CHAPTER 37--PERFECT IN ONE--DECEMBER 1857-JANUARY 1858. AET. 25.

AFTER this they were openly engaged, and could meet from time to time in the company of friends : and how those happy winter days made up for all that had gone before !

" I never felt in better health or spirits in my life," wrote Hudson Taylor. "To God who alone doeth wondrous things, who raiseth up those that are bowed down and has caused every effort to injure me to work only for good ... to Him be praise and glory."

The engagement was not to be a long one, for on January i6 Miss Dyer would be twenty-one years of age and free to follow the dictates of her heart. So the closing weeks of the year were full of joyous anticipation.

It is good to know that in a life so serious as regards its outward surroundings there were still times when they could be young and gay. One refreshing glimpse into this side of things is afforded by an intimate friend of those days, now the widow of the devoted and beloved Dr. Nevius. " To those who only knew Mr. Taylor in later life," wrote Mrs. Nevius, " it may be a surprise to learn that when he `fell in love ' it ways a headlong plunge, and by no means a slight or evanescent passion. And his fiancee with her strong, emotional nature was in this respect not unlike him. My husband was rather a special friend of both, and he sometimes indulged his propensities for good-natured teasing at their expense. I was in America, sent home on account of ill-health, when the following little ` passage at arms,' or rather hands, took place. " One evening the young people were seated round a table playing a game that required their hands to be hidden beneath it. To his surprise Mr. Nevius received an unexpected squeeze. Guessing at once that it was a case of mistaken identity, and enjoying the situation, he returned the pressure with interest. In a moment `Maria' his next neighbour discovered her mistake, but when she would have withdrawn her hand it was held fast by its captor's strong fingers. Not until flushed cheeks and almost tearful eyes warned him that the joke had gone far enough did he release her. Those were days when to laugh was easy, and not such very funny things were sufficient to evoke much merriment.

" Perhaps still another person whose name is known round the world was sitting at that table, for Mr. (now Sir Robert) Hart was a frequent visitor in our home. And it is quite possible that the now venerable and even then learned Dr. W. A. P. Martin was also a guest that evening. How little we imagined in those days the remarkable careers in store for some of those bright, merry young people ! But cares and responsibilities were to come upon them soon enough ; and what could have been better, in the midst of more serious preparation, than just such times as these ? They were hard students even then, every one of them, and probably erred on the side of overwork."

A very different experience and one that might well have given the young girl pause, had her character been other than it was, occurred on the eve of their marriage a few weeks later.

" It was the 6th of January," said Mr. Taylor, recalling the circumstances in conversation with the writers, " and the bride-elect was coming to tea at Kuen-kiao-teo in company with Mrs. Bausum. This had been arranged some time previously, when we were under no anxiety as to supplies. But when the time drew near we found ourselves in serious difficulty. Expenses had been heavy on account of our work among the poor, and mail after mail had come in bringing nothing from home. At last on the morning of the day in question one solitary cash, the twentieth part of a penny, was all that we had left between us. But though tried we looked to the Lord once again to manifest His gracious care.

" Enough remained in the house to supply a modest breakfast ; after which, having neither food for the rest of the day nor money to obtain any, we could only betake ourselves to Him who is a red Father, and cannot forget His children's needs. And you may be sure that what was to me the most painful element in the situation, our unpreparedness for the guests who were coming that evening, was specially remembered before Him.

After prayer and deliberation Mr. Jones agreed with me that we ought to try to dispose of some saleable article in order to supply our immediate needs. But on looking round we saw nothing that could well be spared, except perhaps a clock, and little that the Chinese would purchase for ready money. Credit to any extent we might have had, but that would not have been in accordance with our principle in the matter of debt. So the clock was taken to a neighbouring merchant who proved a willing purchaser.

" `But of course you must leave it for a week,' he said, `that we may see how it goes. No one would think of paying money down for an untried clock.'

" This was so reasonable from the Chinese point of view that there was no gainsaying it, and we saw there was no help for us in that quarter.

" One other article remained, an American stove that could have been sold for old iron, but we much regretted parting with it. Still, it seemed necessary, so we set out for the foundry which was at some distance. On the way, however, our path was unexpectedly closed. The bridge of boats, by which we had intended crossing the river, had been carried away in the night, and all that remained was a ferry, the fare for which was two cash each. As we only possessed one cash between us our course was clearly to return and await God's own interposition on our behalf,

" Upon reaching home again we found that Mrs. Jones and the children had gone to dine with a friend. The invitation, accepted some days previously, had included Mr. Jones, but under the circumstances he would not hear of leaving me. So we set to work and carefully searched the cupboards, and though there was nothing to eat we found a small packet of cocoa which with a little hot water somewhat revived us.

