« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
into every measure which may be judged expedient, by the bare assumption, on the part of him who undertakes the office of guiding it, of a reasonable civility and politeness.. When credit is taken by any person for greater wisdom or capacity than he allows to others, which may be considered as in some degree the case, when he takes it upon him to give them advice, it were assuredly fit that this pretension were tempered, at least, by the semblance of modesty, and by a reasonable care to avoid every thing unnecessarily offensive. Whenever it is possible by any means of insinuation or address, not inconsistent with truth or propriety, to increase the chance of any advice that is offered, being favourably received, this is an undoubted reason for making use of their assistance, if, in the first instance, it is understood to be of any consequence that that advice should be followed. But, further than this, it is not fit that such indulgence should go. To flatter a man in his errors or his faults is the most consummate cruelty. It takes away entirely the probability of his ever correcting in himself what he is thus taught by the corroborating verdict of another judgment, in addition to his own, even to value himself for and to approve. The effect of such ill-placed and vicious complaisance may be yet more extensively fatal, by poisoning his mind, and producing in it a general repugnance to all counsels, however sound, in which there is the least infusion of bitter
or which trench the
degree upon any preconceived opinion or favourite inclination. The same or a similar consequence to that which, in one case, is to be apprehended from extreme lenity in giving counsel, may proceed in another from the opposite extreme of rigour, and an apparently eager desire of finding January 1812.
fault. The inference which will very probably be deduced from instances of this latter kind is, that the blame so liberally charged is more in the imagination of him who pretends to see it, than in the conduct of him who is assailed on account of it; which habit of thinking, if it has time to grow, and to strengthen itself in the mind, may lead eventually to a difficulty of perceiving the reprehensibility of what is most plainly obnoxious to censure, and to doubts respecting the justness of the charges made, even by candour itself. Though the part of giving advice, in any degree painful, is not a very gracious one, yet will not a true friend shrink from it, if he has any expectation that, by assuming it, he may really be of use? Neither, on the other side, if there is any fairness of sentiment, will this freedom be offensive, or defeat its own purpose. It is the office of judg ment to direct as to the occasions, the time and the manner of giving advice. But in all these cases, universally, the whole conduct, it is obvious, should be of a piece, and nothing admitted by which the effect of salutary precept may be counteracted, and rendered nugatory through the influence of pernicious examples.
Account of Syrian Churches recently found in the heart of India. From Christian Researches in India. By the Rev. Claudius Buchanan. 8vo. Edin. 1812.
HE Syrian Christians inhabit the interior of Travancore and Malabar, in the south of India; and, have been settled there from the early. ages of Christianity. The first notices of this ancient people in recent times are to be found in the Portugueze histories. When Vasco de Gama arrived at Cochin, on the coast of
of Malabar, in the year 1503, he saw the sceptre of the Christian king; for the Syrian Christians had formerly regal power in Malay-Ala.* The name or title of their last king was Beliarte; and he dying without issue, the dominion devolved on the King of Cochin and Diamper.
When the Portugueze arrived, they were agreeably surprised to find upwards of 100 Christian churches on the coast of Malabar. But when they became acquainted with the purity and simplicity of their worship, they were offended. "These churches," said the Portugueze, "belong to the pope." "Who is the pope?" said the natives, "we never heard of him." The European priests were yet more alarmed, when they found that these Hindoo Christians maintained the order and discipline of a regular church under Episcopal jurisdiction; and that, for 1300 years past, they had enjoyed a succession of bishops appointed by the patriarch of Antioch. "We," said they," are of the true faith, whatever you from the west may be ; for we come from the place where the followers of Christ were first called Christians."
When the power of the Portugueze became sufficient for their purpose, they invaded these tranquil churches, seized some of the clergy, and devoted them to the death of heretics. Then the inhabitants heard for the first time that there was a place called the Inquisition ; and that its fires had been lately lighted at Goa, near their own land. But the
* Malay-Ala is the proper name for the whole country of Travancore and Malabar, comprehending the territory between the mountains and the sea, from Cape Cormorin to Cape Illi or Dilly. The language of these extensive regions is called Malayalim, and sometimes Malabar. We shall use the word Malabar, as being of easier pronunciation.
Portugueze, finding that the people were resolute in defending their ancient faith, began to try more conci-1 liatory measures. They seized the Syrian bishop, Mar Joseph, and sent him prisoner to Lisbon, and then convened a synod at one of the Syrian churches, called Diamper, near Cochin, at which the Romish Archbishop Menezes presided. At this compulsory synod 150 of the Syrian clergy appeared. They were accused of the following practices and opinions: "That they had married wives; that they owned but two sacrameuts, Baptism and the Lord's Supper; that they neither invoked saints, nor worshipped images; nor believed in purgatory; and that they had no other orders or names of dignity in the church than bishop, priest, and deacon." These tenets they were called on to abjure, or to suffer suspension from all church benefices. It was also decreed that all the Syrian books on ecclesiastical subjects that could be found should be burned, " in order," said the Inquisitors, "that no pretended apostolical monuments may remain.”
