" Are the itinerations of the C.I.M. really valuable from a missionary point of view ? Are they not unproductive and aimless wanderings ? Can we hope for much good from the journeys themselves, and will they lead to more definite and settled work ? " Such were some of the questions Mr. Taylor felt it desirable to answer in a paper for China's Millions early in 1881. It was now four and a half years since the Chefoo Convention had thrown open the gates of the west, and pioneer journeys had been made in all the then unoccupied provinces. Was it too early to discern the trend of the movement, or to speak of spiritual results ? It was surely not little to be able to point, even then, to seventy baptized believers in those regions hitherto destitute of the Gospel, and to settled work in no fewer than six important centres in five provinces, in all of which women missionaries were to be found as well as men. When one records the name of Pastor Hsi as among those first converts, it will be seen how well worth while were the labours that had brought such a man out of darkness into God's marvellous light.1{1- It is interesting, in view of Pastor Hsi's subsequent usefulness, to quote Mr. Turner's reference to his baptism, with that of several others at Ping-yang Fu, in November 1880. Mr. David Hill, who had been the means of his conversion, had by that time returned to his regular work in the Yangtze valley. " On Saturday the 27th, five of our native brethren were baptized. .. Hsi Liao-chuh, aged forty-five, a native of a village thirty li (so miles) from here, is a man of great ability and influence. He came to us at the beginning of-the year. He had read Christian books, and he soon broke off his opium, demolished his idols, and accepted Christ as his Saviour. He is a man of quick temperament, and his conversion was rapid and full of joy. He is serving the Lord in his own neighborhood......Last evening these dear brethren were formally received into Christian fellowship, and the newly formed church ---the first Protestant church of Shan-si---gathered around the table of our Lord." For the subsequent life of this man of God see Pastor Hsi: on of China's Christians, published by the China Inland Mission and Messrs. Morgan & Scott. }He was already receiving opium-smokers into his home, to cure them of their craving and lead them to Christ, and was one of those whose faithfulness under persecution and zeal in making known the one and only Saviour filled Mr. Taylor's heart with joy, and led him to ask in his turn the question, " While the Lord so cheers us in our work, shall we hesitate to continue, nay to go forward ?

But Mr. Taylor's was not the only pen that by this time was found to advocate the line of things he and his fellowworkers had felt led to adopt.

" They are opening up the country," wrote Alex. Wylie of the L.M.S., as early as 1880, " and this is what we want. Other missionaries are doing a good work, but they are not doing this work."

And one of Her Majesty's Consult included, in the same year, the following statement in his official Report from Hankow

Always on the move, the missionaries of this society have travelled throughout the country, taking hardship and privation as the natural incidents of their profession, and, never attempting to force themselves anywhere, they have made friends everywhere ; and, while labouring in their special field as ministers of the Gospel, have accustomed the Chinese to the presence of foreigners among them, and in great measure dispelled the fear of the barbarian which has been the main difficulty with which we have had to contend.

Not only do the bachelor members of the Mission visit places supposed to be inaccessible to foreigners, but those who are married take their wives with them and settle down with the goodwill of the people in districts far removed from official influence, and get on as comfortably and securely as their brethren of the older missions under the shadow of the Consular flag and within range of a gunboat's guns ; and, while aiding the foreign merchant by obtaining information regarding the unknown interior of the country, and strengthening our relations by increasing our intimacy with the people, this Mission has, at the same time, shown the true way of spreading. Christianity in China.

Spreading the knowledge of the Truth-this was indeed the aim kept in view ; and though it meant deliberately forgoing the more rapid ingathering to be expected from concentrating upon older work, Mr. Taylor held firmly to the principle, " There is that scattereth and yet increaseth." To realise how extensive and thorough-going were the labours of the pioneers, one must look a little beyond the summer of 1881, though even then there was abundant cause for encouragement. In the midst of his six years of almost uninterrupted travelling--journeys arduous beyond description, in which he traversed every province in China (except Hu-nan) and even entered Mongolia and Tibet--James Cameron had reached the mountainous regions of northern- Shan-si, within and without the Great Wall. There, joining forces with other brethren, he was engaged in the systematic visitation of every city not only in that province but in the neighbouring one of Shen-si, beyond the Yellow River, and in the eastern part of Kan-su. Patiently and persistently, in face of untold hardship, they pressed their way through wintry snows and summer heat to the remotest corners of those far-reaching plains and valleys, missing out only two places of minor importance that were practically inaccessible on account of the rainy season.

