CHAPTER 38--OUR JOY AND CROWN OF REJOICING --1858-1859. AET. 26.

A NEW home, especially if it is to receive a bride, is just as interesting in China as elsewhere ; and Hudson Taylor found himself quite popular on Bridge Street when in the early spring he remodelled the barn-like attic in which he had formerly dwelt alone. Not only was he married, a change that in itself entitled him to consideration, but he had married the well-known Da-yia Ku-niang who for five years had lived and worked in that part of the city. In addition to being a bride she was the trusted friend of many a woman and girl throughout the neighbourhood, so that visitors were numerous when the young couple came into residence, as they did toward the end of April.

This was three months after their marriage, and in the interval they had broken ground in a country district eight or ten miles from the city. From the quiet of the Nioh-wang monastery they had moved to a busy little town (Moh-tz-in) on the shores of the Eastern Lake. Surrounded by a large fishing population they had spent a happy month living and preaching Christ among those who had never heard. Love and joy, it seemed, were a wonderful talisman with which to open hearts, and it was a real sorrow when illness obliged them to abandon the native cottage in which they had been living and return to more suitable quarters in the city.

Long weeks of nursing followed, for the fever was nothing less than typhoid, which attacked them one after the other. It was evident that it would not do to return to Moh-tz-infor the summer ; so while continuing to visit it as an outstation Mr. Taylor decided, as we have seen, to occupy the premises on Bridge Street, where it would not be necessary to sleep on the ground floor.

So it was there over the chapel, between the narrow street in front and the canal behind, in the little rooms that were to form the cradle of the China Inland Mission and are now its oldest home, that the young missionaries began settled work. Downstairs everything remained as before, but a few small chambers were fashioned above, with inexpensive partitions. Chinese furniture was easily to be had, and housekeeping was a simple matter to one so familiar with the language and ways of the people.

Then it was that Hudson Taylor, like his father before him, discovered that " Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord." Missionary life was no longer a one-sided, bachelor affair, but rounded out and complete in all its relations. He began to feel in touch with the people in a new way, and was able to understand and serve them better at every point. And the gentle presence that made the sunshine of his home was loved and welcomed by the neighbours all about them. Quite freely she went in and out of their courtyards, seeking pupils for her little school, chatting with the children, delighting the women with her understanding of their everyday affairs, and cheering the old people with ready sympathy. There was something about her bright face and pleasant ways that made them want to know the secret of the peace she possessed, and many came to the meetings in the Mission-house to hear more from her lips of the Saviour who made her life so different from their own. Thus a light began to shine from the new home on Bridge Street that brightened many a heart in that great heathen city, and both husband and wife realised how much marriage may help the missionary in his work when it is not only " in the Lord," but " of Him, through Him, and to Him."

They were not without their anxieties, however, in common with all others in Ning-po this summer, for it was a time of painful excitement both in and around the city. The Tai-ping Rebellion, still at the height of its power, was moving rapidly toward the rich province of Cheh-kiang, upon the conquest of which its leaders had determined ; and the inhabitants of Hang-chow, Shao-hing, Ning-po and other important places saw themselves powerless to avert a calamity that defied imagination.

Little or no assistance could be expected from Peking. Worsted in the unequal conflict with England, the brokenhearted Emperor had witnessed the collapse of all his hopes as to protecting his country from foreign opium, and the capital was about to surrender before the might of European arms. With such affairs on hand what help could be given to a distant province over which were hovering the harpies of civil war ? And as to self-defence, the experience of eight terrible years had taught the people only too well that success lay with the Rebels and there was no safety but in flight. And for flight the panic-stricken inhabitants of Ning-po were already preparing.

