Page images
PDF
EPUB

tions are reported at ninety thousand. The Hindoos have a much greater respect for the Christians of the original church than for the converts of the Latin communion.

6 III. The Latin Roman Catholics are subject to the Primate of Goa, under whom is an archbishop and two bishops.

“ The churches are numerous : but as they are in general poor, and are obliged to be supplied with priests from Goa, one vicar holds upon an average five or six churches. The number of Christians composing these churches must bę great, as all the fishermen are Roman Catholics.”*

Dr. Kerr closes his interesting Report with some general observations. “ It appears," he remarks, “from the foregoing statement, that pure Christianity is far from being a religion for which the highest cast of the Hindoos have any disrespect; and that it is the abuse of the Christian name, under the form of the Romish religion, to which they are averse."-See Dr. Kerr's Report to the Governor of Madras, p. 15.

THE
ROMISH CHRISTIANS IN INDIA.

in every age of the Church of Rome, there have been individuals, of an enlightened piety,

* Thirty thousand of these Christian fishermen assembled at the palace of Travancore in 1804, and defended their Hindoo prince against the rebellion of the Nairs, and conquered that military body. The language of these fishermen is also Malay-alim ; but they have not, it is said, one Bible among tbem in any language.

who derived their religion not from “ the commandments of men,” but from the doctrines of the Bible. There are at this day, in India and in England, members of that communion, who deserve the affection and respect of all good men; and whose cultivated minds will arraign the corruptions of their own religion, which the Author is about to describe, more severely than he will permit himself to do. He is, indeed, prepared to speak of Roman Catholics with as much liberality as perhaps any Protestant has ever attempted on Christian principles; for he is acquainted with individuals, whose unaffected piety he considers a reproach to a great body of Protestants. It is, indeed, painful to say any thing which may seem to feeling and noble minds ungenerous; but those enlightened persons, whose good opinion it is desirable to preserve, will themselves be pleased to see that truth is not sacrificed to personal respect, or to a spurious candour. Their own Church sets an example of “ptainness of speech” in the assertion of those tenets which it professes ; some of which must be extremely painful to the feelings of Protestants, in their social intercourse with Catholics; such as, “ That there is “no salvation out of the pale of the Romish 6 Church.”

This exclusive character prevents concord and intimacy between Protestant and Catholic families. On the principles of infidelity they can associate very easily ; but on the principles of Religion, the Protestant must ever be on the defensive ; for the Romish Church excommunicated him; and although he must hope that some individuals do not maintain the tenet, yet his uncertainty as to the fact, prevents that cordiality which he desires. Many excellent Catholics suffer unjustly in their intercourse with Protestants, from the ancient and exclusive articles of their own Church, which they themselves neither profess nor believe. If they will only intimate to their Protestant friends, that they renounce the exclusive principle, and that they profess the religion of the Bible, no more seems requisite to form with such

persons the sincerest friendship on Christian principles.

At the present time we see the Romish religion in Europe without dominion; and hence it is viewed by the mere philosopher, with indifference or contempt. He is pleased to see that the " seven heads and the ten horns" are taken away; and thinks nothing of the “ names of

blasphemy." But in the following pages, we shall have occasion to shew what Rome

is, as having dominion ; and possessing it too within the boundaries of the British Empire.

In passing through the Romish Provinces in the East, though the Author had before heard much of the Papal corruptions, he certainly did not expect to see Christianity in the degraded state in which he found it. Of the Priests it

may truly be said, that they are, in general, better acquainted with the Veda of Brahma than with the Gospel of Christ. In some places the doctrines of both are blended. At Aughoor, situated between Tritchinopoly and Madura, he visited a Christian Church, and saw near it, (in October, 1806) a Tower or Car of Juggernaut, which is employed in solemnizing the Christian festivals. The old priest Josephus accompanied him to the spot, and while he surveyed the idolatrous car, and its painted figures, the Priest gave him a particular account of the various ceremonies which are performed, seemingly unconscious himself of any impropriety in them. The Author went with him afterwards into the Church, and seeing a book lying on the altar, opened it; but the reader may judge of his surprize, when he found it was a Syriac volume, and was informed that the Priest himself was a descend. ant of the Syrian Christians, and belonged to what is now called the Syro-Roman Church, the whole service of which is in Syriac.--Thus, by the intervention of the Papal power, are the ceremonies of Moloch consecrated in a manner by the sacred Syriac language.

While the Author viewed these Christian corruptions in different places, and in different forms, he was always referred to the Inquisition at Goa, as the fountain-head. He had long cherished the hope, that he should be able to visit Goa before he left India. His chief objects were the following:

1. To ascertain whether the Inquisition actually refused to recognise the Bible, among the Romish Churches in British India.

2. To inquire into the state and jurisdiction of the Inquisition, particularly as it affected British subjects.

3. To learn what was the system of education for the Priesthood; and

4. To examine the ancient Church-libraries in Goa, which were said to contain all the books of the first printing.

He will select from his journal, in this place, chiefly what relates to the Inquisition. He had learnt from every quarter, that this tribunal, formerly so well known for its frequent burnings, was still in operation, though under some restriction as to the publicity of its proceedings ;

« PreviousContinue »