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and people; they were encouraged by the smile, and CHAP
armed with the sword, of despotism; yet many o their weaker brethren were startled at the thought of breaking loose from the communion of the Christian world, and the blood of seven thousand seven hundred Monophysites or Catholics confirmed the uniformity of faith and discipline in the churches of Persia." Their ecclesiastical institutions are distinguished by a liberal principle of reason, or at least of policy: the austerity of the cloister was relaxed and gradually forgotten; houses of charity were en
dowed for the education of orphans and foundlings; on
the law of celibacy, so forcibly recommended to the &
Greeks and Latins, was disregarded by the Persian clergy; and the number of the elect was multiplied by the public and reiterated nuptials of the priests, the bishops, and even the patriarch himself. To this standard of natural and religious freedom, myriads of fugitives resorted from all the provinces of the eastern empire; the narrow bigotry of Justinian was punished by the emigration of his most industrious subjects; they transported into Persia the arts both of peace and war: and those who deserved the favour, were promoted in the service, of a discerning monarch. The arms of Nushirvan, and his fiercer grandson, were assisted with advice, and money, and troops, by the desperate sectaries who still lurked in their native cities of the East; their zeal was rewarded with the gift of the Catholic churches; but when those cities and churches were recovered by Heraclius, their open profession of treason and heresy compelled them to seek a refuge in the realm of their foreign ally. But the seeming tranquillity of the Nestorians was often
* A dissertation on the state of the Nestorians has swelled in the hands of Assemanni to a folio volume of 950 pages, and his learned researches are digested in the most lucid order. Besides this ivth volume of the Bibliotheca Orientalis,
the extracts in the three preceding tomes (tom. i. p. 203. ii. p. 321–463. iii. 64– 70.378–395, &c. 403–408. 580–589), may be usefully consulted.
endangered, and sometimes overthrown. They were involved in the common evils of oriental despotism : their enmity to Rome could not always atone for their attachment to the gospel: and a colony of three hundred thousand Jacobites, the captives of Apamea and Antioch, was permitted to erect an hostile altar in the face of the catholic, and in the sunshine of the court. In his last treaty, Justinian introduced some conditions which tended to enlarge and fortify the toleration of Christianity in Persia. The emperor, ignorant of the rights of conscience, was incapable of pity or esteem for the heretics who denied the authority of the holy synods: but he flattered himself that they would gradually perceive the temporal benefits of union with the empire and the church of Rome; and if he failed in exciting their gratitude, he might hope to provoke the jealousy of their sovereign. In a later age, the Lutherans have been burnt at Paris and protected in Germany, by the superstition and policy of the most Christian king. The desire of gaining souls for God, and subjects for the church, has excited in every age the diligence of the Christian priests. From the conquest of Persia they carried their spiritual arms to the north, the east, and the south; and the simplicity of the gospel was fashioned and painted with the colours of the Syriac theology. In the sixth century, according to the report of a Nestorian traveller," Christianity was successfully preached to the Bactrians, the Huns, the Persians, the Indians, the Persarmenians, the Medes, and the Elamites: the barbaric churches, from the gulf of Persia to the Caspian sea, were almost infinite; and their recent faith was conspicuous in the number and sanctity of their monks and martyrs. The pepper coast of Malabar, and the isles of the ocean, Socotora and Ceylon, were peopled with an increasing multitude of Christians, and the bishops and clergy of those sequestered regions derived their ordination from the catholic of Babylon. In a subsequent age, the zeal of the Nestorians overleaped the limits which had confined the ambition and curiosity both of the Greeks and Persians. The missionaries of Balch and Samarcand pursued without fear the footsteps of the roving Tartar, and insinuated themselves into the camps of the valleys of Imaus and the banks of the Selinga. They exposed a metaphysical creed to those illiterate shepherds: to those sanguinary warriors, they recommended humanity and repose. Yet a khan, whose power they vainly magnified, is said to have received at their hands the rites of baptism, and even of ordination; and the fame of Prester or Presbyter John" has long amused the credulity of Europe. The royal convert was indulged in the use of a portable altar; but he despatched an embassy to the patriarch, to inquire how, in the season of Lent, he should abstain from animal food, and how he might celebrate the Eucharist in a desert that produced
Their missions in Tartary, India, China, &c. A. D. 500 —1200.
