Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

1615 banished all the missionaries, forbidding entrance for the time to come under pain of death. The year following Fide-Tadda, his son, succeeded him in the throne, and put great numbers of Christians to barbarous deaths. Xogan or Toxogunsama, to whom he resigned the crown, or at least the regency, in 1622, carried his cruelty against the Christians to the last excess, and put incredible numbers to the most barbarous deaths. In 1636 the Dutch accused to this emperor, Moro and other Japanese Christians of a conspiracy with the Portuguese against the state, which Kaempfer (b. 4, c. 5,) pretends to have been real : but Charlevoix endeavours to prove counterfeit, (t. 2, p. 406.) This charge exceedingly enraged the persecutors. The Christians in numberless crowds had suffered martyrdom with the most heroic patience and constancy: but many of those who remained in the kingdoin of Arima, by an unjustifiable conduct, very opposite to that of the primitive Christians, broke into rebellion, and with an army of forty thousand men took some strong places: but being at length forced, all died fighting desperately in the field, in 1638. After this, Toxogunsama continued the persecution with such fury, that at his death, in 1650, very few had escaped his fury; and his successor, Jietznako, who pursued the same course, seems to have discovered very few to put to death. The researches have been so rigorous that in some provinces all the inhabitants have been sometimes compelled to trample on a crucifix. Only the Dutch are allowed to trade there under the most severe restrictions, but their factory is confined to the isle of Desima, i. e. isle of De, which is one long street, before the harbour, and joined by a bridge to the city of Nangasaki, on the western coast of the island Ximo. This city was subject to Sumitanda, prince of Omura, one of the first sovereigns in Japan who embraced the faith, which he established alone throughout all his dominions, situate in the kingdom of Arima. That king was himself baptized with a considerable part of his subjects. After several Christian kings, king John, otherwise Protasius, suffered martyrdom : his son Michael apostatised to preserve the crown, and became a persecutor. The rebellion of 1638 totally extinguished the faith in this kingdon and in the rest of Japan. Nangasaki in the time of the Portuguese was all Christians, and counted sixty thousand inhabitants : now about eight thousand only, and these Japanese idolaters. It is the only, lown in Japan which any strangers are now allowed to approach: and are here watched as if prisoners. By an inviolable edict of the emperor, all other nations except the Dutch are forbid these dominions, and all their natives are commanded to remain in their own country. The missionaries who have atteinpted to find admittance, seem never to have succeeded. The last that is known, was M. Sidotti, a Sicilinn priest who, in 1709, found means to land in Japan : but what became of him after this was never known in Eu. rope. See Charlevoix, Dr. Kaempfer, and Hist. Moderne, t. 2. des Japanois. Also Hist. Provincia Phillippine, Dominica. et Jac. Lefenas, Annal Dominican. et F. Sardimo, Jesuita Catologus Regularium et Sæculrium qui in Japania et sub quatuor Tyrannis sublato sunt. Also the history of the Martyrs who in Japan suffered cruel and intolerable torments and death for the Roman Catholic religion, in Dutch, by Rier Guyesherts, (who was an eyewitness to several living at Nangasaki, in 1622.) printed at the end of Caron’s Description of Japan. See also relations of this persecution, published by several Jesuits, Dominicans, cauis,” &c. Vol. xii. p. 43.

This account by Mr. Butler differs materially from that given by John Fox, and is much more clear and intelligible. Fox says the faith was first introduced in 1552, by some Portuguese missionaries, but this is contradicted by the former martyrologist, who shews that the seed of faith was sown by St. Francis Xavier, who had for his companion & Japanese, whom he had converted and baptized by the name of Paul, in Malacca, St. Francis landed in Japan in 1549. To prove the efficacy of Catholic preaching over Bible distribution, we have only to observe that the success of St. Francis Xavier, who, by the by, was a Jesuit, in the countries he visited for the purpose of carrying among the people the light of the gospel, was widely different from the success the missionaries of the Missionary Society are stated to have met with. St. Francis landed at Goa, the capital town of the Portuguese settlement of that name, in the year 1542, and the first of his missionary labours

[ocr errors]

was to reform the manners of the Portuguese settlers who were only Christians in name, This act of charity performed to men already bearing the Christian name, his next efforts were directed to those who were ignorant of the name of Christ. From Goa the holy missionary bent his steps towards the coast of the peninsula which stretches to the south and ends in a point called Cape Comorin. He was but little skilled in the Malabar language, but he had the address to make himself understood, and many of the people in the numerous villages that covered the country believed in his doctrines and were baptized. He pursued his course to the populous kingdom of Travancore, and here the harvest was so great, that in the space of one month he baptized with his own hands ten thousand souls. In a short time the whole kingdom became Catholic. From thence he crossed to the eastern shore of the peninsula, and went as far as Meliapor, where the Portuguese had erected a town and named it St. Thomas, from a tradition that St. Thomas the apostle suffered martyrdom there. From this place the saint went on board a vessel and sailed across the gulf of Bengal to Malacca, and from thence to the islands of Molucca, preaching the faith of Christ wherever he went. At Malacca he met with the native of Japan before-mentioned, and accompanied by him he sailed to Japan and landed at Cangoxima, the capital of the kingdom of Saxuma, and the birth-place of Paul. Before St. Francis Xavier had been a year in this island, he made innumerable converts to the Catholic faith, and a persecution was raised, in which many of the converts sealed their faith with their blood.

