THE joy of preaching Christ where He had never before been named had now laid hold of Hudson Taylor. Of the five journeys hitherto undertaken, the last two at any rate had been over untrodden ground. Both with Dr. Parker and Mr. Burdon he had found willing hearers for the Gospel where, as far as they could tell, it had never yet been proclaimed. It was a new experience, and to the young, devoted missionary a great experience, weaning his heart away from other, less-important things. Plans and hopes as regards settled work in Shanghai that for months had occupied him began to take a secondary place. He had tasted the wondrous sweetness of bringing tidings of the Saviour's love to those- who but ' for him might never have heard, and this henceforth was the work that claimed him more and more.
Not that he no longer wished to settle somewhere. The ' strain of such frequent journeys made him increasingly conscious of the need for suitable headquarters. But he was beginning to hope that it might be away from a Treaty Port, among those who had no one else to lead them in the heavenward way.
It was now early summer in Shanghai, and beginning to be hot. No answer had yet been received from the Committee as to the plans laid before them, so that, as far as the Society was concerned, matters were somewhat at a standstill. This made it all the more natural that Hudson Taylor should be drawn in the one direction that was providentially open, that of evangelistic journeys. His fitness for this work was becoming so evident that the British and Foreign Bible Society was willing not only to supply him with as many Scriptures as he could distribute but also to meet the larger part of his travelling expenses. Thus while his hands were tied in one way, and plans for local work kept in abeyance, openings `of an important kind were not lacking in other directions.
" I hope to go inland again in a few days," he wrote to Mr. Pearse scarcely a week after his return from Tung-chow. " You will join us in thanking the Lord for His protection in recent dangers. The Rebellion, especially since foreigners have enlisted themselves on both sides, has made access to the interior no easy matter. But the Word of God must go. And we must not be hindered by slight obstacles in the way of its dissemination... .
" I trust you will be much in prayer for us. We have many trials, and Satan does not let off easily those who attack his strongholds. Pray that we may be kept from harm spiritually as well as physically, and that the one intense desire of our hearts may be granted, that we may be made useful."
SIXTH JOURNEY : May 1855
Ten days at home had barely given time to write up his journal, attend to letters and prepare for another journey, before the young evangelist set out upon a longer absence than any he had previously undertaken. This time he was alone, and with growing experience was able to, strike out on lines more characteristically his own. He seems to have had in view a long-cherished hope, the purpose in fact with which he had been sent to China, of penetrating inland as far as Nan-king, the headquarters of the Tai-ping Rebellion. Be that as it may, he steered his course up the Yangtze, exploring the southern shore with its principal tributary streams about two hundred miles. He was absent altogether twenty-five days, during which time he made known the Gospel in no fewer than fifty-eight cities, towns and larger villages, fifty-one of which had never before been visited by a Protestant missionary.
Starting on May 8 he did not reach home again until June 1, having made a careful investigation of the openings for such work up to within sixty miles of Chin-kiang, where the rebel forces were established, travelling in all a distance of four or five hundred miles.
It was a lonely journey and a courageous one with Tungchow experiences fresh in mind. At any point he might have been seized, tortured, and even put to death as a rebel or foreign spy. And short of this he was exceeding the most liberal interpretation of treaty rights, and could claim no protection either from his own Consul or from the local authorities. Serious indeed was the possible danger from excited crowds in places where European dress had never yet been seen. But these and all other complications he handed over to the One best able to deal with them, in the consciousness of whose presence he could be calm and free from care.
And the Lord was not only with him amid those lonely labours. He did more than protect His servant, and supply needed grace. It was, if one may say so reverently, His opportunity. And He drew very near revealing Himself and His purposes as He only can perhaps when one is much alone.
Long, long years after, on another journey-the last he ever took up that great river-pacing the deck of the steamer in company with the writers, he paused again and again, looking with misty eyes towards the hills that here and there break the level of that southern shore. It was somewhere near Green Grass Island that he said at length, " I wish I could tell you about it. It was over there. But I cannot remember just the spot."
