NOTHING is more contagious than spiritual joy, when it is the real thing, and of this there was abundance in the Ning-po hospital that winter. For answers to prayer were many, in connection with other than financial needs. There were critical cases of illness in which life was given back when every hope seemed gone ; there were operations successfully performed under unfavourable conditions, and patients restored from long and hopeless suffering. And best of all there were dead souls brought to life in Christ Jesus, and slaves of sin set free, so that within nine months sixteen patients had already been baptized and more than thirty others were enrolled as candidates for admission to one or other of the Ning-po Churches.

This did not come all at once, it need hardly be said but only as the result of unremitting prayer and labour. One man from the hospital was desiring baptism by the end of October. In November there were four new candidates for Church-membership. More than six hundred out-patients were treated before the end of the year, and sixty in-patients had been for longer or shorter periods under the influence of the Gospel. A new glow of spiritual life and love pervaded everything. All felt it, and Mr. Taylor was able to write

Truly the Lord is with us, and is blessing us abundantly. 1-{1- This was 0n February 13, I860, when t0 his parents he wrote : "You will rejoice t0 hear that 0n the 5th inst. we received five men into our}

And in the midst of it all came the home-going of the first of that little group to be called into the presence of the Lord-the first death, one may almost put it, in connection with the China Inland Mission, or at any rate with its forerunner. And when one thinks how many thousands shine and shall yet shine in eternal glory through the labours of that widened circle, a quite peculiar interest invests this first passing-over.

It was dear old Dzing to whom the summons came, and the closing days of the year were bright with his beautiful end.

" He was upwards of sixty years of age," wrote Mr. Taylor, " and it was only during the last twelve months of his life that he found the Saviour."

But it was a good year, and going about with his pedlar's pack he was a messenger of glad tidings to many who but for him would never have heard.

In the chilly days of December he fell ill with bronchitis, and Mr. Taylor had him brought to the hospital. There in a warm, dry room, very different from his own quarters, he was encompassed with kindness. His gratitude was touching, and as the end drew near, the spirit in which he met it made a profound impression on those about him.

His difficulty in breathing was great at times, and it was hard not to be impatient.

" If only the Lord would take me ! " he exclaimed again and again.

" He will," replied his missionary friend, " just as soon as you are ready. He loves you better far than we do, and will not let you suffer a moment longer than He sees needful. He wants you to trust Him, and be willing to wait His time. Will you show your love for Him by being patient, even in this ? "

It was a difficult lesson, but he was given grace to learn little Church, to whom I had the privilege of administering the Lord's Supper yesterday.... We have now therefore eleven men and six women in fellowship with us, though one, I regret to say (dear Neng-kuei), is suspended for the present. May God grant him speedy restoration. To-morrow we are to have a Church-meeting, D. V., to consider the cases of other candidates, twelve in all, I believe." it, and, wonderful to say, never again showed any sign of impatience.

" To-morrow is the Lord's Day," he said on New Year's Eve, " but I shall not be able to join in worship." When reminded that the Lord was just as near him on his bed of sickness, and that he could praise Him there in a way specially to His glory, he seemed comforted and said

"Yes, it is so. He promised never to leave me, and He never has ; and soon will take me to Himself."

During the day-New Year's Day-he was failing fast, but enjoyed passages of Scripture read to him at his own request, including the twenty-third Psalm. Hymns also gave him pleasure, especially a translation of

Who are these in white array,

Brighter than the noonday sun ?

"I shall soon shine too," whispered the dying saint, " but all the praise will belong to Jesus."

After the evening service he received with much affection some of the Christians who came to see him, and pleaded earnestly with his wife to turn to the Lord. Then losing consciousness a little he seemed to be seeking something.

"What do you want, Elder Brother ? " inquired one of those beside him. Opening his eyes with a smile he slowly but distinctly said, " Jehovah my Shepherd," and soon after fell asleep in Jesus.

But it all told, this blessed work, upon those whose hearts were in it. " Nothing without the cross " is true above all in spiritual things, and for Hudson Taylor the price that had to be paid was that of health, almost of life itself. Six years in China, six such years, had left their mark ; and now, under the strain of day and night work in the hospital, entailing much exposure to wintry weather, strength was failing fast.

But in a sense his work was completed-or the preparation, rather, for which he had been sent to China. " Whosoever will be great among you shall be your minister ; and whosoever of you will be chiefest, shall be servant of all." " He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much." " Faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many."

