Front Page Titles (by Subject) Number LXIX.: The Hierarchy of Rome, how like that of Japan. The obvious Danger to a State from Popish Missionaries. - The Independent Whig, vol. 3 (2nd ed. 1741)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Number LXIX.: The Hierarchy of Rome, how like that of Japan. The obvious Danger to a State from Popish Missionaries. - Thomas Gordon, The Independent Whig, vol. 3 (2nd ed. 1741) 
The Independent Whig: or, a Defence of Primitive Christianity, And of Our Ecclesiastical Establishment, against The Exorbitant Claims and Encroachments of Fanatical and Disaffected Clergymen. The Second Edition (London: J. Peele, 1741). Vol. 3.
Part of: The Independent Whig, 4 vols.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain. It was scanned and originally put online by Google for non-commercial, educational purposes. We have retained the Google watermark as requested but have added tables of contents, pagination, and other educational aids where appropriate.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
The Hierarchy of Rome, how like that of Japan. The obvious Danger to a State from Popish Missionaries.
I Have, in my last, shewn the Resemblance between the Pope of Rome, and him of Tartary. I shall not now inquire, whether the Domination of Priests does not naturally end in a Papacy, in exalting one with blasphemous Titles and Pretensions over all the rest, and over all Men; or whether the Popedom of Rome is not an improved Copy of the Popedom of barbarous Pagans: But shall here draw from the History of Japan, some Passages and Observations concerning its Pagan Hierarchy, to which the Popish Hierarchy bears so intimate a Likeness.
The general Name for the Japonese Priests, is Bonzes. These profess to live in Celibacy, and have Laws forbidding them the Use of Women, as a Thing filthy and detestable; but they are allowed the Use of Boys as a Practice holy and virtuous. They have a priestly Sovereign, with uncontroulable Authority over them all: He is an infallible Judge in Matters of Religion, and makes unerring Decisions about public and private Worship, and about Points necessary to be believed concerning the Deity; without believing which, I presume, he tells them they cannot be saved. This Pontiff chuses and consecrates the Paudes, a sort of Ecclesiastics of Quality, lower than himself, but higher than the Bonzes, who resemble Monks, as those do Bishops.
They abstain from Fish and Flesh; they shave their Heads and Beards, and under the Appearance of an austere Life, conceal their Debaucheries. A considerable Branch of their Revenue arises from Burials; and a very great one from the Refreshments which they undertake, for large Offerings, to procure to the Souls of the Dead, I suppose, by Masses, Penance, and Conjuration. It is plain from hence, that they have a Purgatory; and the poor People, who have great Faith in their Power there, spare nothing to bribe the Bonzes, to release their Friends out of it. These holy Men have yet another high pious Fetch to cheat their simple Flocks, and enrich themselves; they borrow Money to be paid with great Interest in the other World, and tell the Lenders what a rare Bargain they have.
There is, however, one good Thing to be said of the Monks of Japan; and in it they differ as much from the Romish Monks, as they agree with them in Impurities, and devout Knavery. They are of twelve different Sects, or Religions, and each has full Liberty to follow their own. They say, that the Bodies of Men may be a-kin, but their Understandings know no Kindred. This is to assert the natural Independency of Conscience, and even Christian Charity; to the Infamy of such Christians, who will allow no Man to have a Conscience, unless he has their Conscience; which, by the Character that in this they give of themselves, no honest Man would chuse to have.
TheBonzes, and their Superiors, have amongst their Deities, dead Men canonized: To these they pray, and make Offerings, (at the People’s Expence) as the Popish Bonzes do to their Saints. These their artificial Deities are so complaisant, that for the pronouncing of one Word, they will save you. It is a Principle amongst the Divines of Japan, that by the single Invocation of Namuamidabut, or by barely crying Forenguelio, you expiate all sorts of Sin, and without Repentance are in a State of Salvation: An expeditious Cut to Heaven!
