AFTER an absence from China of a year and three months, Mr. Taylor was prepared to find matters needing a good deal of attention. It had not been possible to leave any one in charge of the whole work, none, of the members of the Mission having sufficient experience to fit them for such a position. Mr. C. T. Fishe, who had received and forwarded remittances and given much help in business matters, had been laid aside by a long, most serious illness, and others too had been incapacitated in a similar way. That there would be much to see to and put in order on his arrival Mr. Taylor well knew, and the voyage had been made the most of for preparation of spirit, soul and body. And now the yellow waters of the Yangtze were around them as they lay at anchor, waiting for the fog to clear before they could proceed up the river to Shanghai. Embracing the opportunity for letters, Mr. Taylor wrote to his mother that November day (1872)

I should tremble indeed, had we not God to look to, at the prospect of being so soon face to face with the difficulties of the work. Even as it is, I can scarcely help feeling oppressed " Lord, increase my faith." Do pray earnestly for me. One more unworthy there could not be. And oh, how I feel my utter incapacity-to carry on the work aright! May the mighty God of Jacob ever be my help. . . . I can form no conception as to what our course may be, or whether it will take us N., S., E., or W. I never felt so fully and utterly cast on the Lord but in due time He will lead us on.

Met by Mr. Fishe on arrival, the travellers learned that although there was cause in the southern stations especially for encouragement, the need for Mr. Taylor's presence was even greater than they had anticipated. Duncan of Nanking had been obliged, through failing health, to relinquish the post he had so bravely held; and even then was' on his way home, as it proved, to die. The absence of the Judds on furlough, and Mr. Fishe's illness, had left the work in the Yangtze valley with little supervision, and it was important to send some one to take charge without delay. Transferring themselves and their belongings to a native boat, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor set out forthwith for Hang-chow. Warm was the welcome that awaited them in the old home from Mr. and Mrs. McCarthy and the members of the church, many of whom owed their spiritual life, under God, to the one who returned to them now as a bride. Mr. McCarthy's six years in China qualified him for larger responsibilities, and leaving Hang-chow to Pastor Wang, with help from Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, he willingly undertook the difficult work on the Yangtze (in An-hwei).

And now commenced for the leader of the Mission an experience such as he had never known before to anything like the same extent. Not only were certain stations undermanned through the absence of senior workers, sickness and trial of various sorts had told on those who remained, while native leaders had grown cold, some having even lapsed into open sin. The tidings that came to him were to a large extent discouraging, and as he began to move from place to place Mr. Taylor found plenty of cause for humiliation before God.

I do not attempt to tell you how beset with difficulty the work is on every -hand," he wrote to his mother early in the New Year (1873). " But I know you ever pray for me. And the difficulties afford opportunities for learning God's faithfulness, which otherwise we should not have. It gives me great comfort to remember that the work is His ; that He knows how best to carry it on, and is infinitely more interested in it than we are. His Word shall not return unto Him void : we will preach it then, and leave results with Him....

Poor Yang-chow, it is not what it once was! I hear sad accounts of some of the members. But they are to be more pitied than blamed, for they have not been fed or watched over as young Christians need. May the Lord help me to seek out and bring back some of the wanderers."

In the wintry weather with snow deep on the ground, he set to work at once, leaving Mrs. Taylor at Hang-chow for a time. Lonely indeed must it have seemed to open the empty house at Chin-kiang, his once happy home, and gather the Christians together for little services with no companion but the evangelist. It was just by getting into close touch with the native helpers, however, that he hoped to cheer and strengthen them, and for this he laid himself out in centre after centre.

" I have invited the Church members and enquirers to dine with me tomorrow (Sunday) after the morning service," he wrote to Mrs. Taylor, who would so gladly have been with him. " I want them all to meet together. May the Lord give us His blessing. Though things are very sadly, they are not hopeless ; they will soon look up, with God's blessing, if looked after." 1-{1- A letter dated Chin-kiang, January 18, 1873.}

That was his practical; reasonable conviction : the work would soon look up, with God's blessing, if looked after. In this confidence he went on, prayerfully and patiently, taking up himself the hardest places, and depending on the quickening power of the Spirit of God. Joined by Mrs.Taylor, he spent three months at Nanking, giving much time to direct missionary work.

