Imatges de pàgina
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ing times to have held communion with the same, viz. the Greek Church. [340] And how that church (as weil before their division from the Latins, as since) managed in the matter of baptism, has been already shewn. In after-times the Saracens, and then the Turks, possessing those parts of Asia that lie between the Greeks and them, must needs break off the correspondence in great measure; and they themselves, as well as the Greeks, have been since conquered by the Mahometans; yet they have and do still keep up some face of Christianity, though in great ignorance; and the generality of late historians and geographers, do still speak of them as conformnable to the Greek Church, so far as they practise any Christian worship at all; — as I shewed even now that Heylin in his last book does.

But Sir Paul Ricaut, who was consul at Smyrna, and travelled in some other parts of the Levant, about the year 1677, (1577] heard the same report of them that Brerewood and Heylin at first heard ; Heylin of the Georgians, and Brerewood (as he distinguishes them) of the Circassians. Sir Paul Ricaut's words are these :

“ The Georgians, which in some manner depend on the Greek Church, baptize not their children till they be eight years of age. They formerly did not admit them to baptism until fourteen; but, by means of such preachers as the patriarch of Antioch sends among them yearly, they were taught how necessary it was to baptize infants; and how agreeable it was to the practice of the ancient church. But these, being a people very tenacious of the doctrines they once received, could hardly be persuaded out of this error; till at length, being wearied with the importunate arguments of the Greeks, they consented, as it were, to a middle way, and so came down from fourteen to eight years of age ; and cannot as yet be persuaded to a nearer compliance."

* Present State of Gr. Church, c. 7,

1

When I read this first, I thought that we liad at last found a church of Antipædobaptists (though a great way off) and that a national one, as far as it may be so called in a nation mostly Christians, though under Mahometan government; for the words as they are placed, do intimate that this people keep off children from baptism by their principle; and that, as is represented, of a long standing

But as Sir Paul Ricaut could have this only by report, and that from a country very remote from the places where he travelled, and very unfrequented, so it hap. pened that Sir John Chardin was actually * travelling in those countries of Georgia and Mingrelia about the same time; and also was acquainted there with a missionary, [1577] called' F. Joseph Maria Zampy, who had lived there twenty-three years ; who shewed him a manuscript account, drawn up by himself, of the observations he had made concerning the religion of the Mingrelians and Georgians; which account, Sir John says, was perfectly agreeable to all that he himself observed there.

Now Sir John, and the said missionary both, do ob. serve that these people do indeed, many of them, put off the baptizing of their children for a great while; and that many of the people there are never baptized at all. But they speak of this, not as a principle or tenet of theirs, that so it ought to be done, but as proceeding from a wretched neglect and stupid carelessness, which they shew in that and in all other points of the Christian religion. Christianity is there, as it seeins, almost extinguished : and whoever reads the book, sees the most deplorable face of a church that is in the world. It may be necessary to recite some passages

of the book, and of the manuscript there exhibited.

Sir John Chardin himself says † “ Their religion was, I believe, formerly the same with that of the Greeks ;" but for the present state of it, says, “I could never discover any religion in any Mingrelian; having

* Voyage into Persia, p. 86.

+ Pag 85.

not found any that know what religion, or law, or sin, or a sacrament, or divine service is."

The manuscript says, *"This people has not the least idea of faith or religion : the most of them také eternal life, the universal judgment, the resurrection of the dead, for fables:" — and a little after, 7"God only knows the deplorable estate of these wretched priests, or the validity of their priesthood; for it is always uncertain whether they arc baptized; and whether the bishops that have ordained them, have been consecrated or baptized themselves.”

And of their baptism, gives this account:-- " They anoint infants, as soon as they are born, on the forehead. The oil for this anointing is called Myrone. The baptism is not administered till a long time after. No man baptizes his child till he has means (or, unless he have ability, S'il n'a moyen) to make a feast at the christening. Hence it comes to pass that many infants die without receiving it.