Meanwhile, in the far South, equally faithful work was being done. Even before Cameron had passed through on his first extensive journey, John M'Carthy had traversed on foot the three south-western provinces, preaching everywhere as he went. George Clarke and Edward Fishe, at the same time, were evangelising in Kwang-si-still farther south, and until then wholly unreached. To this province the latter had been designated ; but fever contracted on their first journey-cut short the service he hoped to render, and his companion had the sorrow of laying him in a far-off grave. Still the good work went on, and in the year that followed (1878) Kwang-si was visited again and again. When Mr. Clarke married and brought his bride to Kwei-yang, Broumton, who had hitherto held the fort alone, was set free to travel, and visited with others nearly every city in eastern Yun-nan. The western part of the province fell to the eager pioneers, J. W. Stevenson and Henry Soltau, when at last they were permitted to cross the hills from Burma, and unite the advance guards of the mission coming from east and west. Mr. Taylor was at Wu-chang when they reached the Yangtze in the spring of 1881-the first Europeans to travel from the Burman frontier right through to Shanghai.

It was a time of notable happenings, that month of March at Wu-chang ; for then Mr. Taylor saw off another large party, including ladies, to cross the turbulent province of Hu-nan to Western China, and hardly had they started before Adam Dorward appeared, fresh from five and a half months of pioneering in that very region. Hu-nan was graven on his heart, and he had just commenced the selfsacrificing labours that for eight years he continued almost without intermission, giving his life at last in hope of the blessed results we see today. Little wonder that a crying need began to be felt, rising out of these developments-the need for reinforcements to follow up such labours and enter many a-widely opened door!

This then was the state of things when Mrs. Taylor was obliged to return to England, after more than three years' absence (October 1881), and Mr. Taylor set out from Chefoo, now his headquarters, for conference with several of the pioneers at Wu-chang. The summer had been one of intense heat and no little trial on account of sickness and shortness of funds. '

" Unless one could really cast the burden on the Lord,"Mr. Taylor had written to Mr. Theodore Howard, " and feel that the responsibility of providing for His servants is His,one would be much concerned at the present aspect of things."

And to a fellow missionary :When shall we get through our difficulties? Funds seem dropping lower and lower. We need much prayer. But God cannot fail us : let us trust and not be afraid.

Those who were with him at Chefoo that summer noticed how much time he spent in prayer.

" What would you do," he said quite simply to Mr. and Mrs. Nicoll one day, " if you had a large family and nothing to give them to eat? That is almost my situation at present."

Many were the occasions, also, when he called the household together for special thanksgiving. For if not in one way, then in another, the daily needs were met and Mr.Taylor was enabled to send out sufficient if not ample supplies.

" The amounts received these two months are very low," he had written to Dr. Harold Schofield in May, " and but for God's goodness in giving us more contributions in China than ever before in the same time, I should have much less to distribute. Is it not blessed to see how His watchful care provides, now in this way, now in that ; now giving more here and less at home, then more at home and less here.... Any way, it is all like Him, blessed ; and we are blessed to be in His loving hands."

Accompanying himself on the harmonium, Mr. Taylor used often to sing at this time some little verses which, simple as they were, meant much in his experience:

By the poor widow's oil and meal

Elijah was sustained ;

Though small the store, it lasted long,

For God that store maintained.

It seemed as if, from day to day,

They were to eat and die ;

But God, though in a hidden way,

Prolonged the small supply.

Then let not fears your mind dismay ;

Remember God has said,

" The cruse and barrel shall not fail

My people shall be fed."

That summer was memorable also for the personal sorrow it brought to Mr. and Mrs. Taylor in the death of both their beloved mothers within a few weeks of each other. In the midst of much sickness and trial of various kinds this bereavement was specially felt, and made the parting all the harder in October, when Mrs. Taylor's return to England could no longer be delayed. The three years she had been in China had brought her so fully into the work that for Mr. Taylor it meant losing his right-hand helper. But it was clearly her duty to return to home responsibilities, and he could not be free far months to come.

" God is helping us very much," he wrote ten days after she had left, " and not less by our trials than by our joys. I am sure you have been longing for me, as I for you. At the right time, by the right way the Lord will bring us together again. Let us seek to live all the more with Him, to find Him a satisfying portion."

Travelling up the Yangtze in November, he was more than ever confirmed in a position of quiet trust in the Lord, and in the conviction-tested in many ways-that in the main the Mission was on the right lines before Him.

" You are ploughing the Mediterranean, I hope," he wrote on November 21, " and will soon see Naples. I am waiting here (on the landing-stage at An-king) 'for a steamer to Wu-chang. I need not, cannot tell you how much I miss you, but God is making me feel how rich we are in His presence and love.... He is helping me to rejoice in our adverse circumstances, in our poverty, in the retirements from our Mission. All these difficulties are only platforms for the manifestation of His grace, power and love."

