A brief view on a religious and cultural experimental scheme in the 17th century
【Abstract】Many scholars regarded the 17th century as the starting point of early modernity. One of the major intellectual history events was Bacon’s proposal to introduce experimental methods into the understanding of nature and the world. Moreover, the Chinese Confucian Catholics and missionaries put forward a religious and cultural experiment scheme in Nanjing religious rebel. The core principle is to prove the orthodoxy of Catholicism based on the combination of Confucianism and Christianity through experiments. The secondary principle is to call on the court to treat Catholicism equally as Buddhism and Taoism through experiments and accommodate this religion. Although these principles show the open and sound cultural mentality of some Confucian Catholics, they are quite far from some key concepts of early modernity (such as separation of religion and government, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion proposed by Locke), which were also produced in the 17th century. However, even such a moderate experiment scheme has been rejected by the supreme ruler, which indicates that the state-dominated and religion-followed tradition will continue for a long time in the inertia formed by path dependence.
【Keywords】 experimental method; Nanjing religious rebel; orthodoxy; equality; accommodation; early modernity;
(Translated by ZHAO Wenyue)
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. (25) “Any wizard that pretends to come with evil spirits, writes seal script, uses cursed water, asks the god to possess divination, prays to the god, claims to be Duan Gong, Tai Bao, Witch, or randomly claims to be Maitreya, or engaged in Bai Lian She, Ming Zun Religion, and Bai Yun Zong will be regarded as people engaged in a heresy that disturbs the right path. Anyone who hides illegal images, burns incense, summons people to gather at night and leave in the morning, pretending to do good deeds but actually bewitching people should be hanged. Their followers should be beaten with 100 sticks and exiled to 3000 miles away for hard labor.” (Ming) Liu, W. Law of Ming Dynasty (Vol. 30), 39.
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. (28) In response, Diego de Pantoja and Sabbatino de Ursis refuted at that time in Jyu Jie, “The Atlantic Ocean, opposite to the small Atlantic Ocean, refers to the sea of difference size, but not the country of different size, which can be traced on the territory map. The Atlantic Ocean is sometimes called Tessie or Tesi, which means extreme west and is used to distinguish itself from the western regions where the Hui people live. We also see that China’s counties and cities also use names with the character da (大, literally meaning big) and it is alright. Among those areas ruled by the emperor, a city has the name Daxing; a county has the name Daming; and others have the name Datong, Dazu, Taian, and Taihe. As for the small countries nearby, people have never heard of the prohibition on Dashi or Daliuqiu, so people think there is no taboo. It is probably just a rumor that people sometimes believe that Diego de Pantoja comes from Daxiguo. How can one know him in this way?” Bibliotheca Zi-Ka-Wei (徐家汇藏书) (I), 76–77. This refutation at least conforms to the Western formal logic that the Chinese were not familiar with at that time.
. (29) Po Xie Ji (破邪集), 221. In response, Diego de Pantoja defended in Jyu Jie, “God is the creator of heaven, earth and all things. The God worshiped by Western countries is the Heaven worshiped by China, which is also the Great Heaven sacrificed by China. . . . China uses Heaven to refer to God, just as it uses the imperial court to refer to emperors. There is nothing wrong with it. It can be understood if the revolving one and the controlling one are both called Heaven just because the characters are flexible while the Western words must distinguish them and call the Heaven God. Thus both Heaven and God are the same. If God dominates above all, does it mean that God is the dominator of the Great Heaven? People should understand that nothing is above God although some of them are extremely ignorant.” Bibliotheca Zi-Ka-Wei (徐家汇藏书) (I), 78–79. The adaptive strategy suitable for Confucianism is still used here.
. (30) Xu Guangqi once admitted, “Among the people who impeached Diego de Pantoja and other Western envoys in Ministry of Rites in Nanjing, some said that his opinions gradually spread so that even scholars and gentlemen believed in him. . . and I am one of them.” See Bian Xue Shu Gao (辩学疏稿), 21.
