« ZurückWeiter »
the number of its subjects, and in none is there a better arranged censorate. The Chinese may wish to delude foreigners, but they can have no motive to impose upon themselves. Were it physically impossible that the country should subsist so many millions, there would be reason in rejecting the estimate, but the researches of all who have seen and known the country and the people, prove that a much greater number of Chinamen than of Europeans can exist upon the same space of ground., A third part of the human race is here congregated. To the thought of this there is something which distresses and appals the mind. Could we, as is observed by Mr. Medhurst, give instruction to a thousand individuals every day, and only one day's teaching to each, it would take nearly a thousand years to embrace the whole population. A mighty work is here to do. While we are calculating, myriads are passing into eternity, and no voice is raised to tell them of a Saviour, and to call them to glory and virtue.
Connected with this immense population, another thing which strikes an observer is the unity and stability of the government. The will of one man wields the mass. The wisest of their sages has observed, that it is as easy for a virtuous prince to sway an empire as to turn the finger in the palm of the hand. And so it is in China. The vast machinery of its government moves on without interruption or disarrangement, subject it may be to perturbation, but not to change. No country, indeed, has been ruled by so many different dynasties; but the condition of the people has remained the same. - One individual has only taken the place of another at the central wheel. What if “ Heaven's Son"'--for so the emperor designates himself-were brought to the knowledge of the truth! Such is the Utopian hope with which some indulge themselves in contemplation of this fact; and we would, with them, that prayers and intercessions were constantly presented on his behalf; but more likely advantages which it offers to Missions are in the unity which it produces in the Chinese character, and the great sbaking which must happen when the Spirit of the Lord shall breathe upon the dry bones.
Another thing which cannot fail to strike in connexion with the former, is the unity of the written language. Being symbolic, it is understood over the length and breadth of the land. The characters may have dif. ferent names in different provinces ; but, speaking as they do, not to the ear but to the eye, they are equally understood in all. To the foreigner it is, indeed, difficult, but not impossible of acquisition; and when he has mastered it, he is furnished with a passport from the mouth of the Ganges to the Amoor. Surely this circumstance, when
considered along with the taciturn and reading habits of the Chinese, cannot be contemplated by the Christian without de. vout gratitude. It supersedes, in fact, the gift of tongues.
In considering China as a spbere for Mis. sionary labour, a fourth fact which claims our notice is the extent of its dependencies and influence. It has a tributary dominion far beyond its own in magnitude-standing, indeed, to its colonies only as one to thirteen-and it has a dominion of mind and example over all the east of Asia. Its pretensions, which Europeans scout, are acknowledged by the nations beyond the Ganges. Could we move China to throw away its idols, Burmah, and Siam, and Tonquin, and the islands of the Indian Archipelago would soon follow its example, and an impulse would be given to the Chris. tian cause in India, which would issue in the acknowledgment of the truth by nearly one half the human family.
Other circumstances deserving our dotice, and which distinguish the Chinese from all other Asiatics, are their industrious habits, their common sense, and vigour of mind. The obstacles are few which can withstand their perseverance. The most unpromising soil under their labours rejoices and blossoms, and bears an abundant harvest. Had Central Asia been a beath instead of a desert, and had not the Himmaleh hemmed them in, long ere now great part of the West, and of Hindoostan, would have been colonized by Chinese. Thousands of them make their living off the supine indolence of the Malays, and other eastern nations. Wherever you find a dozen houses together, you may be sure one of them is a shop tenanted by a Chioaman. And in all their actions they pretend to reason. It is seldom that one of them does what he is not prepared to justify. His arguments may be sophistical, but grant bis premises, and you will generally find the logic of a son of Han as severe as that of Aristotle.