Seeing him moved by some recollection, we waited silently to hear more. But fifty years had passed since that day-the remembrance of which still brought so deep a joy and awe. He could not put it into words. He tried, but could tell us little of what had been between his soul and God. But there, over there on those more distant heights, it had come to him. Some revelation of his future work perhaps. Some call to utmost self-surrender for the life to which the Lord was leading. And its influence remained.
Time would fail to follow in any detail the varied activities of this journey, but some idea of its general character must be given. On the banks of tidal rivers running into the wide estuary of the Yangtze, the traveller found himself within reach of numerous towns and villages. The more important of these were visited as he worked his way up the main river. Here and there cities were found, and busy market-places, in which many Scriptures could be distributed. But in the countless villages between the reading population was small, and Hudson Taylor began to realise how large a part in the evangelisation of China must be taken by simple preaching and individual instruction in the Truth.
The first three days after leaving Woo-sung were spent opposite Tsung-ming Island, where the boat, overtaken by a storm, was nearly wrecked before they could reach the shelter of the Liu river. Putting into this stream they found themselves in the neighbourhood of a city and several towns, one of which had a population of forty thousand. Here Hudson Taylor could not have desired better opportunities for the work he had at heart, and in the temple of the "Mother of Heaven" as well as among the junks crowded along the water-frontage many listeners were eager to obtain books and learn more about his message.
His journal for the days that followed spent on another tributary stream gives an impression of unremitting labour, and reveals also something of what it meant to be alone amid such overwhelming needs.
Friday, May 11, 1855: Got off at 6 A.M., and with the tide ran up the Yangtze till we reached the Pah-miao kiang or Creek of the Eight Temples, which we entered. Here, after seeking the Lord's blessing, I landed, and was quickly surrounded by sixty or eighty people who had never seen a foreigner before. To them I preached the glad tidings of salvation before proceeding to a town called Liu-ho-chen. The road was miserably dirty, and though the distance was only two miles it seemed like four at least.
On arrival I found that it contained a good many respectable shops and intelligent people. As usual the demand for books was great. . . . The population of this place cannot be less than twenty thousand, and they had never heard before of the Word of the Living God. Here I distributed many portions of Scripture and tracts, and would willingly have stayed longer but that time did not permit.
On the way to the next town, Huang-king, I could not help feeling sad and downcast. Wherever one goes-cities, towns and villages just teeming with inhabitants, few of whom have ever heard the only Name " under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." Just to visit them, give away portions of Scripture and tracts, and -after preaching a few times pass on to other places, seem almost like doing nothing for the people. And yet unless this course is adopted how are those further on ever to hear at all ? It is the Word of God we leave behind us, living seed that cannot be fruitless, for He from whom it comes has said, " My word . . . shall not return unto Me void,' but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
We see no fruit at present, and it needs strong faith to keep one's heart from sinking ; besides which I have felt a degree of nervousness since we were so roughly treated in Tung-chow which is quite a new experience, a feeling that is not lessened by being quite alone. I remember, however, His faithful promise, " They that sow in tears shall reap in joy," and " He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
Faint and weary, having had no food since breakfast, I arrived at Huang-king at 4 P.M., and prayed God to enable me to distribute my books to the best advantage and to give me a word to speak to the people.
The prayer was indeed answered, and I found' the place so large that had I had four times as many books with me they would have been barely enough to supply all the applicants who could read. . . . When I had finished the work of distribution I went into the temple in which the pagoda stands and found it full of cases of newly-made incense laid out to dry. Connected with the temple is a nunnery, and one of the nuns, 'a superior-looking woman, came out to meet me and seemed vastly amused at my costume. People followed me into the courtyard, and when some hundreds were assembled I asked them if they would like me to address them ; upon which a stool was brought, and mounting it I preached " Jesus, and Him crucified." They listened with the utmost attention, and when I concluded many asked for books containing these doctrines and eagerly inquired when I would return and bring more. I could only recommend them to borrow from one another and pray that God would enable them to understand and believe in what they had already heard.
