CHAPTER 30--ON WHOM THE MANTLE FELL JUNE-JULY 1856. AET. 24.

Six months of intercourse with William Burns had now gone by, and little as either of them expected 'it they were nearing the close of their helpful, happy fellowship. To them it seemed on the contrary that their work together was only just beginning. The needs around them were so great and the help they were to one another so evident that they could not but look forward to doing something really adequate together by the blessing of God for the important region to which He had called them. But Swatow was only one needy field out of the vast whole of unreached China. For that wider work to be done the Lord was making preparation, as well as for widespread blessing in the region He had specially laid upon their hearts. William Burns for Swatow and other strategic points in the great seaboard provinces, and Hudson Taylor, by and by, for far-reaching inland China :-such' was the purpose of Him who sees the end from the beginning. So the days of their pilgrimage together drew to a close, filled as all that went before had been with helpful fellowship in the Lord.

By this time it was the middle of June, and more than ever trying in the little rooms over the incense-shop. It seemed really imperative to get other quarters ; and as this was out of the question in Swatow, they extended the search to neighbouring towns and villages.

" It is much more difficult to itinerate here than it was around Shanghai," Hudson Taylor wrote to his father on June 16." There the boat one travelled in supplied a home. Here it is not so, excepting in places so near at hand that we should naturally return at night. You must go in most cases on foot, not knowing where or how you will pass the night, and ready to take such accommodation as may offer. It is, of course, an entirely new line of things to me and requires far more faith and self-denial than anything I have hitherto known. But we have the promise that His grace shall be sufficient for us, and we know that in our weakness He will perfect His strength."

All this was of the greatest importance for one who was to be the leader of an evangelistic, pioneering mission. It was needful that he should have a practical, intimate knowledge of many phases of life and work ; and to this end his Swatow experiences were " well and wisely chosen," difficult as they seemed at the time.

On one of these overland journeys, for example, he was brought to the point of having nowhere at all to shelter for the night, a serious position in China. It was in the little town of Yo-Vu, whither he had gone on May 2o to take possession of a cottage they had been enabled to rent. One room below and one above, in the more open surroundings of this country place, promised welcome relief from their overcrowded city quarters. But all unwittingly they were reckoning without their host. For the landlord who had been willing to have them the day before met Mr. Taylor on his arrival saying

" Go back, go back at once I My neighbours will not allow me to let you have the house."

A moment's prayer, however, satisfied Mr. Taylor that he must not go back, and dismissing his boat accordingly he went about his Master's business. His servant, who knew the character of the Tie-chin 1-{1 Dialect for Ch'ao-chow, the name, of the Prefecture of which Swatow is the commercial centre.} people, kept asking anxiously

" What will you do ? Where shall we go when darkness comes on ? We cannot stay out all night." 2-{2- On account of danger from evil men, not to mention the malarial climate.}

Never fear," was the quiet answer ; " the Lord knows and He will provide."

So in temple and tea-shop and along the busy streets, the young missionary gave books to all who could read them and delivered his message. Rarely had his heart been so filled with the joy of the Lord in this work, and the people noticed it.

" Where are you going to sleep," they asked, as the inwardness of the situation became generally known.

" That I cannot tell you," he frankly replied. " But my Heavenly Father knows. He is everywhere present, and never forgets the needs of His people. Nor does He ever leave them unsupplied."

" Are you not anxious lest you should get into trouble ? " " No, I am not anxious," he was able to say with a smile. " My heart is in perfect peace, because the Lord will provide."

" And so it proved," his own letter continued. " I went on distributing books and talking with the people until dark, and then was invited to sleep over a barber's shop the owner of which was a Ha-ka man. Some congee (rice and water gruel) was prepared, and of this we made our supper....

" In the evening a great many people came to see me, one man bringing a present of two very pretty, fragrant flowers. I pointed out to my visitors that the beauty and sweetness of these flowers was given them by God ; that birds and insects are all cared for by Him ; that the many blessings enjoyed even by those who know Him not and sin against Him by worshipping idols, the work of their own hands, are still given and continued by His grace ; and how much more may the children of this Heavenly Father look to Him with confidence, knowing He will supply their every need in life, in death, and in the world to come ? I was much blessed in soul and greatly helped in testifying to the love and care of God.

"'It is curious,' one man remarked, `how he speaks of God in connection with all things.'

" Poor people ! Truly of them it may be said, `God is not in all their thoughts.' "

But the little town of To-p`u had the opportunity at this time of really understanding the message that had awakened so much interest. For Mr. Burns came over the next day and stayed almost a fortnight, though his companion had to return to Swatow.

