« ForrigeFortsett »
He controverts, of course, the assertion of Sir George Staunton, that “there is no state religion in China."
« The Abbé Grofir," says he, in his history of China, represents the government, both civil and ecclefiaftical, as purely patri. archal.' The Einperor is the supreme head of church and state. He prefides in all the great religious festivals, some of which are annual, and others occasional. He presents the facrifices on these occasions, and offers up prayers to the Deity in his own name, and in the name of the people. In the ceremony, for example, of his holding the plough, the festival is preceded by a sacrifice, which the Emperor offers up to SHANG-TI ; after which, he and his attendants prepare themselves, by three days fafting and continence. The SHANG-TI is afterwards invoked by the Emperor, who facrifices under the title of Sovereign Pontiff, and prays for an abundant harveft in favour of his people. He then proceeds to the field and the plough, attended by the chief persons of his court."
This account of the religion of China we rather think confirmed by the following extract from the journal of Andrè Everard Van Braam, who accompanied the Dutch Embailador to the coaft of Pekin, in the years 1794-5.
" Shortly after came one of our court conductors to acquaint the Ambasador and me, that we are to repair to the palace to-morrow morning, at three o'clock, in order to be present when his Majesty sets off for the temple to offer his annual tribute to the Almighty, in quality of Sovereign Sacrificer of the Empire. Ac half pait seven the Emperor arrived in his habit of Sovereign Sacrificer. In this ceremony the Emperor has some resemblance to the high-priet of the Jews, 'vho entered once a year, drefled with the greatett magnificence, into the holy of holies, there to offer an expiatory facritice in the name of the whole Hebrew nation.”
“ Hence,” says Mr. Ranken, “from whatever funds the church, the clergy, the temples, and sacrifices are maintained, we cannot but conclude that there is a religious establithient in China."
The second section, which professes to treat of establishments of Chrifiianity, is, by much, the most vulnerable part of the whole iPay, and we thall be surprized if it do not provoke attacks, and attacks not easily repelled, from different quarters. It begins with the hardy allertion, that
" -- there is no form of church government prescribed in the New Tutament. Had it been o herwise, says the author; had any precise form of church govement been ordained, it must have impidid the fucces, or Itogether, humanly speaking, obkructed the propag. tion of the gospel.”
Humanly speaking! Does Mr. Ranken, indeed, suppose that the gospel was propagated by human means? Or, if he
admit, as he certainly admits, the agency of divine power in the propagation of the gospel, does he think, that, to obtain its end, it was neceifary for that power to “ leave the form of church government to arise out of the times, occurrences, and circumitances of the various countries where the gospel should be preached?” He cannot be ignorant, that, before the end of the second century, there was, in fact, one precise form of church government established through the whole Christian world ; that this form suffered no material change till the Bithops of Rome and Conftantinople began to usurp a doinination over their brethren ; and that it was no where completely changed till about two hundred and fifty years ago, when various forms were introduced by the protestants of France and Girmany. During the earlier part of this period, he must acknowledge that the gospel was successfully propagated ; and surely he will not say that the success would have been less had this permanent constitution of the church been of divine appointment. In this section there are some very judicious dissertations on the duty of “ submitting ourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake;" but it contains nothing to the purpose of religious establishments, except a beautitul quotation from Mr. Burke. Should a second edition of the essay be called for, we would advise the author, before he sends this part of it to the press, to study carefully Mr. Hooker's Ecclefiaftical Polity, and Warburton's Alliance between the Church and State.
The third section is of more value. It treats of religious establishments in America, or more properly in the fourteen united states of North America. Of these states our author fhews, from the most authentic documents, that there are but few which have no public legal faith; that there are but seven which make no legal provision for the maintenance of the ministers of religion; that there are five states which formally use texts; and that there are two which seem to want nothing eilential to a full establishment of religion. The confequences of the want of a full and universal establishment of religion he gives us from the correspondence of a gentleman of rank and literature in America, on whose narrative he allures us that full dependence may be placed. The following is an extract from a letter of that gentleman's, dated June, 1798.
“ In consequence of the want of a religious establishment in America, infidelity increases, and the very femblance of religion decays rapidly. The congregations are fewest where the population is greatest, and they are not likely to increase. Many Presbyterian ministers have been dismissed by their congregations, without any
complaint against their life or doctrine. Every minister in the coun. try is also a farmer, and has more dependence on his farm than on his ftipend for his fubsistence. For though congregations in the country subscribe at an average of about gol. fterling a year for their mi. nifter, yet subscribing and paying are two very different things in this country. No law can oblige the subscribers to pay their subscriptions, as they sometimes alk time, and when that is expired, they plead the statute of limitations. There are many instances of the suppression of congregations from parsimony and indifference. I know one congregation that has been vacant seventy-five years, and another feventy-seven ; yet both these are abundantly able to support a mi. nister, and one of them has a fund that yields zool. sterling of yearly interest. There are no instances of public worship being restored after being laid aside. Many large tracts of country have no worship of any kind. In many places there are few children that have been baptized; and even among the Episcopals, in the southern states, this ordinance begins to be laid aside.”