" Every night we collect large numbers by means of pictures and magic-lantern slides," he wrote to Mr. Berger from this centre, and preach to them Jesus. . . . We had fully five hundred in the chapel last night. Some did not stay long, others were there nearly three hours. It was considerably after 10 P.M. before we could close the chapel. May the Lord bless our stay here to souls. . . . Every afternoon, women come to see and hear."

This was followed by a similar sojourn at Yang-chow and Chin-kiang, before he went on up-river to the newer stations.2-{2- It was with great interest he visited Mr. Cardwell at this time, and learned from his own lips something of the pioneering work in which he was engaged in the beautiful province of Kiang-si. All round the Poyang Lake he had travelled, and up the four main rivers on which the important cities were found. In scores of these, besides populous towns and villages, he had preached the Gospel, selling 15,500 Scripture portions and tracts. Throughout the whole of these journeys, steadily pursued for a year and a half (1871-72), he had not met a single missionary or native preacher, nor come across a mission station or a convert-- for in the whole great province with its twenty millions he was the only evangelist outside the treaty port of Kiu-kiang. Well might Mr. Taylor say, "The importance of such journeys is very great, and the need of these districts truly appalling."}

If you are ever drinking at the Fountain," he had written to Miss Blatchley as the New Year opened, " what will your cup be running over with ? Jesus, Jesus, Jesus ! "

That it was so in his own case is manifest. Amid much that was difficult and disappointing, amid cold, discomfort, weariness, it was a full cup he carried in this sense, and the overflow was just what was needed. It was so real and unmistakable, the joy of his heart in the Lord! and it did good like a medicine wherever he went. Most people need ,encouraging, not preaching at or an attitude of condemnation, and tired missionaries no less than Chinese converts responded to a loving spirit full of joy in an all-sufficient Saviour.

So the visits accomplished their object, and were continued until Mr. Taylor had been, once at any rate, to every station and almost every out-station in the Mission. Not content with this, he sought out the native workers in each place, so that the evangelists, colporteurs, teachers, and Biblewomen, almost without exception, came under his influence. It was, in measure, as with the prince of missionaries.

We were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children; 1 -{1 Or as Weymouth renders it : " Gentle as a mother, when she tenderly nurses her own children."}so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. . . . We exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God,who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory. . . . For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing ? Are not even ye, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming ? For ye are our glory and joy."

But it was work that cost, carried on under special difficulties, for Mr. Taylor had all his correspondence and directorial duties to attend to at the same time. It meant constant travelling, through summer heat as well as winter cold, and involved long separations from Mrs. Taylor, who could not always accompany him. At times they were together in stations that needed an extended visit ; or she would stay on where there was sickness, to give help in nursing or among the women. How glad they were of his medical knowledge in those days ! for it gave opportunity for really serving their fellow-workers as-well as the native Christians. Needless to say it added to Mr. Taylor's burdens, as when he reached a distant station on the Yangtze to find eighty-nine letters awaiting him, and took time tosend, the very next day, a page or more of medical directions about "A-liang's baby "-A-liang being a valued helper at Chin-kiang. But whether it meant longer letters or extra journeys, or the strain of nursing and medical responsibility, he was thankful for any and every way in which he could help. Capacity for usefulness, the power really to serve others, was the privilege he desired most.

And such an outpouring of heart and life could not but tell. '

"The Lord is prospering us," he was able to write to his parents in July ; " and the work is steadily growing, especially in that most important department, native help. The helpers themselves need much help, much care and instruction ; but they are becoming more efficient as well as more numerous, and the future hope for China lies, doubtless, in them. I look on foreign missionaries as the scaffolding round a rising building ; the sooner it can be dispensed with the better--or rather, the sooner it can be transferred to other places, to serve the same-temporary purpose.