And from Wu-chang four days later, when the Conference had begun: 1-{1 There had been little or no prearrangement about these meetings. As Mr. Taylor came up-river, he brought with him one and another who seemed to need refreshment, and Mr. Coulthard's bachelor housekeeping was taxed to the utmost. Dorward was there from Hu-nan, Parrott and Pigott from the north, Trench and Miss Kidd from the far south-west, and other workers from Central China. Just a family-party they seemed -overjoyed to have Mr. Taylor all to themselves, quite unconscious of what was to be the outcome. A spirit of prayer prevailed ; and in their daily Bible Readings, morning and -evening, Mr. Taylor was seeking to establish these younger workers in the Scriptural principles on which the Mission was based.}

I am very busy at work here. . . . God is giving us a happy time of fellowship together, and is confirming us in the principles on which we are acting.

That one little sentence, taken in connection with the crisis to which they had come, lets in a flood of light upon the important sequel to those days of fellowship in Wu-chang. For unconsciously, perhaps, to the younger members of the Mission, it was a crisis, and more was hanging in the balance than Mr. Taylor himself could realise. After years of prayer and patient, persevering effort, a position of unparalleled opportunity had been reached. Inland China lay open before them. At all the settled stations in the far north, south, and west, reinforcements were needed, whole provinces as large as kingdoms in Europe being at last accessible to resident as well as itinerant missionary work. Not to advance would be to retreat from the position of faith taken up at the beginning. It would be to look at difficulties rather than at the living God. True, funds were low-had been for years, and the workers coming out from home were few, while, several retirements had taken place in China. Difficulties were formidable ; and it was easy to say, "All these things are indications that for the present no further extension is possible." But not to go forward would be to cripple and hinder the work ; to throw away opportunities God had given, and to close, before long, stations that had been opened at great cost. This, surely, could not be His way for the evangelisation of inland China.

What then was to be done? What answer must be given to the pioneers who were writing and eagerly looking for help ? There are several different ways of working for God, as Mr. Taylor reminded the little company.

One is to make the best plans we can, and carry them out to the best of our ability. This may be better than working without plan, but it is by no means the best way of serving our Master. Or, having carefully laid our plans and determined to carry them through, we may ask God to help us, and to prosper us in connection with them. Yet another way of working. is to begin with God ; to ask His plans, and to offer ourselves to Him to carry out His purposes.

This then was the attitude taken up. Day by day the needs of the whole work were laid before the Lord, guidance being sought as to His will in connection with them.

" Going about it in this way," Mr. Taylor continued, " we leave the responsibility with the Great Designer, and find His service one of sweet restfulness. We have no responsibility save to follow as we are led ; and we serve One Who is able both to design and to execute, and Whose work never fails."

It was only gradually it came to them-for it seemed too big a thing for faith to grasp. Walking over the Serpent Hill in the midst of Wu-chang, Mr. Taylor was counting up with one of his fellow-workers how many men and women it would really take to meet the most pressing claims. Station after station was considered, their thoughts quickened meanwhile by the scene outspread before them-the homes of no fewer than two million people being gathered at that confluence of the mighty Yangtze with the Han. Thus it was the thought dawned, overwhelming almost in its greatness. Fifty to sixty new workers ? Why, the entire membership of the Mission was barely a hundred ! But fifty or sixty, at the lowest computation, would be all too few. "Other seventy also," came to Mr. Taylor's mind "the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them...."

But it seemed too much to ask ; not in view of the great, waiting field, but in view of wholly insufficient resources. Just then, as they walked, Mr. Parrott's foot struck against something hard in the grass.

" See," he said, stooping to pick up a string of cash, " see what I have found ! If we have to come to the hills for it, Gob is well able to give us all the money needed ! "But they did not run away with the new idea all at once. Several prayer meetings and quiet consultations were held before they came to feel liberty and confidence in asking the Lord for seventy new fellow-workers.

" I quite believe that Mr. Taylor prayed the prayer of faith tonight," wrote Mr. Parrott of one of those meetings and of another, " There was a great spirit of expectancy."

This was the spirit, indeed, that characterised the whole transaction---definite expectation that God would answer definite prayer in the Name of Jesus.

" If only we could meet again," said one, " and have a united praise meeting when the last of the Seventy has reached China ! "

Three years had been agreed upon as the period in which the answer should be looked for, as it would hardly be possible to receive and arrange for so many new workers in a shorter time.

" We shall be widely scattered then," said another with a practical turn of mind. " But why not have the praise meeting now ? Why not give thanks for the Seventy before we separate ? "

This happy suggestion commending itself to all, the meeting was held, and those who had joined in the prayer joined in the thanksgiving also, with which the answer was received-in faith.

Chapter 23Table of ContentsChapter 25