We recomiend this detail, and, indeed, the whole of Mr. Ranken's Elay, to the serious confideration of those diflenters of every denomination who are really religious, and, at the same time, imagine that the influence of the gospel would be promoted by the abolition of all establishments. We have reason to be assured, that a sect is just now forming in ScotJand for the avowed purpose of fapping the foundation of the Presbyterian church, as established by law. At the head of that iect is the gentleman, who, in the first edition of Profeffor Robison's Proofs of a Conspiracy, &c. was said to have expressed his readiness TO WADE TO THE KNEES IN BLOOD FOR THE PURPOSE OF OVERTURNING EVERY ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION." From the postscript to the second edition of the Profeffor's valuable work, we learn that Mr. H- " disclaims all fanguinary proceedings ;” and we doubt not, but, before the breaking out of the French revolution, D'Alembert, Diderot, and Condorcet would have done the same. The zeal, however, of Mr. H. against establishments, must be very ardent; for it has prompted him to sell a beautiful estate, and to apply part of the price to the endow. ment of a seminary in Glasgow, for the express purpose of educating itinerant preachers, who may propagate the gospel in purity wherever it is contaminated by the baleful influence of establishments. To the pupils of that institute we earnestly recommend an attentive perusal of Mr. Ranken's Effay ; to the heads of it, who, under the cloak of religion, have no political innovations in view, we beg leave to recommend the two works which we have already recommended to the author of the Essay; and to pious diffenters of every denomination we hesitate not to say, in the words of that Essay, that
they can "gain nothing by the overthrow of the establishment, though, in the general conclusion, they may lose much, even their own existence as religious focieties."
Art. IV. The Unsexed Females ;, a Poem : addressed to the
Author of “ The Pursuits of Literature," 8vo, Cadell
is , , , to have prefixed his name, and who cannot seriously wish to have it concealed. He is one, we understand, that is well known to the public already, by his publications, both in poetry and prose. His prose is certainly excellent ; yet his poetry, in our opinion, is more excellent still. In this he has shone so very bright, as to dazzle the eyes and call forth the envy of some critics; to provoke the pretended admonitions of men who were too inert to mount on his wing of fire, and presumed to censure what they could not equal. Me diocrity of genius, in a poet, always becomes malignity of envy in a critic ; and nature has recently exhibited, in our isle, what is a lively representation of a true poet pursued by such critics: a large eagle failing, majestically, in silence, along the sky, while some crows were attending and clamouring about the royal bird,
The present poem has much of a political cast, and, therefore, comes peculiarly within our region of reviewing. It is pointed against those “ unsexed female writers,” as the author of the Pursuits of Literature calls them, who“ now instruct, or confufe us and themselves, in the labyrinth of politics, or turn us wild with Gallic frenzy :” and it is so far written in the manner of this author, that the notes have nearly swallowed up the text. Such a manner, however, was absolutely necessary to both the author and the poet ; as a work that, in the text, touches a variety of characters, demands, of course, a variety of arguments, in notes, to thew the propriety of its delineations, and to prove the justness of its attitudes. We shall select such of both as will make a brief whole, for the satisfaction of our readers
« Thou, who with all a poet's genuine rage, *
* “ In my opinion, the author of "The Pursuits of Literature' has discovered, in his animated satire, a true political genius ; and
Where polish'd life unfolds its various view's,
Exposid the Sciolift's vain-glorious claim,
And vengeance smothers all their softer charms." The poet afterwards introduces to his readers one, whom he justly considers as the leader of these political viragos :
- Sze WOLLSTOVECRAFT, whom no decorum checks,
(as a writer, who had very little pretensions to that character himself, observes,) « a true poet is a public good.' The satire, in question, feems to have produced effects resembling those which distinguished the poetry of Greece and Rome : for I can affert, on the best authorities, that many in this country, whose politics, and even religion, have been long wavering, are now fixed in their principles byThe Pursuits of Literature."
*“ By the mufe, I mean literature in general.” f'Greatly think, or nobly die. Pope.
I “ Nature is the grand basis of all laws, human and divine ; and the woman who has no regard to nature, either in the decoration of her person, or the culture of her mind, will soon 'walk after the flesh, in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government.”
Ý • A troop came next, who crowns and arınour bore,
And proud defiance in their looks they bore. Pope. « The Amazonian band, the female Quixotes of the new philo. sophy, are here, too, justly characterised; for, could they read, I suspect, fome passages in the fixth satire of Juvenal without an uneasy fensation
• Quam præftare poteft mulier galeata pudorem .?" “ I have seen in MS. Mr. W. Gifford's masterly translation of this fatire. Our expectations, I hope, will fron be gratified by his entire version of Juvenal."
11 “ That Miss Wollstonecraft was a sworn enemy to blushes I need not remark. B::t many of my readers, perhaps, will be aslo. nished to hear, that, at several of our boarding schools for young ladies, a bluh incurs a penalty."