Графични страници
PDF файл

of justice in the tribunals, the treatment of the natives, the ecclesiastical establishments, and, in short, every thing necessary to furnish an honest court with the means of doing that justice which it professed to desire. This task Ulloa and his companion have most boldly and faithfully performed in the Report before us. A more plain, manly, straightforward and judicious document never was drawn up; but while it reflects the highest honour on its compilers, it brands with eternal infamy the cold blooded policy which could silently receive such an exposure of the iniquity of its agents, and consign it to oblivion, without any attempt at punishment, redress, or reform.

The details as to the military administration of the American provinces are in themselves very curious and interesting. The authors shew how easily Anson, if he had possessed the least knowledge of the real weakness of the state of defence, could have made himself master of the whole navigation, of the Southern Ocean ; and how Vernon might have had nearly equal success in his undertakings. It is not within our limits to enter at much length into many of the details of this singular exposure of the scheme of administration of the Colonies, and we will, therefore, only shortly notice a few of the particulars most likely to be interesting to our readers.

One of the most important points to which the authors direct their attention, is to redeem from calumny the character of the native Indians, whose supposed incapacity has been made the pretext of so much injustice and cruelty. The country is still covered with the ruins of more magnificent works of public utility, erected by them, than the Spaniards ever thought, or were capable, of executing. Solid paved roads, of 400 leagues in length, aqueducts, which brought water 120 leagues, temples and palaces of the most splendid character, were the monuments of an empire only 400 years old, when Pizarro visited Peru and found a people eminent in the arts which adorn a highly advanced state of civilization; and yet this people, because they have sunk under the bigotry and oppression of their plunderers, are further libelled with the charge of natural imbecility and incapacity.

The authors draw a faithful picture of the miseries of the barbarous law of the mita, or conscription, by which the Indians were drafted for a limited service in the mines, which ended generally in their destruction. Robertson has glossed over this oppression ;-ihe laws of the Council of the Indies forkad it;—yet, as the editor observes, this dilemma can never be escaped ;either the mita was established by the law, or by the local authorities against the law. If the first, the law itself was inhuman and unjust; if the second, not only were the viceroys criminally remiss, but the government at home, which knew and sanctioned the abuse, was hypocritical and wicked.

The disgusting particulars which this Report contains of the disorders, negligence, ignorance, and rapacity of the priests and members of the monastic orders, which Spain sent forth to prey upon these ill-fated countries, are very striking; and one would have thought that they could not have failed to lead the government to some measures for redressing the evil, the cause and aggravation of which, in fact, rested more with itself than with the church. Robertson is here too disposed to paint matters in colours not very accordant with the real state of things. From his pages we fancy a crowd of missionaries, tempted, indeed, somewhat by the prospect of wealth and advancement, to qualify themselves to “perform all spiritual functions, and to receive the tithes and other emoluments of the benefices" of the Western churches, but actuated also by nobler passions : they are, as he represents them, “men of the most ardent and aspiring minds, impatient under the

restraint of a cloister, weary of its insipid uniformity, and fatigued with the irksome repetition of its frivolous functions, who offer their services with eagerness, and repair to the new world in quest of liberty and distinction.”

Now unfortunately a great deal of this is mere imagination. The Spanish possessions were subjected to tithes, but the king had one half as patron of the church, and the bishop, or religious establishments at a distance, which had little actual duty to perform, got the other half. The regular clergy, who were generally of a respectable character, were overrun by the members of the religious orders; and the “curas," most of whom moreover belonged to those orders, being robbed by the government of the proper source of income in a tithe-paying country, were left to live upon the profits of the altar and on extortion of the most flagrant kind. Their evil courses brought contempt and hatred upon themselves and their religion. Nothing can be expressed in stronger language than the indignation and reprobation of Ulloa at ihe scandalous way in which the poor Indians were made Christians in order to become assessable to their iniquitous imposts. To shew to what account the offerings of the altar were turned, he mentions, that in a single cure, and that not a large one, the cura had extorted, in one year, more than 200 sheep, 6000 pullets, 50,000 eggs, and other articles in proportion. Their lives were most profligate, many not contenting themselves either with one wife or one concubine. Ulloa mentions an instance of a holy father advanced in years, whose congregation was made up of his children of every age, some assisting him in the service of the altar, and many older than the woman he then lived with, who was the forth or fifth in succession.

To explain the object and destiny of the missionaries who were so eagerly invited over, it may be as well to give some idea of the system, for which the editor prepares us by an account of the mode in which these men were, down to his time, collected and exported. The religious houses having the patropage of many of the good things, which it was necessary to occupy for the benefit of their communities by a supply of Spaniards, (the Creoles and they being perpetually at war,) regular agents were kept at work to beat up at home for missionaries under pretence of preaching the gospel to the Indians. All the idle, disorderly, refractory, and disreputable characters, were thus brought together, enlisted, and marched to the port for embarkation.

