The Protestant Missions — September 14, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Japanese arguments against Christianity!


Satow is better known in Japan than in Britain or the other countries in which he served. He was a key figure in East Asia and Anglo-Japanese relations, particularly in Bakumatsu (1853–1867) and Meiji Era (1868–1912) Japan, and in China after the Boxer Rebellion, 1900-06.

IN 1868, there was circulated in Kyushu a pamphlet that may well be given in full, as it shows how the Japanese looked upon the missionaries and their religion. It also narrates from a different point of view some of the events described in previous chapters.


The Roman Catholic Religion

At a village named Oura, near Nagasaki, the French built a church, and five or six priests took up their residence there. They gave waives of a hundred or two hundred rios annually to about twenty Japanese readers and sent them out in the disguise of traders or travelling students to Hirado, Shimabara in Hizen, to Fukabori and to Amakusa. To the poor they gave money, and to the superstitious they exhibited prodigies in order to proselytise them, or worked upon their feelings by conventicles. (A conventicle is a meeting of both sexes at night in a secret chamber for pleasure.) In a short time, therefore, one or two hundred fellows sprang up who disregarded the most stringent injunctions of the lords of the districts, and neglected the social relations and the five virtues— a most fearful state of things, indeed A certain spy, as he was concealed under the veranda of a house in Urakami, heard a priest of the evil religion preaching who said: ” Persons who enter our sect and believe its doctrines will be born in heaven and enjoy eternal felicity; while believers in Shintoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism will all go to hell and suffer

The translation, which is taken from the Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States for 1868, was made by Mr. (now Sir) E. M. Satow, afterwards British Minister to Japan and later to China. Dr. Verbeck was convinced by internal evidence that the original work was written by a priest who had been instructed by himself and two of whose pupils were still coming to him three times a week. (Griflfis’s ” Verbeck,” p. 134.)

torment. Should only a single person of a family enter our sect, the rest will all be born in heaven by his merit. Then he showed them in a “Glory’ palaces and mansions, and people enjoying themselves with beautiful women. Consequently they became desirous of dying at once and being born in heaven, and do not care for the severest punishment I will narrate further stories of the prodigies performed.

The Jesus or Protestant Doctrine

In the same way the Americans and English have built Jesus halls, and five or six priests coming, try to lead astray the talented and clever men of Japan. These priests of the Jesus doctrine live mostly in private houses, and under pretence of teaching astronomy, geography, and the use of fire-arms, and medicine desire in actual fact to spread about the abominable poison of Jesus. Compared with the Roman Catholic religion this is a very cunning doctrine indeed. Although they try to make out that there is nothing abominable in it, they are really foxes of the same hole, and it is really more injurious than the Roman Catholic doctrine. The priests say: “The Jesus doctrine which I recommend to you does not practise magic; it advocates the observance of the social relations and the five virtues.”

But in the matter of abolishing Shinto and Buddhism and of treating prince and father with contempt it does not differ from the Roman Catholics, for which reason it is very hurtful to the state.

A Chinaman named Chang Chi-tsuo, in a letter to a friend of mine, says: ” I find from my acquaintance with the retainers of Japanese daimyos residing in Nagasaki that they are all studying western learning by command of their princes. The fact is the western barbarians practise murder instead of agriculture. Astronomy, geography, warlike weapons, and other toys of theirs are only fit to amuse the eye and ear. But there is not one of their books which does not praise the spirit of Jesus or of the

Lord of Heaven, and persons who do not study those books with a profound appreciation of fundamental truth will find themselves respecting the doctrine before they know where they are. I sincerely hope that the doctrines of Jesus and of the Lord of Heaven may not spread all over Japan in two or three years.”

Those words are perfectly true. Should it turn out so. Japanese will become enemies of their own country for the sake of foreigners. I pray most earnestly that benevolent men and superior men will not be led astray by the evil plots of these people, but will assist our countrymen with just laws, and keep the state as firm as Taisan.

