The juror was to oblige himself exactly, absolutelv, inviolably and without any evasion to obey the bull, and acknowledge himself worthy, in case of disobedience, of the punishment there threatened. There is not one among all the decrees of the bishops of Rome so accurately and cautiously worded, or so minutely guarded against every possible exception and evasion. The lawyers, who prepared it, exhausted their whole sock of such words, as might be effectual to disarm thole men that study to transgress under the colour of law.
An English ship carried over this terrible bull to China, and it was dispersed amongst the Romish clergy of the empire, before the Jesuits knew of its arrival. Had these been earlier apprized of it, the Emperor would probably have lent a countermand to meet and annul it. It was necessary however, in obedience to the Pope's order, to present it to them, and notify it in their churches at Pe-king. This was the ruin of the bull. Honest Castorani, by his bishop's command, undertook this dangerous office, and unfortunately for himself executed it with success. He arrived at Pe-king on the fifth of November in 1716, and on the same day without any previous notice to the Jesuits, read the decree he was charged with in three of their churches. But he was ill rewarded for his pains. On the third day after his arrival, an officer of state, by the Emperor's order, caused him to be fettered with a chain of extraordinary weight and strength at his neck, hands and feet, and thus loaded to be thrown into a dungeon, as a traitor who had dared to introduce foreign laws into the empire. His troubles lasted seventeen months. Sometimes he was indulged with a certain degree of liberty, and again shut up in close confinement, sometimes sent to Canton, and then recalled to Pe-king. At last he obtained his liberty, upon condition, that he should carry the bull back to his bishop, and not dare to divulge it any farther. This secured only the capital against the thundering bull; to defeat the terror of it in the rest of the empire, his imperial Majesty by a severe edict notified to all papists, that he would immediately banish them from his dominions, and cause their Chinese converts to be put to death without distinction, if they paid more regard to the Pope than to him, and attempted to execute Romish laws. And these menaces were not merely verbal. It appeared in some places, that the government was in earnest, and would not suffer itself to be insulted with impunity.
The Jesuits, who were the original founders of this and much more mischief, lamented it no less than those who felt the weight of it. They complained heavily in their writings and conversation, that the court of Rome was under the influence of persons neither discreet nor experienced, that bulls were transmitted to China, which tended to desolate the Lord's vineyard. “When will his Holiness, said they, and our enemies who mislead him, awake and learn discretion? Not, it is to be feared, till they find it too late. We wash our hands ; we have delivered our souls from the burthen. Let the blood of the poor Christians in China whom this bull perhaps will bring to a fatal end, fall upon the councils that dictated it. We have done our utmost to soften the Emperor's resentment. We have implored and intreated him. But he is inexorable in matters that affect the ancient fundamental laws of the empire."
These complaints however did not exempt the Jesuits from the duty of obeying the bull, and every precept it contained. The subjects of the Pope, and the Jesuits as much as any, are obliged to submit to his ordinances, though all the kings and infidels upon earth should oppose them. The supremacy he assumes, as vicegerent of Christ, would be merely titular indeed, if the laws and menaces of heathen kings had power to annul and invalidate his apostolical precepts.
The Jesuits therefore not knowing how to palliate their disobedience in the eyes of the Emperor, resolved to seek for some subterfuge in the bull itself. But this seemed impossible to find in a decree penned with so much caution and subtlety, as this Ex ilia die. However jesuitical sagacity surmounts all difficulties. The evasion, which the bull itself will not afford, is discovered in the title. It was inscribed, Preceptum de omnimodâ, &c. This single word furnished the Jesuits with all they wanted. “A Precept, said they, is no law. The Pope himself calls his Bull no more than a Precept. Undoubtedly a Precept from him claims the most profound respect; but it is not an indisputable article of faith which must be implicitly acquiesced in. We are therefore not bound tenaciously to adhere to this bull.” This artifice of theirs will appear like a piece of slander. But it is attested by a hand of great authority in the present case, of the highest authority to the Jesuits themselves. The present Pope Benedict the fourteenth is my author, and to obviate all doubts on this head, I have quoted his own words in the note.