The governors there forced the vessels at hand to take these men; for it was an important part of the policy of the administration to keep up the delusion and stock the Colonies with these useful supporters of the existing system. The state paid a small sum for each passenger; but so offensive and odious was the office of taking out these adventurers, that every artifice was used to evade it, and soldiers were often obliged to enforce the duty.

On their arrival, instead of going to preach to the Indians, as those who were really zealous had expected, they were employed and turned to account for the mercenary purposes of the different orders who had thus been recruiting; and thus added, by their profligacy and extortion, to the misery of the country, the annoyance of the regular clergy, and the emoluments of the religious orders. Ulloa acknowledges that the most respectable of the regular clergy expressed their wishes to him that the English should subjugate the country, and thereby free them from the intolerable burthen which the. profligacy of the government threw upon them, provided they could be sure that the English would allow them the free exercise of their religion.

For these, and indeed all the enormities which Ulloa details, he points out obvious and efficient remedies ; and their neglect is a proof that the state

never was in earnest in repressing the abuses of which it is clear now that it was well aware.

One bright example of excellent discipline, unwearied diligence, strict morals, humanity, judgment, and zeal, he continually dwells upon in the conduct and plans of the company of Jesuits, as opposed to all the other orders; and it is only of a piece with the rest of the policy of the Spanish government, that it could not tolerate in its doniinions even one body of persons apparently disposed to do its duty, but seized, plundered, and expatriated those who appear to have been, not only almost the only conscientious instructors of youth, and missionaries, and civilizers of the Indians, but to have been the most valuable subjects in the protection and extension of the civil interests of the government. The removal of this body is considered one of the most effectual causes of the gradual decay and final dissolution of the European interests in South America.

One never-failing cause of anarchy and division was the distinction which the pride of the Spaniards created between European blood and that which had

any tincture of the Indian. The stop which the emancipation of these countries has put to the perpetual importation among them of adventurers of the Spanish unmixed blood, must soon remove this cause of distinction, and will contribute more than any thing to the union of interests and equality in the administration of the laws. The religious establishments will be purified by the same cause. Whatever is set apart for their maintenance will be so applied, instead of swelling the fortunes of needy and profligate men seeking to enrich themselves in a foreign land. The influence which the mother country gave to these objects of general execration is now removed. The tendency is to lessen the power and emoluments of the priesthood; and there can be little doubt but that here, as well as elsewhere, there will be a correspondent increase in their conscientious discharge of their duty, and in their consequent usefulness and moral excellence.

ART. II.-The Ecclesiastical History of the Second and Third Centuries,

illustrated from the Writings of Tertullian. By John, Bishop of Bristol, [Lincoln,] &c.

(Continued from p. 273.) RESUMING an examination of this excellent and important work, we enter upon the fourth chapter, in which the learned author, following the arrangement of Mosheim, proceeds “10 inquire what information can be derived from Tertullian respecting the government and discipline of the church in his day." Near the conclusion of his “ Apology,” we find the Presbyter of Carthage thus stating the nature and purposes of the Christian assemblies :

“ We form,” he says, a body; being joined together by a community of religion, of discipline, and of hope. In our assemblies we meet to offer up our united supplications to God to read the Scriptures—to deliver exhortations-to pronounce censures, cutting off, from communion in prayer, and in every holy exercise, those who have been guilty of any flagrant offence. The cilder members, men of tried piety and prudence, preside; having obtained the dignity, not by purchase, but by acknowledged merit. If any collection is made at our meetings, it is perfectly voluntary; each contributes according to his ability, either monthly, or as often as he pleases. These contributions

We regard as a sacred deposit; not to be spent in feasting and gluttony, but in maintaining or burying the poor, and relieving the distresses of the orphan, the aged, or the shipwrecked mariner. A portion is also appropriated to the use of those who are suffering in the cause of religion : who are condemned to the mines, or banished to the islands, or confined in prison.”—Pp. 222, 223.

If this were the only passage in the writings of Tertullian relating to this subject, we might conclude, so far at least as his testimony is concerned, that the simplicity of the apostolical times had been preserved to the close of the second century. But from various other passages it is too clear that those innovations were gradually taking place, which at length entirely changed the appearance and character of the Christian Church, and ended in an usurpation of authority over the minds and consciences of men that cannot be reflected upon without astonishment and indignation. A distinction, falsely claiming the sanction even of the apostles, already existed between the clergy and the laity. The former also were divided into the three orders of Bishops, Presbyters and Deacons, who were studiously represented by the Christian doctors, as Mosheim observes, as having succeeded to the rights and privileges of the Jewish priesthood, so that the Bishops considered themselves to be invested with a rank and character similar to those of the High Priest, while the Presbyters filled the place of the Priests, and the Deacons that of the Levites. It is, however, manifest, from different parts of the writings of Tertullian, that all the apostolic churches were independent of each other and equal in rank and authority, and that one bishop presided

over each assembly. If the Church of Rome was ever mentioned with any ; peculiar respect, it was not because it had been founded by Peter, but bé.

cause both Peter and Paul had, according to tradition, suffered mariyrdom in that city. That some bishop had, in Tertullian's time, arrogantly styled himself Pontifex Maximus and Episcopus Episcoporum, is certain ; and Tertullian has also spoken of some one as “ benedictus Papa :” but it is not certain that these titles were then either assumed by the Bishop of Rome or conferred

upon him; and, on the other hand, there is abundant evidence to prove that the titles Summus Pontifex and Papa, were bestowed on ordinary bishops.

