IT was an anxious moment for the young missionary fraught with possibilities of which he was keenly conscious, From an early hour that morning he had been alone with God, pleading for abiding results from this meeting. Now the great hall with its sea of faces lay before him but how weak he felt, how inadequate to the opportunity ! And no me was expecting his message. A stranger at Perth and indeed in Scotland, it had only been with difficulty he had persuaded the leaders of the Conference to give him a few minutes in which to speak on China-that vast empire with its four hundred millions, a fourth of the entire human race, about which his heart was burdened.

" My dear sir," the Convener had exclaimed, scanning fire introductions of this unknown Hudson Taylor, " surely you mistake the character of the Conference ! These meetings are for spiritual edification."

But the missionary was not to be denied, nor could he see that obedience to the last great command of the risen Saviour was out of keeping with spiritual edification. To him it seemed rather to lie at the root of all true blessing, and to be the surest way to a deepened experience of fellowship with God. It was at no little cost, however, that he wed to urge this point of view ; for those were not days when foreign missions occupied a place of much importance, his dread of public speaking was only less than his sensitiveness about putting himself forward. 1-{1-In the train on his way from Aberdeen to Perth, Mr. Taylor had written to his wife in London, his chief helper in prayer " Sept. 5, 1865: Through God's goodness I have got some letters of introduction to Perth. May the Lord help and guide and use me there. My hope is in Him. I do desire not to please myself, but to lay myself open for China's sake. I much need to add to faith courage : may God give it me."}But the facts, the great unseen realities, burned as a fire within him. He could not be at Perth in the midst of the Conference and see those multitudes of Christian people, intelligent, influential, and caring deeply about spiritual things, without longing that they should see and feel needs incomparably greater than their own .2{2 One of the very few gatherings which, at that time, united Christians,, of all denominations, Perth was taking much the place in Scotland that the Barnet Conference (afterwards moved to Mildmay) occupied in London. The occasion of Mr. Taylor's visit to Perth was the third Conference, presided over in the City Hall by the Revs. J. Milne of Perth and Macdowall Grant of Arndilly, and attended .by Messrs. Stevenson A. Blackwood, . R. C. Morgan of The Revival (afterwards The Christian), the Rev. Hay Aitken of Penzance, Brownlow North and other visitors from England, as well as by such well-known Scottish leaders as the Revs. Andrew Bonar, J. Macpherson, Moody Stuart, M'Gregor of Dundee, Yule of Cargill, General Macdowall, George Barbour, Esq., of Bonskeid, Messrs. Colville and Gillett of Glasgow, and Mr. Jenkinson of Edinburgh, who in the Carrubber's Close Mission had for six years been dealing almost nightly with anxious inquirers, seeking and finding salvation, an outcome of the great Revival of 1859. The Conference was attended by about two thousand people.}

And now the moment had come. Trembling from head to foot as he rose, Hudson Taylor could only grasp the rail of the platform and command voice enough to ask his hearers to unite with him in prayer to God. To Him it was easy to speak ; and unusual as this beginning was, even for a missionary address, it arrested attention and opened the way to many a heart. For there was about that prayer a peculiar reality and power. More simple it could not have been, and yet it revealed a sacred intimacy that awakened longing for just such confidence in and certainty of God. A strange hush came over the people before the prayer ended, and then all else was forgotten in scenes to which they found themselves transported.

For the missionary came at once to the heart of his message. Back again in thought in the land of his adoption, he was travelling by native junk from Shanghai to Ningpo. Among his fellow-passengers, one Chinese, who had spent some years in England and went by the name of Peter, was much upon his heart, for, though not unacquainted with the Gospel, he knew nothing of its saving power. Simply he told the story of this man's friendliness and of his own efforts to win him to Christ. Nearing the city of Sung-kiang, they were preparing to go ashore together to -preach and distribute tracts, when Mr. Taylor in his cabin was startled by a sudden splash and cry that told of a man overboard. Springing at once on deck he looked round and missed Peter.