Later in the month (June) two Chinese Christians joined them, sent by a missionary friend at Hong-kong. They were natives of the Tie-chiu district, and after a brief visit to their homes up-country were to remain with and assist Mr. Burns who was greatly needing such helpers. And the first work with which he entrusted them was the search for a room that could be used for a " street-chapel." As natives of the place he knew they were more likely to be successful than foreigners ; but do what they would, no premises of any kind could be obtained.

Realising afresh through this unsuccessful search the value of the footing they had already, Mr. Burns and his companion were more than ever thankful for their little home over the incense-shop, in spite of discomforts that only seemed to multiply with the heat of summer. Some idea of these minor trials may be obtained from a lively passage in a letter from Hudson Taylor to his younger sister, written about this time.

SWATOW, June 9, 1856.

My DEAR Louisa--I must try to answer your note by this mail, or run the risk of leaving it undone. And this I hope to accomplish, if the mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches (two inches long and flying about in all directions), centipedes, lizards, crickets, fleas and all the rest of the tormentors will allow.

While writing these few lines, I have made one successful and two unsuccessful attacks upon as many fleas, so you may imagine how plentiful they are. Sometimes I stop in the middle of a sentence, catch three or four of these unwelcome visitors, kill a few cockroaches and then go on again. The other night I felt something very strange inside my Chinese garments, and on looking to see what it was, found a centipede two or three inches long. It bit me severely before I could eject it, and the place swelled up and was very painful; but I applied carbonate of ammonia with immediate relief. The people of the house made a great stir about it (these bites are very venomous) and soon brought in a hen 1 for what purpose I do not know.... But I sent the poor creature away, explaining the virtues of my white powder, at which they looked respectfully enough. It was well that I had some. Father's medicine-chest has been about the most valuable thing I brought to China. . . .

The rest of the letter is in a more serious strain, for the spiritual welfare of this dear sister was much upon his heart. She was just leaving school to take up the more leisurely life of home, and as he thought of the opportunities and special dangers this would present, he longed to safeguard her as well as at that distance he was able.

" If you want blessing," he had written in an earlier letter, "'seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,' and you will be on the high road to all other good, Some people forget this and seek happiness in the world, but it eludes their grasp.... They think, plan, contrive, and try this means and that, but get no nearer the mark. While there are others who, seeking nothing for themselves, have joy and peace poured into their hearts. For they put first ` the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,' and `all these things' are ` added to them: This I have proved by my own experience, and I can assure you that so it is.

" Pray earnestly, perseveringly, till your prayers are answered, to be truly made a child of God. Then remember you are His .. . but still a child, Your Father knows best where you should be and how, So ask to do His will as the true, the only way to happiness and content. Remember too, when saved you are His servant. All you possess is His. Use it as such. . . . If as His servant you are true to Christ, He as your Master will provide for you and that liberally, It is the Principal of any concern who has the burden of responsibility. So avoid seeking to be head. . . . Be the servant and child in all things. ..: Look for guidance, and commit your way unto the Lord. Thus you will prosper in temporal as in spiritual things, and avoid those grinding cares which wear one down more than actual labour, and sometimes make life itself a burden; And remember to pray for your absent brother, who finds it much easier to tell you what to do than to act it out himself. But he does try to do so, and can tell you that he has never tried altogether in vain; for if he has not come up to the mark he is always blessed in his own soul for trying."

Another paragraph from the same letter is well worth quoting.

There is one thing I would specially warn you against . . . one of the greatest curses I believe of the present day-the practice of novelreading. If you value your mind and soul, avoid it as you Would a dangerous serpent. I cannot tell you what I would give to be able to forget certain novels I have read and to efface their influence from my memory. And I firmly believe, though some would deny it, . . . that no Christian ever did or ever will read them without injury, .. . very serious injury too, if the habit is indulged in. It is like opium- smoking, and begets a craving for more that must be supplied. Better books are neglected, and no one can estimate the mischief that results.Few, I believe, could honestly ask God's blessing upon the reading of a novel, and few would venture to assert that they read them to the glory of God. I dread them for you especially as a temptation to which you are constitutionally disposed . . . for you and I resemble one another very much as to temperament. . . . The only safety lies in avoiding them as one of Satan's most subtle snares.

I often fear that while I may be remembered by you as your brother the missionary in China, you will not feel towards me as to one who has a deep, a constant, and increasing interest in your welfare... . May God bless you, my dearly-beloved and often prayed-for sister, and make you all that He Himself would have you be. Good-night, my oil is done. Once more, God bless you.