Not that any thought of large developments was in Hudson Taylor's mind as he faced the probability that he must return to England before long. He was conscious only of two things-great and growing opportunities on the one hand, and rapidly failing health on the other ; so that while longing to multiply himself into a hundred missionaries he was increasingly unequal to the work of one.

It is deeply interesting to notice, at this juncture, the means the Lord was using to bring about purposes of His own in connection with this little Ning-po Mission of which those most interested in it never dreamed. Poor, uninfluential and without what would ordinarily be regarded as training or talent for leadership, how unlikely that Hudson Taylor. should ever become the founder and director of a world-wide organisation embracing missionaries from all evangelical denominations and every Protestant land. Yet this was indeed to be the case, for He who is the great, the only Worker still delights to use what has been well called " God's five-rank army of weakness."

Not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, have part therein :1{1- 1 Cor. 1. 26; R.V. margin; and vers. 27-31 from A.V.} but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound (or put to shame) the wise ; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty ; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things -which are not, to bring to nought things that are : that no flesh should glory in His presence.... According .as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

A beginning was to be made even now along the lines of that future development, and how were Hudson Taylor and his colleague to be launched upon it but by a constraining sense of the greatness of the need and their own insufficiency to meet it. Fellow-workers they must have to enter doors of opportunity that never before had seemed so open. And all unconscious of what lay beyond the step to which he felt himself led, Hudson Taylor wrote home early in the New Year : 1{1- In a letter to his parents in Barnsley, dated January 16, 1860.}

Do you know any earnest, devoted young men desirous of serving God in China, who not wishing for more than their actual support would be willing to come out and labour here ? Oh for four or five such helpers ! They would probably begin to preach in Chinese in six months' time ; and in answer to prayer the necessary means would be found for their support.

Had he gone on living quietly at Bridge Street it might have been long before the young missionary would have been driven to such a step. There he and Mr. Jones were able to overtake the work, and with the help of the native brethren might have carried it on for years. But removed suddenly from that position and entrusted with larger, more fruitful labours, the result was very different. Here was something too great for him ; and as the Lord wrought with them, confirming His own Word " with signs following," the outlook and possibilities were overwhelming.

If souls had not been saved in the hospital and the Christians had not developed in usefulness and promise, the situation would still have been other than it was. But with a growing family manifesting no little gift for spiritual ministry, Hudson Taylor was impressed as never before by the need of watchfulness in utilising the resources of the native church. This it was that brought him to the point of appealing for fellow-missionaries. The converts must have supervision ; as yet they could not stand alone. The fall through pride and even dishonesty of the basket-maker, their most devoted worker, had burned this upon his heart. Prayer and loving personal influence alone could restore him and safeguard others ; and all needed, as he had learned from experience, the most painstaking instruction in spiritual things.

And beside all this, the care of the hospital was proving too much for his strength. With sixteen members in fellowship and a dozen or more awaiting baptism ; with work opening up in the villages round about, and native Christians fitted to undertake it if only they could have supervision ; with no difficulty as to funds, for the Lord was abundantly supplying their need, both he and Mr. Jones were so run down that it was with difficulty they could get through present duties. Had any of these elements been lacking the effect produced might have been less definite, but taken all together one conclusion only was possible. Help they must have, the help of fellowmissionaries willing for their own simple line of things. So the appeal went home that was to result in the coming out, to begin with, of just the workers prayed for, two of whom are still labouring in China as the senior members of the Inland Mission.1-{1 First of the five was the Rev. J. J. Meadows, who, after half a century of devoted labours in China, is still working within a hundred miles of Ning And fifth of that little group was the Rev. J. W. Stevenson, now and for more than twenty years the Deputy Director on the field of the China Inland Mission.} But there was no thought in Hudson Taylor's mind that he would have to be their leader, indeed there was no immediate thought at' all, save that he must seek in one way or another to meet the claims of the ever-growing work. I

" I have this morning sent out forms and tables," he wrote in February, " to a house in a neighbouring village that we have been enabled to rent for a school, and we have engaged Mrs. Tsiu and her, son, the Teacher, to commence work both among boys and girls.... Their home will I trust be an influence for good in the neighbourhood and a centre from which we may preach the Gospel."

And then, thinking of all that might be. done if his suggestions about five new missionaries were carried out, he continued

I do hope father will take up the idea... The people are perishing, and God is so blessing the work. But we are wearing down and must have help.... Pity poor China 1 You have given your son, give your influence too.

