The travels of Sig. Pietro della Valle, a noble Roman, into East-India and Arabia Deserta in which, the several countries, together with the customs, manners, traffique, and rites both religious and civil, of those Oriental princes and nations, are faithfully described : in familiar letters to his friend Signior Mario Schipano : whereunto is added a relation of Sir Thomas Roe's Voyage into the East-Indies.
Della Valle, Pietro, 1586-1652., Roe, Thomas, Sir, 1581?-1644., Havers, G. (George)

SECTION XXX. Of the Jesuits, sent thither by their Superiours to convert People unto Christianity, &c.

IN that Empire all Religions are tolerated, which makes the Tyrannical Government there more easie to be endured. The Mogol would speak well of all of them, saying, that a Man might be happy and safe in the profession of any Religion; and therefore would say, That the Mahometan Religion was good, so the Christian Religion good, and the rest good; and there∣fore, by the way,

The Priests or Ministers of any Religion find regard and esteem amongst the people. I shall speak something to this from my own particular usage there, then very young, while I li∣ved in those parts; yet when I was first there brought into the presence of the Mogol, immediately after my arrive at his Court, I standing near the Ambassadour (for no man there of the greatest quality whatsoever, is at any time suffered to sit in his presence) and but a little distance from that King in his Page  476Gozulcan, he sent one of his Grandees to me, to let me know, that the King bad me welcome thither, that I should have a free access to him when ever I pleased; and if I would ask him any thing, he would give it me (though I never did ask, nor he give) and very many times afterward when, (waiting upon my Lord Ambassadour) I appeared before him, He would still shew tokens of Civility and Respect unto me; and I never went abroad amongst that people, but those that met me, upon this consideration, that I was a Padre (for so they call'd me) a Father or Minister, they would manifest in their Behaviour towards me, much esteem unto me. But for the Jesuits there;

There was one of that Order, in Goa (a City of the Portugals lying in the skirts of India) of very much Fame and Renown called Jeronymo Xaviere, sent for by Achabar-Sha, the late Kings Father, in the year 1596. to argue before him the Do∣ctrine of Christianity: there being alwayes present a Moolaa, or Mahometan Priest; and a Third Person, who followed no precise Rule, but what the Light of Nature meerly led him to; and these two were to obtain what they could against his Reasoning.

The Jesuit in the Mogol's own Language (which was a great advantage to him) began to speak first of the Creation, and then of the Fall of Man: in which the Mahometans agree with us.

Then he laid down divers grounds to bottom his reasonings on,

That Man by Creation was made a most Excellent Creature, indued with the Light of Reason, which no other sublunary Creature besides himself had; then,

That Man thus endued, must have some Rule or Law to walk by, which he could not prescribe unto himself, and therefore it must be given him from above.

That this Law was first given unto Man from God, and after∣ward confirmed by Prophets sent into the World, in divers Ages, from God.

That this Law thus delivered must needs be one Law, in all things agreeing in it self. And so did not the Law of Mahomet.

That this Law thus delivered was most conformable to right son; And so was not the Law of Mahomet.

That Man fall'n from God by sin, was not able to recover himself from that Fall; and therefore it was necessary that there should be one, more than a Man, to do it for him, and that that One could not be Mahomet.

That this One was Christ, God as well as Man; God to sa∣tisfie (the Mahometans themselves confessing that Christ was the breath of God), and Man to suffer death as he did.

That Christ the Son of God coming into the World, about that great Work of satisfying Gods anger against Man for sin; it was necessary that he should live a poor and laborious life Page  477 here on Earth (at which the Mahometans much stumble) and not a life that was full of pomp, and pleasure, and delicacy.

That the Gospel of Christ, and other holy books of Scripture, which the Christians retain and walk by, contain nothing in them that is corrupt and depraved; But there is very much to be found in their Alcaron which is so.

That the great worth and worthiness shining in the Person of Christ, was by far more excellent than any thing observable in Mahomet (for they themselves confess that Christ lived without sin; when Mahomet himself acknowledgeth, that he had been a filthy person.)