" Great alarm has been felt in this city," wrote Mr. Taylor early in June, " on account of the approach of the Rebels.... Many wealthy men have moved their families and effects into the country, and pawn brokers have been fortifying their places of business. You will be aware that the latter are a wealthy class in China, something like bankers at home, and are therefore the most likely to be attacked in the event of serious disturbance. Passing along the street, making purchases in shops and even when one is preaching, people stop one to ask if the Rebels are coming ; and though the excitement is less than it was, this still continues." 1{1- It was a needless alarm for the time being, for not until three and a half years later (December 1861) did the Rebels succeed in possessing themselves of Ning-po. But the tragedy when it came justified only too fully all the terrible apprehensions, reducing the population of the city and its immediate surroundings to barely a twentieth part of its former number.}1

Even the capture of the forts at Tien-tsin, guarding the approach to the capital, aroused, but little interest. It was too far off to make much difference. But here close at hand were the dreaded " long-haired Rebels." And Heaven itself seemed indifferent to the calamities of the people.

For, to add to their distress, the spring and autumn crops were largely ruined through an unusual rainfall all over this part of China. Day after day, week after week, the clouds poured out their torrents. Rich and poor were alike filled with consternation, and large sums of money were lavished at the shrine of many an idol.

" The Mandarins, great and small, have been to the principal temples to pray for fair weather," Mr. Taylor continued, " but of course in vain. When will this poor people cease to lean on them,and turn to the only living and true God ? Never, I suppose, until He comes whose right it is to reign, and to whom shall' the gathering of the nations be."'

All this, of course, seriously affected missionary work at Bridge Street as well as in other parts of the city. Sometimes the preaching-hall was almost empty, and hardly a passer-by was to be seen on the streets. This was when the rain was specially heavy. Again at other times Mr. Taylor had all he could do to keep the crowds in order, and the preaching was constantly interrupted by questions as to the troubles that engrossed the thoughts of the people.

There were not wanting difficulties also in the work itself that called for faith and patience, chief of which was the lack of native helpers. Mrs. Taylor, happily, had succeeded in obtaining one or two servants, although they were wont to disappear on the least provocation, or even without any. But Christian fellow-workers they had none. Preaching, teaching, prescribing and dispensing medicines, as well as entertaining visitors by the hour, Mr. Taylor had to manage single-handed, in addition to business affairs, correspondence, and evangelistic excursions with Mr. Jones.

It would have been possible, of course, to employ a heathen teacher in the school to which Mrs. Taylor gave six or seven hours daily ; and they might also have taken on some of the inquirers with a view to training them for positions of usefulness. But either of these courses would have been a hindrance, they considered, rather than a help. To pay young converts, however sincere, for making known the Gospel must inevitably weaken their influence if not their Christian character. Later on the time might come when their call of God to such service would be evident to all ; but in their spiritual infancy, at any rate, they should be left to grow naturally in the circumstances in which God had placed them, strengthened by the very trials with which they found themselves surrounded.

Meanwhile special faith and devotion were needed to enable the missionaries to do so much themselves. And in their insufficiency, God worked, bringing them in contact with hearts ready to receive the Gospel, and giving them as their children in the faith men and women who should become soul-winners and in the fullest sense their "joy and crown of rejoicing."

One of the first of these after their marriage was the basket-maker, Fang Neng - kuei. Introduced at Bridge Street by his friend Mr. Nyi, there was a something about the Christians that greatly attracted him. Long had he been seeking peace of heart, but neither in the ceremonies of Buddhism nor the philosophy of Confucius had he found any help. He had even attended for a time the services of the Roman Catholics, but not until he joined the little circle at Bridge Street did he begin to understand the rest of faith. Then nothing would satisfy him but to be there every night as soon as his work permitted, following eagerly all that was said and done.

It was about this time that Mr. Taylor, finding his audiences diminishing, bethought him of a plan to arouse fresh interest. He had at hand a set of coloured pictures illustrating the Gospel stories, and put up a notice to the effect that these would be on view at the evening services, when they would also be' fully explained. The result was all he had hoped, for the Chinese dearly love pictures and stories.