The churches on the sea-coast were thus compelled to acknowledge the supremacy of the pope; but they refused to pray in Latin, and insisted on retaining their own language and liturgy. This point, they said, they would only give up with their lives. The pope compromised with them: Menezes purged their liturgy of its errors; and they retain their Syriac language, and have a Syriac college unto this day. These are called the Syro-Roman churches, and are principally situated on the seacoast.
The churches in the interior would not yield to Rome. After a show of submission for a little while, they proclaimed eternal war against the Inquisition; they hid their books,
The following is the account transmitted by him of the success of his mission.
fled to the mountains, and sought the protection of the native princes, who had always been proud of their alliance.
Two centuries had elapsed without any particular information concerning the Syrian Christians in Malay-ala. It was doubted by many whether they existed at all; but if they did exist, it was thought probable that they must possess some interesting documents of Christian antiquity. The author conceived the design of visiting them, if practicable, in his tour through Hindoostan. He presented a short memeir on the subject in 1805 to Marquis Wellesley, then governor-general of India, who was pleased to give orders that every facility should be afforded to him in the prosecution of his inquiries. About a year after that nobleman had left India, the author proceeded on his tour. It was necessary that he should visit first the court of the Rajah of Travancore, in whose dominions the Sy. rian Christians resided, that he might obtain permission to, pass to their country. The two chief objects which he proposed to himself, in exploring the state of this ancient people, were these: First, to investigate their literature and history, and to collect biblical manuscripts. Secondly, if he should find them to be an intelligent people, and well acquainted with the Syriac scriptnres, to endeavour to make them instruments of illuminating the southern part of India, by engaging them in translating their scriptures into the native languages. He had reason to believe that this had not yet been done; and he was prepared not to wonder at the delay, when he reflected how long it was before his own countrymen began to think it their duty to make versions of the scriptures for the use of other nations.
"From the palace of Travancore I proceeded to Mavely-car, and thence to the hills at the bottom of the high Ghauts, which divide the Carnatic from Malay-ala. The face of the country in general, in the vicinity of the mountains, exhibits a varied scene of hill and dale, and winding streams. These streams fall from the mountains, and preserve the vallies in perpetual verdure. The woods produce pepper, cardamoms, and cassia, or common cinnamon; also frankincense, and other aromatic gums. What adds much to the grandeur of the scenery in this country is, that the adjacent mountains of Travancore are not barren, but covered with forests of teak wood, (the Indian oak,) producing, it is said, the largest timber in the world.
"The first view of the Christian churches in this sequestered region of Hindoostan, connected with the idea of their tranquil duration for so many ages, cannot fail to excite pleasing emotions in the mind of the beholder. The form of the oldest buildings is not unlike that of some of the old parish churches in England, the style of building in both being of Saracenic origin. They have sloping roofs, pointed arch windows, and buttresses supporting the walls. The beams of the roof being exposed to view are ornamented; and the ceiling of the choir and altar is circular and fretted. In the cathedral churches, the shrines of the deceased bishops are placed on each side of the altar. Most of the churches are built of a reddish stone,* squared
This stone possesses a singular property. It is so soft at the quarry that it may be pared with a knife, and modelled in any
fashion with ease; but when exposed for a time to the air, it indurates like adamant. Dr
squared and polished at the quarry, and are of durable construction.The bells of the churches are cast in the founderies of the country: some of them are of large dimensions, and have inscriptions in Syriac and Malay-alim. In approaching a town in the evening, I once heard the sound of the bells among the hills; a circumstance which made me forget for a moment that I was in Hindoostan, and reminded me of another country.
"The first Syrian church which I saw was at Mavely-car; but the Syrians here are in the vicinity of the Romish Christians, and are not so simple in their manners as those nearer the mountains. They had been often visited by Romish emis. saries in former times; and they at first suspected that I belonged to that communion. They had heard of the English, but strangely supposed that they belonged to the church of the pope in the west. They had been so little accustomed to see a friend, that they could not believe that I was come with any friendly purpose. Added to this, I had some discussions with a most intelligent priest, in regard to the original language of the four gospels, which he maintained to be Syriac; and they suspected, from the complexion of my argument, that I wished to weaken the evidences for their antiquity.* Soon, however,
Dr Francis Buchanan of Bengal requested that I would bring to England a specimen of this stone, which he had not seen in any of the British collections.