The confirmation occasioned at Rome, by this unexpected and disagreeable news from China may be easily imagined. It was now apparent, that all orders and constitutions would be vain, and the Jesuits prove invincible, unless the Emperor could be gained, and a protection obtained for the obnoxious bull from him. The Pope therefore resolved to send a legation to the Emperor, to intreat him, that he would permit the clergy to observe his bull. The legate was Charles Anthony Mezzabarba, a Milanese, who died Bishop of Lodi some years ago. His Holiness created him patriarch of Alexandria to add lustre and dignity to his commission. He embarked at Lisbon March 25, 1720, landed at Macao September the twenty-sixth of the same year, and re-embarked for Europe, with the body of his predecessor Cardinal Tournon, on the thirteenth of December, 1721. It is not above eight or nine years ago, since the world has had a circumstantial account of his negotiations, sufferings and dangers, published by his direction. The editor was P. Viani, his confessor and fellow-traveller. All that was known of his success before that time was, that he had conducted himself with more prudence, and therefore met with better treatment than Tournon, and that he in some measure explained and softened the bull of Clement the eleventh according to the humour of the Jesuits. Indeed the choice of him was more judicious, than that of the cardinal. Mezzabarba was a man of found judgment and quick apprehension, perfectly knew the world, possessed all the art and finesse of an Italian, was never disconcerted in the most sudden circumstances of danger, and always deliberated before he spoke. Without departing in the least from his dignity, he paid all the respect due to the person of the Emperor, and in the midst of his zeal against the Jesuits, expressed marks of reverence to him as sovereign of the country, and to his substitutes. The Emperor received him mod graciously, and gave him frequent audience. But notwithstanding the honours that were shewn him, he was in continual fear and danger of his life. He complains in his pastoral letter, of which we shall soon have occasion to take notice, that his residence in China was attended with fear and trembling, because he knew not how to speak the wisdom of this world. And indeed he might probably have found it difficult to escape imprisonment, or perhaps even death, had he not, in his greatest extremity, signified to the Jesuits the powers he had to moderate the obnoxious bull by some favourable explanations. He was never admitted to an audience at court without some bitter mortification. Cam-hi was lively, ingenious, and much disposed to raillery. He frequently made his sport of the pope, the legate, the bull and the Romish faith itself. Sometimes he spoke with warmth of Tournon, Maigrot, and the other opponents of his friends the Jesuits Mezzabarba was obliged to be cautious and respectful in his answers to the Emperor's jests and menaces.
But he was entirely disappointed in the principal subject of his legation. The Emperor subscribed the bull, in red ink, with his Ci, that is his authoritative declaration concerning it. " The bull, says he, in my opinion concerns only the common Europeans, and does not at all affect the great and venerable doctrine of the Chinese. It contains many absurdities and falsehoods, and the best step we can take to put a final end to these disputes, is, to prohibit the Europeans from preaching their law in our empire." The legate had nothing farther to solicit, but leave to return to Europe, and inform his Holiness of the Emperor's opinion and resolution. He continued to be variously mortified for some time, both by the Jesuits and at court, and was at last permitted to depart.
He was detained at Macao six months after his return from Pe-king. Part of this time he spent in writing that celebrated pastoral letter to the Romish clergy in China, to which alone may be attributed all the praise conferred on him by Du Halde and the rest of the Jesuits. This piece contains the eight indulgences, or limitations of the bull Ex ilia die, &c. under the protection of which the Jesuits have for some time past, without hindrance or molestation, violated it. I beg leave briefly to relate the history of these indulgences from the words of the present Pope Benedict the fourteenth, who hath repealed them.