“ When they administer it to any infant, they do not carry it to church; but, in a conmon room, the priest, without putting on any priestly habit, sits him down, and reads a long time in a book. After a long reading, the Godfather undresses the infant, and washes him all over with water: and then rubs hiin over with Myrone, which the priest gives him. This done, they clothe the infant again, and give him something to eat, &c.

“There is one priest among them that understands the form of baptism; so that there is no question but their baptism is utterly invalid. On this regard the fathers (theatins) baptize as many infants as they can. They give them baptism, under pretence of applying some medicine to them,” &c.

Sir John himself, at another place in his book, tells how the Romish priests that are there do this. A priest that is called to see a sick child, calls for a bason of water, as it were, to wash his hands; then, before his hands be dry, he touches the forehead of the child with a wet finger, as if he observed something concerning his distemper; or, by shaking his hand, causes some drops of water to fly in the face of a child that stands by, as it were in sport, saying the form of baptism either mentally or with a muttering voice. One would think this as defective a sort of baptizing as that of the ignorant native priests.

* Pag. 86.

+ Pag. 89.

# Pag. 93.

Sir John was invited to two christenings there. He went, that he might see the fashion of it. He gives an account of one of them *. It was much after the manner related in the manuscript. The priest read; but talked at the same time to those that came in and out. The people went irreverently to and fro in the room; and so did the boy that was to be baptized, chewing a piece of pig the while. He was, he says, a little boy of five years old.

It is to be noted that the manuscript gives this as the common account of the rites, both of the Mingrelians and Georgians; and so Sir John himself, when he comes to the Georgians, has only this of their religion : f “The belief of the Georgians is much the same with that of the Mingrelians. The one and the other received it at the same time, viz. in the fourth century; and by the same means, of a woman of Iberia that had been a Christian at Constantinople. In a word, the one as well as the other have lost all the spirit of Christianity; and what I said of the Mingrelians (that they have nothing of Christianity but the name, and that they neither observe nor hardly know any precept of the law of Jesus Christ) is no less true of the people of Georgia.”

This state of the matter, as it is different from what Sir Paul Ricaut gives (for this people do baptize infants when they think of it, and when they have got their good cheer ready) so it might give occasion to the report which he and Heylin formerly had heard; for it is probable the patriarch of Antioch might send to them, to be more diligent in baptizing their infants. But the arguments that this people needed to persuade

* Pag. 140.

† Pag. 206.

them to it were not such as are used to Antipædobaptists, but such as we should use to Christians that are falling back into heathenism, or total irreligion.

In Africa there are but two sorts of Christians; the Cophti of Egypt, who are the remains of the old Christian Church there ; and the Abassens. Both of these baptize their infants, as is clear by accounts given of them by all historians and travellers. Brerewood *, Heylin T, and others, speak of their particular observations about it. The Cophti baptize none till he be forty days old, though he die in the interiin. The Abassens (as we said before of the Maronites in Asia) baptize the male children at forty days, and the female at eighty days after their circumcision; for they circumcise their children of both sexes. But these last do, in the case of peril of death, baptize sooner. They do both give the Eucharist to infants after baptism.

But here, also, a mistake in a late book of travels needs to be rectified. Mr. Thevenot tells, in his account of Egypt, $ that while he was at Grand Cairo, he had some conference with an ambassador that was there from the Abassens' country, about the religion and other affairs of those parts. This ambassador told . him, that the Abassens circumcise their children at eight days old, as the Jews; and fifteen days after, baptize them. Before that the Jesuits came thither, they did not baptize thein till thirty or forty years.

Whoever reads, what all other bistorians say of this people, viz. that they baptized forty years after cire cumcision, will easily observe that Monsieur Thevenot has here mistaken, in the last word of the sentence, years for days. Either he misheard the ambassador, or else mistook in setting it down; or else thé French printer mistook it; for it is so in the French, as well as in the translation of the book into English. There

* Inquiries, ch. 22, 23.
+ Cosmogr. Egypt. Æthiopia Superior.

Travels, vol. 1, part 2, ch. 69.

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