* You concede," said the Syrian," that our Saviour spoke in our language; how do you know it ?" From Syriac expressions in the Greek gospels. It appears that he spoke Syriac when he walked by the way, (Ephiphatha,) and when he sat in the house, (Talitha Cumi,) and when he was upon the cross, (EH, Eli, lama sabachthani.) The Syrians were pleased when they heard that we had got
the gloom and suspicion subsided; they gave me the right hand of fellowship, in the primitive manner; and one of their number was deputed to accompany me to the churches in the interior.
"When we were approaching the church of Chinganoor, we met one' of the Cassanars, or Syrian clergy. He was dressed in a white loose vestment, with a cap of red silk hanging down behind. Being informed who he
their language in our English books. The priest observed that these last were not the
exact words, but " Ail, Ail, lamono sabachthani." I answered, that the word must have been very like Eli, for one said He "True," said he;" but calleth Elias.'
yet it was more likely to be Ail, Ail, (pronounced Il or Eel,) for Hil, or Hila, is Syriac for vinegar; and one thought he wanted vinegar, and filled immediately a sponge with it. But our Saviour did not want the medicated drink, as they supposed. But," added be," if the parables and discourses
of our Lord were in Syriac, and the people of Jerusalem, commonly used it, is it not marvellous that his disciples did not record his parables in the Syriac language; but that they should have recourse to the Greek?" I observed, that the gospel was for the world, and the Greek was then the universal language; and therefore Providence selected it. "It is very probable," said he, " that the gospels were translated immediately afterwards into Greek, as into other languages; but surely there must have been a Syriac original. The poor people in Jerusalem could not read Greek. Had they no record in their hands of Christ's parables which they had heard, and of his sublime discourses recorded by St John after his ascension?" I acknowledged that it was believed by some of the learned that the gospel of St Matthew was written originally in Syriac. "So you admit St Matthew? You may as well admit St John. Or was one gospel enough for the inhabitants of Jerusalem ?" I contended that there were many Greek and Roman words in their own Syriac gospels. True," said he, "Roman words for Roman things." They wished, however, to see some of these words. The discussion afterwards, particu larly in reference to the gospel of St Luke, was more in my favour.
he was, I said to him in the Syriac language, Peace be unto you.' He was surprised at the salutation, but immediately answered, The God of peace be with you.' He accost ed the rajah's servants in the lan. guage of the country to know who I was; and immediately returned to the village to announce our approach. 、 When we arrived, I was received at the door of the church by three Kasheeshas, that is, presbyters, or priests, who were habited, in like manner, in white vestments. Their names were Jesu, Zecharias, and Urias, which they wrote down in my joural, each of them adding to his name the title of Kasheesha, There were also present two Shumshanas, or deacons. The elder priest was a very intelligent man, of reverend appearance, having a long white beard, and of an affable and engaging depertment. The three principal Christians, or lay-elders, belonging to the church, were named Abraham, Thoma, and Alexandros. After some conversation with my attendants, they received me with confidesce and affection; and the people of the neighbouring villages came roand, women as well as men. The right of the WOMEN assured me that I was once more (after a long absence from England) in a Christian country. For the Hindoo women, and the Mahomedan women, and, in short, all women who are not Christians, are accounted by the men an inferior race; and, in general, are confined to the house for life, like irrational creatures. In every countenance now before me I thought I could discover the intelligence of Christianity. But, at the same time, I perceived all around symptoms of poverty and political depression. In the churches, and in the people, there was the air of fallen greatness. said to the senior priest, You ap
pear to me like a people who have known better days.' It is even so,' said he. We are in a degenerate state compared with our forefathers.' He noticed, that there were two causes of their present decay.
About 300 years ago, an enemy came from the west, bearing the name of Christ, but armed with the Inquisition, and compelled us to seek the protection of the native princes; and the native princes have kept us in a state of depression ever since. They indeed recognise our ancient personal privileges; for we rank, in general, next to the Nairs, the nobility of the country; but they have encroached by degress on our property, till we have been reduced to the humble state in which you find us. The glory of our church has passed away; but we hope your nation will revive it again. I obser ved, that the glory of a church could never die, if it preserved the bible.' We have preserved the bible,' said he; the Hindoo princes never touched our liberty of conscience. We were formerly on a footing with them in political power; and they respect our religion. We have also converts from time to time; but in this Christian duty we are not so active as we once were; besides, it is not so creditable now to become Christian in our low estate.' He then pointed out to me a Namboory brahmin, (that is, a brahmin of the highest cast,) who had lately become a Christian, and assumed the white vestment of a Syrian priest. The learning, too, of the bible,' he added, is in a low state amongst us. Our copies are few in number, and that number is diminishing, instead of increasing; and the writing out whole copy of sacred scripture is a great labour, where there is no profit, and little piety.' I then produced a printed copy of the Syriac New