Whilst Mezzabarba was at Rome, preparing for his voyage, some doubts and queries, concerning the delivery of this bull, had been laid before two persons, who had resided long in China. These two were probably Jesuits. The Pope mentions neither their names, nor their order. He seems displeased at them, yet studies to conceal his displeasure. They delivered in an answer to the queries and doubts proposed to them. The answer was sent after the legate, who was then departed, that he might make use of it at his discretion, as the circumstances of times and affairs would require. The Pope expresses himself with the utmost reserve and obscurity. He seems afraid to divulge the secret of these queries and answers. But it is easy to discern his meaning without uncommon sagacity. The Jesuits, who apprehended great danger from a fresh legation to China, took care by their connexions at Rome, to procure a person who might raise certain casuistical difficulties and queries concerning the bull, and to have the decision thereof left to their brethren or friends. It is easy to conjecture both the doubts and the answers from Mezzabarba's indulgences. After this, methods were used to persuade the Pope, that it would be adviseable to fend both answers and queries after the legate, with full powers to make use of them in case of necessity, and mitigate the severity of the bull. The Pope however was cautious enough, neither to confirm, nor add to this writing. Hence, as Benedict the fourteenth urges, the apostolical see retained a right, either to approve or condemn the contents thereof, as would seem good and expedient. Mezzabarba was very unwilling to produce this secret part of his commission. He insisted, as long as he could, with vehemence upon the reception and observation of the bull without any reserve or limitation. But when he was so closely beset both by the court and the Jesuits, as to be in danger of his life, his fears prevailed, and incited him to confess, that he had an order from the Pope to mitigate matters in same respects. They took him at his word, and insisted, when he came to Macao, upon his performing the promise made at Pe-king. Had he declined it, he might have met with the fate of his predecessor, and ended his days in a prison. Benedict the fourteenth plainly declares, that he was tortured into a compliance with their requests.
His pastoral letter to the Romish clergy in China, which was dated at Macao November 4, 1721, begins with a loud and heavy complaint of the sufferings and anxieties he underwent in China. Then follows a moving exhortation to the clergy to be studious of peace, and obedient to the commands of the holy see. " These commands, adds he, are contained in the Pope's bull, and I neither can, nor will in the least invalidate their force." But as doubts had arisen concerning several Chinese customs, he desires to take notice of some few particulars, which may be tolerated. First, he permits the Chinese Christians to hang up in their houses tables with the names of their ancestors inscribed, and to make use thereof, provided a declaration be affixed to them, and they be guarded against superstition. In the next place, he permits all such ceremonial honours to the deceased, in use among the Chinese, as are free from superstition and even from the imputation of it. He paid to Confucius, so far as the same is political, and particularly deems it lawful, to burn incense, light candles and place meats before the tables, upon which only his name was written, and an explanatory declaration annexed. His fourth indulgence permits incense and lights to be offered at funerals, provided only that a note be delivered in, explaining the true intention of the person offering them. Next he permits Christians to prostrate themselves before the tables of Confucius and their forefathers, and even before the coffins of their own kindred. In the sixth place, he indulges them in offering in honour of the deceased, at their coffins and tablets, sweetmeats, fruits, flesh and other meats, provided it be done without any prejudice to the faith. From this he proceeds to tolerate all prostration, on New-year's day as well as at other times, before that table which is called Ko-teu. Lastly, he permits lights and incense before these tables, and dimes of meat to be served up at graves.
The Jesuits could have wished for no more, and more could not be done to defeat and invalidate the bull. The legate was sensible of this, and being unwilling to expose the Pope, and the weakness of his decree to all the world, added in the conclusion of his letter and a strict injunction to all ecclesiastics in China, to the Jesuits in particular, under pain of excommunication, not to translate this letter either into the Chinese or Tartar tongue, nor to communicate it to any but those who came in the office of missionaries to China. The indulgences contained in this piece could not be entirely withheld from the people, but the clergy were charged to dispense them cautiously, and reserve them for the highest exigency.
At Mezzabarba's return to Rome, Clement the eleventh was deceased. Innocent the thirteenth succeeded him. The new elected Pope was enraged at the legate's report of his fruitless negotiations, of his perils and sufferings. In the first heat of his resentment he resolved to abolish the society of Jesuits. But the remonstrances of some prudent men abated the violence of this flame, which however they were not able totally to extinguish. The Pope commanded the general of the order to recall all his Jesuits from China, that the refractory might be brought to condign punishment, and forbade the increase of the society by new members, till further notice from him. What could be done in these circumstances? There was but one expedient left, the promise of obedience, and they had the comfort, in the mean while, of hoping that time would extricate them from this great distress. Their hopes were gratified sooner than could be expected. The death of Innocent vacated the see of Rome, and relieved the anxious Jesuits. His successor, Benedict the fourteenth, the present Pope, proved much more tractable. He accepted every promise that was made him; the Jesuits recovered their former situation, and the affairs in China, of which the confidents of his Holiness did not find their account, lay dormant for a considerable time.
