« AnteriorContinuar »
BEFORE we enter upon the subject of this article, we will sketch the prominent outlines of the life of Loyola, the father of Jesuitism. This enthusiastic Spaniard was born A.D. 1491, and his history may be said properly to date from his long confinement, after having been wounded at the siege of Pampeluna. He went into his sick chamber a dissipated soldier, he quitted it an energetic devotee. His knight-errantry was henceforward to be of another character—he was to be a military champion for the church of Rome.
He soon gave tokens of his ardour in the course upon which he had entered. A Moor uttered an opinion respecting the Virgin which appeared blasphemous to Loyola, and he meditated whether he should not stab him. He rested the decision upon the choice made between two roads by the animal upon which he rode, and fortunately the fatal one was not taken. He fasted rigorously, scourged himself, left his hair and nails uncut, begged the bread which was his only food, and prayed seven hours a day; and though we cannot but condemn his excesses, let us not overlook the important truth, that his enthusiasm was consummate wisdom, when compared with the stupid indifference, or the halfhearted lukewarmness of many, who, perhaps, consider themselves very tolerable Christians. It is well to remember, that the learned Andrewes never spent less than five hours daily in devotion; and, indeed, we have read of one eminent Christian who passed considerably beyond this limit.
We shall pass over the wonders which stud the biography of Loyola, because we have no desire to occupy the time of the reader with those pests of Christianity—unauthenticated miracles. It is to be hoped that those who manufacture the spurious marvels of Romanism have no idea how they are labouring to undermine the real miracles of the Christian church.
Loyola visited Jerusalem, reaching the holy city in July 1523, and, after returning to Spain and suffering imprisonment for his extraordinary behaviour, he went to Paris on his release in 1528. Here he nearly received public corporal chastisement for interposing his devotions at what was deemed an unreasonable time. It was at Paris that he became acquainted with some of his most famous followers; and here, too, he came to the determination of founding a new order in the Romish church. In 1540, Jesuitism was made an acknowledged part of the papal system, and in the following year, Loyola was installed as general of the order. But the character of Jesuitism appears to have undergone a complete modification soon after its birth. Loyola wished his followers to be a species of "spiritual crusaders;" but Lainez, his disciple and successor in the generalship, moulded the society into a secular rather than a religious form. It may now be characterised as a huge automaton, to be moved at the pleasure of the Pope, and of the general of the order. But let us proceed at once to its missions, which afford a good illustration of its nature.
Of all the followers of Loyola, perhaps Francis Xavier is the most celebrated. Would that all his successors had more closely resembled him. He became acquainted with Loyola in France, and at first he treated him with contempt. Haughty and ambitious, he ridiculed the idea which his ardent countryman entertained
of founding a new religious order. We shall soon see what a thorough alteration took place in the mind of Xavier, who became the devoted follower of him whom he had despised. John III. of Portugal sent to Rome, being wishful to Christianise his East Indian settlements. The Pope had just sanctioned the order of Jesuz; and at first Loyola thought of despatching Bobadilla on this momentous mission, but turning quickly to Xavier, he said, “ This privilege is reserved for you; proceed, Francis, to your proper destination.” “I am ready,” replied his devoted disciple; and on the morrow Xavier quitted Rome for Lisbon, having but just had time to patch up his cassock and bid adieu to his friends. He sailed in April 1541, and did not reach Goa until May of the following year.
Scarcely had he saluted the bishop, when the natives began to come in crowds around him, smiting their breasts and bewailing their sins, although he was yet quite unable to speak their language. So says his biographer; and Xavier himself, in a letter to a friend, laments that he cannot be in ten places at once, so numerous are his baptisms. But then there is a secret in this which
be conveniently explained by the following incident, which is given on the authority and in the words of the Rev. M. H. Seymour. He says, “ A friend of my own informed me that he was present at the baptism of a whole tribe of Indians. They were marched down to a river, where the missionary waited for them; he baptized them all, hung a little crucifix round the neck of each, told them that now they were Christians, and they, pleased at the pretty ornament they received, marched back as instructed and as wise, as naked and as savage as they came !" Xavier's baptisms were too much like these, and, therefore, our surprise at their number is ended. From Goa he went to the coast of Malabar, and here he appears to have proceeded more circumspectly, but still we cannot but believe with greater celerity than discretion. Disregarding the representations of his friends, he now sailed for Japan, and here he showed himself a disciple of Loyola.