This was the summer of the disastrous floods, when in the low-lying parts of the Tie-chin district several cities were inundated and more than two hundred towns and villages. The rice crop, just ready for reaping, was swept away in many places by the tremendous rush of water, that even unearthed coffins and carried them out to sea. Not a few lives were lost, and the distress among all classes was very great. Mr. Burns returned in the middle of June from the neighbouring town of Am-po, where he had been living for ten days. He only came just in time, for the house he had been enabled to rent was flooded breast-high the following day.

He had had an encouraging stay in this busy, important place, a larger town than Swatow though not so crowded. Not only was there a constant stream of visitors coming for books and conversation, but several interested neighbours were regularly attending morning and evening worship. The change back to Swatow was not a little trying, especially as the continued downpour prevented outside work. But it gave a welcome opportunity for prayer and conference over many problems connected with their position.

By the close of the week Mr. Taylor was far from well. The close confinement to their narrow quarters was telling upon him, especially when-with their servants and two native helpers-they were " so thick on the ground " as he, expressed it.

" The dark, rainy weather has a depressing effect on one's spirits," he wrote. " I do not feel very well, but trust that in a few days a change of weather will put things right and let me go on with my work again."

Brighter days came and Mr. Bums was able to return to Am-po with his Chinese helpers, but not until it had become evident that he must bid farewell to his English companion for a time. The greatest heat of summer was still before them, and Mr. Taylor was in no condition to meet it under existing circumstances. Providential indications also were not lacking that for the good of the work he ought to pay a visit to Shanghai.

Disappointed as they were about premises for a chapel, their thoughts had naturally turned to other methods of evangelisation. The people of Swatow were far too suspicious of foreigners to let them have a room for nothing but preaching. How could any one be willing to pay the rent of a shop merely to have a place for talking in about religious doctrines ? Clearly there must be something behind such a proceeding. But premises for medical work would be quite another matter. The foreign doctor was always persona grata, and if he must tell more or less about his religion-well, his medicines were so good that the preaching could be tolerated.

This being so even in Swatow, Mr. Burns and Mr. Taylor had almost decided to begin hospital work, or at any rate to open a dispensary. They were still praying about it, wondering whether the latter should take the long journey to Shanghai to fetch his instruments and medicines, when the chief Mandarin of the place was taken ill and the native doctors were unable to relieve him. Hearing from a friend that one of the foreigners in native dress was a skilful physician, he sent for Hudson Taylor and put the case into his hands. The treatment proved beneficial, and, no sooner was he well himself than he strongly advised his benefactor to commence medical work in Swatow for the assistance of other sufferers. This seemed very like the guidance they were seeking, especially when the Mandarin, in the grateful spirit so characteristic of his people, under- took to help them about premises. Backed by his approval they were soon enabled to rent the entire house in which they had hitherto occupied a single room, which gave them the advantage of beginning in a neighbourhood in which they were already known and respected.

As though the shadow of a longer parting lay upon his heart, Hudson Taylor was very reluctant, even then, to leave his loved and honoured friend. But when just at this juncture a free passage was offered him all the way to Shanghai by an English captain, the matter seemed taken out of his hands. Mr. Bums would not be left alone or without fellow-workers. One of the native Christians would assist him in Swatow, and one at Am-po and in the country districts. It really seemed, at last, as though the way were opening before them, and all they needed was the medical outfit waiting in Shanghai to enable them to enter upon fruitful labours.

And so early in July the parting came ; and full of thankfulness for the past and hope for greater blessing in the days to come they committed one another to the care and keeping that had never failed them hitherto.

" Those happy months were an unspeakable joy and comfort to me," wrote Hudson Taylor long after, looking back upon the companionship thus ended with William Burns. " His love for the Word was delightful, and his holy, reverential life and constant communings with God made fellowship with him satisfying to the deep cravings of my heart. His accounts of revival work and of persecutions in Canada, Dublin, and Southern China were most instructive as well as interesting ; for with true spiritual insight he often pointed out God's purposes in trial in a way that made all life assume quite a new aspect and value. His views especially about evangelism as the great work of the Church, and the order of lay-evangelists as a lost order that Scripture required to be restored, were seed-thoughts which were to prove fruitful in the subsequent organisation of the China Inland Mission."

For, in the providence of. God, they never met again. All unexpectedly Hudson Taylor found his path diverging from that of his friend. Dark clouds were gathering over Southern China, soon to lead to war. On a boat near Swatow Mr. Burns was taken prisoner and sent under escort, by river and canal, a journey of thirty-one days to Canton and the nearest British authorities. Returning to Swatow some months later he was enabled to take advantage of the growing feeling in his favour to establish a permanent work. Known as " The Man of the Book," he was allowed to go in and out freely, the trusted friend of the people, when all other Europeans were confined to their houses and in considerable danger on account of the iniquities of the coolie traffic ; and the Swatow Mission of the English Presbyterian Church flourishes to-day as an outcome of those early labours.