Yes," exclaimed the boatmen unconcernedly, " it was over there he went down ! "

To drop the sail and jump into the water was the work of a moment ; but the tide was running out, and the low, shrubless shore afforded little landmark. Searching everywhere in an agony of suspense, Mr Taylor caught sight of some fishermen with a drag-net-just the thing needed.

" Come," he cried as hope revived, " come and drag over this spot. A man is drowning ! "

Veh bin," was the amazing reply : " It is not convenient."

" Don't talk of convenience ! Quickly come, or it will be too late."

" We are busy fishing."

" Never mind your fishing ! Come-only come at once ! I will pay you well."

" How much will you give us ? "

" Five dollars!1{1- Worth at the time more than thirty shillings.-J. H. T.} only don't stand talking. Save life without delay ! "

"Too little!" they shouted across the water. "We will not come for less than thirty dollars."

" But I have not so much with me I I will give you all I've got."

" And how much may that be ? "

" Oh, I don't know. About fourteen dollars."

Upon this they came, and the first time they passed the net through the water brought up the missing man. Hat all Mr. Taylor's efforts to restore respiration were in win. It was only too plain that life had fled, sacrificed to the callous indifference of those who might easily have saved it. 1-{1 It was on Friday, October 1o, 1856, that this incident took place, when young Hudson Taylor was returning to Ningpo with Mr. J. Jones, whose colleague he became a little later.}

A burning sense of indignation swept over the great audience. Could it be that anywhere on earth people were to be found so utterly callous and selfish ! But as the earnest voice went on, conviction struck home all the more deeply that it was unexpected

" Is the body, then, of so much more value than the soul ? We condemn those heathen fishermen. We say they were guilty of the man's death-because they could easily have saved him, and did not do it. But what of the millions whom we leave to perish, and that eternally ? What of the plain command, 'Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature,'and the searching question inspired by God Himself; 'If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain ; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not ; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it ? and He that keepeth thy soul doth not He know it ? And shall He not render to every man according to his works ? '

China might be far off and little known ; we might silence conscience by saying that its vast population was largely inaccessible ; but every one of those men, women, and children was a soul for whose salvation an infinite price had been paid ; every one of them had a right to know that they had been ransomed by the precious blood of Christ, and to have the offer of eternal life in His Name. While we were busy about other things, quite profitably occupied it may be, they were living, dying without God and without hope-a million every month in that one land passing beyond our reach.

Rapidly, then, Hudson Taylor arrayed before his hearers facts that recent prayer and study had burned afresh upon his soul. Not the coast-board provinces only, to which the little band of Protestant missionaries was confined, but the great unreached interior, -every part indeed of the mighty empire passed in review. To most if not all present it was a revelation. Millions upon millions of their fellow-creatures,nknown, unthought of, were brought out of the dim mists of forgetfulness, and put before them in such fashion that their claim upon Christian hearts could never again be disregarded. Missionary addresses were not wont to be of that order. It was not speaking, so much, about these startling facts as letting the light of God fall upon them making those present see as the speaker saw, hear as the speaker heard, GOD'S view, GOD's verdict upon the matter.

And what a verdict that was!

In Scotland, with its population of four millions, several thousand ministers were needed to care for the spiritual interests of people already flooded with Gospel light. China, with a hundred times as many precious, immortal souls, had not even one Protestant missionary, on an average, to every a millions. Moreover, its ninety-one missionaries of all societies were not by any means evenly distributed. They were gathered in a few, a very few, centres near the coast. Confined to the treaty ports, they were in touch with a mere fringe of the population of the provinces in which they were found ; while beyond lay the vast interior, inhabited by two hundred millions of our fellow-creatures, amongst whom no voice was raised to tell of salvation, full and free, through the finished work of Christ. Yet we believe that the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." Amazing inconsistency, appalling indifference to the 'revealed will of Him Whom we call Master and Lord, and to the deepest needs of the human soul!

