CHAPTER 31--THE CROSS DOES NOT GET COMFORTABLE--1888-1889. AET.56-57.

CROSSING the Rocky Mountains by Canadian Pacific was a wonderful experience to Mr. Taylor. The greatness of the country as it unrolled before him was in keeping with the greatness of the possibilities he had felt among Canadian as well as American Christians for the rapid, world-wide extension of the kingdom of God. Wonderful, too, was it to have with him the party so unexpectedly given for China and the Inland Mission.

"We are so happy and united," he wrote to Mrs. Taylor en route. " You would enjoy knowing the dear young workers God has given us, in the fresh bloom of consecration and love. May it never wear off.

" Every day I feel more thankful for each member of our band. . . . The little difficulties of travel only bring out character more clearly, and' show how good God's choice has been.

" You can have little idea how mightily the Spirit of God has been and is working."

The voyage across the Pacific was made the most of for helpful talks and Bible readings with his companions, in which he sought to prepare them for all that lay ahead. The consciousness was much with him, already referred to in letters to Mr. Stevenson, of the certainty of opposition from the powers of evil. For years the Mission had been carried forward on a wave of unparalleled success. ' During the period of the Seventy its membership had doubled, as we have seen, and since then it had more than doubled again, without the addition of this latest party. And what opportunities for enlargement did not their coming suggest ? But experience had taught him that for every time of prosperity and blessing one of special trial was in store, though even he can hardly have anticipated how long and testing the conflict now before them was to prove.

At Yokohama it began, even before they came in sight of China. For there news was received of the death from hydrophobia of Herbert Norris, the beloved Head of the Chefoo School, who in protecting his boys from a mad dog had himself been bitten ; and that also of Adam Dorward, the devoted pioneer of Hunan and a member of the China Council. To one of Mr. Taylor's tender affections, who could so well appreciate the loss that had befallen the Mission, the news was a blow indeed.

" I am almost overwhelmed," he wrote to Mrs. Taylor that October day. " " ` My soul is even as a weaned child.' I want to be alone with God and quiet before Him. May He bless you .. , and all at home. May He make us more holy ; more fit for His service here as there."

Meanwhile further sorrow had been permitted; and on landing in Shanghai Mr. Taylor learned not only of the death of a young worker of much promise, but that in the Home to which he was taking his fellow-travellers another was even then nearing the end of life's journey. Three men within a month, and now this woman of a gracious spirit, who had only come out in the Hundred! It was a time of heart-searching before God, to see why the hand of His protection had been in measure withdrawn, and a time also in which the cheer of the American Party was sorely needed. Jesus, Saviour, pilot me; Over life's tempestuous sea--was a new hymn in those days, and one they often sang together.

As a mother stills her child

Thou canst hush the tempest wild.

Boistrous waves obey Thy will,

When Thou say'st to them, Be still."

Wondrous Sovereign of the sea--

Jesus, Saviour, pilot me.

Times without number during the months that followed did that prayer go up from storm-stressed hearts in the mission-house at Shanghai, where Mr. Taylor was detained by apparently endless troubles. He had come out, as Mr. Stevenson remarked, " full of faith and hope," to do much in the way of consolidation. America had greatly encouraged him. His visit there had been providentially timed to coincide with a stage in the Mission's development when its material basis must take more adequate form. The purely native houses of earlier days had to be superseded, in the ports at any rate, by adequate receiving homes and business centres. All over the field young workers were getting into harness, and still larger reinforcements were expected.

" God is with us of a truth," he had written to Mr. Stevenson from Montreal, and will give us to see far greater things. I hope after conference with you to be able to look forward to a speedy doubling of our staff. Nothing less I am satisfied should be aimed at, even in the near future ; and I trust that that doubling will only anticipate a doubling again. There ought to be no difficulty in getting at least three hundred good workers from the States and Canada...."

There was scarcely a grey head in the Mission in those days, and under Mr. Stevenson's enthusiastic leadership in China " everything seemed possible." Was there a danger, perhaps, of growing too fast for the spiritual well-being of the work or the faith of its supporters ?

" It was a dark and trying time that winter," recalled the Deputy Director. " There had been so much success, such rapid extension. We were going ahead full sail set, before a favourable breeze. Ballast was needed, though at the time we could not see it, and the prolonged sickness and trial that surrounded us seemed mysterious indeed."