The last thing to which we bere allude is their very considerable civilization. They are not to be compared with Christian natione ; but we are of opinion that they have advanced as far as buman effort, unassisted by Revelation, can go. We are persuaded they will not lose on a comparison with any nation of antiquity. They have a literature of no mean pretensions-thousands of volumes issue annually from the presslarge proportion of the inhabitants can read and do read ; these are not signs of a barbarous people. The stability and efficiency of the government put this beyond a doubt. Wherever right rules might, where laws are defined, and enforced, and obeyed, you have certain evidences of civilization. And in many of the discoveries to which we owe
our greatness they preceded us. It seems even to be established that to them we are indebted for the invention of the compass. It was communicated by them to the Arabs, from whom it passed into Europe during the time of the crusades. The art of print. ing, aod the use of gunpowder, were known in China long before they were found out in Europe. That these various discoveries base not been attended with the same ad. vantages to them as to us, is not to be attri. bated to the superiority of our mental faculties. The European who affirms so is on a level with the Chinaman, who proDounces him a barbarian. The sole cause of our advancement lies in the possession of the Gospel ; the freedom of mind, and the tone of feeling, which it produces and fosters, even in those who will not bind it to their hearts: and that China does not now occupy & position in the mental and moral scale as elevated as that of Britain, is owing to its infelicity in wanting this precious boon.
This last consideration is pregnant with motives to Christian effort; but our limits will only permit us to refer to one of its bearings. In obedience to the commands of the Saviour, animated by love to Him, and touched with compassion for the wretchedness and ignorance of those whom God hath made of the same blood ; the Christian Church sends forth its Mission. aries to proclaim unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. It has received its commission from Him wbose Dame is the only name whereby men can be saved, and before whose tribunal all must at last appear. Now, let us bear in mind the rule according to which the awards of judgment will be given, that “ He that knew bis Lord's will, and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes ; while he that knew it not, and did wrong, shall be beaten with few ;' in other words, that privileges and performances will be weighed against each other : let us bear this in mind, and China becomes invested with a frightful interest. Its advantages are greater than those of any other heathen nation. With faculties more vigorous, and knowledge more extended, its people might know more of the nature, and character, and law of God; and not doing this, are exposed to heavier condemnation. Time would fail us did we attempt to describe the gloominess of their moral state, notwithstanding their superior civilization--their haughtiness, and worldliness, and sensuality, and infanticide. Loud as is the cry for help which now comes from its myriad population, hushing by its solitary greatness every other voice, louder far and more piercing will be its scream of cursing and despair, which on that day will sound through the abyss.
We cannot dwell longer upon the empusasis which is given to its claims upon
the Christian Church by peculiarities in its condition. Put together those which we have mentioned, and see whether they do not justify the assertion of the Society. Who can doubt that Paul, if he could have heard the cry of three hundred and sixty millions of civilized men, who had influence and control over a territory fifteen times as large as their own, and who all used one language ; and who were no dreaming enthusiasts, nor fierce fanatics, but who were disposed to judge of the pretensions of men from the solidity of their reasonings, and of the worth of doctrines from the tendency of their practice,--who can doubt that he would willingly have turned from the Hill of Mars, and cast no lingering look upon the Capitol, though covered with listening thousands, and have bent his way to Chioa, and not rested till he bad testified, through its length and breadth, the Gospel of the grace of God?
We might here leave the subject, requesting your individual prayers for the labourers, few and far between, that are occupied in this vineyard, and that you would, as you can, press the claims which we have advocated, on the notice of the Church at large ; but there is a very strong impression throughout the country, and there may be with some of you, that all which is said about China, as a field now to
occupied, is vox et præterea nihil-schem. ing enthusiasm, and baseless speculation. A few additional remarks, therefore, will not be out of place.
It may be objected to the manner in which we have argued its claims, that we have not adverted to certain peculiarities of the Chinese character, which are ex. ceedingly adverse to the introduction of the Gospel. Of these may be specified their blind veneration of antiquity, and their contempt of foreigners. With regard to the former, it is true that the people are bound by old saws. The past is the mirror in which they dress themselves. Their ancient kings imbodied all the per. fections of rulers ; Confucius concentrated in bimself all the wisdom of sages. good old way" is not to be departed from. Now, we purposely abstained from alluding to this. Our object was to point out some circumstances in the condition of China, which prompt to and encourage Missionary effort. This only necessitates it. The Chinese mind, as formed at present, and the Chinese heart, (though we confess our inadequacy minutely to analyze and exhibit them,) are strong.holds of Satan, which have to be pulled down. The more strongly the Church is impressed with the difficulty of such an enterprise the better; if her mind be not dark, and her heart be not diseased, it will only act as a motive to vigorous and corresponding exertion.