Whilst these matters were transacting at Rome, the church in China lost, in the person of her protector, all her tranquillity and happiness. The great Emperor Cam-hi the patron and disciple of the Jesuits, especially those of France, died on the twentieth of December, 1722, and before his decease placed the crown, he was obliged to relinquish, upon the head of Yong-Tching his fourth son. The Emperors of China have, by the ancient laws of the empire, a right to elect for a successor from among their sons, him who seems best qualified for a wise and happy reign. The Jesuits, by their power over the heart of Cam-hi had contributed not a little to the election of Yong-Tching. He had discovered so early an inclination to them, and to the Christian cause, that they formed better hopes of him, than of all the other sons of the Emperor. But they became sensible of their mistake as soon as he mounted the throne. His people admired in him all the good qualities of his father, except his partiality to the Jesuits and their faith. Yong Tching continued to esteem them, and retained them at court and in pay, as ingenious artists, painters, watchmakers, astronomers, geometricians, and physicians. But he neither admitted them to a share of his political cares, nor of his time, nor of his affection. They remained in his palace, but in no other condition, than that of mechanics and officers kept for purposes of convenience and amusement. This gave encouragement to those among the Chinese, who had been obliged in the late reign to stifle their dislike of the Christians and their faith. The Emperor hearkened with attention to all their representations. He unexpectedly repealed the edict published by his father in favour of the Christian religion, prohibited his subjects from embracing the law of the Europeans, and permitted his governors of provinces and officers of state to persecute the Christians and demolish their churches. It is needless to add, that they made use of this permission. A blind religious zeal, that has been long under a painful restraint, is naturally apt, when indulged, to break out with additional violence. The Emperor himself headed, and by his example animated the party against the Christian faith. He ordered all Romish ecclesiastics in his dominions into custody in the cities of Canton and Pe-king, to prevent any farther exercise of their function. Some time after, they were yet closer confined, upon his being informed, that they continued to discharge their duty in private. At length all but the Jesuits, who resided at Pe-king, were banished to the little town of Macao, which is in some measure subject to the Portuguese, and lies on the sea coasts, in the remotest part of the empire. The Jesuits, as their sole dependence was not upon preaching, reading mass, or hearing confession, suffered least by this dreadful storm, and took all opportunities to soften the Emperor's displeasure, and apologize for their persecuted brethren. But the only answer they had was a gracious repulse, and they were forced to acquiesce in a connivance for themselves, and the privilege to carry on their spiritual labours at court, and in the capital, without interruption. Their adversaries imputed all this mischief to them, pretending that they were detected in a conspiracy against the Emperor, and thereby provoked this persecution of the Christians. But the charge is highly improbable. The Emperor would hardly have entertained at his court, and have distinguished, from the rest of their brethren, by his favour, a set of men, whom he knew to have formed designs against his government and life. The Jesuits on the other hand derive this calamity from the bull Ex ilia die. And doubtless they seem, in this instance, to have more reason on their side. It is possible that Yung-Tching grew impatient at the disputes occasioned by this decree between the Romish priests, and his Christian subjects, and so, to prevent all farther animosity, prohibited the Christian religion itself.