" As to difficulties and sorrows, their name is legion. Some spring from the nature of the work, some from the nature of the workers. Here Paul and Barnabas cannot see eye to eye ; there Peter so acts as to need public rebuke ; while elsewhere exhortation is needed to restore a wanderer or quicken one growing cold. . . . But it is the Lord's work, and we go on from day to day. HE is competent to meet all matters that may arise, as and when they crop up." 1-{1 " I feel, Darling," Mrs. Taylor wrote in one of their long partings (Nov. 10, 1873), " that we must lean fully and constantly on Jesus if we are to get on at all, and I have been seeking to do it, and in believing prayer to bring our many needs to Him. I have written down the names of our foreign and native helpers, that I may be able to plead for them all daily. If we would have power for what Jesus calls us to do, we must not expend it in bearing burdens that He would have us cast on Him, must we ? And there is abundant supply, with Him, for all this work, for all we need, isn't there ? It's unbelief that saps our strength and makes everything look dark ; and yet He reigns, and we are one with Him, and He is making everything happen for the very best ; and so we ought always to rejoice in Him, and rest, though it is not always easy. We must triumph with God, and then we shall succeed with men, and be made blessings to them. You know these things, and can put them much better than I can, but still it does us good to remind one another, doesn't it ? "}

Sorely was this faith needed when, after nine months in the Yangtze valley, Mr. Taylor turned his attention to the southern stations, in the province of Che-kiang. Not that the work was discouraging ; on the contrary; there was much to cheer in some directions. But it was there the unexpected tidings reached him of the complete breakdown of Miss Blatchley's health. Apart altogether from sorrow in the thought of her removal was the serious question as to how her place was to be filled. Gifted, devoted, and with some experience, matters had tended more and more to come into her hands. Not only was she keeping the missionhouse going, and the weekly prayer-meeting; she was editing and sending out the Occasional Paper, dealing with -correspondence to a considerable extent, and caring for the children she had received as a sacred charge from their mother, the friend she had supremely loved. All this made it difficult indeed to see how her place could be filled ; and Mr. Taylor, unable for the present to return home, could do nothing.

It seemed the last drop in a full cup ; for already, in addition to the burdens upon him in China, he was tried and perplexed by the irregularity as well as diminution of supplies from home. It was but natural that Mr. Berger's retirement should continue to be felt in these and other ways. The work had grown up in his hands. To the friends and supporters of the Mission he seemed almost as much a part of it as Mr. Taylor himself. His extensive business had given him a familiarity with financial and practical matters that was invaluable, and the needs of the workers in China were upon his heart day and night. This could not be so to the same extent with other friends, no matter how interested and anxious to help. The members of the C.I.M. Council, moreover, were all new to their responsibilities. They did what they could, with no little sacrifice and devotion, but they had experience to gain.

Meanwhile it was in China that the difficulties of the situation were most acutely felt. Mr. Taylor did what was possible by correspondence ; and irregularities that could not be dealt with in that way had just to be taken to the Lord in faith and prayer. Small though the Mission was in those days comparatively, there were fifty buildings to be kept up and a hundred workers provided for, including missionaries' wives and native helpers. There were all the children besides, in families and schools, making fully a hundred and seventy mouths to feed daily. Travelling expenses were also a serious item, with a work extending to five provinces and furloughs involving the expensive journey to England. Altogether, Mr. Taylor's estimate of a hundred pounds a week as a working average could not be considered ` extravagant. Indeed it was only with most careful planning and economy that the work could be carried on vigorously upon that sum.

But there were many weeks and even months in which little or nothing was forwarded to him for the. general purposes of the Mission. Funds were not coming in plentifully at home, and many gifts-such as those of Mr. Muller and Mr. Berger-were sent to the workers direct or to Mr. Taylor for transmission. This left but little for the general fund, from which home expenses had to be met as well as the current outlay for all but specially supported workers in China.

" When I arrived, I found it needful at once to dispose of the money I had brought, he wrote in his second letter to Mr. Hill," 1-{1 Hang-chow, December 16, 1872.} and we are asking the Lord to incline His stewards to send you funds, for our present supplies will soon be exhausted. What a comfort it is to know that though supplies may be exhausted our Supplier never can be so ! "

" The exchange keeps against us," he mentioned a month later, " and there seems every likelihood of its remaining so for the present. We can only accept things as they are. `The Lord will provide' whether the exchange be high or low."

And the Lord did provide, right through that year of testing (1873)-a period that would have been one of " constant and wearing anxiety from this cause alone, but for the privilege, the precious resource," as Mr. Taylor put it, " of casting the daily, hourly burdens on Him as they arose. As it was, His love made it one of much peace."