It puts me in mind of Father Barry the Jesuit’s Book of easy Devotions, quoted by Mr. Paschal in his Provincial Letters, and intituled, Paradise opened to the Lovers of Holiness, by an hundred Devotions to the Mother of God, easy to be practised. The following are some of the Father’s easy Devotions: “To salute the blessed Virgin whenever you see her Image: To say over ten Ave-Maries for the Pleasures of the Virgin: To give Commission to the Angels to do her Reverence as from us: To wish one’s self able to build her more Churches than all Kings and Princes put together have built: To bid her Good-morrow every Morning, and every Evening Good-night: To say every Day an Ave-Maria in Honour of the Heart of Mary.” He affirms this last to be so effectual, that the Practiser of it may assure himself of the Virgin’s Heart. “Heart for Heart, says he, were indeed but what ought to be; but yours is haply too much taken up with the World, and is ever filled with the Creature; for which Reason I dare not invite you to offer up immediately that little Slave that you call your Heart.” Nay he offers Devotion easier still, and as certain: Such as “carrying about one a Pair of Beads, or a Rosary, or some Picture of the Virgin.” These, or any of these, the Father says, will certainly do the Business, and he will be responsible for Mary. Do the Japonese Doctors go beyond him?
The chief Opposition made to the Missionaries in planting their Religion in Japan, came from the Bonzes, not by Reasoning or Disputes, says Mr. Bayle, but by Ways common with Ecclesiastics. Here they forgot, or renounced, their tolerating Principle. They had recourse to the secular Arm; they animated the Kings and People to maintain the old Religion, to persecute the Followers of the new; and though they could not hinder the Christian Religion from making a great Progress in a little Time, yet at last they worked up the Emperor to Violences, which drove it totally out of Japan, and well swelled the Martyrology.
The Abbot who wrote the History of the Church of Japan, admires the Depths of the Judgments of God, and wonders that he suffered the Blood of so many Martyrs to be shed, without making it serve, as in the first Ages of the Church, for Seed rising up fruitfully into new Christians. Mr. Bayle’s Reflection upon these Words of the Abbot is just: I shall give it at Length.
Without taking Liberty, says he, to search after the Reasons which the Wisdom of God may have to permit at one Time what it permits not at another, one may say, that the Christianity of the sixteenth Century had no Right to hope for the same Favour and Protection from God, as the Christianity of the three first Ages. This last was a benevolent Religion, gentle, patient; a Religion which recommended to Subjects Submission to their Sovereigns, and aspired not to an Elevation over Thrones by the means of Rebellion. But the Christianity preached to the Infidels of the sixteenth Century was no longer such: It was a bloody, a murdering Religion; for five or six hundred Years accustomed to Carnage, she had contracted an inveterate Habit of maintaining and aggrandizing herself, by putting whatever opposed her to the Point of the Sword. Burning, Butchering, the horrible Tribunal of the Inquisition, Croisades, Bulls exciting Subjects to rebel, seditious Preachers, Conspiracies, Assassinations of Princes, were the ordinary Means which she employed against those who submitted not to her Injunctions. Ought this Religion to promise herself the Blessing vouchsafed to the Primitive Church, to the Gospel of Peace, of Patience, and Love? Conversion to the true God was the best Choice that the Japonese could make; but wanting sufficient Light to renounce their false Religion, they had no other but that of practising Persecution, or suffering it. They could neither preserve their antient Government nor Religion, but by destroying the Christians, who sooner or later would have destroyed both. Whenever they had been able to make War, they would have armed all their Proselytes, introduced foreign Succours, and the cruel Maxims of the Spaniards; and by the Dint of killing and hanging, as in America, brought under their Yoke all Japan. So that considering Things in Policy only, we must agree, that the Persecution suffered by the Christians there, was, in the Course of Measures, dictated by Prudence, for preventing the Overthrow of the Monarchy, and the Ravage of a whole State. The Ingenuity of a certain Spaniard justifies the Precautions of those Infidels, and furnished the Bonzes with a specious Pretence for discharging their Hatred, and soliciting the Extirpation of Christians: When asked by the King of Possa, how the King of Spain was become Master of such a mighty Extent of Dominions in each Hemisphere, he answered with too much Simplicity, “That he sent Missionaries to preach the Gospel to strange Nations; and after having converted a good Number of Pagans, he sent his Troops, who joining the new Christians, subdued the Country.” This Indiscretion cost the Christians dear.