The missionaries to the islands of the South Seas carried with them wives and bibles, and some of them died, we are told, while others returned, without any visible effects from their labours. Query. How much money

did these missionaries receive from the London Society, collected by fools' pence? St. Francis did not carry a bible with him, but like the apostles of Christ, he carried on his back all the necessary utensils for the sacrifice of the mass, and when he made converts he had copies of the Apostles' creed and a Life of Christ translated into the Japonese language, and distributed them amongst his converts. We question whether the Japonese Christians ever saw a bible, any more than the primitive Christians. Such a thing was impossible in the latter instance, because the bible was not then collated into one book; and in the former case it is more than improbable, as it was too laborious and difficult a task to translate and print so ponderous a vo. lume into the Japonese tongue. We even doubt whether the Bible Societies have yet a copy of the bible in the Japonese character, though they boast of having the sacred volume in one hundred and fifty differ-, ent languages.-From Cangoxima the holy missionary went to Firando, where he baptized more in twenty days than in the former place during a year. In these labours St. Francis was joined by other Jesuit missionaries, some of them natives, and at each place he left one or more in care of the souls converted, while he went in of fresh harvests.

In the extract we have given from Mr. Butler there are dates, and names, and authorities, but in Fox there are none, nor has my

lord Bexley been so good as to tell us which of the islands in the South

In every

seas has had the happiness to embrace the only Christian faith that could lead them to salvation. There was a farce to be sure got up in London a few weeks ago, by these Bible and Missionary Saints, who introduced a king and queen of the Sandwich islands into the metropolis, and much notice was taken of them by a part of his Majesty's government. It was said that their Sandwich majesties were to have been introduced to his Britannic majesty had they not been prevented by another majesty, the grim king of terrors. We do not recollect the name of this Sandwich sovereign and his royal consort, but that is no great matter. He came over to England, and was represented as a convert to Christianity, made by the English missionaries. The conversion, therefore, of this petty monarch is, we presume, the conversion of the whole nation to the only Christian faith that could lead to eternal salvation. Well, be it so; but mark, 'reader, the conclusion. Their sable majesties had not been long in town before that fatal malady the small pox laid hold of them, and his majesty took it so to heart that he died, and was shortly after followed by his spouse, The public papers told us that he was a Christian, and they further informed us that though a Christian, yet he had several wives in his own country: thereby shewing that his kind of Christianity was a very easy one, seeing that it would allow him to have more wives than one. case where Pagan nations were converted 'by Catholic missionaries, both kings and people were compelled to relinquish their sensual passions and keep themselves continent. Only one lawful wife was permitted, though Pagan custom might have allowed an unlimited plurality, and not an instance can be named where a sovereign was admitted to the sacraments of the church that did not consent to renounce polygamy. Our modern missionaries, however, do not seem to be so rigid in their discipline; and if such be the Christian faith which is to lead the Sandwichers to salvation, we shall, for our part, prefer the old road, which was taught by the apostles and their successors, and has been followed by every nation that held to the Catholic church.

Before we quit this part of the globe, we cannot help contrasting the success of the Chinese and Japan missionaries, and that of the modern gentlemen sent to the South seas by the London Missionary society. The latter, we are told, laboured hard, till some died and others returned without producing any fruit, though they ploughed with the bible. It was not till the lapse of ten years that a blossom appeared upon the tree, and whether it be real or fictitious is very doubtful, as, we have no authentic clue on which to ground the fact, and certain we are that, allowing the nameless nation to have embraced the doctrines of these missionaries, the creed they have received is not the creed taught by the apostles. Let us now look to the empires of China and Japan. In the former we see it related, on authority, that hundreds of thousands of souls embraced the Catholic faith on the preaching of a few poor Jesuits, and two hundred churches were raised by the converts. We see a persecution created to prevent the increase of the Catholic faith; we see the new converts laying down their lives for this faith, and fresh ones springing up in their stead, animated with the heroic constancy and fortitude displayed by these Catholic Christian martyrs. In Japan we see thousands of Pagans renouncing their errors and em

bracing the rigid system of Catholicism by the preaching of one missionary, divinely commissioned, St. Francis Xavier. We see these fruits raised almost instantaneously by the fructifying word of God, orally delivered, not bound up in a book; and we see the same effects as were produced in China. Princes and persons of rank became the disciples of a crucified God, as well as the meanest of the people; submission was rendered in spirituals to the see of Rome; churches were raised for the public worship of that God, whose doctrines they believed in; and persecutions followed to sift the chaff from the wheat. But where are the persecutions to try the faith of the Sandwichers? Where are the churches raised in honour of the God of Truth?. When we have seen these highly-favoured Christians, who are stated to have adopted the only faith that could lead them to salvation, laying down their lives for this faith, as Catholics in every age and every country have done;-when we see them erect splendid temples and offer up the divine sacrifice the first apostles and the primitive Christians did ;- then, indeed, we will allow the truth of my lord Bexley's statement;—but till then we must consider the newly made peer as labouring under a great mistake, led away, probably, by artful misrepresentations.