One night the subject was the Prodigal Son, and the young missionary preached with more than ordinary freedom. With the crowded room before him and eager faces peering in from the street, one can well imagine how he would speak on the experiences of the wanderer and all the father's love. The thought of God as such a Father was strangely new to most of his hearers, and when at the close Mr. Taylor invited any who wished to hear more to stay behind for conversation, almost the whole audience remained. Among the most interested were Neng-kuei and two friends whom he had brought to the meeting. Others drifted out by degrees, but these three stayed on, and seemed much in earnest when they said they wished to become followers of Jesus.

Mr. Taylor had recently started a night-school in which inquirers might learn to read the New Testament by means of Roman letters. This exactly suited Neng-kuei and his friends, and for some time they were regular in their attendance. Then it began to be rumoured abroad that the basket-makers were becoming Christians, and they had a good deal of persecution to put up with. This of course tested the reality of their faith, and to the sorrow of the missionaries first one and then another ceased to come. Would Neng-kuei too drift away ? But in his case the work proved deep and real. Persecution only brought him out more boldly as a " good soldier of Jesus Christ," and ridicule taught him to defend his new-found faith in such a way that he became a most effective preacher of the Gospel.

But Neng-kuei's earnestness in making known the truth as it is in Jesus was due to something deeper than external opposition. He was a man called of God to a special service, and placed by divine providence in a special school. In spite of more than one fall like Peter's, whom he closely resembled in character, Neng-kuei was to be widely. used in winning souls to Christ. Wherever he went in later years, he was enabled to raise up little churches that continued to thrive and ' grow under the care of others. Neng-kuei was not one who could long minister to them himself ; but he realised this, and was always ready to pass on to new fields when his special work was done. And the zeal and devotion that characterised him must be attributed, under God, to the influences by which his Christian life was formed and nurtured.

Few though they were in number, Hudson Taylor gave himself to the young converts at this time, as if the evangelisation of China depended upon their future efforts. In addition to all his other work he devoted several hours daily to their instruction. Mr. Jones was the recognised Pastor of the church, and the Sunday services were held in his house; 1{1-The Kuen-kiao-teo house had been given up soon after Mr. Taylor's marriage, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones were now living in a purely Chinese residence, about a mile from Bridge Street.} but the older Christians, several of whom were already baptized, were just as eager to attend the Bridge Street classes as were the most recent inquirers.

First came the public meeting every evening, when the hall would be filled with more or less regular attendants ; and when that was over, and outsiders had for the most part withdrawn, three periods were given to regular and carefully considered study.

To begin with, a lesson was taken from the Old Testament, the young missionary delighting to dwell upon the spiritual meaning of its matchless stories ; then a chapter was read from some important book, frequently the Pilgrim's Progress; and finally a passage from the New Testament was talked over, the version used being the Romanised colloquial.

Nor was this all. Sunday with its special meetings, morning, afternoon and evening, was made the very most of for the inner circle. It cost the Christians a great deal to leave their regular employments, sacrificing the practical possibilities of one day in seven. It was perhaps the hardest thing their Christian faith required of them. Yet the command was plain, " Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy " ; and Mr. Taylor and his fellow-missionaries were convinced that no strong, self-propagating church could be built on any other basis. So they constantly enjoined upon the native Christians, by teaching and example, the requirements of Scripture in this connection.

And as due compensation, if it may be so expressed, they felt it incumbent upon them to make the sacrifice worth while, as far as in their power lay, by filling the hours thus given to God with profitable occupation. In addition, therefore, 'to the regular meetings, they had two periods of teaching after the fashion of the American Sunday School, when old and young-Christians, inquirers, patients, schoolchildren and servants-were divided into classes and taught in a helpful, personal way. This made Sunday a heavy day for the missionaries, of whom there were only four, but if it cost some toil and weariness they were the better able to appreciate the sacrifices made by the converts.