It is usual for persecutions, if not to appease intestine controversies in the church, at least to effect a cessation of arms. The foreign enemy pursues both contending parties indifferently, engages all the attention, which before they employed against each other, and converts their redundant spirits into fear and anxiety. By these means he unites the minds of the persecuted, better than all mediators or lawgivers. But the sufferings and adversities of the church in China had not this happy effect. The war among the clergy was carried on with the same life and vigour, when they were imprisoned and beset by their enemies, as in the times of peace and liberty. The indulgences of Mezzabarba extended the wounds they were meant to heal. The adversaries of the Jesuits opposed these indulgences as warmly, as the Jesuits did the bull itself, and absolutely refused to receive or acknowledge them as valid. Francis Sarazeni, Bishop of Lorima, even circulated a pastoral letter, prohibiting upon pain of excommunication, the observation or introduction of those indulgences. How strangely men are blinded by their passions! This was doing the very thing for which the Jesuits had been so bitterly reproached. They were condemned for refusing immediate obedience to the injunctions of Tournon and Maigrot. And certainly Mezzabarba was equal in dignity to Tournon and superior to Maigrot; consequently his indulgences claimed the same respect at least with their injunctions. This inconsiderate piece of obstinacy so enflamed the Jesuits, that they rashly plunged themselves into a fresh offence, great enough to revive the memory of all their former transgressions, and entirely ruin their cause at Rome. Mezabarba had expressly prohibited the translation of his pastoral letter or the publication of the indulgences it contained. The Jesuits ventured to violate this command. They dispersed his indulgences among all the Chinese Christians, and endeavoured to impose them upon those, to whom they were obnoxious. The assistance of an eminent bishop was requisite for this purpose. They obtained that of the new Bishop of Pe-king, Franciscans de Puri ficatione, who was promoted in the year 1731. This prelate perceived soon after his arrival, that the good will of the Jesuits at Pe-king was of more consequence to him, than the favour of the Pope. They influenced him to charge the clergy of his diocese, in two public instruments addressed to them, dated July the sixth, and December the twenty-third in the year 1733, upon pain of degradation, to pay as sacred a regard to the indulgences of Mezzabarba, as to the bull Ex ilia die, and publicly to read to the people in all churches, on the four most solemn festivals of the year, both the contents of the bull, and the reservations added to it by Mezzabarba.
This was no less than a public challenge. The combatants on the other side hastened to arms. Castorani, vicar to the Bishop of Pe-king, and heretofore a martyr to the bull Ex illa die, who had spent thirty-three years in his function in China, told his bishop to his face, that he would never pay him obedience in this point. The example of so venerable a man diffused a spirit of rebellion among the clergy. At length it became ripe enough for a resolution to dispatch the good old Castorani to Rome, in order to complain of the Jesuits and the bishop, and solicit the abrogation of Mezzabarba's indulgences. Perhaps the Jesuits and their adherents made their sport of the age and simplicity of this ambassador. He confesses himself to be neither eloquent, nor learned, nor sagacious ; and those little pieces of his, that have hitherto appeared in print, confirm the truth of his confession. They discover nothing but a zealous, honest Franciscan friar, neither infected by the air of the court and a knowledge of the world, nor corrupted by the vanity of learning and science. But his want of parts and penetration was amply supplied by his zeal, integrity, experience, constancy, gray hairs, the reputation of a confessor, and seventeen months suffering on account of the bull Ex illa die. A pious simplicity has often got the better of worldly prudence. Castorani arrived at Rome about the end of the year 1734, in the papacy of Clement the twelfth, to whom he immediately opened his commission. The Pope left the matter to the examination of several cardinals, and after ten months intreaty, attendance and felicitation, as Castorarii himself relates, his Holiness by a brief, dated September the twenty-sixth 1735, absolutely revoked and annulled the two letters of the bishop of Pe-king, who was just then deceased.
This was Castorani's first. But he did not rest here. His principal point was to invalidate the indulgences of Mezzabarba. He therefore proceeded in his undertaking with inexpressible zeal, and solicited the Pope, that the examination of this affair might be withdrawn from the Congregation De propaganda side, and submitted to the holy office or Inquisition, to whose cognizance by right it belonged. His request was granted. This change of his judges was of great consequence to him. The Jesuits had more patrons than friends in the Congregation than in the Inquisition, where their old adversaries the Dominicans prevail. As soon as he had put his cause into the hands he wished to have it in, he left nothing undone to prosecute it with the utmost vigour. The account he gives himself of his importunate and indefatigable application is so natural, that one cannot but admire his integrity; and he seems to have effected at least as much by unwearied importunities, as by strength of reasoning. He was incessantly begging, attending, writing, remonstrating and instructing. Even the Pope himself was not a day free from his company. He was constantly attending the cardinals, the assessors, and the counsellors of the holy office. Not a clerk of the court was overlooked in his solicitation. Not withstanding all this, his progress was not equal to his endeavours. The Pope was willing, that, in an affair of this importance, the judges should determine nothing hastily. He particularly enjoined, as his successor informs us, that all the clergy residing in Rome, who had been in China, and all the young Chinese, who were come to Rome for instruction and education, should be heard, and judicially examined. This required a considerable time, and Clement the twelfth did not survive the inquiry.
