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Fruits of Toil in the London Missionary Society Part 4

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XII.--CHINA.

[Ill.u.s.tration: MAP OF PEKING AND MONGOLIA.]

In the Empire of China the London Missionary Society occupies seven princ.i.p.al stations and employs twenty-one English missionaries. By their efforts several churches have been founded, which have been blessed with true prosperity. No cases of earnest personal effort have been more striking in their character and results than those which have occurred among the prosperous churches of AMOY. Last year the Directors published, in the usual way, detailed information from the Rev. JOHN STRONACH, of the opening of new stations at BO-PIEN and TIO-CHHU, and showed from Mr. Stronach's journal the hearty reception which he met with on his visit to these villages in the interior of the province. In the REPORT of the Amoy mission further particulars were given, which indicated the progress of the movement, and the healthy manner in which it has been carried on. The Directors trust that from the outset these earnest Christians will understand that it is their privilege and their duty to sustain for themselves the ordinances of that faith which they have now received:--

"On the 2nd of December, Mr. JOHN STRONACH visited a large village still further distant, called San-io, and had, in the s.p.a.cious public school-room, a numerous and attentive audience for two hours. But the chief interest was displayed in the village of Tang-soa, distant from Bo-pien about twelve miles, the native place of the zealous, but as yet unbaptized convert, whose earnest efforts to instruct his numerous neighbours I referred to in my recent letter. In Tang-soa his efforts among his relatives have been so successful that many of the villagers not only gave up the school-room for us to give addresses in, but, after listening to them with an interest altogether new in that part of the country, begged me to gratify their desires for regular instruction in Christianity by establishing services every Sunday. I asked what proof they could give of the sincerity of their desire, and fifteen replied by bringing in the evening all the idols they owned, and in the presence of about forty of their fellow villagers, placing them on the table and then decapitating them, breaking them in sundry pieces, trampling them frequently under their feet, and otherwise ignominiously treating them, to the great delight of the numerous boys who were present and who joined gleefully in the sport; and we were at once offered the village school-room as another chapel, with the hope of eventually being put in possession of the idol temple. One of the deacons at Bo-pien, who has often attended the examinations for the first literary degree, has been engaged as an a.s.sistant preacher. At Tio-chhu, the new station referred to in my last letter, I had the pleasure, on the 8th December, of baptizing four additional converts, making twelve in all."

The Report further observes with respect to the general character of the churches in Amoy:--



"While lamenting the falls of some, we rejoice in the salvation of many. In the region of BO-PIEN there has been a decided awakening; not the least interesting feature of which is, that it was commenced by the preaching of an individual who belonged to a church the fewness of whose members has often been cause of regret; thus showing us that the Gospel, though producing apparently little impression in one place, may be productive of the highest results in another; and that, though a church may not increase in numbers, it yet may increase in the usefulness of its members.

"It is with unfeigned joy that we observe among our church members many whose endeavour to overcome their evil habits and customs, whose love for the Scriptures, habits of prayer, patient forbearance of injuries, and general Christian behaviour, convince us that their piety is such as the great Head of the Church will greatly approve."

The city of HANKOW, far up the river Yangtse, in the centre of CHINA, has often been spoken of in the Society's periodicals as one of the most wonderful mission stations in the world. The Society's work commenced in HANKOW in 1861. It has steadily prospered from the first.

But during the past two years the Church has received unusual blessings; has doubled its numbers, and has received several remarkable accessions from the heathen. The Rev. G. JOHN thus describes these results:--

"Profound grat.i.tude to Almighty G.o.d for His presence and aid should be the predominant sentiment of our hearts. The numerical accession which the church has received this year is considerably in excess of that of any previous year. In 1862, ten adults were baptized; in 1863, twelve; in 1864, thirteen; in 1865, eleven; in 1866, twenty-two; in 1867, FIFTY-ONE have been added to our number. Thus, whilst year by year the work has been steadily though slowly advancing, this year its progress has been rapid and signal. But it is not in the mere number that we rejoice. We rejoice in these fifty-one converts princ.i.p.ally on account of their general character, their various stations in life, and the circ.u.mstances in which, and the means by which they have been brought into the fold of Christ.