Some had to walk long distances and go without food for the greater part of the day, and others had to face persecution and financial loss. Neng-kuei, for example, found that it cost him a full third of his weekly wages to attend the meetings on Sunday. He was a skilled workman, and his master was quite willing that he should get through all there was to be done in six days, provided he went without pay on the seventh. If it gave him satisfaction to waste four days in every month he was 'at liberty to do so, only he must of course provide his food on those occasions and draw wages only for the time in which work was done. It was a clever arrangement as far as the master was concerned, but one that told heavily on the poor basket-maker. Two pence a day and his food had been little enough before, but now out of only twelve pence a week (instead of fourteen) he had to spend two or three on provisions for Sunday, which meant a total lessening of his hard-earned income by a third. But he was willing, quite willing for this, if only he could have the Lord's Day for worship ; and there could be no doubt that he was richly repaid in the strength and blessing it brought him all through the week.

Another element of great importance in the training of these young converts was the emphasis placed on reading for themselves the Word of God. This it was that brought out the exceeding value for the uneducated among them of the Romanised version of the Ning-po New Testament. For the local dialect differed greatly from the written language, and hence the more literary versions were unintelligible to the majority. But there was no one who could not understand the Romanised version. It was a very fair translation, direct from the original language, into the vernacular in everyday use, and as such had a special charm for the women, who could soon read it easily and found that what they read was understood by others.1-{1- Mr. Taylor spent the larger part of his first furlough (in association with the Rev. F. F. Gough) in carefully revising this, Romanised New Testament, and supplying it with marginal references : a work which Archdeacon Moule of Ning-po stated many years later to have been of " the greatest value to Christians throughout the province.}

Mrs. Taylor was fully one with her husband as regards the importance of teaching every inquirer to read, including women and children, and gave a good deal of time to preparing and even printing on her own printing-press suitable literature in the Romanised colloquial. She found that by the use of this system a child of ordinary intelligence could read the New Testament in a month. Older people with `less time at their disposal might take longer ; but even for busy women it was no difficult task ; and experience proved that those who accomplished it rarely if ever failed to become Christians.

Mrs. Tsiu, the Teacher's mother, was a case in point. When her son was first employed at Kuen-kiao-teo she was angered and distressed by his interest in the Gospel. Reading the Scriptures daily with Mrs. Jones and other foreigners, he had a good opportunity for studying the practical effects as well as the teachings of Christianity, and before the missionaries had any idea that a deep work was going on in his heart, the young Confucianist had become a humble follower of Jesus.

" May I purchase a New Testament ? " he inquired one day. " I want the easy kind, printed in Roman letters."

" But you can read Wen-li," replied his pupil. " Would you not rather have it in the scholarly character ? "

" It is not for myself," said the young man earnestly, but for my mother. And will you not pray that she may learn to read it, and obtaining heavenly influences may have her heart changed and her sins forgiven ? "

Full of thankfulness over the conversion of the son, the missionaries joined him in earnest prayer for his mother, sharing also his conviction that if only she would learn to read the Gospels she too would love and believe in Jesus.

And so it proved. For though Mrs. Tsiu refused for a long time to have anything to do with the religion of the foreigners, her desire to be able to read at last won the day. She was flattered by her son's assurance that she would soon master the new system and be as fluent a reader as those who had long studied character, and that moreover everybody would understand the meaning of what she read. With his help she made rapid progress, and meanwhile the message of the book was doing its work in her heart.

