CHAPTER 33-- TO EVERY CREATURE 1889-1890. AET. 57-58

NOT a mere human project but a divine command was what Mr. Taylor saw in the words, " To Every Creature," that autumn day by the sea. They came to him with all the urgency of a royal mandate that brooks no delay. It was a question of duty, and, no time was to be lost. " If we begin at once;" he realised afresh with straitened heart, millions will have passed away ere we can reach them."

But begin what ? Begin a definite, systematic effort to do just as the Master said-to carry the glad tidings of salvation to every man, woman and child throughout the whole of China. Was not that His order ? Did He not intend it to be obeyed ? Nothing if not practical, Mr. Taylor set himself forthwith to consider, not whether the attempt should be made, but simply-how ? And as he thought and prayed he came to see, first of all, that it could be done. There was no impossibility about the matter. Armies of scores of thousands could be sent to the ends of the' earth for the sake of material conquest, and the Church had at her command resources fully equal to the obligations laid upon her.

Very simply it occurred to him, about the vast population to be reached : a million is a thousand thousands ; given a thousand evangelists, each one teaching two hundred and fifty people daily, and in a thousand days two hundred and fifty millions would have the offer of divine mercy. Surely a task that-could, at this rate, be accomplished in little over three years should not be thought of as chimerical or beyond the resources of the Christian Church!1-{1 Mr. Taylor at that time estimated the population of China at 230 millions, but pointed out that if, as some supposed, it reached 400 millions, the work on the scale indicated would only take five years instead of three.}

Many objections, he knew, could be raised to this calculation. To begin with some might think it impossible for an individual worker to reach as many as two hundred and fifty people daily ; or that, if they could, such an offer of the Gospel would accomplish little. Mr. Taylor could not but remember, however, the work he had himself done in early years, and especially the many months spent with the Rev. William Burns in thorough systematic evangelisation in districts in which there were no settled missionaries. They had not found it difficult to reach five hundred to one thousand people daily-preaching in all the streets of a given town or city, and entering every shop with books and tracts. As night came on they would repair to a previously announced tea-shop, where interested hearers could meet them for conversation, and any who wished to learn more were invited to their boats for further talk and prayer. How he had loved the work ; how often he longed to be in it still ! And as to results, he in common with many others could recall, among the brightest converts they had ever known, not a few who had truly given their hearts to Christ the first time they ever heard of Redeeming Love.

His calculation, moreover, did not take into account the help to be given by the missionaries already in China-of whom there were considerably over a thousand-nor the immense and invaluable contribution to be made by native Christians. Forty thousand church members, not to speak of enquirers, would make the proposition a very different thing from what it could be without 'them. He had seen enough already, even in the newly opened provinces, to know that Chinese Christians were ready to lead as well as follow in such an enterprise.

It might be said, however, that our Lord's injunction was not only to " preach the Gospel to every creature, but also to baptize and instruct-" teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you"-hence the schools, settled churches and much besides, in which the large majority of missionaries were engaged. This Mr. Taylor recognised ; and none can have longed more than he to see such agencies multiplied. It was not the suspension or neglect of any existing work he was considering, but the great unmet need beyond. " There is that scattereth and yet increaseth," was a principle he had found deeply true in this connection ; and, after all, a thousand additional -workers could not give themselves for five years to a widespread evangelistic campaign throughout the whole of China, without fitting themselves all the more fully for the settled work that was sure to follow.

Thus it was that in the December China's Millions an earnest, practical paper entitled " To Every Creature " made its appearance, outcome of the deep soul-exercise of that October day. Its plea was for immediate action, first in the realm in which every believer may have power, the realm of prayer. What part the C.I.M. might take in the forward movement Mr. Taylor did not attempt to determine. It was the united, simultaneous action of all the societies that alone could put one thousand evangelists in the field without delay. His recent visits to America satisfied him that on that side of the water fully half the required number could be found.

