IT was February 9, and in a darkened room Hudson Taylor knelt beside the bed-side of his dying wife. Only a few weeks had elapsed since the New Year dawned upon their perfect happiness, and now-was she to be taken from him, and his life shadowed with irreparable loss ? Internal inflammation, the result apparently of chill, had brought her so low that life seemed ebbing fast away, and every remedy the physicians could suggest had proved unavailing.

Elsewhere in the city the united prayer-meeting was going on, and the knowledge that others were praying with him upheld the lonely watcher as nothing else could have done. Noting with anguish the hollow temples, sunken eyes and pinched features, all indicating the near approach of death, Hudson Taylor was indeed " shipwrecked upon God." Faith was the only spar he had to cling to ; faith in the Will that even then was perfect wisdom, perfect love.

Kneeling there in the silence-how was it that new hope began to possess his heart? A remedy ! They had not tried it. He must consult Dr. Parker as quickly as possible. But would she, could she hold out until he came back again ?

" It was nearly two miles to Dr. Parker's," he wrote, " and every moment appeared long. On my way thither, while wrestling mightily with God in prayer, the precious words were brought with power to my soul, ` Call upon Me in the day of trouble : I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me.' I was enabled at once to plead them in faith, and the result was deep, deep unspeakable peace and joy.

"All consciousness of distance was gone. Dr. Parker approved the use of the means suggested ; but upon arriving at home I saw at a glance that the desired change had taken place in the absence of this or any other remedy. The drawn aspect of the countenance had given place to the calmness of tranquil slumber, and not one unfavourable symptom remained to retard recovery."

The Great Physician had been there. His Presence had rebuked the approach of death. His touch had once again brought healing.

This experience of what the Lord could and would do for His people in answer to believing prayer was one of the most wonderful Hudson Taylor ever had, and strengthened him for many an emergency, including those of the summer near at hand. Never could he forget those days and hours in which it seemed as though the Lord were saying : " Son of man, I take from thee the desire of thine eyes at a stroke." But it was not on his home the sore affliction fell.

Very refreshing, after this dangerous illness, was a visit to the new hospital outside the city. For Dr. Parker's building operations were finished, including chapel, dispensary, and dwelling-house, and he had accommodation for European as well as Chinese patients and guests. Everything was new, fresh, and attractive, and the house itself, standing back a little from the river, was crowned with a watch-tower commanding a view of unusual interest.

" The situation of Dr. Parker's new hospital," wrote Dr. W. A. P. Martin about this time, " is the best that could have been selected in the vicinity of this port. Separated on the one hand from the impure atmosphere of the city by the city-wall, and removed on the other from the noisome exhalations of the paddy-fields by the breadth of the river, it enjoys the best air that blows over the plain of Ning-po. Close to one of the city gates, near a much-frequented ferry, and overlooking, too, a river which is the main thoroughfare from the sea-coast to many large cities in the interior, its handsome and commodious buildings daily attract the notice of thousands of passers-by.

" The number of in-patients is already so large as nearly to fill the neat little chapel which the doctor has erected as a dispensary for the soul. They form the nucleus of a very interesting congregation, to which I have preached several times ; and the probability of their obtaining permanent good is the greater as they remain many weeks together, receiving daily instruction in divine truth."

It was delightful to see how much had been accomplished by the courage and perseverance with which the Doctor had worked at his long-cherished plan, raising within three years, without help from his Society, this well-equipped medical mission.

May the Lord who has aided me thus far," he wrote, "now use all for the advancement of His cause and the glory of His Name."

Four years had now elapsed since the beginning of 1855, when Dr. Parker and his young colleague had been writing home about their " plans of usefulness." How differently everything had turned out from their expectations ! And yet, with these commodious buildings round them representing so important a work, Dr. Parker must have felt thankful that he had not remained in Shanghai. And as Hudson Taylor thought of the Christians in the city, and the loved one given and spared in answer to prayer, his heart could not but overflow with gratitude and praise. It was all they had hoped or dreamed, only better ; " our plans of usefulness," but with added elements of blessing they could never have devised, much less brought to pass.

" Commit thy way unto the Lord ; trust also in Him. . . . Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart."

