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Alvares, Manuel, 1526-1583, et al. / Ethiopia Minor and a geographical account of the Province of Sierra Leone : (c. 1615)

Chapter 25: The state of Christianity in the Serra,   pp. 1-10

Page 3

The heathen in Ethiopia care only for a god of the belly, a god of
wine, and for no other faith. To believe otherwise is to deceive ourselves.
All of them will become Christians if you have something to give them, but
they will be Christians only in name. Teorocofero used to say: "What
is a
Christian?  Water from my land".   So it is lacking in respect for the
Sacrament to administer it to such people in their natural state, without
recourse to force and arms.     Or, rather, without their having contact
with true Christians. because from that contact they will gain something.
And so that everyone will be convinced,(I say thaI none of these heathen
normally wants the faith, in the form in which they received it, for any
reason other than that of having access to us and hence learning about our
affairs and living by our sweat.   All are unsteady rocks (on which to build
a church).  If any one of them is genuinely converted to the Lord, it is
due to His great pity and also to the man's being touched within by the
light of His most holy religion.   So much for the first source (of evil),
concerning which it is reasonable that we rely less on apostolic teaching
( ? and more un mractical experience ? ), so that those who wish to succeed
in similar enterprises may take /f.112v/ this approach.
There is no greater encouragement of evil than lack of illumination in
the one who guides; his good intentions lead him astray(e) From this spring
many ills. Idolatry, lacking knowledge of the heavens, is so incapable of
dealing with heavenly things, that however late these are given they always
seem to idolatry like a premature fruit. An understanding corrupted by
many and various vices, and which only self-interest can arouse, what can
give it confident grounds for expectation? He who is baptised solely in
order to gain friends and money, is it not certain that even if harvested
in due time he will be always an unripe fruit? Who can doubt it? It is
good to give friendship and money freely, but not baptism, which should be
charged the just price, that is, and always has been, belief in and
profession of Christ Our Saviour, without reservation, explicit or implicit,
in favour of some false doctrine or rival worship. Can the ark of the Lord
share the altar of our soul with the dragon? How can one expect rigour or
(d)  Christian communities find force of arms necessary.
(e)  It is necessary to know the nature of the heathen, when resort to
force of arms is lacking, before awarding in baptism the title of
son of the Lord. Missionaries should not act hastily. Experience.


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