Never was day of fasting and prayer more timely than that which ushered in 1889. New Year's Eve had been set apart, according to the custom of the Mission, for thus waiting upon God, and when it came the need was found to be more urgent, even, than had been anticipated. For only the day before the accumulated trials of previous weeks had been surpassed by the arrival of the saddest party ever received from England. On the voyage-out one of the new workers had had a shock which resulted in temporary insanity, and on landing, her condition was that of acute mania. No asylums were to be found in China, even in the foreign Settlements, and she had to be cared for in the already crowded premises the Mission was renting in Shanghai. At the same time another bright, beautiful girl was stricken down at an inland station with black small-pox, and the life of both seemed to hang in the balance. Few among the younger Missionaries was more loved and valued than Maggie M'Kee, and it was with the keenest sorrow Mr. Taylor heard of her death after six days of suffering. Meanwhile a telegram had been received from Hongkong telling of the serious illness of Mr. William Cooper of the China Council. After furlough, he was returning to the province of An-hwei, in which his experience and ripeness of Christian character were greatly- needed, but double pneumonia had supervened upon illness by the way, and it was doubtful whether he could live to reach Shanghai.

" We are passing through wave after wave of trial," Mr. Taylor wrote on January 11. " Each day has its full quota. God seems daily to be saying, ' Can you say, " even so, Father," to that ? ' But He sustains and will sustain the spirit, however much the flesh may fail. Our house has been a hospital ; it is now an asylum. All that this means the Lord only knows....The night and day strain are almost unbearable.... But I know the Lord's ways are all right, and I would not have them otherwise."

" There is absolutely nothing to be done," he added a week later, " but to bear the trial, while using proper means, and wait on God. There are no asylums, and she could not be taken by sea. So whatever time and care the case claims must be given, and it must be pleasing to the Lord for us to be so occupied... . He makes no mistakes. He can make none. Even now we accept with thankfulness His dealings, and soon with joy shall we the deep purposes of wisdom and love, wrought out by all that is so mysterious at present."

But more serious than these troubles in China were anxieties that pressed upon him from another quarter. Friends of the Mission in England, it appeared, including some of the London Council, were concerned about the steps taken in America. Not having been on the spot, they were unable as yet to realise the guidance given or the value of the work developed. It was natural, perhaps, that they should fear lest responsibilities taken up quickly should be as quickly forgotten ; and, moreover, no one had as yet foreseen the adaptability of the Mission, on account of its special form of government, to relations of an international character. The principle of control on the field-the direction of the work not from a distance but by experienced leaders in China-could not but constitute Shanghai the headquarters of the Mission rather than London, making it possible for Mr. Taylor or his representatives there to work with auxiliary Councils in any part of the world, just as with the original Council at home. This natural application of one of- the cardinal principles of the Mission came as a surprise, however, to those who had hitherto never dreamed of such developments. Even the necessity for the China Council had hardly yet been fully conceded ; and that it should come to occupy a central position, with affiliations in America and perhaps elsewhere, practically independent of the mother-country, was no little cause for concern. So hazardous did it appear, indeed, to the best interests of the work, that some felt they might have to resign from the Council rather than consent to it, even though this would involve for Mr. Taylor as well as themselves the severance of relations among the oldest and most valued they possessed.

Needless to say, the position was a critical one, and caused the leader of the Mission deep concern. More sure he could not be as to the guidance given in America. Step by step he had been led, almost compelled, to accept the party that had accompanied him, and to appoint as Secretaries and provisional Council those who had been so remarkably provided. Go back upon it he could not, without going back upon what he had assuredly gathered to have been the will of God. But how go forward at such a cost ?

" As to the American question," he wrote to a leading member of the Council in February, " I shall be glad of your views when you have time to write them, but without a visit to America it difficult fully to understand the matter. I should have been as fearful as you are, if I had not been there.... I purposely made all the arrangements tentative, pending my return to England and having the opportunity for full conference about them.... My increasing desire is to please God. So far as I know my own heart, this is my only wish_ in the matter....

I thirst for Thee, 0 God, for Thee.

Oh draw me nearer, nearer still!

For evermore Thine own to be,

My will all lost in Thy sweet will.

As pants the hart for cooling streams,

So pants my soul, 0 God, for Thee ;

As sends the sun its cheering beams,

So let Thy Spirit shine in me."

But it was in letters to Mrs. Taylor that the manifold anxieties he was passing through found most expression.

