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force, o) Spain is indebted, in a great measure, for the uniform tranquillity which has reigned in her American dominions.
Form and endowments of the church in the Spanish colonies,
The hierarchy is established in America in the same form as in Spain, with its full train of archbishops, bishops, deans, and other dignitaries. The inferior clergy are divided into three claffes, under the denomination of Curas, Doctrineros, , and Missioneros. The first are parish-priests in those parts of the country where the Spaniards have settled. The second have the charge of such diftricts as are inhabited by Indians subjected to the Spanish government, and living under its protection. The third are employed in converting and instructing those fiercer tribes, which disdain fubmiffion to the Spanish yoke, and live in remote or inaccessible regions, to which the Spanish arms have not penetrated. So númerous are the ecclefiafticks of all those various orders, and such: the profufe liberality with which many of them are endowed, that the revenues of the church in America are immense. The superstition of Rome appears with its utmost pomp in the New World. Churches and convents there are magnificent, and richly adorned; and on high festivals, the display of gold and silver,
o) Recop. lib. i, tit, vii, lo 55. paffim.
and precious stones, is such as exceeds the conception of an European. p) An ecclefiaftical: establishment so splendid and expensive, is unfavourable, as has been formerly observed, to the progress of rising colonies; but in countries where riches abound, and the people are fo delighted with parade, that religion must assume it, in order to attract their veneration, this propensity to oftentation has been indulged, and becomes less pernicious.
The early institution of monasteries in the Spanish colonies, and the inconfiderate zeal in multiplying them, have been attended with con. fequences more fatal. In every new settlement, the first object is to encourage population, and to incite every citizen to contribute towards augmenting the ftrength and number of the community. During the youth and vigour of fociety, while there is room to spread, and sustenance is procured with facility, mankind increase with amazing rapidity. But the Spaniards had hardly taken possession of America, when, with a most preposterous policy, they began to erect convents, where perfons of both sexes were shut up, under a vow to defeat the purpose of nature, and to counteract the first
B) Voy. da Ulloa, i. 430.
of her laws. Influenced by a mifguided piety, which afcribes transcendent merit to a state of celibacy, or allured by the prospect of that listless ease, which, in sultry climates, is deemed fupreme felicity, numbers crowd into those mansions of sloth and superstition, and are lost to fociety. As none but persons of Spanish extract are admitted into the monasteries of the New World, the evil is more sensibly felt, and every monk or nun may be considered as an active person withdrawn from civil life. The impropriety of fuch foundations in any fituation where the extent of territory requires additional hands to improve it, is so obvious, that some catholick states have expressly prohibited any person in their colonies from taking the monaftick vows. q) Even the Spanish monarchs, on fome occasions, seem to have been alarmed with the spreading of a spirit so adverse to the increase and prosperity of their colonies, that they have endeavoured to check it. r) But the Spaniards in America, more thoroughly under the influence of superstition than their countrymen in Europe, and directed by ecclefiafticks more bigoted and illiterate, have conceived such an high opinion of monaftick sanctity, that no regulations can restrain their zeal,
9) Voy. de Ulloa, ii. 124. 1) Herrera, dec. v. lib. ix. C. 1, 2. Recop. lib. i. tit. iii. 1.
I, 2. tit. iv. 1. 2. Solorz. lib. iii. c. 23.
ROBERTSON Vol. III. U
and, by the excess of their ill judged bounty, religious houses have multiplied to a degree no less amazing than pernicious to society. s)
Chara&er of ecclesiasticks in Spanish America,
In viewing the ftate of colonies, where not only the number but influence of ecclefiafticks is fo great, the character of this powerful body is an object that merits particular attention. A considerable part of the secular clergy in Mexico and Peru are natives of Spain. As persons accustomed, by their education, to the retirement and indolenee of academick life, are more incapable of active enterprize, and less difposed to strike into new paths, than any order of men, the ecclefiaftical adventurers by whom the American church is recruited, are commonly such as, from merit or rank in life, have little · prospect of success in their own country.
of the seculars ;
Accordingly, the secular priests in the New World are ftill less diftinguished than their brethren in Spain, for literary accomplishments of any species; and though, by the ample provifion which has been made for the American church, many of its members enjoy the ease and independence which are favourable to the
s) See NOTE LVII,
eultivation of science, the body of secular clergy has hardly, during two centuries and a half, produced one author whose works convey such useful information, or poffefs such a degree of merit, as to be ranked among those which attract the attention of enlightened nations.
of the regulars.
But the greatest part of the ecclefiafticks in the Spanish settlements are regulars. On the dif. covery of America, a new field opened to the pious zeal of the monastick orders; and, with a becoming alacrity, they immediately sent forth missionaries' to labour in it.
The first attempt to instruct and convert the Americans, made by monks; and, as soon as the conquest of any province was completed, and its ecclesiastical establishment began to assume some form, the popes permitted the missionaries of the four mendicant orders, as a reward for their services, to accept of parochial charges in America, to perform all spiritual functions, and to receive the tythes, and other emoluments of the benefice, without depending on the jurisdiction of the bishop of the diocese, or being subject to his cenfures. In consequence of this, a new career of usefulness,
as well as new objects of ambition, presented themselves. Whenever a call is made for a fresh supply of miffionaries, men of the most ardent and aspir