Taking her stand boldly as a Christian, Mrs. Tsiu was a great cheer to the little company of believers all through those summer months. For she was full of joy and courage. She opened her house for a weekly prayer-meeting which became a centre of blessing in the neighbourhood, and was never so happy as when reading and explaining to her neighbours the precious Book and its story. 1-{1 Those were red-letter days indeed when Neng-kuei the basket-maker and the Teacher's mother were baptized and received into the little Church. This took place on August 15 and 29, Sundays when the Chapel of the American Baptist Mission was available. Mrs. Tsiu was the first Chinese woman Mr. Taylor had ever baptized, and his address on the reproach of Christ as greater riches than the treasures of Egypt came from a full heart.}

This was of course a great encouragement to the missionaries, and quickened their zeal for the instruction of all over whom they had any influence. The burden on their hearts increasingly was that of raising up, as workers together with God, a band of native evangelists for the as yet unreached interior of China. To go themselves seemed for the time being out of the question, and yet the country was accessible as never before. The Treaty of Tien-tsin signed during the summer had opened the way at last to all the inland provinces.2-{2-This Treaty, signed on June z6, 1858, was of the utmost importance in our relations with China. . It contained excellent provisions, such as the right of maintaining an Ambassador at Peking, freedom for foreigners to travel in the interior of China, and toleration for Christianity, so that ,1 persons teaching it or professing it should alike be entitled to the protection of the Chinese authorities." But alas, under the Tariff Supplement, it also contained a clause legalising the importation of opium, against which the Chinese had striven so long'} Foreigners had now the right to travel freely, under the protection of passports, and it only remained to make use of the facilities for which they had prayed so long.

Lord Elgin's report of his official journey with a view to testing the new order of things was deeply interesting. No hindrance had been put in his way as he steamed slowly up the Yangtze, six hundred miles to the newly-opened Port of Hankow, the commercial metropolis of central China. Nothing was to prevent foreigners from settling there nowministers of the Gospel as well as Government officials and merchants-and many were the missionaries who longed to enter that open door.

" You will have heard before this all about the new Treaty," wrote Mr. Taylor in November. " We may be losing some of our Ning-po missionaries ... who will go inland. And oh, will not the Church at home awaken and send us out many more to publish the Glad Tidings ?

" Many of us long to go-oh how we long to go ! But there are duties and ties that bind us that none but the Lord can unloose. May He give ` gifts ' to many of the native Christians, qualifying them ... for the care of churches already formed, ... and thus set us free for pioneering work."

Nothing else, nothing less would have kept Hudson Taylor and his young wife from proceeding at once to the interior. But the claims of that little band of believers could not be set aside. They were their own children in the faith, and though not a large family as yet were just at the stage when they most needed watchful care. It was to their love, their prayers, these souls had been committed, and to leave them now, even for the good of others, would have been to disregard that highest of all trusts, parental responsibility. And they were right in this conviction, as the blessing of God abundantly proved.

For these Christians, Nyi, Neng-kuei and the rest, were men whom the Lord could use. Poor and unlearned like most of the first disciples, they too were to become " fishers of men." No less than six or seven, indeed, of the converts gathered about Mr. and Mrs. Taylor this winter were to come to their help in later years as fellow-workers in the China Inland Mission.1-{1-The labours of Mrs. Tsiu and her devoted son, of Nyi the cottonmerchant, Neng-kuei the basket-maker, Wang the farmer and Wang the painter (see next chapter), not to speak of Loh Ah-tsih and others, can never be forgotten. It would be difficult to overestimate the services of that little band in connection with the earliest stations of the Mission--services extending over ten, twenty, forty and even fifty years, and ending in unclouded testimony to the glory of God. } But for them the nurture of that little seed amid so many difficulties would have been almost impossible and much of its promise might never have come to fruition.

Already in the winter of 1858-1859 there were signs that rejoiced the missionaries in the midst of much to try both faith and love. But, even so, they little realised the importance of the influence they were exercising, directly and indirectly. What they were themselves, in the deepest things, this to a large extent their children in the faith' became ; and there is no better, surer way of passing on spiritual blessing.

"Imitators of us and of the Lord."

" Those thing which ye have both learned, and received, and seen, and heard in me, do : and the God of peace shall be with you."

Thus it was the Lord trained His own disciples in the three wonderful years ; and thus it must be still to-day.

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