"Even if the Churches were unwilling," he wrote, " to take it up, are there not five hundred Christian workers in Europe who might go out at their own charges ? But shall we suppose that the Episcopalians of England, and the Presbyterians of Scotland and Ireland, have not each among them one hundred men and women fit for this glorious enterprise ? That the Methodists of the United Kingdom could not supply another hundred, and that Congregationalist and Baptist Churches could not each provide a similar contingent ? We may feel well assured that the United States and Canada would not be behind, and thus the one thousand evangelists might easily be forthcoming. How shall a project like this be translated into practice ? First, by earnest, believing prayer. This was our Saviour's plan, and it has been left on record for our guidance 'The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few ; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth labourers into His harvest.' When we sought for the C.I.M. the Seventy and the Hundred in prayer, and accepted them in faith, we received them in due course from His mighty, loving hand." 1-{1 " We cannot take hold of this thing in earnest," was his conviction, " without getting more than a thousand ; and oh, the enlargement, the enrichment that would come in the train of such a movement! Could China be blessed alone ? Would not the whole world 'necessarily share in the blessing ? For we could not be blessed on the field without out home churches being brought into it ; and if they were filled with spiritual, life, every land would be thought of and cared for. The Church is well able to evangelise the whole world and to do it with rapidity."}

Upon the practical suggestions of this and subsequent papers as to how the 'work could be done we must not dwell. Thorough division of the field, method, and co-operation were his chief points, and that the fullest use should be made of the Chinese Christians. It was no question, as he showed, of merely one offer of the Gospel, in passing, to those who had never heard. A village of a. thousand might only detain the evangelists two days (working in pairs), or a neighbouring town twice as long ; but many such towns and villages would keep them in a given district for months, and interested inquirers would not lack opportunities for learning the Way of Life more perfectly. " If one offer of the Gospel is insufficient," he urged in this connection, " what shall we think of none ? "

But it was not the Master's command only that was occupying Mr. Taylor's thought, it was the Master's example. From the first, the feeding of the four thousand recorded in Matthew had been before his mind. No sooner had the words of Christ, "To every creature," come home to him with power than the question had arisen, almost in spite of himself, " From whence can a man satisfy these with bread here in the wilderness ? " The more he thought upon it the more he saw the whole situation in that one incident the whole problem and its solution. Travelling out to China for the second General Missionary Conference, he was thankful not only for the opportunity the gathering would afford for bringing forward the matter about which he was burdened, but also for such a message. What better subject could he take for his opening sermon than the Lord Himself,face to face with that needy multitude-the heart of Jesus and His sufficiency ?

He always did preach his sermons first of all to himself, and this was no exception.

" I am so glad of your prayers for spiritual blessing for me," he wrote to Mrs. Taylor from Colombo (April 10) : " this is the one thing I want and need and must, have. . . . How constantly we are all in danger of seeking our own! Darling, I feel I have been forgetting self-denial in the true sense ; hence my unwillingness to be separated from you : and this, I fear, has brought me under a cloud. In one sense, God and His work have been first ; in another, they have not been so as they should. I have not knowingly neglected the work ; but I left you unwillingly instead of joyfully.... I do want to be whole-hearted in God's service. May He work this in me."

A little later he could write of being " refreshed and encouraged " (April 23), and that he had been helped by the preparation of his Conference sermon. He could tell in measure how the Redeemer's heart was going out in yearning compassion over the millions in China who were " as sheep having no shepherd," because of the reflected longing in his own soul ; and what else ' could have strengthened and comforted as did that sacred fellowship ?

" I am so glad it was a great multitude," he wrote in the draft of his discourse, " so great that the disciples thought it simply impossible to feed them. Yet the multitude were- in real need, and the need too was immediate. It must either be met at once or not at all. . . . Let us notice that in these circumstances the presence of the disciples alone would not have sufficed. They might perhaps have said, ` Poor things! ' They might have regretted that they had not more bread with them; but ,they would have left the multitude hungry. But JESUS was there and His presence secured the carrying out of His compassionate purpose. All were fed, all were filled, all went away satisfied and strengthened ; and the disciples were not only reproved and instructed, but were enriched also."

It was with special joy Mr. Taylor dwelt on the fact of the multitude being no difficulty, nor yet the smallness of supplies. When all that the disciples had was placed at disposal, the Master made it suffice and more than suffice. As for the disciples, they were much like ourselves.