Benedict the fourteenth, who now fills the chair, was elected in his room. This prelate is said to be less favourably inclined to the Jesuits, than to any other order under his jurisdiction. His conduct hitherto has confirmed this opinion of him. Poor Castorani however seems to have found it a difficult matter to bring him over to his fide. He even subjected himself to a severe penalty, if ever they should convict him of deceit or misrepresentation. At length, after seven years impatience, the happy day appeared, for which he had been so earnestly labouring. Benedict the fourteenth, in the year 1742, issued the famous bull, which begins with the words Ex quo Singulari &c. It was finished on the eleventh of June, and issued out the ninth of August. The only thing omitted in this severe law, to expose and mortify the Jesuits and their adherents, is the mention of their name. But it is easy to apprehend whom his Holiness points at, when he speaks of a disobedient, crafty, malicious and insidious set of men. He revokes, annuls, abolishes, rejects and totally condemns the indulgences of Mezzabarba, as tenets extorted from the patriarch under the apprehension of a violent death, never approved by the holy see, and contradictory to the bull of Pope Clement the eleventh, and commands them to be considered no otherwise, than as if they had never been granted. He denounces his heavy displeasure and all the punishments which the church usually inflicts upon the transgressors of her laws, against the clergy of every rank, and the Jesuits in particular, if they should presume to depart in the least degree from the constitution Ex illa die. He enjoins the superiors of every order of monks immediately to expel those members of their society, who would dare to violate his ordinance, and to recall them to Europe, that they might be duly punished. In the last place he prescribes an oath, by which all missionaries in China oblige themselves strictly to adhere to the bull of Clement the eleventh, and by no means to suffer their converts to observe any of the ceremonies permitted by Mezzabarba. The conclusion of the bull is with some authority said to be penned by the Pope himself. The language of it is strong, edifying, pathetic, apostolical, and well worthy of a great prelate. " We hope in God," says he, among other things, " that the preachers of the gospel in China will banish from their breasts that groundless apprehension, that the conversion of infidels will be in the least retarded by a strict observation of our decrees. The conversion of heathens depends principally upon the grace of God; and the grace of God will infallibly assist the labours of those ministers of the gospel, who preach the truths of the Christian religion boldly, and in that purity, in which they are delivered to them by the apostolical see being ready to lay down their lives for the honour of the gospel, according to the example of the holy apostles and other eminent martyrs, whose blood, so far from retarding the progress of Christianity, rather improved the vineyard, and produced a plentiful harvest of believers." Next he puts them in mind of the nature of their call. " Be mindful, as you are true disciples of Jesus Christ that he hath not sent you to worldly joys, but to a difficult combat; not to the possession of honours, but to reproach and contempt not to an inactive, but laborious life not to indulge your ease, but to bring forth much fruit with patience." In order to understand the meaning of this last admonition, the reader must represent to himself the Court Jesuits at Pe-king, dressed in the sumptuous robes of Mandarines, with a dragon on their bread, and enjoying all the honours, dignities, privileges, revenues and conveniences, which the Emperor's favour or their own services could procure them. To missionaries in these circumstances, so full of the power and wisdom of this world, the exhortation of the Pope seems in the highest degree expedient.
This latter part of our memoirs must be matter of great admiration to those, who read it attentively. Castorani a poor mendicant friar, whom the Jesuits had caused to be fettered with nine chains, engages in a contest with the most powerful society in the church of Rome, with that society, before whom the Pope himself and Kings have been made to tremble, and not only gains the victory, but exposes and humbles them in a manner they had never before experienced. Such is the mischief the meanest and most impotent enemy is capable of effecting, when either despised or too heavily oppressed !