With regard to the second feature of character, a contempt of foreigners, we think that the contempt with which this people are regarded, in consequence of it, is equally unreasonable. A little acquaintance with their history would modify, to a great extent, the general opinion on this subject. When they first were introduced to the knowledge of Europeans by Marco Polo, they were decidedly superior to any western nation; and the terms in which he described them, and likewise some of the early Je. suit Missionaries, have never been surpassed by themselves. They saw, likewise, the European character reflected in the doings of the Dutch and Portuguese in India and Ceylon, and the Archipelago-doings which told only of fierce ambition, and insatiable avarice and fell cruelty. The only characters with whom they came into immediate contact were a few merchants and the Jesuit Missionaries; and during the 16th and 17th centuries, the mercantile character as displayed in Eastern Asia, was a hateful compound of the mean and sordid, the gross and rapacious passions; while we have every reason to believe, that, with many brilliant exceptions, the Roman Catholic Missionaries were remarkable only for ambition, ignorance, and selfish jealousy. These circumstances may, in some measure, account for the epithets “crafty, gainseeking, turbulent, dangerous, devils,” which were then stereotyped for the use of the empire, without our referring them entirely to Chinese superciliousness and pride. It is true, that during the eighteenth century the foreign character much improved ; and we could show that the Chinese estimate improved along with it. Latterly, however, a fouler stain has been inflicted upon it by the trade in opium. " The vile dirt of other countries," says the Chinese government, “is exchanged for the commodities and money of the celestial empire.”' European character is thus once more estimated by a false standard, and the Chinese see “in the opium smuggler, the lineal descendant of the rapacious merchant and unholy priest of by-gone centuries." Still they are not insensible to the advantages which may be derived from foreign intercourse. The contempt which they cherish does not blind their perception of the benefits they may reap.
“ In modern times," say they, “there have come in from foreign countries three good things—vaccination, fire-engines, and a constant flow of rice." To these the practice of the healing art will soon be added ; and it depends upon the churches of Great Britain and America, whether the “glad tidings'' shall be num. bered in the same catalogue nuw, or not till centuries hence.
All this may be admitted, and our point be as far from being carried as
ever. There are four words which seem to operate like a magic spell upon the sym. pathies and energy of the Christian church. China is not open. The reasonableness of this may be tested by expressing the same sentiment in four different words: the Chinese are heathens. In fact, the argument is just this: We have a commission from Christ to preach the Gospel to every creature, but the Chinese refuse to hear our agents. Our Lord has, indeed, left us the promise of his own presence and the help of his Spirit; and God who hath the hearts of all men in his hands, and can turn them like water, has sworn that Jesus shall receive the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession : but all this is not enough. We must wait till the Chinese meet us half way of their own accord, or God rend the heavens and come down, or the Spirit fur. nish us with some Sesame, the mere utter. ance of which will open all doors, and throw down all barriers. We are reminded of Christian and Hopeful in the dungeon of doubting castle: and it is time that the Church should rouse itself like the former. “A little before day, good Christian, as one half amazed, brake out in this passionate speech :—What a fool (quoth he) am I thus to lie in a noisome dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty! I have a key in my bosom, called Promise, that will open any lock in doubting castle. Then said Hopeful, That's good news, good brother, pluck it out of thy bosom and try.” And so he did, and the dungeon door flew open with ease, and the outward door leading into the castle-yard was speedily opened also, and though the lock of the iron gate went very hard, yet the key did open it too. It is needless to expound the analogy.