. (31) See Po Xie Ji (破邪集), 221–222. In view of the obvious advancement of the Western calendar at that time, there is no need to repeat Diego de Pantoja’s defense in Jyu Jie.
. (32) Po Xie Ji (破邪集), 222. In response to this accusation, Diego de Pantoja defended with “different significances of sacrifice.” He said, “Only God can bear the pray with rewards and sacrifices. Someone in the folk offers sacrifice to their ancestors to beg for good fortune and avoid disaster. This is the ability by virtue of the power of God, so it is impossible to impose it on people. Laws, systems, rites and rituals for sacrificial ceremonies do not exist naturally. If, according to what has been said, we offer them seasonal food, treat the dead as if he were alive, or arrange settings like Western countries do and give alms to the poor for our ancestors, so as to pray to God for the blessings in underworld, why not? It is absolutely impossible if one obeys Buddhist teachings and burns joss paper, saying that it is fake and can be used to bribe the underworld to slander others, violate natural principles, foster the evil and hinder the good, and these are not the official tests contained in the old system and ritual classics. Local people are allowed to explain the truth and principles, let others weigh their options and do not commit a crime, but they do not prohibit people’s sacrifice. Among the Ten Commandments in Catholicism, kings and parents are the most important to worship besides God. People who are not filial to their parents or not kind to their siblings are guilty of great crimes and are severely tortured in hell, which can be seen in translated Confucian classics. These words of jealousy and resentment from the two sects of Buddhism and Taoism are just spread rumors. How can there be any religion in the world that teaches people not to be filial to their parents and not to love their siblings?” See Jyu Jie in Bibliotheca Zi-Ka-Wei (徐家汇藏书) (I), 82–84. The meaning here is obvious. Diego de Pantoja insists that Christians should only pray (or offer sacrifice) to God, but they are allowed to worship their ancestors “as if death were life” in order to pray for the good of God. This should be regarded as one of the results of the combination and integration of the etiquette of Christianity and Confucianism, as well as an experimental result of the sinicization of Catholic etiquette.
. (33) Po Xie Ji (破邪集), 222. Diego de Pantoja’s defense is that when he was in the capital, “thanks to the favor of the emperor and the food prepared by the officials, I can support myself luckily and do not need extra money to deal with any change, but it is not enough for helping others.” In the Society of Jesus, “other fellows are sometimes short of clothes and food, so they have to sell their utensils at a low price, get into debt or mortgage to get clothes and food.” When they are short of money, they are often “half-starved.” There is no evidence to show that missionaries have the ability to “buy popularity” or to “hatch a sinister plot.” When explaining the financial sources of missionaries’ religious activities, Diego de Pantoja also said that the missionaries “have their own resources,” and most of them were “sent in bags” legally by “credible” European businessmen after they came to China (Macau?). See Jyu Jie in Bibliotheca Zi-Ka-Wei (徐家汇藏书) (I), 84–87. This is similar to Xu Guangqi’s statement of denying missionaries’ acceptance of “foreign merchants’ aid” and “donations” in Bian Xue Shu Gao. SeeXu, G. in Wu, X. (ed.) 天主教东传文献续编(一). Taipei: Student Book Bureau, 31 (1986). There are many similarities in the records of Pantoja and Xu. This raises a question: had both of them communicated with each other on writing when they were both in Beijing at the same time? This question is worth exploring. Zhang Kai clearly affirms that “the author of Jyu Jie was deeply influenced by Xu Guangqi’s Bian Xue Zhang Shu” but no evidence has been found. See Zhang, K. 庞迪我与中国. Zhengzhou: Elephant Press, 329 (2009). Moreover, with regard to the financial source for missionary activities, there are more specific records in the “case judging Zhong Mingli”: “his money was sent from Western countries to Macao, and Macao businessmen passed it to Joao da Rocha, then he passed it here. This process continued all the year round.” See Po Xie Ji (破邪集), 237.
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