As I left the place many persons accompanied me with every manifestation of friendly feeling. I could not but be struck with the contrast between my arrival and departure, for when I first entered the town, people ran away as from a wild animal ! . . . It was gratifying to see a friendly feeling so soon established, and to know that two towns now possessed the Gospel of the grace of God which until that morning had never received it. As we repassed Liu-ho-chen, a good many people came out and we had a little conversation, after which we went on, reaching our boat about 8 P.M.. very tired and ready for dinner.
Saturday, May 12: One of the hottest days we have had this year. Having arranged my books and prepared a good selection to take with me, I set out to visit several more towns in the neighbourhood. The first place I went to was the " Dragon Emperor's Temple," a little town in which I was told a Mandarin resided. I found it quite a small place, consisting of a few houses, the largest of which was occupied by a Revenue Officer of the name of Li. Calling upon him I was courteously received, and left in his possession a New Testament, part of the Old, and several tracts. After this we went on and in due time reached the " Shrine of the Chang Family " (Chang-kia-si), a town of about four thousand inhabitants, where for the first time the Word of God was distributed and a foreigner seen and heard.
At first the people were frightened, but this soon wore off, and men, women and children seemed to be intensely interested. Their astonishment was great when they found that I could understand their language, and it was most amusing to hear their remarks about many things. When I took out my watch to look at the time, one grown-up person exclaimed that never before had he seen such spectacles ! Another promptly corrected him, informing the company that it was nothing less than a telescope I had in my pocket, and that western men were celebrated for making them. Upon which a third chimed in : No, he knew better than that ; the wonderful object they had seen was a clock, which told the hour by striking a bell ; and what I was wearing on my nose was a telescope, and not a pair of spectacles as some had ignorantly suggested !
A short distance beyond this place was a group of houses looking like the beginning of another little town, to which I next directed my steps. I found it to be a private residence, the home of a fine old gentleman, eighty years of age, who had formerly been a Mandarin at Soo-chow. Taken to the guest-hall, I noticed over the entrance this inscription, " Act morally and you will obtain Happiness." I took the lowest chair of course, nearest the door, but in a little while the master of the house appeared and with much ceremony insisted on my moving to a higher seat.
When I offered him a selection of our books, he told me he also had books to give, and made me a present of three works of his own, in ten volumes, beautifully' got up and treating of almost every imaginable subject. There was a little astronomy, a little meteorology, a little geography, some mathematics, and so on. But he said he had one superlative idea which he was delighted to have the opportunity of imparting to me.
Three great kingdoms existed in the world he said, England, Russia and China, but his discovery was as yet unknown in any of them.. Confucius himself was ignorant of it, and likewise all the Sages. In short it was known to but one person-himself ; and he was now eighty years of age. This long prelude and the importance of his manner made me wonder what could be coming, and it was hard to repress a smile when it proved to be that the sun stood still and the earth travelled round it... .
This gentleman seemed to be a close observer of nature, for amongst other things he wrote out for me a list of climbing plants arranged in two columns according as they turned to the right hand, in growing, or to the left. After an interesting visit I went a few miles further and found another town (Teng-chow-si) of about a thousand inhabitants. Here also I distributed Scriptures and tracts, and preached to about two hundred people in the open air. Then as the sun was low we set off for our boat with all speed, but were caught in torrents of rain and did not arrive till long after dark.
Sunday, May 13: Enjoyed some quiet hours of reading and prayer in my boat, after which . . . I distributed Scriptures and tracts in the Town of the " Eight Temples." Thence we went on to the " Shrine of the Heng Family," a place of some eight thousand inhabitants. There in the principal temple I preached to two or three hundred people, distributing afterwards many Testaments and other books.
We then made our way again to the " Chang Family Shrine," and after conversation with several others I revisited the old Mandarin seen yesterday. When our talk took a religious turn he made the common remark, " Jesus is your Sage, Confucius ours," and was much astonished when I told him that the Lord Jesus was not an Englishman ; that though born a Jew He was no mere man, but perfect God and perfect man in one ; and in proof of His deity adduced His miracles and the fact of the resurrection. He told me he intended coming to Shanghai in a few weeks and would return my call, promising in the meanwhile to look into my books and desiring me to read those he had given me. After this we returned to our boat, again arriving long after dark ; and having supplied medicine to a man who had followed us four miles to get it, I closed another Lord's day with prayer to God for His blessing.