Passing on to other fields when initial difficulties were conquered, Mr. Burns was led to Peking at length, and there spent four years in literary and evangelistic work. And then, true to the commanding vision of his life, the veteran missionary turned his face once more to the " regions beyond." North of the Great Wall and stretching far away-an almost unknown world-lay the fair and fruitful plains of Manchuria. A few foreigners were living at the Treaty Port, but as yet no minister or missionary _ was among their number.1-{1- One missionary journey had been made in Manchuria some time previously, that of Dr. Alexander Williamson, who as Agent of the Scottish Bible Society traversed this important region between the years 1866 and 1868, even reaching a point-San-sin, on the Sungari river-which the Church has not yet overtaken. See A Century of Missions in China, p. sob.}Alone, with a single native helper, Mr. Bums set out for Newchwang, his life and teachings so impressing the captain of the junk on which they travelled that he would take no fare from the man whose very presence seemed a blessing.

Then came the closing days, setting the seal of God's own benediction upon this life of singular devotion. Four months of earnest, pioneering work-preaching in English on Sundays to the handful of fellow-countrymen in the Settlement, and in Chinese all through the week in thenative quarter in which he lived-and after that an illness, the result as it seemed of chill, brought the quiet, unexpected end.2- {2 The Rev. Wm. C. Bums passed away on April 4, 1868, just two years after the formation of the China Inland Mission which he had watched with the warmest interest.To the far-away homeland he sent as his last message an appeal to tab up the work he was thus laying down ; an appeal nobly responded to by the arrival of the first representative of the Irish Presbyterian Mission in the following year, and of the sister Church in Scotland three years later. The united Irish and Scotch Presbyterian Missions in Manchuria (one Chinese Church) now number no fewer than 16,075 actual communicants, with a missionary staff of sixty-nine Europeans. Thus blessedly has the confidence of William Bums been justified : " God," he said, 11 will carry on the good work. Ah no, I have no fears for that ! "}

Alone among the Chinese to the last, planting with his dying hand the standard of the Cross far afield amid the darkness, gathering round it those whose hearts the Lord had opened-a little company, loved, prayed for, taught, and comforted almost to his latest breath, who watching beside him as he passed through the valley learned not only how a Christian should live, but also how he can diewhat could be more after the pattern of his whole life, more in keeping with his heart's desire ?

As gazed the prophet on the ascending car,

Swept by its fiery steeds away, afar,

So with the burning tear and flashing eye,

I trace thy glorious pathway to the sky.

Lone like the Tishbite, as the Baptist bold,

Cast in a rare and apostolic mould

Earnest, unselfish, consecrated, true,

With nothing but the highest ends in view ;

Choosing to toil in distant fields, unsown,

Contented to be poor and little known,

Faithful to death : Oh, man of God, well done!

Thy fight is ended and thy crown is won.

God shall have all the glory. Only grace

Made thee to differ. Let us man abase.

Deep with emphatic tone, thy dying word,

Thy last was this : " Thine is the kingdom, Lord,

The power and glory." Thus the final flame

Of the burnt offering to Jehovah's Name

Ascended from the altar. Life thus given

To God, must have its secret springs in heaven.

Oh, William Burns, we will not call thee dead!

Though lies thy body in its narrow bed

In far-off China.Though Manchuria keeps

Thy dust, which in the Lord securely sleeps,

Thy spirit lives with Jesus ; and where He

Thy Master dwells, 'tis meet that thou shouldst be.

There is no death in His divine embrace ;

There is no life but where they see His face.

And now, Lord, let Thy servant's mantle fall

Upon another. Since Thy solemn call

To preach the Truth in China has been heard,

Grant that a double portion be conferred

Of the same spirit on the gentler head

Of some Elisha-who may raise the dead

And fill the widow's cruse, and heal the spring,

And make the desolate of heart to sing ;

And stand, though feeble, fearless, since he knows

Thy hosts angelic guard him from his foes ;

Whose life an image fairer still may be

Of Christ of Nazareth and Galilee,

Of Thine, oh, spotless Lamb of Calvary!

China, I breathe for thee a brother's prayer,

Unnumbered are thy millions. Father, hear

The groans we cannot. Oh, Thine arm make bare,

And reap the harvest of salvation there.

The fulness of the Gentiles, like a sea

Immense, oh, God, be gathered unto Thee.

Then Israel save, and with His saintly train,

Send us Immanuel over all to reign.

H. GRATTAN GUINNESS, D.D.

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