" May God make this year a year of much blessing to you," he wrote to a young worker who had recently joined the Mission.1-{' Miss Emmeline Turner : a letter dated Nanking, March 19, 1873.} " Do not be afraid of His training school. He both knows His scholars, as to what they are, and He knows for what service they are to be fitted. A jeweller will take more pains over a gem than over a piece of glass ; but the one he takes most pains over is longest under discipline and most severely dealt with. Once finished, however, the burnish never tarnishes, the brightness never dims. So with us. If we are purified, at times, as in a furnace, it is not merely for earthly service, it is for eternity. May you so appreciate the plans of the Master that you can triumphantly glory in the love that subjects you -to such discipline, though the discipline itself be sharp and to the flesh hard to bear... .

" Will you pray often for me ? do pray earnestly. No one knows the many difficulties of my path and the deep needs I have which the Lord ' alone can meet. Ask, too, for- funds for the many expenses of the Mission. I have had none at all, now, for some week or two past-but the Lord will provide. Our profession of looking to and of confidence in Him must not be a vain one, then it will not be put to shame."

And now, in addition to this long-continued shortness of funds and all the other difficulties of the work, had come the keen personal sorrow of Miss Blatchley's illness. Concern about his children, too, was very real. Who was caring for them, or how they would be provided for if their almost mother were taken, he did not know. And before he and Mrs. Taylor could be with them again, many months must elapse.

No words can express my sorrow," he wrote to his mother -a few pencilled lines as he travelled over the mountains to Feng-hwa-" for what I fear will be the end of this attack of illness. I feel it selfish to sorrow for what will be infinite gain to one so ready for the change : but, ' Jesus wept,' and He is unchanged, and can sympathise still in our grief and pain in bereavement. This has been long foreseen, but I did not expect it so suddenly. I thought the disease was so far quiescent that dear Ai-mei 1-{' " Beloved Younger-sister," the Chinese equivalent of Emily, Miss Blatchley's Christian name} might be spared till we once more visited England, and that ours might have been the privilege, of ministering to her as long as human ministry could avail. The Lord seems to see it best otherwise, and we will trust Him. He cannot err, nor fail to do the kindest, the best thing every way-for her, for us, for ours. He will show His care for His own work."

Reaching Ningpo a few days later, it was an added pain to learn, by cablegram, that Miss Blatchley was hoping against hope for his immediate return, that she might be able to resign her charges direct into his hands. How he longed to go to her and to the children ! The difficulty as to funds alone would have made it impossible, however, for it was only by being on the spot he could divide the small supplies coming to him in such a way as to meet the most urgent needs as they arose. . It meant much that he could say in the very next letter to his mother (December 2, '73)

The words, " God, my exceeding joy," have been constantly in my heart of late. He is making me in this deep sorrow to rejoice in Himself " with joy unspeakable and full of glory "; making me trust Him, rest in Him, and feel an " Even so, Father " to it all.

To a fellow-worker in special trial he had written some months previously:

The one thing we need is to know God better. Not in ourselves, not in our prospects, not in heaven itself are we to rejoice, but in the Lord. If we know Him, then we rejoice in what He gives not because we like it, if pleasing, not because we think it will work good, if trying, but because it is His gift, His ordering ; and the like in what He withholds or takes away. Oh, to know Him! Well might Paul, who had caught a glimpse of His glory, count " all things " as dung and dross compared with this most precious knowledge! This makes the weak strong, the poor rich, the empty full ; this makes suffering happiness, and turns tears into diamonds like the sunshine turns dew into pearls. This makes us fearless, invincible.

If we know God, then when full of joy we can thank our Heavenly Father, the Giver of all; when we feel no joy we can thank Him for that, for it is our Father's ordering. When we are with those we love, we can thank Him ; when we yearn for those we love, we can thank Him. The hunger that helps us to feel our need, the thirst that helps us to drink, we can thank Him for ; for what are food or drink without appetite, or Christ to a self-contented, circumstance-contented soul ? Oh to know Him! How good, how great, how glorious-our God and Father, our God and Saviour, our God and Sanctifier-to know Him!

Pray on and labour on. Don't be afraid of the toil ; don't be afraid of the cross : they will pay well.