"The Lord is sending a very flood of trials," he wrote in January. " No doubt they are all needed. We might be lifted up, perhaps, or lose spiritual life and power, if success were unaccompanied by discipline."

And in February:

Satan is simply raging. He sees his kingdom attacked all over the land, and the conflict is awful. But that our Commander is All-mighty, I should faint. I think I never knew anything like it, though we have passed through some trying times before.

Satan often says, " All these things are against you " ; but God's Word is true and says the opposite.

" I am more and more desirous to do God's will ; to be pleasing to Him, and that at all costs.

It was not all dark, however, for in January (1889) Mr. Taylor was able to write of the spiritual life of the Mission as " higher than ever before," and that " glad tidings of souls won for Christ and very real progress in many directions cheer us amid our trials." In March the pressure was again so great that in asking for renewed earnestness in prayer at home he said : " It seems. as if every native Christian and helper as well as missionary were being assailed." Yet, in the midst of it all,' he and many of his fellow-workers were learning deeper lessons of the sustaining power of God.

" The cross does not get comfortable," is one revealing sentence in a letter of this winter, " but it bears sweet fruit." How truly it was so in Mr. Taylor's experience may be gathered from the recollections of one who was much with him at the time.

" I never went through such a distressful period," said Mr. Stevenson of 1888-89 ; " everything seemed crowded into those terrible months. I do not know what we should have done without Mr. Taylor ; but oh, the look on his face at times ! The special day of fasting and prayer (a second) was a great help. We never found it to fail. In all our troubles, in all our forward movements, in times of need, whether as to funds or spiritual blessing, we always had recourse to fasting and prayer, and with a quick response.

" One thing that deeply touched me at this time was Mr. Taylor's evident and intense longing to walk uprightly before God. He would go all lengths to do the right thing and put away misunderstandings. Early this spring, when our troubles were at their height, he was burdened about the lack of cordiality between ourselves and two former members of the Mission who were still in Shanghai. The trouble had arisen during one of Mr. Taylor's absences in England, but he could not leave it with simply

" ` They were wrong, and we did what we could at the time.'

" He wrote a note saying ,he would be glad to call upon them and talk matters over, greatly desiring that any bitterness of feeling might be removed. On the 4th of March, I remember, he spent a long evening with them, going over the whole story. It. must have been very painful, for their attitude was far from conciliatory, but it ended right. He was able to have prayer with them, and friendship was restored.

" Oh, his was a life that stood looking into-searching through and through ! Get a man like Mr. Taylor, and you could start any mission tomorrow. It was most wonderful his life. I never knew any other so consistent ; and I watched him year in and year out, and had exceptional opportunities for doing so. He walked with God ; his life bore the light all through. And he was so gracious and accessible ! Day or night, literally at all hours, he was ready to help in sickness or any trouble. For self-denial and practical consecration, one could not but feel, he stood alone."

A sheet of notepaper bearing a few lines in Mr. Taylor's writing reveals, perhaps, more than anything else the secret of his inward life at this time. Found between the pages of diary, it brightens the record with unexpected radiance. From the brief entries in the book itself one learns little ; but that well-worn paper, used evidently as a marker and moved on from day to day, what does it not reveal ?

LORD Jesus, make Thyself to me

A living, bright Reality

More present to faith's vision keen

Than any outward object seen ;

More dear, more intimately nigh

Than e'en the sweetest earthly tie.

Was it not the answer to this daily prayer that made endurance possible ? " Strengthened by His Spirit with power penetrating to your inmost being . . . that Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith" 1-{1- Ephesians.3:16, 17, in Weymouth's version : The Now Testament in Modern Speech.} -is it not the very experience for times of trouble ?

" I have been greatly distressed;" he wrote to Mrs. Taylor in March, " but all that is passed now. God has spoken, and my heart is at rest. . . . I see no light as to the future of home arrangements ; but I see God, the living God ; and I love Him all the more for this trial and trust."

Mar. 12: The Lord bless and guide us. This is the greatest trial we have yet had : it will bring the greatest blessing. Now the Lord has taken the burden off my shoulders, and He is going to order the whole thing. It is His work, not mine.

Mar. 27: As for the C.I.M., it never was so truly the Lord's own work, and He alone is all-sufficient-sufficient for the heartache and the sorrow, as well as for the service.

April 5 : Our hope must be in God ; He is equal to all emergencies.

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