That the feigned, foolish, and ridiculous miracles, which they say were done by Mahomet, were nothing comparable to the Miracles done by Christ, who (as the Mahometans con∣fess) did greater Miracles than ever were done before or since him.

That there was a great deal of difference in the manner of promulgating the Gospel of Christ, into the world; and the in∣troducing of the Laws of Mahomet.

That Christ hath purchased Heaven for all that believe in him, and that Hell is prepared for all others that do not rely on him, and on him alone, for Salvation.

There were many more particulars besides these, which that Jeronymo Xaveere laid down before the Mogol, to ground his ar∣guments on: which that King heard patiently, at several times during the space of one year and a half; but at last he sent him away back again to Goa honourably, with some good gifts bestowed on him, telling him, as Felix did, after he had rea∣soned before him, that he would call for him again when he had a convenient time, Acts 24.25. Which time or season, neither of them both ever found afterward.

These Particulars, which I have here inserted (with many more; I might have added to them; upon all which, that Jeronymo Xaveere enlarged himself before the Mogol in his ar∣guings before him) were given unto me in Latine by Fran∣cisco Corsi, another Jesuit resident at that Court, while I was there, and long before that time. And further I have been there told by other people professing Christianity in that Em∣pire, that there was such a Dispute there held; and for my part I do believe it.

For that Francisco Corsi; he was a Florentine by birth, aged about fifty years, who (if he were indeed what he seemed to be) was a man of a severe life, yet of a fair and an affable disposition: He lived at that Court, as an Agent for the Portu∣gals; and had not only free access unto that King, but also en∣couragement and help by hifts, which he sometimes bestowed on him.

When this Jesuit came first to be acquainted with my Lord Ambassadour, he told him that they were both by professi∣on Page  478 Christians, though there was a vast difference betwixt them in their professing of it. And as he should not go about to re∣concile the Embassadour to them: So he told him that it would be labour in vain if he should attempt to reconcile him to us. Only he desired, that there might be a fair correspondency be∣twixt them, but no disputes. And further, his desire was that those wide differences 'twixt the Church of Rome and us, might not be made there to appear; that Christ might not seem by those differences to be divided amongst men professing Christianity, which might have been a very main Obstacle, and hinderance unto his great Design and endeavour, for which he was sent thither, to convert people unto Christianity there. Telling my Lord Embassadour further, that he should be ready to do for him all good offices of love and service there, and so he was.

After his first acquaintance, he visited us often, usually once a week. And as those of that society, in other parts of the world are very great intelligencers: so was he there, knowing all news which was stirring and might be had, which he com∣municated unto us.

And he would tell us many stories besides; one of which, if true, is very remarkable. And it was thus; There are a race of people in East-India, the men of which race have (if he told us true) their right legs extraordinary great and mishapen, their left legs are like other mens. Now he told us, that they were the posterity of those who stamped StThomas the Apostle to death, come thither to preach the Gospel; and that ever since the men of that race have, and only they of that Nation, that great deformity upon them. Some few people I have there seen of whom this story is told, but whether that deformity be like Geheza's leprosie, hereditary; and if so, whe∣ther it fell upon that people upon the occasion before-named, I am yet to learn.

The Jesuits in East-India (for he was not alone there) have liberty to convert any they can work upon, unto Christianity, &c. The Mogol hath thus far declared, that it shall be lawful for any one, perswaded so in conscience, to become a Christian, and that he should not by so doing lose his favour.

Upon which, I have one thing, here to insert, which I had there by report (yet I was bid to believe it and report it for a truth) concerning a Gentleman of quality, and a servant of the great Mogol, who upon some conviction wrought upon him (as they say) would needs be Baptized and become a Christian. The King hearing of this Convert sent for him, and at first with ma∣ny cruel threats commanded him to renounce that his new pro∣fession: the man replied, that he was most willing to suffer any thing in that cause, which the King could inflict.

The Mogol then began to deal with him another way, ask∣king why he thought himself wiser then his Fore-fathers, who lived and died Mahometans; and further added many pro∣mises Page  479 of riches and honour, if he would return to his Mahome∣tism, he replied again, as they say (for I have all this by Traditi∣on) that he would not accept of any thing in the world, so to do: The Mogol wondring at his constancy told him, that if he could have frighted, or bought him, out of his new profession, he would have made him an example for all waverers; but now he perceived that his resolution indeed was to be a Christian, and he bid him so continue, and with a reward discharged him.