" Our Chinese cook then came and begged his master to make use of the small sum left of his wages. But to this Mr. Jones could not agree, as he explained to the man, adding that although we could not go into debt, even for necessary food, our Heavenly Father knew all about it, and would soon supply His children's needs.

"But though he spoke with confidence, our faith was not a little tried as we went into his study and gave ourselves to waiting upon God. We cried indeed unto the Lord in our trouble, and He heard, and delivered us out of all our distresses.

" For while we were still on our knees, the cook came to the door. ` Oh Teacher, Teacher,' he exclaimed, ` here are letters ! ' Once again a mail had arrived from home several days before it was expected, bringing, as we found to our thankfulness, a generous gift from Mr.. Berger. ` Whoso is wise and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord.' Who that ever trusted in Him was put to shame ? "

Over a happy tea-table that evening the whole story came out, for their hearts were so filled with joy and praise that they could not keep it to themselves. The wedding had been arranged for January 20, just two weeks later, but in the light of what had taken place Hudson Taylor felt that he must put before his loved one the more serious aspects of the step she was taking. Very fully he told her, when they were left alone, just what the trial had been.

" I cannot hold you to your promise," he continued, " if you would rather draw back. You see how difficult our life may be at times "

" Have you forgotten ? " the sweet voice interposed. " I was left an orphan in a far-off land. God has been my Father all these years ; and do you think I shall be afraid to trust Him now ? "

" My heart did sing for joy," he said as he told the story. And well it might ! For the price of such a woman is " far above rubies."

So the preparations for the wedding went on,-outwardly with the kind help of many friends, and inwardly with the blessing of God. Some of the lessons he was learning at this time may be gathered from the last letters Hudson Taylor penned before the happy event.

I can scarcely realise, dear Mother, what has happened ; that after all the agony and suspense we have suffered we are not only at liberty to meet and be much with each other, but that within a few days, D.V.,we are to be married ! God has been good to us. ' He has indeed answered our prayer and taken our part against the mighty. Oh may we walk more closely with Him and serve Him more faithfully. I wish you knew my Precious One. She is such a treasure ! She is all that I desire.

Yet the first place in his heart was truly given to Him " whose love exceeds all human affection," as he wrote in another letter, " and who can fill the soul with gladness to which all other joy is unworthy to be compared."

Now I know what it is to have my name written on His heart .. .and why He never ceases to intercede for me ... His love is so grey that He cannot. It is overwhelming, is it not ? Such depths of love, and for me !

The Wedding Day was perfect, setting a crown on all that had gone before.1 {1- January 20, 1858.}

In brilliant sunshine Hudson Taylor crossed the river and made his way to the old temple, near the Presbyterian compound, that did duty as a Consulate. The Rev. F. F. Gough was there already in his office as Chaplain, with friends from all the different Missions, officers from the British gunboat and a few other foreigners. Mr. Robert Hart represented the absent Consul, and Mr. Way the father of the bride.

Very sweet and fair she looked in more than Hudson Taylor's eyes that day, in her simple grey silk gown and wedding veil. He was wearing ordinary Chinese dress, and to some the contrast between them must have seemed remarkable. But to those who could see below the surface the noteworthy thing about this wedding was the way in which bride and bridegroom were already " perfect in one."

The reception afterwards in the hospitable home of Mr. and Mrs. Way, the speeches and all the kind congratulations passed like a dream ; but it began to seem more real when early sunset found them alone together among the Western Hills. And the days that followed were better far than any dream.

From the guest-room of the Nioh - wang monastery Hudson Taylor wrote a week later:

Jan. 28. We are so happy ! The Lord Himself has turned our sorrow into joy, giving us " the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." .. .

Jan. 29. He has answered all our prayers ; overruled the opposition of those who would have separated us ; justified the confidence He enabled us to place in Him, and made us very, very happy indeed.

And from Ning-po, when six weeks had gone by: Oh, to be married to the one you do love, and love most tenderly---and devotedly ... that is bliss beyond the power of words to express or imagination conceive. There is no disappointment there. And every day as it shows more of the mind of your Beloved, when you have such a treasure as mine, makes you only more proud, more happy, more humbly thankful to the Giver of all good for this best of earthly gifts.

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