" Yesterday (February 28) was a glad day for us," wrote Mr. Taylor while still at Dr. Parker's, " for our servant who has been with us almost ever since our marriage was received into the Church by baptism, as well as a woman who works for Mrs. Jones. We have now eight native Christians in communion with us, of whom the second (Mr, Tsiu) was baptized a year ago yesterday. Truly we may say with thankfulness, `what hath God wrought!""

" " I am very busy," he continued after their return to the city. " So many patients, meetings, and other matters need attention that 1 Seven baptisms within a year was cause indeed for thanksgiving, representing as it did fully as much of prayer, labour and progress as would ten times that number in the same localities to-day. One Mission then in Ning-po, after fifteen years of faithful labour, had a Church Roll of only twenty members ; though another, not quite so long in the field, had considerably more. I am puzzled which to take up first.... Our work here is becoming more important day by day, as God is adding to our numbers.... May His great work go on, and the multitudes of China yet see a glorious day when in every part of this populous empire ... the saved of the Lord shall be many."

Thus spring-time came again, and in April a little holiday was taken, that proved most beneficial in view of the difficult summer before them. Travelling in houseboats with Dr. Parker and his family, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor spent a week among the Western Hills, covered at this season with azaleas, hawthorn, dwarf lilac, wistaria and violets.

" The quiet retirement," wrote one whose name has long been associated with Ning-po, " the blue heavens above and the green hills around, the sound of rippling brook or singing bird, the flash of summer lightning, the echoing storm, the cry of roaming deer at night, the indescribable beauty of the carpet of flowers in spring-time are pleasant and refreshing sights and sounds indeed after the toil, dust, and oppressiveness of a great city."1-{1 The Ven. Arthur E. Moule, B.D., Archdeacon in Mid-China and C.M.S. Missionary at Ning-po. Quoted from The Story of the Cheh-hiang Mission, p. 76.}

Leaving their boats the little party explored some of the side streams, tracing one almost to its source by means of light rafts of bamboo.

" The scenery was very beautiful," Mr. Taylor wrote to his mother. " Waterfalls abound, one of which leaps seven hundred feet in a sheer descent, and another that we saw about six hundred...The views above, below, and around were wonderful . . . something to be remembered for a lifetime."

Great was the contrast on their return to Ning-po with the heat and manifold distresses of that summer. Following upon the floods of the previous year came an unusually hot season, and at the same time a wave of anti-foreign feeling swept over the city, due to daring outrages perpetrated in connection with the coolie-traffic, which was " rapidly assuming all the features of the African . slave-trade." Hitherto its ravages had been confined to the Southern provinces, but now men and lads were disappearing from this region also, carried off on foreign ships to the plantations of Cuba and South America, most of them never to return. And these outrages were the more alarming because of the connection in the minds of the people with the renewal of hostilities between China and the Allied Powers.1-{1-For the Treaty of Tien-tsin, signed in June of the previous summer, was to have been ratified at Peking a year later. Upon the arrival of the fleet of nineteen vessels representing the Allies (England, France, Russia and America) they were attacked in the mouth of the Pei-ho river and driven back with considerable loss ; and the capture of Peking itself was necessary before the Chinese Government realised that they must carry out their terms of surrender. The Treaty was finally ratified in October 1860. In August of the following year the heart-broken Emperor (Hienfeng) died. The ratification of these Treaties had swept away the barriers he had so long striven to maintain against the importation of opium, which, from this time, alas I spread with fatal rapidity throughout the length and breadth of the land.}

" You will not be surprised to hear," wrote Mr. Taylor in the middle of August, " that while God is granting us blessing, Satan is Manifesting his malice. Owing to the kidnapping villainies of those engaged in the coolie traffic-forcibly seizing villagers, and carrying them off in sacks to their vessels-public excitement has reached a very high pitch. Rumours have been circulated that these persons are being seized at the instance of the ` defeated British,' who wish to reinforce their numbers and again attack Tien-tsin. Violent incendiary papers have been posted up, and our lives and property have been in imminent danger. The excitement is decreasing a little now, and we hope the worst is over, as the people know that measures are being taken by the foreign authorities to search to the bottom of this disgraceful affair."