But month after month went by bringing no response from home. There was sympathy of course in his desires, but no encouragement to expect that helpers would be forthcoming.

Hoping much from a brief holiday, Mr. Taylor closed the dispensary as spring came on, and went with his wife and child to the neighbouring hills. They were away ten days, and he seemed greatly benefited ; but the heavy work of the hospital soon bore him down on their return. Then it was he first wrote to his parents about the precarious state of his health, and that he had reason to suppose his lungs were affected with tubercular trouble. 1-{1- A letter written on March 25.}

" It is a comfort under these circumstances," he concluded, " to have no doubt it was God who guided us into the position we now hold ; and the supply of funds for the work as well as the blessing that has rested upon it confirms one in this conviction. Here at any rate is my present post of duty, and I trust that by His Grace who has led me hitherto I shall not leave it before, nor remain in it longer than it is His will....

" Dearly as I should love to see you all ... may I never, never be permitted to turn back from the Gospel plough, or to lay down my works save as He directs who has called me to so honourable, if in some respects so trying a post."

Yet at the very time this letter was written, tokens for good were not wanting to cheer them on their way. It was a time of wonderful blessing in the home-lands, and the rising tide of revival was sweeping many into the kingdom of God. Prayer and sympathy, in consequence, were steadily on the increase for missionary work.

" A kind friend has been raised up," wrote Mr. Pearse in a communication received at the end of March, " who sends a hundred pounds each to Brother Jones and yourself.... You will be glad to hear that the revival has reached London and hundreds are being converted."

And only two weeks later a letter was received in Mrs. Berger's handwriting containing a bill for fifty pounds.

" My husband is very anxious," she said amongst other encouraging things, " that the hospital should be sustained. It appears to be such a means of blessing. And as other openings occur he hopes you will be able to follow them up.

"Surely this is a day calling for no ordinary activity. People are beginning to wake up. You doubtless see The Revival and other papers. Stirring meetings have been held all over London and in many parts of England, arising out of the week set apart for prayer at the invitation of Christians in India (the second week in January), to plead for the mighty working of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in the world. " Such a week this earth never before witnessed. Oh that glorious results may follow ! I feel so cold and lifeless, and long to be in the heart of these mighty workings. But such is not my privilege. One has to learn to deal with the Lord alone, and not to limit His power to seasons or even places. Ask and have, is His way of it. Believe, and the blessing is ours."

Into the prepared soil at home a little seed was to fall that would take root and grow all the more surely because the time was so opportune. Hudson Taylor's life, past, present and to come, was needed in the providence of God to foster that little seed. He must be taken home, and that before long, So the trial of failing health continued until it was evident that a voyage to England was the only hope of saving his life.

" What I desire to know is how I may best serve China," he had written early in May. " If I am too ill to labour here and by returning home might re-establish health, if only for a time, or if I might rouse others to take up the work I can no longer continue, I think I ought to try."

But now in June his letters took another tone: " I trust, if it is the will of God," he wrote to his parents, " that ... I may be spared to labour for China. If not, all is well. I am very happy in Jesus. Never before have I felt Him to be so precious a Saviour, Lover, Friend. Sometimes I think I may not live to see you ; sometimes I hope to be spared to labour long and more earnestly than ever for China. All, all is known to Him who needs to know all .. . and He will do all things well.

" Do not think me selfish. I do sorrow for the grief my removal would be to you and to my dear, so dear wife. I would fain live for your sakes. But Jesus is so lovely, so precious ! All must sink in comparison with Him."

Still there seemed a probability that the voyage might prolong his life, if nothing more, and closing the hospital with great reluctance the Hudson Taylors set out for Shanghai toward the end of June. And they did not go alone. Means having been abundantly supplied by recent gifts, Mr. Taylor felt justified in accepting the services of the young painter Wang Lae-djun, who saw that his beloved missionaries were unfit to travel alone. Immense as was the distance between China and England in those days, Lae-djun was willing to leave his wife and child in his father's home and go to the ends of the earth with those to whom he owed so much. And they-well they never could have managed the journey without him. His presence also was a precious link with the past they were leaving behind, and encouraged the hope that fellow-workers might be given them in England to whom he could be useful as a teacher of the language.

Many arrangements had to be made in Shanghai, and they were thankful for the two weeks that elapsed before they could sail for home. It was providential that they were able to secure passages at all, for the jubilee, bound for London, was the only vessel by which they could have travelled for a long time to come.