Elements of the Evil Doctrine

The Jesus doctrine and the doctrine of the Lord of Heaven are the same in origin, and merely branches of one tree. Three hundred and fifty-two years ago a division of vile Roman Catholic religion was founded, which, professing to observe the true meaning of Jesus, called itself the Jesus doctrine. They say that the Roman Catholic religion consecrates wooden images and practises all sorts of prodigies. The Jesus doctrine does not even consecrate images of Jesus; it merely instructs, and does not practise prodigies. They derive their doctrines from the Old Testament in thirty-nine books, and the New Testament in twenty-seven books. The commencement of the Old Testament says that five thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight years ago the Lord of Heaven made the heavens and earth, the sun, moon, and stars, herbs, trees, birds, and beasts, in the space of five days; and on the sixth made a man and a woman who are the original ancestors of all mankind. Wherefore the Lord of Heaven is also called the Creator. He is also called the Great Prince and the Great Father; (natural) princes and fathers being distinguished as little princes and little fathers. In that case what is said in the Classic of Poetry, that “in the whole of what is under the heavens there is no place which is not royal territory; in the whole earth there are none who are not royal subjects” comes to nought. And when they say “that the Lord of Heaven made human bodies which were of earth, and that the Lord of Heaven put life into them,” what is said in the classic of Filial Piety, ‘that we have received our bodies, hair, and skin from our fathers and mothers,” comes to nought.

They look upon prince, father, and mother as nurses who merely nourish us, and say that if we worship our ancestors we shall be hated by the Lord of Heaven. This is treating prince and father with contempt and entirely destroying the natural relations of prince and vassal, father and child, which is a great evil to the state.

The Old Testament contains the Ten Commandments of the Lord of Heaven. The first of those says: “There is no other Lord but me.” Consequently the evil confederation of Urakamimura near Nagasaki threw the tables of Tenshoko Dai j in (the Sun-goddess) and of Kasuga Hachiman and the rest into the water, into the fire, and into the privies. The sixth says: “Thou shalt not kill ;” but this means, ” Thou shalt not kill people of our religion;” but they murder the most virtuous persons and superior men if they do not belong to their religion. The seventh says: “Thou shalt commit no abominable lechery;” but there are many cases in the Old Testament of persons who are said to be beloved by the Lord of Heaven becoming united in the bonds of parent and child, brethren, husband and wife; and besides, at Urakami, near Nagasaki lately, under the name of conventicles, men and women meet secretly in the depth of the night, which is abominable lechery. The eighth says: “Thou shalt not steal;” but thQT seize on other countries and make them subject to their own. Is this not flagrant robbery?

In the New Testament is written the history of Jesus from his birth to his death by crucifixion. This person called Jesus was originally very poor. In his fifteenth year he was banished, upon which he travelled through many countries learning magic art curing the sick, and stopping floods, and other magic. He deceived the ignorant lower classes, making them follow himself until his evil design of murdering the sovereign of the country and seizing the country and people for himself being discovered, he was put to death by crucifixion. He was a most traitorous animal. It is, however, written that he was crucified to atone for the sins of all men; that after his death he came out of his grave and preached for the space of forty days to his disciples, and ascended to heaven alive. This is the invention of those fellows, and entirely unfounded.

Considering that the foundation lay in such violent wickedness, it is impossible that any of his believers can be either filial or loyal. They say that the most unfilial and disloyal can go to the very top place m heaven if they only love the Lord of Heaven. The disasters of Shimabara and Amakusa may be looked upon as warnings to avoid. The love of novelty is unfortunately such that, if divine tickets and images of Buddha are caused to fall from heaven, as they have been since last autumn, there are plenty of common people, who, under pretence of worshipping the gods, dance and sing drunken songs, and forget the principles of social relations. Such would be the misfortunes of the state, were people to be sunk in this evil doctrine.

What I pray for is that patriotic samurai in this country shall learn how these people offend against the principles of fidelity and filial piety; what ambitious designs they have against the state; and fortifying men’s minds with good principles, block up every chink by which the evil doctrine might creep in; and perform one act of good service to the sovereign.

I do not aim here at describing the thing in detail, but only to speak a bit of my mind and narrate a story for the benefit of the ignorant and young.

History of the Evil Doctrine in Nagasaki

Since the opening of the port of Nagasaki, the French among the western barbarians have mainly preached the Roman Catholic religion, and the English and Americans the Protestant religion. In addition to these there are the Greek religion, the Mahometan religion, &c., all of which resemble the former and are as injurious to the state as they are.

In Oura, at Nagasaki, Roman Catholic churches and Protestant churches have been built and the Japanese are secretly induced to join these religions. The Roman Catholic religion proselytises from the middle down to the lowest classes of the inhabitants; the Protestant religion chiefly proselytises those of a higher position than the middle class.

The proselytes of the Roman Catholics are as follows. In Urakami, near Nagasaki, above two thousand people ; in the territory of Omura, above one hundred persons ; in the territory of Fukabori in Hizen, above fifteen hundred; Yokohama, Shimabara in Hizen, Amakusa in Higo, Hirado in Hizen; in these last four places proselytising is going on, and it is not known exactly how many thousands are there.