The late Mogol about the beginning of his reign, caused a Tem∣ple to be built in Agra, his chief City, for the Jesuits, wherein two of his younger Brothers Sons were solemnly Baptized, and de∣livered into their hands to be trained up in Christianity. The young Gentlemen, growing to some stature (after they had had their tuition for some years) desired them to provide them Wives out of Christendom fitting their Birth; in which having not sud∣den content, they gave up their Crucifixes again into the Je∣suits hands, and so left them. Who had these conjectures upon this their revolt, that either the King their Uncle caused them to be Baptized, to make them more odious to the Mahometans, being so near of his blood; or else, it was his plot to get them beautiful Wives out of Europe, which himself meant to take if he had liked them.

The Jesuit I last named, Francisco Corsi, upon a time (at our be∣ing there) having his house, amongst very many more consumed by a sudden fire, it so was that his wooden Cross, set on a Pole near the side of his house, was not (as he said) consumed. Up∣on which he presently repaired to that Court, carried that Cross with him, and told the King thereof. The Prince Sultan Ca∣room (who was no favourer of the Christians) being then pre∣sent, and hearing him talk how his Cross was preserved, derided him, saying, that it was one of his fabulous miracles; and fur∣ther added, that he would have a fire presently made before the King, whereinto he would have that Cross cast; and if it con∣sumed not, his Father, himself, and all the people there would presently become Christians; but if it did, himself should be burnt with it. The Jesuit not willing to put himself upon so sudden and so hot a trial, answered that he durst not tempt God, who was not tyed to times; and it might be that Almighty God, would never shew that people that infinite favour to make them Christians, or if he had such a great mercy for them in store, it might be that the time of manifesting it, was not yet come; and therefore if he should now submit to that trial, and Almighty God not please to shew a further and a present miracle, his Reli∣gion would suffer prejudice there for ever after; and therefore he refused.

It should seem that the Jesuits there do exceedingly extol the Virgin Mary, which I have gathered from poor people there, Na∣tives of that Country, who have often asked Alms of me, when I stirred abroad amongst them; and whereas one hath desired Page  480 me to give him some relief for Christs sake, there are many who have begged it for the Virgin Mary's sake.

Well known it is, that the Jesuits there, who like the Pharisees, Mat. 23.25. That would compass Sea and Land to make one Pro∣selyte, have sent into Christendom many large reports of their great Conversions of Infidels in East-India. But all these boast∣ings are but reports; the truth is, that they have there spilt the precious water of Baptism upon some few Faces, working upon the necessity of some poor men, who for want of means, which they give them, are contented to wear Crucifixes; but for want of knowledge in the Doctrine of Christianity are only in Name Christians. So that the Jesuits Congregations there are very thin, consisting of some Italians, which the Mogol entertains (by great pay given them) to cut his Diamonds, and other rich Stones; And of other European strangers which come thither; and some few others of the Natives, before mentioned. So that in one word I shall speak this more of the Jesuits in East-India, that they have there Templum, but not Ecclesiam.

When I lived in those parts it was my earnest desire and daily prayer, to have put my weak hands unto that most acceptable, but hard labour of washing Moors, that the Name of Jesus Christ might have been there enlarged (if God had pleased to honour me so far) by my endeavours. But there are three main and apparent obstacles (besides those which do not appear) that hin∣der the settlement and growth of Christianity in those parts. First, The liberty of the Mahometan Religion given the people there in case of Marriage. Secondly, The most debauch'd lives of many coming thither, or living amongst them who profess themselves Christians, per quorum latera patitur Evangelium, by whom the Gospel of Jesus Christ is scandalized, and exceeding∣ly suffers. And lastly, The hearts of that people are so con∣firmed and hardned in their own evil old ways, their ears so sealed up, their eyes so blinded with unbelief and darkness, that only he, who hath the Key of David that shuts when no man can open, and opens when no man can shut, can open to them the door of life.