Mr. Butler agrees with Fox as to the fact of the opposition made in Japan to the persecutors by some of the Christians, but he speaks of their conduct in

very

different terms. The language used by Fox implies approbation of this resistance, whereas Mr. Butler plainly states it was unjustifiable, and very opposite to that of the primitive Christians. Rebellion, or resistance to lawful authority, cannot be justified on the plea of religion, because religion being an emanation from God, it cannot be made a cloak for any worldly policy on any account whatever without a heinous offence against the Divine Majesty. To such a martyrologist as Fox, whose labours have been devoted to make martyrs of men whose deeds have been of the most rebellious kind, the conduct of these Japanese Christians may appear meritorious, it does not seem to have been so, however, in the eye of God, and it was probably to mark his divine displeasure that the Christian religion no longer flourished in a country where its followers, forgetful of the promises of its Divine Founder, that all the powers of hell should not prevail against it, irreligiously attempted to defend it by force of arms. There is another subject connected with this rebellion worthy of observation, which Fox has very slyly passed over. He says, “The persecution continued many

years, when the remnant of the innumerable Christians with which

Japan abounded, to the number of 37,000 souls, retired to the town “ and castle of Siniabara,” &c. Mr. Butler on the coutrary says, the Christians broke into rebellion and took the field with 40,000 men;

that they took several strong places, but being at length forced, they died desperately fighting in the field, in 1638; and that a persecution reigned after this affair. But mark, reader, the preface of this rebellion. The Christians who were Catholics were accused to the emperor by the Dutch, who were Protestants, of being in a conspiracy with the Portuguese, who were also Catholics, which enraged the persecutors against the Catholic Japanese, and irritated the latter to make physical resistance to the sanguinary oppressions they experienced. Hence it appears

66

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

that to Protestant reformers the Japanese Catholics were indebted for some of the cruelties inflicted upon them by their Pagan rulers, and it is a fact not less worthy of notice, but carefully suppressed by Fox, that the reason why the Protestant Dutch were the only Christians allowed to trade with Japan, was because they were the only people pretending to Christianity, that, for the sake of merchandize, would impiously trample on the image of their crucified Saviour.

In concluding our review of this account given by Fox of the persecutions in China and Japan, we will just observe that there have been many editions published of his Book of Martyrs, from the folio size down to a duodecimo. In one of the former, now before us, edited by the Rev. Henry Southwell, LL. D. Rector of Asterby, in Lincolnshire, and late of Magdalen college, Cambridge ; and author of The Universal Family Bible, we find the following character drawn of the Christian religion first introduced into Japan. “They,” (the Japanese) writes this reverend editor, soon perceived, on the comparison, that their own religion was calculated to make them cruel, uncharitable, perfidious, unnatural, unsocial, unhuman; and that the Christian faith, on the

contrary, would render them kind, benevolent, sincere, humane, social, tender. The contrast (he adds) was too striking for the “ balance not to turn in favour of the Christian truth.--Happy then (he “ elsewhere observes) must the people be to receive a faith which “pointed out every wirtue, divine and human, and taught the practice “ of whatever could lead to happiness here and hereafter." Now this system of pure religion we have proved to be the Catholic faith, introduced by Catholic missionaries, and at a time when the evangelical reformers were reviling it, as blasphemous and idolatrous. What then are we to think of these edtiors of Fox's Book of Martyrs ? We here find one representing the Catholic faith introduced into Japan to be a system of the purest benevolence, humanity, and happiness, while the “few plain Christians" assert that it is a system inseparable from cruelty and persecution, Can these men be worthy of credit after such contradictory statements ?

« BOOK VIII. PERSECUTIONS OF THE PROTESTANTS IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES NOT

BEFORE DESCRIBED.” This book is divided into ten sections, but as it would be tedious to enter into all the misrepresentations and falsehoods contained in them, and as it is time we should bring the first volume of our labours to a close, we shall content ourselves with noticing the most prominent perversions of historical facts, convinced that what we shall point out to the reader will be deemed satisfactory that the rest is unworthy of crédit. The first head is “PERSECUTIONS IN Abyssinia,” which are thus related by Fox. About the end of the fifteenth century, some Portu

guese missionaries made a voyage to Abyssivia, and began to propagate the Roman Catholic doctrines ainong the Abyssinians, who pro“ fessed Christianity before the arrival of the missionaries. The

priests gained such an influence at court, that the emperor consented “ to abolish the established rites of the Ethiopian church, and to admit “ those of Rome; anıl, soon after, consented to receive a patriarch

« ForrigeFortsæt »