We seem now to be arrived at the end of the Chinese controversy, which has laded upwards of an hundred years. And doubtless here it must have terminated, had any other order in the church of Rome, but that of the Jesuits been the parties concerned. But this society is not so easily disheartened by bulls from the bishops of Rome. They have always a fund of inventions in reserve, whereby to evade or repair all the damage a Pope can inflict. It is currently reported, that they pay no more regard to this bull of Benedict the fourteenth, than to that of Clement the eleventh, and continue to permit their converts to do that which the Pope so expressly forbids. Another Franciscan deputy is arrived at Rome within the last year or two, from China, loaded with authentic evidence and testimony of the contumacy of the Jesuits, and of the calamities they bring upon their opposers. Perhaps this may produce a third bull against them, and the third bull may possibly hurt the two former by its vehemence. The Roman theatre is subject to many changes, and it is a thing not unusual entirely to drop the best laws, in order to save the pains and trouble of executing them. Matters seem at least to be ripening for a new scene in this celebrated drama. The Jesuits are gradually insinuating themselves into the strong and advantageous situation they were in at the court of Peking in the reign of the Emperor Cam-hi. His successor Yong-Tching, who persecuted the Christian religion, and favoured the Jesuits merely for his own purposes, died in the year 1737. Ki´en-Long, one of his sons, mounted the throne in his stead. He was but twenty-five years of age when the empire fell into his hands, and began his reign with various acts of clemency. The Bonzees were the only body of men that experienced his displeasure. He expressed his zeal against them in a public writing, in which he cautions his subjects against their vices and deceits. He gently revoked the orders issued by his father against the Christians and their teachers, and restored the church in China in great measure to her former prosperity and peace. And as to the Jesuits, he gave them fresh encouragement, embraced eagerly every opportunity of shewing them favour, and did this, to an extraordinary degree, of his own accord without any felicitation of theirs. This disposition of his to those cunning and ingenious ecclesiastics is said to improve with his years. What will become of their antagonists, and of the bull Ex quo singular if they gain as absolute an ascendant over the heart of this Monarch, as they enjoyed over that of his grandfather ?
To this prosperity the Jesuits received an accession about three years ago, which they had long wished for, and solicited in vain at the court of Rome. They have made it their endeavour for many years past, to get all the bishopricks in the heathen countries into their own hands, that they might reserve to themselves the sole power over their converts, and have a check upon the other missionaries, who are not of their society. Some of the vacant sees they have been promoted to through the interest of the kings of Portugal, who have obtained the power of nominating the bishops of Asia. The Popes have constantly refitted their most pressing applications for the bishopricks in China, particularly for that of Pe-king. His present Holiness is doubtless of the same opinion with his predecessors in this respect. Notwithstanding this, in the year 1745, he promoted a Jesuit to the see of Pe-king with all its extensive jurisdiction. This prelate was a Portuguese, named Polycarp de Souza, recommended with the warmest importunity by Don Emanuel de Sampajo, the Portuguese ambassador. And the Pope, though he seems to fear as well as to hate the society of Jesuits, yet upon many accounts honours his Portuguese Majesty; therefore the same Benedict the fourteenth, who had so heavily mortified that society by his bull Ex quo singulari, did what none of his predecessors thought it prudent to do, he accepted the recommendation of a Jesuit. What can be expected in these circumstances ? The Jesuits being at present as powerful in the church, as at the court of Pe-king, it is easy to conjecture the fate of their adversaries, and of the bull, in which they are so effectually exposed.
The attentive reader will draw many useful inferences from the facts here related. How sick and feeble is the head of the church of Rome! How powerful and refractory are the orders, over which she pretends to an absolute sway ! How little regard is paid to the Pope by that society, which is bound to pay him the greatest! How much division and discord do we observe in a church which boasts of her unity and peace ! How miserably distracted is the court of Rome! How many arts are invented to elude the strongest decrees of the Pope ! How frequent is the change of those constitutions, which ought to be immutable ! How inconvenient and defective is the government of that church! Certainly if our Saviour subjected Christians in all parts of the earth to the dominion and inspection of a single bishop, he has laid a duty upon one man, to which an hundred are not equal, and has chosen one of the most imperfect forms of government.
Gottingen, April 6, 1748.
JOHN LAURENCE DE MOSHEIM,
By way of supplement to the foregoing account, we shall inform the reader that sines the year 1737, when the Emperor KIEN-LONG mounted the throne, and the Jesuits entertained such sanguine hopes , those fathers have given us six successive volumes of letters relating to their missions. From these we shall extract a short account of all that has befallen them in China since that period.