On the evening of the twenty-third day of the sixth month of last year (July, 1867), the Governor of Nagasaki sent to Urakami, seized the evil onesi, and threw them into prison. The images in the church which had been built at Urakami were seized at the same time and entrusted to the charge of the Mayor of the village. The officers who were sent to apprehend them brought them all, seventy-odd in number, to the Governor’s official residence. Six or seven men were left to guard the Mayor’s house; but the remainder of the evil band, to the number of several hundred, attacked the place and possessed themselves of the images, &c. They also seized two officials and two of their subordinates as hostages, declaring with violent language that they would not give them up unless the prisoners were set at liberty. In consequence, these hundreds of other offenders were left alone and not apprehended.

The people of the next village, called Nishi, were all of a resolute disposition and always observed the principles of loyalty and filial piety. Although built in a continuous line with the village of Urakami, it did not contain a single one of those evil fellows. When the evil fellows of Urakami were apprehended, the officials were very much afraid and did not like to force an entrance; but the people of Nishi, thinking that now was the time to do their duty, forced their way among the enemy and did good service.

In Urakami there is a place subject to Omura. As that place contained some of the evil band, the authorities of Omura arrested more than a hundred in the commencement of the seventh month, and committed them to prison.

The evil ones who had been apprehended by the Governor of Nagasaki and cast into prison were daily summoned by him and remonstrated with on their evil conduct, but they remained obstinate and gave no signs of repentance. On the contrary, they actually begged that they might be openly permitted to join the Roman Catholic sect

As the Governor and collectors could do nothing with them; on the fourteenth day of the eighth month, the priests of nine temples—seven being of the Shin sect and two of the Zen sect- were summoned to the Governor’s official residence and asked if they could suggest a plan for bringing back the evil fellows of Urakami.

The priests replied that they would give in their answer after mature consideration, and retired. Next day they sent in their reply, which was to the effect that they would do their best in exhorting those people to change their hearts.

On the nineteenth day the Collector and judges set out to Urakami with the priests of the nine temples, and tried to exhort those people; but they were obstinate and refused to be convinced in the slightest degree, the fact being that, as they had not been severely dealt with up to that time, the evil bands only increased in their obstinacy.

In the middle of the ninth month, the people imprisoned by the Governor of Nagasaki falsely pretended to have repented and were released from prison, but they only collected together again- and increased in numbers from day to day.

As the affair of those who had been released from prison ended only in their village being made responsible for them, the evil fellows thought they had found a capital opportunity; they took a quantity of money out of their church with which they went secretly to all parts, giving money to the poor, performing magic and wonders, and proselytising the people. Consequently, in a short space of time, large additions were made to their numbers — ten in one place and a hundred in another.

The fourth commandment of the evil religion ordains the observance of a day of rest. Japanese began gradually to keep this day, by which their having entered the sect became apparent.

As the Roman Catholic religion had spread so widely, it behooved those of the Protestant doctrine also to take their measures to increase the circle of their sect also. A person called Maria, wife of one Verbeck, a priest of Jesus, left her child at the breast and went to China in a steamer. She went as far as Shanghai and Hongkong for the purpose of getting the priests residing there to come with her to Japan.

This is a summary of the doings of the evil ones at Nagasaki. I do not know what may be the state of things at Yokohama and Hakodate. As there are several priests residing at those places also, it is pretty certain that they will entice Japanese gradually.

Since Hiogo became an open port last winter, no doubt the priests will gradually make their entrance there, and I fear they will pour their abominable poison in a short time into Osaka and Kyoto also. But as they have not commenced working at those places yet, I hope that a plan for protecting us against them will be matured while there is yet time.

As the evil ones of Nagasaki who are fully convinced are not at all likely to be converted again, I think they ought to be visited with the severest punishment. But the persons who have been merely drawn in by others will probably repent if they are exhorted in the proper manner.

In the above I have given a brief account of the rise and spread of the evil doctrine.

Another pamphlet that was widely circulated at about the same time was, “A New Essay on the Protection of the Country, by the Rev. Folly-Pitier.”A few extracts will serve to show the objections commonly urged against Christianity.

* The full translation may be found in the United States Diplomatic Correspondence for 1868. The tracts quoted were published in China.