It was for these inland provinces and dependencies the speaker pleaded-populous regions as large as all the countries of Europe put together, in which no Protestant missionary was yet to be found.

" Do you believe that each unit of these millions has an immortal soul," he questioned searchingly, " and that there is none other name under heaven given among men' save the precious name of Jesus ' whereby we must be saved ' ? Do you believe that He and He alone is `the Way, the Truth, and the Life,' and that ' no man cometh unto the Father ' but by Him ? If so, think of the condition of these unsaved souls, and examine yourself in the sight of God to see whether you are doing your utmost to make Him known to them or not.

" It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China. With these facts before you, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home. If in the sight of God you cannot say you are sure that you have a special call to stay at home, why are you disobeying the Saviour's plain command to go ? Why are you refusing to come to the help of the Lord against the mighty ? If, however, it is perfectly, clear that duty-not inclination, not pleasure, not business detains you at home, are you labouring in prayer for these needy ones as you might ? Is your influence used to advance the cause of God among them ?- Are your means as largely employed as they should be in helping forward their salvation ? "

Recalling an experience, the pain of which could never be forgotten, Mr. Taylor went on to tell of a Ningpo convert who, full of joy in his new-found faith, had,inquired

" How long have you known this Good News in your country ? "

" We have known it a- long time," was the reluctant answer ; " hundreds of years."

" Hundreds of years," exclaimed the ex-Buddhist leader," and you never came to tell us ! "

" My father sought the Truth," he added sadly, " sought it long, and died without finding it. Oh, why did you not come sooner ? "

" Shall we say that the way was not open ? " continued the speaker. " At any rate it is open now. Before the next Perth Conference twelve millions more, in China, will have passed forever beyond our reach. What are we doing to bring them the tidings of Redeeming Love ? It is no use singing as we often do `Waft, waft ye winds the story.'

The winds will never waft the story ; but they may waft us. " The Lord Jesus commands us, commands us each one individually-' Go,' He says, 'Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.' Will you say to Him, ` It is not convenient'? Will you tell Him that you are busy fishinghave bought a piece of land, purchased five yoke of oxen, married a wife, or for other 'reasons cannot obey ? Will He accept such excuses ? Have we forgotten that 'we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ,' that every one may receive the, things done in the body. Oh, remember, pray for, labour for the unevangelised millions of China, or you will sin against your own soul ! Consider again whose Word it is that says

"' If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain ; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not ; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it ? and He that keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it,? And shall not He render to every man according to his works ? ' "

So deep was the impression that the meeting broke up almost in silence. Many sought the speaker afterwards, to inquire about the work in which he was engaged and to offer such help as they could give. Far and wide reports were carried, both of the address and that Hudson Taylor was, about to return to China. With no denomination at his back, no Committee even or promise of supplies, he was taking with-him a party of fellow-workers to attempt nothing less than the evangelisation of the inland provinces of that great empire. And he was so calm about it, so sure that God had called them to this seemingly impossible task and would open the way before them ! Amazed at his faith and vision, men felt almost as if a prophet had risen up among them, and one of the larger churches was filled with an audience eager to hear more of the projected mission. 1-{1-" I spoke on China yesterday," Mr. Taylor wrote from the Conference, and have one or more meetings to-morrow for this purpose exclusively. I am staying with General Sir Alexander Lindsay.... I should not wonder if many men are raised up for China."}

Further openings resulted; as it was found that Hudson Taylor was no visionary though he had his God-given vision. Quiet, practical, steeped in prayer, his words had weight and influence. Reports of his addresses appeared in not a few religious journals. Friends made at these meetings were among his faithful helpers through all the after-years, and to this day there are those who remember with thankfulness the coming of this servant of God into their lives at the Perth Conference of 1865.

What was it that lay behind the faith and vision, making them far other than a Utopian dream ? What had been the life, the character, the heart-experiences that led to the launching in this unexpected way of the China Inland Mission ?

PrefaceTable of ContentsChapter 2