But it will be objected that we do not state the case fairly. These four words should be condensed into three-China is barred. We grant it, and the bolts are two-the enmity of the human heart to God, and the outgoings of that enmity in edicts against foreign intercourse. As to the one, it is beyond our power ; but we have the assurance of Him who cannot lie, that if we remove the second, his Spirit shall remove the first. And concerning those edicts we may learn a lesson from Luther. When he began to write against indulgences, Dr. Jerome Schurf said to him one day, “What are you about? They will never allow it.” “What," replied the re. former, “what if they must allow it." The bolts must and will be removed ere long, and in China there will be a highway for the nations. Now, there are three agencies which may remove them-war, commerce, and the Gospel. It will not be war, for though Russia and England both border on China, and it lies helpless between them, it is safe through their mutual jealousy. Were
either of these nations to spring upon it sure. It seems but yesterday that I was in from the north or from the south, we should similar circumstances to yourself, searching have a grand verification of the anecdote of for the great highway of duty upon which the individual who was saved from the tiger to travel through this brief but important by the alligator, into whose jaws the other life. Having the last week looked directly leaped. It must be opened, then, either by into the eternal world, and solemnly apprecommerce or by the Gospel. Both of these hended, that in a few moments more my bave power to do it: and the former is connexions with China and all below active in doing it. But let the Christian might be dissolved, (from being exposed in church be told, that if it wait till commerce a gale, in which some hundreds of souls shall have opened a path for its agents were lost,) it will be my endeavour to aninto China, they will then find the natives swer your inquiries with candour, and as tenfold more the children of hell than now. becoming one grateful for protracted opOpium is the means which commerce will portunities of doing any thing that may be employ-debasing the minds, quenching of service, either temporally or eternally, to the energies, deadening the hearts of the this people. Upon the subject of your first people. The Chinese rulers say, that if not inquiry, respecting the claims of the misearly aroused to a sense of their danger sion, allow me to refer you to my letter in from this drug, they will find themselves the Evangelical Magazine for last year :ere long on the brink of ruin.
“II. What system of means appears, to opening will not prepare the hearts of the your mind, most eligible and needed, at the Chinese to receive the Gospel, and among present juncture of China's civil and reli. all the voices in which its claims are urged gious history, to accomplish the ends for upon us, this is not the least, -Save us from which the Christian mission has been insti. your countrymen.
tuted; whether, in fact, medical or nonThe subject has grown upon us, and medical missionaries have the greatest acthere are many other considerations, show- cess and are most required ?" ing the necessity of immediate exertion, that The end of Christian missions is the press upon us, to which we cannot even honour of the Redeemer, in the highest allude. We cannot, however, draw to a happiness of heathen men for time and conclusion without again adverting to the eternity. It does not contemplate either widely-extended influence of China, and the exclusively, except in a comparative sense. intimate connexion which subsists between He who said, “ Lo, I come to do thy will,” all the Ultra-Gadgetic nations. Millions of went about doing good, even temporal Chinese are to be found in Burmah, and good: he healed diseases, gave sight to the Siam, and Malaya. These countries are blind, and hearing to the deaf, and mani. open, and so are most of the islands of fested a peculiar regard to the poor, and the Archipelago, which are in a great mea- when he finished his mission, he commanded sure colonized from China. Many central his apostles and disciples to imitate his exstations may be established throughout ample. The paramount object of the Chris. these regions, from which the Chinese and tian missionary is to preach the Gospel, China itself may be operated upon. China Isa. lxi. 1, 2, to teach the heathen the vanity cannot be said to be barred till a line is of their idols, and to serve the living God. drawn from the Ganges to Australia, and But, unhappily, in China there is someover it there is inscribed “ Thus far, but thing in the way of coming directly to this no farther.” Then let us imitate the host work as did the apostles. It is apprehended of Israel at Jericho; let the whole family there was more knowledge of the true God, of God in every place bow their knees unto and much greater power of conscience, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that among the nations to whom they preached, He would fulfil his promise, and let the than among the Chinese, and hence, by priests and soldiers who are there bear the direct appeals to their consciences, and ark of the covenant, and proclaim its con- fearless declaration of the truth, (Acts iv. tents along the borders of China-let them 8—12,) they had a great advantage over do this perseveringly, notwithstanding seem. those who would bring the Chinese to a ing unsuccessfulness and jeering taunts, and belief of the fact that there is “ but one as He who hath sworn it reigneth above the name given," &c. The influence of a clouds, its walls will speedily fall down flat. martyr's death among a people like those of
Ephesus, and the region round about Jeru. POSITION OF A MISSIONARY IN CHINA. salem to Illyricum, would be tenfold greater Extract of a Letter sent to a Medical than among those who estimate life by a
Friend in London, from Dr. Parker, of different standard, who believe in the transCanton, Medical Missionary from Ame. migration of souls, and are accustomed to rica; dated July 10, 1838.
see human heads fall off by the knife of the DEAR SIR,-Yours of January last, just executioner weekly, and, in some cases, by received, has been with no ordinary plea- scores in a day-recently, about half a hun,
dred heads were severed by the executioner worshippers of the one true God, and friends at Canton, in one day; and when, a little of all mankind, and no fears will be raised. before, a man was strangled at Macao, an You inquire, whether, in fact, medical or official attendant seemed delighted at those non-medical missionaries have the greatest struggles, groans, and agonies, that turned access, and are most required? Absolutely, the Christian pale. To say that the Chi- there is no capacity in which the herald of nese have no conscience would be false; the cross has so free welcome, and influenbut their ideas of a Creator and Disposer of- tial access to all ranks and conditions of all things are extremely obscure, and that the Chinese, as the pious, judicious, and their foolish minds have become exceedingly skilful physician.