“The doctrines of honouring the Lord of Heaven and believing in Jesus appear to be de foundation of the Protestant religion; but nothing is taught of cultivating one’s person, regulating one’s family, ordering the state, and tranquillizing die empire. The fifth of the Ten Commandments of the Lord of Heaven is ‘Honour thy father and mother.’ Some tracts have lately been published entitled, ‘Elements of the Five Virtues in the Holy Scriptures,’ and ‘ Elements of the Five Social Relations in the Holy Scriptures,’ which are made up of texts picked out of different parts of the two Testaments and twisted so as to bear out the meaning of the title; but they do not contain the correct principles of the human relations. They are merely got up to stave off troublesome opponents and also, at the same time, to take people in; but they do not represent the real spirit of the Protestant religion. . . .

“It is quite true that one of the Ten Commandments directs that honour be given to parents, but as no care is taken to give effect to this injunction by teaching it to the people, we do not find that either Abraham, Moses, or Jesus, who are venerated as holy and sage men by the Protestant religion, were celebrated for their filial piety.”

“Seeing that the great principle of filial piety, which is the root of all good actions, is thus neglected, we cannot expect to find any traces of loyalty either. There is not one of these so- called wise and holy men who has acted with loyalty towards his lord and master. Besides, there is not a single word about loyalty in the whole of these numerous books and thousands of words of which the two Testaments are composed. . . .

“The Ten Commandments consist of two laws: ‘ Honour and love the Lord of Heaven,’ and * Love thy neighbour as thyself.’ Respect to parents comes under that universal love which is meant by * Love thy neighbour as thyself.’ Therefore, although the expression, ‘Honour thy father and thy mother,’ exists, it does not urge the practice of filial piety. Jesus said: ‘ He who loveth father and mother more than me is not worthy of me.’ In discussing this question in the ‘Dialogue on the Christian Religion, ‘Jesus is made first and of greater importance, and parents last and of less importance. When the great principles of loyalty and filial piety are thus neglected and the five virtues thus destroyed, how can one expect perfection in the social? In the ‘ Mirror of the Way to Heaven, the five social relations are said to be insufficient, and another relation, that of heaven and man, is set up as the chief of all the others, as being of the highest importance. The object is to destroy the five relations and to substitute that of heaven and man for them all. The Lord of Heaven is the Lord of all countries and the Father of all men; He is therefore the Great Prince and Great Father. All difference between high and low among men is done away with, and this is because the single relation of heaven and man is made to take the place of the five relations. Under these circumstances, little love and honour are shown towards prince and father, and when they are despised it is impossible that there should be any loyalty or filial piety. It is no wonder that there should be no loyal or filial men among the Protestant fellows.

In discussing the question of filial piety, which they rarely do, they say that the child’s duty is fulfilled by his supporting his parents as long as they are alive and burying them when they die. The father of one of Jesus’ disciples having died he asked permission to go home and bury him. Jesus would not permit it. …”

Naikū, Ise Shrine.

“It objects strongly to the worship of graven images. The second Commandment says: ‘Thou shalt not worship graven images.’ There are two books called ‘Reasons for not Worshipping Graven Images and ‘Argument against the Worship of Graven Images,’ which attack the practice with great violence, besides passages in many other books which condemn it Should the Protestant religion spread in Japan, I fear the consequences will be the complete destruction of the shrines of Ise and Hachiman, [of places] where the bodies of the Emperor’s ancestors repose, of all the sacred images of the gods, and of the tablets of our forefathers. Protestant churches will be built, and only the Lord of Heaven and Jesus will be worshipped. Laws which have remained in force from the earliest stages will be abolished, and the Imperial line, which has lasted for the last ten thousand generations, will be polluted. …”

“If we allow our countrymen to become corrupted by this abominable religion, it is to be feared lest the disposition which venerates the Imperial line should disappear and traitors arise who would aim at the throne for themselves. This is what I have feared and grieved over for years. I humbly pray the princes, nobles, and great officers to ask to the wise of the three systems [Shintoist, Buddhist, Confucianist] to rigidly prohibit this religion while our people are not yet deeply affected with Protestantism; to expel these fellows, to prevent the divine Princes from being polluted by the stinking wind, to prevent this necromantic doctrine from throwing the right system into confusion ; and thus insure to the people safety under the shadow of the Imperial favour.”

An appendix to the pamphlet speaks of the way in which the division between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism arose, and closes by saying : ” The evil nature of Protestantism being thus apparent, the reader may judge of the equally evil nature of Roman Catholicism without my enlarging on the subject.”

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