* See the Topographia Christiana of Cosmas, surnamed Indicopleustes, or the Indian navigator, l. iii. p. 178, 179. l. xi. p. 337. The entire work, of which some curious extracts may be found in Photius (cod. xxxvi. p. 9, 10. edit. Hoeschel), Thevenot (in the 1st part of his Relations des Voyages, &c.), and Fabricius (Bibliot. Graec. 1. iii. c. 25. tom. ii. p. 603–617), has been published by Father Montfaucon at Paris, 1707, in the Nova Collectio Patrum, (tom. ii. p. 113—346). It was the design of the author to confute the impious heresy of those who maintain that the earth is a globe, and not a flat oblong table, as it is represented in the Scriptures (l. ii. p. 138). But the nonsense of the monk is mingled with the practical knowledge of the traveller, who performed his voyage A. D. 522, and published his book at Alexandria, A.D. 547. (l. ii. p. 140, 141. Montfaucon, Praefat. c. 2). The Nestorianism of Cosmas, unknown to his
learned editor, was detected by La Croze (Christianisme des Indes, tom. i.
neither corn nor wine. In their progress by sea and land, the Nestorians entered China by the port of Canton and the northern residence of Sigan. Unlike the senators of Rome, who assumed with a smile the characters of priests and augurs, the mandarins, who affect in public the reason of philosophers, are devoted in private to every mode of popular superstition. They cherished and they confounded the gods of Palestine and of India; but the propagation of Christianity awakened the jealousy of the state, and after a short vicissitude of favour and persecution, the foreign sect expired in ignorance and oblivion." Under the reign of the caliphs, the Nestorian church was diffused from China to Jerusalem and Cyprus; and their numbers, with those of the Jacobites, were computed to surpass the Greek and Latin communions." Twenty-five metropolitans or archbishops composed their hierarchy, but several of these were dispensed, by the distance and danger of the way,
from the duty of personal attendance, on the easy
condition that every six years they should testify their faith and obedience to the catholic or patriarch of Babylon, a vague appellation, which has been successively applied to the royal seats of Seleucia, Ctesiphon, and Bagdad. These remote branches are long since withered, and the old patriarchal trunk" is now divided by the Elijahs of Mosul, the representatives,
* The Christianity of China, between the seventh and the thirteenth century, is invincibly proved by the consent of Chinese, Arabian, Syriac, and Latin evidence (Assemanni, Biblioth. Orient tom. iv. p. 502–552. Mem. de l'Academie des Inscript. tom. xxx. p. 802—819). The inscription of Siganfu, which describes the fortunes of the Nestorian church, from the first mission, A. D. 636, to the current year 781, is accused of forgery by La Croze, Voltaire, &c., who become the dupes of their own cunning, while they are afraid of a Jesuitical fraud.
° Jacobita et Nestorianae plures quam Graeci et Latini. Jacob a Vitriaco, Hist. Hierosol. l. ii. c. 76. p. 1093. in the Gesta Dei per Francos. The numbers are given by Thomassin, Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. i. p. 172.
P The division of the patriarchate may be traced in the Bibliotheca Orient. of Assemanni, tom. i. p. 523–549. tom. ii. p. 457, &c. tom. iii. p. 603. p. 621–623. tom. iv. p. 164–169, p. 423, p. 622–629, &c.
almost in lineal descent, of the genuine and primitive succession, the Josephs of Amida, who are reconciled to the church of Rome," and the Simeons of Van or Ormia, whose revolt, at the head of forty thousand families, was promoted in the sixteenth century by the Sophis of Persia. The number of three hundred thousand is allowed for the whole body of the Nestorians, who, under the name of Chaldeans or Assyrians, are confounded with the most learned or the most powerful nation of eastern antiquity.
According to the legend of antiquity, the gospel The Chris
was preached in India by St. Thomas." At the end of the ninth century, his shrine, perhaps in the neighbourhood of Madras, was devoutly visited by the ambassadors of Alfred, and their return with a cargo of pearls and spices rewarded the zeal of the English monarch, who entertained the largest projects of trade and discovery.” When the Portuguese first opened the navigation of India, the Christians of St. Thomas had been seated for ages on the coast of Malabar, and the difference of their character and
tians of St. Thomas in India,
* The pompous language of Rome, on the submission of a Nestorian patriarch, is elegantly represented in the viith book of Fra-Paolo, Babylon, Niniveh, Arbela, and the trophies of Alexander, Tauris, and Ecbatana, the Tigris and Indus.
* The Indian missionary St. Thomas, an apostle, a Manichaean, or an Armenian merchant (La Croze, Christianisme des Indes, tom. i. p. 57–70), was famous, however, as early as the time of Jerom (ad Marcellam, epist. 148). Marco-Polo was informed on the spot that he suffered martyrdom in the city of Malabar, or Meliapour, a league only from Madras (D’Anville, Eclaircissemens sur l’Inde, p. 125), where the Portuguese founded an episcopal church under the name of St. Thomé, and where the saint performed an annual miracle, till he was silenced by the profane neighbourhood of the English (La Croze, tom. ii. p. 7–16).
* Neither the author of the Saxon Chronicle (A.D. 883) nor William of Malmesbury (de Gestis Regum Angliae, l. ii. c. 4. p. 44) were capable, in the twelfth century, of inventing this extraordinary fact; they are incapable of explaining the motives and measures of Alfred; and their hasty notice serves only to provoke our curiosity. William of Malmesbury feels the difficulties of the enterprise, quod quivis in hoc saculo miretur; and I almost suspect that the English ambassadors collected their cargo and legend in Egypt. The royal author has not enriched his Orosius (see Barrington's Miscellanies) with an Indian, as well as a Scandinavian, voyage.
A. D. 883.