They were slow to learn, they had little faith, they were easily appalled and discouraged-but they were near to Jesus. They were within sound of His voice, ready to obey His call and to listen to what He had to say. And our blessed Master did not scold nor despise them, nor dispense with their services. He lovingly led them on and used them ; and He showed Himself so truly one with them that He would do nothing without them. And can it be true that " this same Jesus," now seated on His Father's throne, is so wonderfully one with us, and with our brothers and sisters in this land, that He will do nothing without us? That He, "the true Vine," will bear no fruit save through us, His branches, down here ? Oh, my brethren, can we dwell on these thoughts without our hearts burning within us ? Gracious Saviour, is Thy wondrous love still the same, Thy wondrous power still the same, to work through such poor, unworthy instruments as we are ? Then may I not speak for all, and say, " We do now present ourselves afresh to Thee, to be filled and taught by Thy Spirit, and to be, at any cost, used of Thee for the salvation of this great people."

It was for consecration he pleaded, full consecration of all we have and are to Him Who has given Himself without reserve to us.

Now are we all, today,' in just this relation to Christ ? Are we before Him in - unreserved consecration ? I do not say in strong faith, I do not say in profound intelligence, I do not say in extraordinary natural or spiritual attainments, but I do say in unreserved consecration. We do not know what it may mean, what it may involve, but we do not need to know. He knows, that is enough. We cannot love ourselves as He loves us ; we cannot care for ourselves as He cares for us. Oh, let us trust Him fully, and now if never before, now afresh if often before, take Jesus as our Master and Lord, and with unreserved consecration give over to Him ourselves, our possessions, our loved ones, our all. He is infinitely worthy and He will infinitely make up to us all we give to Him. For in return for our little all, He will give us Himself and His great all.

And then, in face of the unmet need, Jesus gave thanks. He was thankful for the disciples' sake that they had given their all ; thankful for the people's sake that they were to be fed ; thankful that the Father heard His prayers always, and was now to be glorified through His Son. " Are we always thankful for our difficulties ? " Mr. Taylor questioned. " Do we see in them the wisdom and love of God, and an excuse, as it were, all the more to claim His power and help ?

" I do not know that we are told anywhere in the Bible to try to do anything," he continued. " ' We must try to do the best we can,' is a very common expression ; but I remember some years ago, after a remark of that kind, looking carefully through the New Testament to see under what circumstances the disciples were told to try to do anything. I did not expect to find many instances, but I was surprised not to find any. Then I went through the Old Testament, very carefully, and I could not find that the Lord had ever told Old Testament believers to try to do anything. There were many commands that appeared impossible to obey, but they were all definite commands and I think we all need to set ourselves, not to try to obey our Lord as far as we can, but simply to obey Him."

When face to face with his audience at last-that responsible body of men and women representing all the Protestant societies at work in China-his heart overflowed the bounds of his written address.

If as an organised Conference," he urged with conviction, " we were to set ourselves to obey the command of the Lord to the full, we should have such an outpouring of the Spirit, such a Pentecost as the world has not seen since the Holy Spirit was outpoured in Jerusalem. God gives His Spirit not to those who long for Him, not to those who pray for Him, not to those who desire to be filled always-but He does give His Holy Spirit ' to them that obey Him.' If as an act of obedience we were to determine that every district, every town, every village, every hamlet in this land should hear the Gospel, and that speedily, and were to set about doing it, I believe that the Spirit would come down in such mighty power that we should find supplies springing up we know not how. We should find the fire spreading from missionary to flock, and our native fellow-workers and the whole Church of God would be blessed. God gives His Holy Spirit to them that obey Him. Let us see to it that we really apprehend what His command to us is, now in the day of our opportunity-this day of the remarkable openness of the country, when there are so many facilities, when God has put steam and telegraph at the command of His people for the quick carrying out of His purposes.

" As to wealth, there is no end to His resources. Poverty in His hands is the greatest wealth. A handful of meal blessed by the Lord is quite sufficient to accomplish any purpose the Lord chooses to accomplish with it. It is not a question of resources at all to those who are following the Master, doing what He has for them to do. . . . Let us just obey and cease to reason and He Who cares for us and for the multitude today will make no mistake, and will not change tomorrow.".

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