We learn farther fiom the writings of Tertullian, that Synods were held in his time, both in European and Asiatic Greece, composed of deputies from all the churches. But the practice did not extend to other countries till very bear the end of the second century. In a long and interesting note subjoined to the 22nd Section of the 2nd Book of the Commentaries on the Affairs of the Christians, foc., the origin of these Synods is traced by Mosheim to the political constitution and habits of the Grecian states, and the Fassage in Tertullian which relates to them is minutely examined. These semblies

may for a while have been attended with some advantages, but they were also the source of many serious evils. We cannot concede that they merit the eulogy bestowed upon them by the learned professor, who observes, that “in them all the more important questions which arose from time to time were discussed; and thus the unity of doctrine and discipline was preserved.” (P. 245.) Tertullian himself, indeed, seems to have viewed them in the same light; fór the very mention of them leads him to exclaim, in the words of the Psalmist, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for. brethren to dwell together in unity!" Such commendations remind us of Le. Clerc's more correct judgment of these associations, when he says in his

Verum hæc est abstracta notio synodorum, quæ in inconspicua idearum republica coguntur, non imago earum quæ inter miseros

[ocr errors]

Irs Critica,

mortales olim congregatæ fuere.” They were a novelty in Tertullian's day, and he had no opportunity of witnessing what animosities they occasioned, and how generally they fomented instead of healing divisions. Had he lived a century or two later, he might have addressed the assembled fathers in the words of the Jewish lawgiver, “Sirs, ye are brethren ; why do ye wrong one to another?”

In the latter part of the second century, the converts to Christianity were not admitted to baptism, as in the days of the apostles, merely upon their professing to believe in Christ, but were required to pass through a previous course of instruction and probation. While in this state they were called Catechumens; when baptized, the Faithful : and for this last class some points of doctrine, or, at least, some interpretations of the Scriptures, were reserved, which it was not thought right to communicate to those of the first class. The writings of Tertullian afford much information respecting penitential discipline and the distinction of offences; but as the sentiments and practices, relating to these subjects, of the Catholic church and of the Montanists were very different, his testimony must be received with caution. In no part of his works has he any allusion to “ auricular confession."

In conformity with the plan of Mosheim, our author next briefly mentions the ecclesiastical authors to whom Tertullian, in the course of his writings, alludes. These are Hermas, Clemens Romanus, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Miltiades, Irenæus, Proculus and Tatian. Of the “ Shepherd of Hermas" he speaks in his later treatises with great bitterness, and asserts that it had been" pronounced apocryphal by every synod of the orthodox churches." It deserves no higher character.

In the fifth chapter, the learned Professor enters upon the most important and extensive branch of his inquiry, the information which the writings of Tertullian supply respecting the doctrine of the church in his day.” And in treating this part of his subject he has thought that he could not adopt a better course than to consider the different doctrines in the order in which they occur in the Articles of the Church of England.” (P. 262.) We suspect that he would not have adopted this course had he kept strictly to the professed object of his work, “ the illustration of the ecclesiastical history of the second and third centuries.” He must have seen that articles “composed chiefly,” as Dr. J. Hay acknowledges, “ with a view to separating from the Church of Rome, in which, consequently, the doctrines of that church are treated with peculiar attention,” could not form a proper guide in the arrangement of passages relating to the doctrines and discipline of the age of Teriullian. Accordingly we find that there are some articles to which nothing in the works of the Presbyter can be referred, several concerning which it is more than doubtful whether the doctrine they are designed to maintain was known to him, and others, which the Professor candidly allows, derive from him no plain and direct support. This support, however, it is evidently his object to obtain in its fullest extent, and at the same time to withdraw it, wherever it has been claimed, from the Roman Catholic church. It appears to us that it would have been a fairer and more satisfactory course, to select from the works of Tertullian the substance of all they contain relating to doctrine, discipline and ceremonies, and to place the result in a systematic form, without reference to any existing formula or summary of faith.

In pursuing the course which he has thought it best to adopt, the Right Reverend Author defers the consideration of the Ist, 2nd, and 5th Articles to the chapter relating to heresies, and the 27th, 28th and 30th, to that concerning

« ПредишнаНапред »