The Japanese had a god called Xaca, who was said to be born of a virgin, and who underwent great sufferings to atone for the sins of mankind. He afterwards assembled his disciples, and commissioned them to preach his doctrines. This was too tempting a case to be passed by, and, accordingly, Xaca was made out to be Jesus Christ, and his mother the Virgin Mary. The heathens easily allowed this, and came in multitudes for baptism. Xavier tells us, that he sent a little picture of the Virgin and Child to the emperor, who kissed it with fervour, in the belief that it was a picture of one of his own gods—a proof of the similarity between Romanism and Paganism in one respect; and the analogy was found to extend much further, for the Japanese had monasteries, and nunneries, and candles, and incense, and religious processions, so that they may be said to have been second-hand Romanists already.
Xavier left Japan in 1551, and the Jesuits, after successes which appeared to be likely to bring the country to the profession of Christianity, were expelled, we trust, for ever. It was discovered that they were interfering in political affairs, and intriguing for the subversion of the native dynasty, in order to convey the empire into the hands of Portugal.
Xavier now resolved to proceed to China, although he was told that no stranger was permitted, under pain of death or perpetual imprisonment, to set a foot in that empire. He departed from Goa in April 1552, and after surmounting great opposition, he reached Sancian, a small island not far from Canton. He bargained with a Chinese merchant, who was to convey him to Canton, and to conceal him for four days in his house. Xavier promised that no torments, however cruel, should force him to betray the name of this merchant, who, however, suddenly quitted the island on pretence of a short voyage, and left the heroic missionary behind. The shock was too great; Xavier's hopes were baffled of their object, and he languished and died. Here was a noblehearted man; and, amidst his errors, we hope that trust in the merits of his Saviour for salvation, lay safely as the foundationstone of his heroic zeal.
Another celebrated missionary was Roberti di Nobili, who was also a Jesuit. This man retreated into the recesses of India, stained his face till it bore the native hue, assumed Hindoo customs, and studied the language, the habits, and the feelings of those amongst whom he lived; and then, after persevering for years in this course, he suddenly announced himself and his companions in the heart of India as natives and Brahmans of a superior caste. When the Ilindoos doubted his pretensions, he produced a venerable parchment, which was to establish his lineal descent from the god Brahma. He swore before heaven and earth to the authenticity of this document; and when doubts were still raised, he and his companions made good their claims by undergoing longer fasts, austerer penances, and severer flagellations than the native Brahmans. One of these missionaries tells us, that when he preached he always wore a dress that opened behind, and that he used to draw forth a scourge when he had concluded, and scourge himself before his auditors. His flagellations produced more effect than his sermons, he tells us, and indeed we can readily
The history of the Ethiopian mission is another exemplification of Jesuitism. Loyola induced the Pope to appoint two coadjutors to the Patriarch Bermudes, who lived in Ethiopia ; and at about the same time that the bull of appointment was issued, a Jesuit was sent from Goa, who was to get Bermudes to Europe. The king of Ethiopia said that he stood in no need of the friars which the king of Portugal had sent, as he was resolved never to submit to the Romish church. The Jesuit, however, took the aged patriarch to Goa, and he lived for several years a captive at Lisbon. Ultimately the Portuguese sent troops and ravaged the country
China occupies a broad page in the annals of Jesuitism. Matthew Ricci may justly be styled the founder of the mission in this country, although not the first to commence it. At first he assumed the garb of a bonze, or priest, but he soon abandoned this for that of the literati. After he had resided in the country for about seventeen years, he was favourably received by the emperor, and other Jesuits established themselves at various places from Canton to Pekin. Their success was great; but disputes soon sprang up between the Jesuits and the other Romish orders concerning Chinese rites and ceremonies. Ricci had considered these as merely secular, but Innocent X. condemned them as idolatrous. Alexander VII. allowed them as merely civil observances; and as Popes thus differed in opinion between one another, so did papal infallibility contend with the king of Portugal about the jurisdiction of the mission-field. A mandate was issued prohibiting Chinese Christians from practising customs which the Pope had interdicted, and this roused the anger of the emperor, who, however, declared his intention to tolerate those missionaries who followed in the track of Ricci. At length these turbulent priests were formally denounced and expelled, with the exception of a few monks at Pekin, and ultimately this city was cleared of European priests. And yet we are told that there are still whole villages in China of which every inhabitant is a Romanist.