Thus he worked his way up the main river until on May 15 the hills of Lang-shan and Fu-shan again came in sight. The temples crowning the former he had visited already, so it was to the latter, the sacred mountain of Fushan with the city of the same name at its base, that Hudson Taylor now turned his attention. In and around this city several days were spent and in ascending the tributary stream to another famous pilgrim resort, the city and hills of Chang-shu. Very interesting is his account of work done in these places, in which his preaching was so well understood that people said " The foreign-devil language is almost the same as our own."
One ,more Sunday on a creek still farther up, and the young missionary reached Green Grass Island, lying in the first, great westward bend of the Yangtze., Here on his birthday (May 21) two towns and a large village were visited and the Gospel preached to many willing hearers. As evening was drawing in he was taken to see a sick person, to whom he gave some simple remedies. The news soon spread, and before he could reach his boat, a hundred or more people had assembled, fully half of whom were suffering in ways he could relieve. Tired and hungry though he was he gladly set to work to dispense medicines, and before supper that evening had treated between forty and fifty patients.
This, of course, opened his way to -many homes and hearts, and the rest of the week was fully occupied either on the island itself or on the mainland opposite. Of the day following his birthday he wrote
Tuesday, May 22: Left the island early this morning, and after a pleasant sail of seven miles entered a creek running in toward some high hills. Here I landed, took as many books as our bags would hold and set off for the country. On the way we passed through a small town, in which I distributed a few Testaments and other books, and was as usual an object of wonder to the people, who had never seen a foreigner before.
Thence we went on to the city of Yang-shae, entering by the North Gate, and distributed a good many Scriptures and tracts. I then addressed the people in the temple of the City-God, but the noise was so great that only those nearest me can have heard. After this, and a walk on the wall which gave one a good view of the city, we left by the South Gate and continued our work of distribution in the suburb.
Though only small in size, Yang-shae might well be called a model city. Its walls are in perfect repair, not a brick wanting nor a battlement injured.... Its houses and shops are good, its streets clean and people respectable, though they can make a hubbub ! a thing not to be wondered at when the exciting cause is remembered. An Englishman in foreign dress, distributing religious books and preaching in the very temple of the presiding deity of the city, was enough to upset their composure... .
From Yang-shae I walked out to the "Pebble" or "Gravel Mountain," the highest elevation I have yet seen in China. The view from the top was very fine. With the aid of the telescope I counted no fewer than fifty-four distinct hills, some at a distance of quite as many miles. In an easterly direction, north of the Yangtze, rose the Lang-shan group with their pagodas and temples, and opposite across the river the heights of Fu-shan and Chang-shu. South of the hill on which I stood was the large town of Hwa-shYh with its pagoda in excellent repair, and south-by-west the hill and city of Wu-sih on the Grand Canal. Southward still, quite in the distance, were the mountains near the Great Lake and beyond Soo-chow. Westward lay the hill and city of Kiang-yin, some distance up the Yangtze. To the north Green Grass Island was well in sight, and the mighty river hidden here and there by the hills along its bank ... completed a view well worth the toilsome ascent it had cost.
How long he stayed there in the- welcome silence the journal does not say, nor what were the thoughts and feelings that filled his mind. It was a wonderful outlook, and could not but draw forth his sympathies for the great land that lay beyond on every side. Was it at this time and in this place the vision of his life-work came, to him ? We do not know : the records do not tell us. But he was quite alone, only just twenty-three, and already launched on pioneering labours the trend of which he often longed to understand. It was an occasion at any rate for fresh consecration to the work and to the Lord he loved ; and it is more than likely that in view of needs so overwhelming, deeper longings and more earnest prayer would rise within him-" great thoughts, calm thoughts, thoughts lasting to the end."