" The Captain has his wife with him," wrote Mr. Taylor, " and seems to be a gentlemanly though unconverted man. He looks irritable, and I fear may make it hard for us at times. But we look to God as our stay.... The season is against us. We shall have to beat down the China Sea, and may expect typhoons. But winds and waves obey Him still, and

... The worst that can come

But shortens the journey and hastens us Home."

One great mercy remained to fill their cup to overflowing. A much-loved sister in the home-circle had not yet given herself to the Lord, and during all the years of their separation Hudson Taylor had daily cried to God on her behalf. Many were the letters he had written pleading with her to decide the question of her soul's salvation, but as far as he was aware she was still putting it off. And then, the very day before they sailed, a mail came in bringing glad tidings. His prayers were answered ! They were united at last, an unbroken family in the Lord.

Unable to write to her before nightfall, the brother roused himself at three o'clock next morning, and in spite of great weakness traced a few lines in pencil, the last he was to write from China for several years.

" In view of my ill-health," they read, " and the possibility of my removal, a burden has been on my mind, now thank God removed. Cleave to the Lord, my doubly - dear sister, with full purpose of heart, and you will indeed find your joy to be full."

Daybreak that summer morning-and as the brown waters of the Yangtze were left behind them, how the travellers' hearts would go up to God ! With what thankfulness they looked back over long years of " goodness and mercy " in China ; with what confidence they looked forward to " goodness and mercy " still through all the untried way.

He cannot have taught us to trust in His Name,

And thus far have brought us, to put us to shame

Each sweet Ebenezer we have in review,

Confirms His good pleasure to help us right through.

The voyage, though not prolonged beyond four months, was an unusually trying one, on account of illness and the awful temper of the captain, and the little party had no comfort but in one another. Often they prayed together in Chinese, and talked over Ning-po days and the way in which the Lord had led them. Often too they thought of the future, and dwelt on the time when with restored health and fellow-workers given in answer to prayer they might be returning to China by the blessing of God. But never on quiet nights in the prow, never under the shining stars, never in moments of most earnest prayer or appropriating faith did they imagine what really was to be.

What dream or desire could reach to it ? China open, open from end to end ; an " Inland Mission," working in its most distant provinces ; a thousand stations and outstations manned by hundreds of missionaries-what ! more than nine hundred, when they were praying for five ? Yes, and the converts ! How could they picture the thirty members of the Church so dear to them multiplied to more than thirty thousand, and the little company of native workers increased to more than two thousand-pastors, teachers, evangelists, Bible-women, all following in the steps of Nyi and Tsiu and Wang Lae-djun ? And as to money, what flight of imagination could have suggested a million and a half sterling given in answer to prayer within the next fifty years ? A million five hundred thousand pounds, not dollars, put into their hands for the spread of the Gospel in China, and that without a collection or a single appeal for financial help. Impossible indeed would it have seemed, even with all their knowledge of Him with whom they had to do

" A God that worketh for him that waiteth for Him."

No, they only prayed and trusted, the future veiled from their eyes. All that Hudson Taylor saw was the great need and the unutterable privilege of giving oneself, one's all, to meet it, in fellowship with Christ. Going home, invalided though he was, few if any expecting to see him return, one longing only filled his heart, one prayer-with his remaining strength to do something more for China, whether by life or by death.

" Oh there is such a boundless sphere of usefulness," he had written in one of his last letters, " but the labourers are few, weak, worn and weary. Oh that the Church at home were awake to its duties, its privileges ! How many would then come and labour here... .

" I have not given up hope of seeing you and your dear husband join us. [Written to his sister Amelia, recently married to Mr. Broomhall.] I believe you will yet come. I believe you will be sent by God. And a happy work you will find it. We have only the Lord to look to for means, for health, for encouragement-and we need no other. He gives us all, and He best knows what we need.

Dear Brother and Sister, do come.... ` Come over and help us.' ... Had I a thousand pounds China should have it. Had I a thousand lives China should claim every one. No, not China, but Christ ! Can we do too much for Him ? Can we do enough for such a Saviour ?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were an offering far too small ;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Shall have my life, my soul, my all."

And as they followed faithfully, living out the spirit of their prayers, the reality of their consecration, God in His infinite faithfulness did the rest. To be continued in Hudson Taylor and The China Inland Mission: Volume 2: The Growth of a Work of God

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