And now the year that had seen so much of trial in his own experience was to end in thanksgiving. " Don't be afraid of the toil ; don't be afraid of the cross," he had written : " they will pay well " ; and pay they did, in just the way he would most have desired.

Upon reaching Shao-hing early in December, he found Mr. Stevenson away visiting his out-stations. In a mountainous district seventy or eighty miles to the south, he was witnessing a remarkable work of the Spirit, and Mr. Taylor was only too glad to join him. Up the beautiful river he went, recalling the first time he had come over that way on a lonely journey from Tai-chow. Crossing the watershed, he had found just over on the Shao-hing side a populous district which interested him deeply. First one city and then ' another was visited, surrounded by numerous towns and villages accessible from this mountain stream, in none of which the gospel of the grace of God was being made known. From the steps of the principal temple in Cheng-hsien, he had looked down on the grey-roofed city at his feet, and had counted thirty or more towns and villages at no great distance. With a straitened heart he had realised something of what it meant that parents and children, old and young, in all those homes, should be living, dying, without God. To the crowd that gathered round him he had preached long and earnestly ; and when from sheer weariness he could make himself heard no longer, he had gone on farther up the hill to pour out his heart in prayer to God.

And now those prayers were being answered. Often , had he thought of them, when following Mr. Stevenson's early efforts to settle an evangelist in the district. For some time they had met with nothing but opposition and discouragement, but now a very different day had dawned, largely through the conversion of one remarkable man in Cheng-hsien.

A leading Confucianist, proud of his learning and position, this Mr. Nying would have been the last to have anything to do with the foreigner who came from time to time to preach `strange doctrines in his city. But he was interested in Western science, and happened to have some translation of a work upon the subject which he did not fully understand. Taking advantage, therefore, of one of Mr. Stevenson's visits, he strolled along to the, and entered into conversation with the evangelist. Soon he was introduced to the young missionary, who talked with him of the matters about which he wished to inquire. Then turning to the New Testament lying on the table, Mr. Stevenson quite naturally went on:

" Have you also in your library the books of the Christian religion ?

" I have," replied the scholar ; " but, to be quite candid, I do not find them as interesting as your works on science."

This led to a conversation in which it appeared that Mr. Nying was sceptical as to the existence of God or the soul, and considered prayer manifestly absurd.

"If there were a Supreme Being," he urged, " He would be far too great and distant to take-any notice of our little affairs."

Patiently the missionary sought to bring him to a better point of view, but without success ; and at length, seeing that argument was useless, he availed himself of a simple illustration.

"`Water and fire are opposing elements,' we say, `and can never combine. Water extinguishes fire, and fire evaporates water.' Very well, so much for our argument! But while we are talking, my servant has put on the kettle, and see, here is water raised to the boiling point, ready to make you a cup of tea.

" You say there is no God, and that even- if there were He would never condescend to listen to our prayers : but believe me, if you go home tonight and take up that New Testament, and before opening it humbly and earnstly ask the God of Heaven to give you His Holy Spirit that you may understand it aright, that book will be a new book to you and will soon mean more than any other book in the world. Put it to the proof ; and whether you pray for yourself or not, I will pray for you."

More impressed than he cared to show, the scholar went home.

" Well, here is a strange thing,' he thought. "Absurd as it seems, the foreigner was in earnest ; and so concerned is he-about a man he never saw or heard of till today that he will pray for me-and I do not pray for myself."

That night when alone, Mr. Nying took up the book in question with a feeling almost of amusement. How could any intelligent person imagine that a few' words addressed to some unknown Being, who might or might not exist, would turn a dull book into an interesting one, or make any change in one's outlook upon life ? Yet, incredulous as he was, he somehow wanted to put it to the test.

" O God, if there be a God," he found himself saying, " save my soul, if I have a soul. Give me Thy Holy Spirit, and help me to understand this book."

Once and again as evening wore on, Mrs. Nying looked into the room, to find her husband engrossed in study. At length she ventured to remonstrate; reminding him of the lateness of the hour.

" Do not wait for me," was his reply ; " I have important matters in hand.". And he went on reading.