Certainly many of the principles of later years can be seen in embryo on this journey, and the spirit of it all is specially characteristic, read between the lines of his brief, simple journal. Of two long, hot days on Green Grass Island, for example, he wrote as follows
Thursday, May 24: Set off early this morning with books, and spent the whole day going from house, hamlet and village, to house, hamlet and village. In this way more than a dozen schoolmasters were supplied with books, and readers wherever they were found.... On this island the towns seem to be neither large nor numerous. The people live mostly in hamlets of from one to three hundred, with here and there a larger village. In the afternoon we reached one place, Nian-feng-kiai, with about six hundred inhabitants. Here I finished the distribution of my books, and visited one or two sick people who were unable to come to us. We then set off on the return journey and reached our boat at about 5 P.M.. very tired with the long walk. Many persons, however, had followed us, wanting medicines either for themselves or their friends, some indeed having come two, three or more miles. So I told them of Jesus, found out about their symptoms and supplied them with medicines, removed a tumour from a young man's neck, and was thus employed till some time after dark. Then my visitors left me. I got my things put away, had some dinner, for which I was more than ready, and finished the day with writing.
Friday, May 25 : Saw a few patients, then left for the mainland, where we went ashore with books for distribution. After supplying the little town of K'ian-t'u we visited not a few villages, and put the Word of God into the hands of every teacher we could find. Getting back to the boat again at 6 P.M. I saw several patients, after which we left with the tide. During the day while walking from place to place, tired and bathed, in perspiration, I was much refreshed in spirit by the thought that the Lord Jesus, doubtless, had often felt the same ; for He too went about in a hot country. We made good progress after leaving, wind and tide both favouring us, and shortly after dark anchored out on the river.
Yes, He too lived amid crowds of sick and suffering people, and could not escape dirt, discomfort, weariness, and all the monotony and discouragement of a missionary's lot. And He knew loneliness, the solitude of a life that had no sympathy as regards its deepest needs, its highest aspirations. Not one tear you shed, not one pang you feel is unknown to Him. It is all, every ache of it, " fellowship with His sufferings." Does not that transfigure the darkest moment, rob the bitterest humiliation of its sting ? Think, He has felt the same : and to all eternity there shall be that closer sympathy between your heart and His. He shares with you something deeper, more wonderful than His glory, His joy. He shares with you just all that these experiences mean, all that it ever must mean to be the Saviour of the World : and is there anything more sacred even in the heart of God than this ?
And then the Lord who knows His servant's need brings in some moment of relief-a day of tropical rain it may be, when it is useless to go out ; an attack of illness, giving time for rest and prayer ; a swollen river that cannot be crossed, or a Sunday in some quiet spot upon your journey---and in the brief respite comes soul-renewing fellowship with Him.
Thus it was for Hudson Taylor the day after the above entry in his journal. Passing the extremity of Green Grass Island the wind turned against them and the channel was too narrow to admit of tacking. For nine hours they had to wait, the wind meanwhile increasing to a perfect hurricane. Travelling late on Saturday in consequence, they were again obliged to anchor in mid-stream. There Sunday morning found them (May 27), a lovely summer day after the storm, and who can tell the refreshment to the weary missionary of a few quiet hours before they went ashore ?
" Very much enjoyed reading and prayer," he wrote, " in my cabin, and felt renewed confidence in Him who , has brought us hitherto."
Whatever may have been his intention on leaving Shanghai, he seems to have felt it wiser not to continue his journey much beyond this point. It may be that the boatmen were unwilling to venture farther up the Yangtze on account of the Insurgents at Chin-kiang. It may be he himself thought it better to be satisfied with what was already accomplished, without running into needless danger. He had been wonderfully preserved so far, and was now nearly two hundred miles from home. Three weeks was an unusually long absence from a foreign Settlement in those days, and he was coming to an end of his supplies. He distributed his remaining books, therefore, in Kiang-yin with its extensive surburbs and in a city seen from the neighbouring hill-, (Tsing-kiang), and on Tuesday, May 29, commenced the return journey.
Two days later, about midnight,' they succeeded in reaching Shanghai in spite of serious gales, very thankful for renewed preservation from shipwreck, and for having been enabled to distribute in peace and safety over two thousand seven hundred Scripture portions and tracts.
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