Tom. XXIII, published 1738, acquainted us with the death of their old enemy the Emperor YONG-TCHING, and with the commencement of the new reign, in which the Jesuits hoped to recover their former influence [as is mentioned above in p. 114.] How far these expectations have been answered we shall learn from the following volumes.
Tom. XXIV,published 1739, contains nothing particular relating to the Chinese mission, but
Tom. XXV, published 1741, opens with informing us that the hopes the missionaries had entertained from the new Emperor were frustrated, that in 1738 a new persecution had been raised against the Christians; that the Chinese were under heavy penalties forbidden to depart from the rites of their ancestors, and that many of the missionaries had been driven from their lurking places in the provinces. We find however, that such of them as were, employed in the Emperor's service at Pe-king, continued unmolested, and were even, permitted to intercede for their brethren, though their arguments were not able to divert the storm. It ought to be observed, that although the Jesuits would fain have, these placed to the score of religion, the Chinese government constantly affirmed that it was, not Christianity, but the violation of their laws, which they meant to punish: and as they could have no inducement to dissemble or conceal their real motives, I don´t see why we should not believe them. If religion itself bad been the object of their vengeance, no reason can be assigned by the Chinese within their own empire should not openly declare it.
Tom. XXVI, published 1743, informs us of the death of P. PARRENIN an ancient Jesuit missionary, and of the vast honours done to his memory by the Emperor´s order. Now altho´ it is apparent enough, and they have acknowledged it themselves, that this tribute of respect was only paid him, as a person employed in the Emperor's service, yet the good fathers , who let slip no opportunity of making their own private interest and that of Christianity one common cause, don't fail to call the pomp of his interment, A TRIUMPH FOR RELIGION (vid. pref. p. jx.) The same volume gives us a description of the stratagems and artifices the missionaries make use of to introduce themselves unobserved into the province, and to conceal themselves there from the notice of the magistracy: and concludes with informing us, that besides three churches they have at Pe-king, there are a great number of missions established all over the same province, which are cultivated by five Chinese priests of the Jesuit order ; and that the number of their Christian converts amounts to more than 50,000, which they have reason to believe they shall in a few years increase to 1 00,000 in that single province.
On account of the death of P. Du Halde, who for many years had the care of publishing the Lettres edifiantes & curieuses &c, the next collection, viz.
Tom. XXVII did not appear till 1749. Besides the account of the Chinese mission, which the reader will find at the end of Frere Attiret's descriptions of the Emperor's gardens in the following pages: this volume contains the history of a general persecution raised against the Christians in the year 1746. It was at first confined to the province of Fo-kien, where missionaries of the Dominican order were chiefly established; but afterwards extended itself even to the capital. Here indeed it only reached some of the Chinese converts, not in the least offering the European missionaries, who continued to exercise their religion without the least interruption: not but two or three Jesuits were strangled, that had lien concealed in the provinces. The missionary, who gives this account, concludes with telling us, that it was expected this storm would soon blow over. After an interval of nine years
Tom. XXVIII made its appearance in 1758. Besides the present state of the Chinese mission given in P. Amyot's letter, a translation of which is here published; from this volume we learn, that although the persecution had abated, one or two Jesuits had been detected in the provinces and strangled accordingly : that a Portuguese embassador had been received at Pe-king ; who, notwithstanding all the good offices which he had endeavoured to do the missionaries, was not able to perform them any effectual service : and that tho´ great favour was occasionally shewn to such of them as were employed in the Emperor's court (be having ordered one of them to be made a Mandarine of the fourth order, which honour however be declined), yet, with all these encouragements, they had not the least hopes of procuring any abatement in the rigour of the Cbinese laws, or of obtaining a general toleration of the CHRISTIAN RELIGION.
THE END OF THE MEMOIRS.
 Du Halde is much mistaken in calling him Patriarch of India; but this is not his only mistake.
 Anecdotes de la Chine, Tom. I. p. 88.
 It may be found among the other speeches of this Pope in P. Norbert´s Memoires fur les Millions Orientals, Tom. II. p. 6.