The book had become a new book indeed, and hour after hour as he turned the pages a new spirit was taking possession of him. But for days he dared not confess the change to those nearest to him. His wife came of an aristocratic family, and he thought much of her and of their children. He knew that as a Christian he would be despised if not cast out by their relatives, and that rather than endure such humiliation she would probably leave him. Yet his heart burned within him. The wonderful Saviour of whom he read was becoming real to him as he could never have believed it possible. The words He had spoken long ago were living and powerful still. Nying felt that they searched him through and through, and brought not only a new consciousness of sin, but peace and healing. And oh, the joy that began to well up within him !

" When the children are in bed," he said to his wife at length, " there is something I should like to tell you."

It was a desperate resort, for he had no idea what to say or how to begin. But it committed him to some sort of confession of his faith in Christ, though he trembled to think how she would receive it.

Silently they sat on either side of the table when evening came, and he could not open the subject." Is there not something you wanted to say to me ? " she inquired.

Then it all came out, he knew not how ! and she listened with growing wonder. The true and living God-not any of the idols in the temples ; a way by which sins might be forgiven ; a Saviour Who could fill the heart with joy and peace : to his surprise she seemed to be following eagerly.

" Have you really found Him ? " she broke in before long. " Oh, I have so wanted to know ! For there must be a living God. Who else could have heard my cry for help, long, long ago ?

It was when the Tai-ping rebels had come to the city in which her parents lived, burning and pillaging everything. Their home had been ravaged, like the rest. Many people were killed ; many committed suicide ; and she, helpless and terror-stricken, had crept into a wardrobe to hide.She heard the soldiers ransacking the house, and coming nearer and nearer.

" Oh, Heavenly Grandfather," she cried in her heart "save me!"

None but the true and living God could have answered that prayer. The idols in the temples were helpless to protect themselves, even, from the terrible marauders. But though they had been in the very room, they had passed over the hiding-place where she was crouching,. scarcely daring to breathe. And, ever since, she -had so longed to know about Him-the wonderful God Who had saved her.

With what joy and thankfulness her husband assured her not only that there was such a Being-supremely great and good-but that He had spoken, had made Himself known to men! Did ever the story of Redeeming Love seem more precious, or heart rejoice to tell it forth more than that of the once proud Confucianist as he began to preach Christ in his home and city ? So fervent was his spirit that it disconcerted those who thought to laugh him out of his new-fangled notions.

" You must control that disciple of yours," said the local Mandarin to the Chancellor of the University. " He is disgracing us by actually preaching the foreign doctrine on the streets. When I remonstrated with him he even began to preach to me! and said he was so full of the' Good News,' as he calls it, that he could not keep it in."

" I will soon bring him to reason," was the confident reply. " Leave him to me ! "

But the Chancellor fared no better than the Mayor, and was fain to beat a hasty retreat. Loving his Bible, and helped by visits to Shao-hing, Mr. Nying soon became a preacher of much power. Among the first converts he had the joy of winning was a man who had been the terror of the neighbourhood. Nothing was too bad or too heartless for Lao Kuen ! What power had turned the lion into a lamb the villagers could not tell, but the old father whom he had formerly treated with cruelty and neglect could testify to the reality of the change, and, like his son, was soon a believer in Jesus.

In ever-widening circles the blessing spread, till it reached the keeper of a gambling-den and house of ill-fame in a neighbouring town. His conversion was even more notable than the others, for it banished the gaming-tables, emptied his house of bad characters, and turned his best and largest room into a chapel. It was his own idea to have it cleaned and whitewashed before offering it, free of cost, as a place of worship.

These and others formed the group of converts of whose baptism Mr. Stevenson had written. Ten altogether had followed Mr. Nying in confessing Christ, and there were not a few interested enquirers. Upon Mr. Taylor's arrival in the city they began to drop in, until he found himself surrounded by this bright, earnest company of believers. And oh the rejoicing, the greetings and conversations, the singing and prayers! It was a little bit of heaven below a precious foretaste of the hundredfold reward.

An afternoon meeting was held in Mr. Nying's house, at which his wife and daughter were present, and in the evening the Christians met again in the chapel.

" I could have wept for joy," Mr. Taylor wrote, " to hear what grace had done for one and another of those present ; and most of them could tell of some relative or friend of whose conversion they had good hope.... I have never seen anything like it in China."

Chapter 15Table of ContentsChapter 17