Every prejudice seems darkened none can doubt. Besides the forgotten in the prospect of rescue from obstacles directly resulting from deep de- disease and death of the beloved relative or pravity of heart, and long abandonment to friend. As to which are most required, we idols, there are barriers of a conventional reply, each and both are urgently demanded, or national character, as haughtiness, self- and are reciprocally serviceable to each conceit, complacency, jealousy, contempt of other. The Medical Missionary Society in foreigners and suspiciousness of their de- China has written to the London Missionary signs. We must take China as it is, and Society, the Church Missionary Society, and not as we would have it; and adopt those the American Board of Foreign Missions, means which we consider are best calculated
requesting a Medical Missionary from each to make it what it ought to be. The acqui- without delay, to meet the immediate and sition of the language; the preaching of the imperative claims of the Society. On the imGospel by precept and by life ; the transla- portance of the London Missionary Society tion and distribution of the Scriptures and establishing a Medical Mission at Canton tracts; the diffusion of knowledge, human and Macao, I wrote in January to my and divine, scientific, historical, and geo- friend Dr. Reed, and need not repeat. graphical; the gratuitous practice of medi. You allude to existing doubts of the expecine and surgery; and the founding of cha- diency and utility of sending out pious ritable institutions for the sick; are some of medical men: these doubts may exist on the the principal details of that system of means other side of the world, they do not, and which the church ought and will employ, if cannot here. Your friend Mr. S. writes, she wishes well to this people. Were there “ It seems, that some friends in North no impediments, it would be superfluous to America, who have experience in Medical insist upon more than the first two items, Missions, do not highly value their adaptedall the rest would follow harmoniously in ness to the wants of China, so far as a Christhe train of vital Christianity. Were a tian Missionary Society is mainly concern. Chinese to call a meeting at Exeter Hall, ed.” This is quite new to me. The Rev. and exhort the people of London to cease Dr. Anderson writes me, that the Com. their adorations of an invisible and, as he mittee of the American Board had doubts might suppose an imaginary Deity, and urge whether the expense of supporting hospitals them to set up colossal images, like his could with propriety be paid from mission. country's gods, in all the churches, he ary funds. But the plan has the unquali. would scarcely be looked upon with more fied approbation of some of the first men in pity than is the foreigner who advises the America for piety and sound judgment, and renunciation of the religion of their an. men first in the confidence of the Christian cestors, and attempts to convince them it is public, whose letters are before me. There unnecessary to make remittances of money, is an ocean to be passed before reaching the clothes, &c., to their spirits long departed. confidence and affections of the Chinese, They know not the excellence of the Gos- after the missionary has planted his feet pel. It comes by suspicions hands, from upon the “inner land;" and to all who nations distinguished by their warlike deeds, understand the fact, there is but one senand thirst for power and conquest. If, per- timent concerning the peculiar adaptedness chance, they have known something of it of medical and surgical practice to give a by those who call themselves “the wor. passage across this ocean of prejudice, exshippers of the Lord of heaven," it is clusion, self-conceit, and jealousy. Call this under circumstances which excite their sus. practice a temporary thing, å mere raft to picion or contempt; only recently a Chi. be shattered and lost presently, if it will nese remarked with emphasis, “That the serve us to pass over to the citadel, where and Romish priests were not almost the same, when we may employ those weapons of the but precisely the same as the Budhist." Gospel, not of steel, but which are spiritual Whilst the Chinese might be startled, and and mighty, why not employ it? We are their alarm excited, were a set of men from willing to abandon it to other hands when a distant country to announce that they that point is gained, and no longer serve had come to overthrow their false religions, tables, but bless God that we may give they may come and exhibit the fruits of the ourselves continually to prayer and to the Gospel and demonstrate that they are the ministry of the word. We misinterpret