But before this letter was written and a measure of tranquillity restored, the missionary household in Bridge Street had passed through some anxious hours. As many Europeans as possible had left the city, taking shelter in the Settlement or on foreign vessels, but Mr. and Mrs. Taylor would not leave the native Christians, whose danger was little less than their own.

Those were days in which the young husband could not but long for quiet and the blessed sense of security that would have meant so much to the one dearer to him than life. Protect her he could not from the knowledge of surrounding danger, but taking such precautions as were possible he stayed his heart on God. It was not much that could be done to facilitate escape, should it be necessary. A boat lay in readiness at the back door, and a rope was strongly fastened in their bedroom window by means of which it might be possible to reach the canal under cover of darkness. But full well he knew the complications that might arise, and it would have been a time of agonising suspense but for the peace of God.

For it was then, and under those circumstances, the hopes of many a long month were fulfilled, and the little daughter came to them for whom they could find no sweeter, truer name than Grace.

" My dear Parents," wrote the father a week later, " though this is the Lord's Day I find myself able to pen a few lines, which will not doubt surprise you as much as it does myself. The reason is that I am at home taking care of my wife and baby-girl-your first grand child ! Oh, my dear Parents, God has been so good tome, to us all ! better far than my fears, ` 0 magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!'"

The thermometer was at 104° F. in the coolest part of the house when on July 31 this little one was born, and once only in the week that followed did it drop as low as 88°-at midnight, during a thunderstorm. So that this period was not without its trials. But the worst had been averted, although for a few hours it came very near.

Surging crowds about the mission-house had almost broken into a riot a few days previously, while cries of " Beat the foreigner," " Kill the foreign devils," rent the air. In some wonderful way, however, a restraint was on the people, and no attempt was made to batter in the doors, easy as it would have been.

And, if anything, more wonderful still was the peace in which the mother's heart was kept, both before and after.Notwithstanding, the Lord stood with me and strengthened me," was indeed true in her experience. Nothing retarded her recovery, and so conscious was she of the inflow of divine grace for every need that she would not have been without the trials that revealed to her new depths of the heart of God.

The dangers did not pass away for some time, and combined with the intense heat might well have proved overwhelming.

" We feel that we are living only from night to day and day to night," wrote Mr. Jones, who also remained in the city. " The people are thirsting for revenge.... They mix up together missionaries, traders, and the government, the war and the coolie traffic.... and say that the kidnapped Chinese are Pat in the front of the fight against their own Emperor. . . . They have placarded the streets calling for our blood ; one of the foremost in all this being a man who supplies the Mandarins with buckets to contain the heads of the decapitated, a fearfully large trade here.

" We are now, as I write, in the midst of all this, our wives and our little ones in the same danger. But we are resting on Him who restrains our enemies with `Thus far, but no further'; and who to us is saying, ` I will never leave thee.' He has made His Word very precious to our hearts, . . . and even in these trying times we have been encouraged by some inquiring the way of salvation."

For the work of God went on, and was more deep and real for the testing through which the converts had to pass.Wang the grass-cutter, for example, who was accepted for Church-membership in August, was frequently upbraided on the streets for casting in his lot with the Christians. His simple faith, however, was proof against all attacks. When told that foreigners were at war with his country,and were carrying off people to make them fight against their own Emperor, he would say

" There must be a mistake somewhere. Satan surely has blinded your eyes. These missionaries do not fight at all. They heal the sick, relieve suffering, and show us the way of eternal happiness. Nothing but good can come of joining them."

And from this position he was not to be moved.

That he really knew the Lord was very evident to those who watched his life at this time.

" I think much of heaven and Jesus," he said to Mr.Taylor one day, " the weather is so hot."

" Indeed," replied his friend, waiting to hear more.

" You see," he continued, " I have to cut grass out in the burning sun, and sometimes I hardly know how to keep on. And then I think of Jesus-Jesus and heaven-and my mind becomes peaceful and my body so much rested that I can do twice as much as before. Oh, it is wonderful the difference it makes when you just think of Jesus ! "

And so the missionaries found it too.

Previous Chapter Table of Contents Next Chapter