In these respects they are to us a source of much consolation and encouragement.

"One interesting fact connected with these fifty-one members is, that thirteen of them are women, and that eleven of the thirteen are the wives of converts. The conversion of the female population of China is a subject which must weigh heavily and constantly on the heart of every earnest missionary. The obstacles are many and formidable. Both by preaching and private conversation, for nearly six years, I have been labouring to impress on the minds of the converts the duty and importance of bringing their wives under the direct influence of the Gospel. They would maintain that the custom of the country was against it. To attend chapel and join the men in public worship, would bring not only the wife, but the whole family into contempt, and so on.

"Last, year there were evident signs of a movement in the right direction; and this year the result has exceeded my most sanguine expectations. Nineteen women have already been received into the church, several are now coming in, and we have every reason to hope that most of the wives of the converts who reside in and around Hankow will be identified with us before the end of next year. There are now several whole families in the church, and it is getting to be generally understood that it is the solemn duty of the Christian member of a family to make the salvation of every member of that family a matter of deep personal concern."

[Ill.u.s.tration: GOLDEN ISLAND, ON THE YANG-TSE RIVER, CHINA.]

The great value of Hankow as a mission station, and the variety of persons which it brings into contact with the Gospel, are strikingly ill.u.s.trated by Mr. JOHN:--

"There is one more interesting fact connected with these fifty-one members, namely, that they represent SEVERAL DIFFERENT PROVINCES, and various ranks and grades of society. Only on Sunday week I baptized six men, who represent five distinct provinces. Of the 108 members still in communion, about seventy reside in and around the cities of Hankow, Wu-Chang, and Han-Yang. The rest are scattered over the country, and, we trust, are spreading abroad the knowledge of the truth. These facts tend to impress on our minds the importance of Hankow as a Mission station; and they prove an observation which I made in a former communication to be correct--namely, that the whole Empire may be influenced more or less from this grand centre.

"But these men not only represent different Provinces and Districts of the Empire; they represent also different grades of society. Some of them are scholars, and others are tradesmen; some are artizans, and others are peasants; some are poor, but none (with one exception) are helpless. We have in the church at present one who has obtained his M.A. degree, eight who have obtained their B.A. degree, and a large number of ordinary scholars who have pa.s.sed their matriculation examination. Among those who were admitted on Sunday week, there were a scholar, a merchant, and a barber. It was interesting to see representatives of the highest and lowest grades of Chinese society meet before the same font on Sunday; and then, on the following Wednesday, at the Christmas feast, occupying adjoining seats. Both are filling stations in life in which they may exercise a beneficial influence on many around them."

XIII.--THE WEST INDIA MISSION.

[Ill.u.s.tration: A MAP OF PART OF BRITISH GUIANA.]

From the ample information recently furnished by the missionaries to the Directors, we learn that these two colonies of the British Crown contain together a population of Negro extraction amounting to half a million individuals; viz.: BRITISH GUIANA, 100,000; JAMAICA, 400,000. Besides these there are Indian Coolies, 28,800 in number, of whom GUIANA has 25,000. That province also contains 7,000 Indians, while Jamaica has its thousands of heathen Maroons. The ruling population of whites is 13,816 in Jamaica, and 2,000 in Guiana, or about 16,000 in all. This native population of half a million, just equal in number to the population of the single city of Calcutta or Canton, spread over an occupied territory of twelve thousand square miles, and situated only four thousand miles from England, enjoys the services of three hundred professed ministers of the Gospel; of whom a hundred and forty are supplied by Missionary Societies not connected with the established churches and supported by voluntary funds. The bulk of the population is nominally Christian, and has been for some years as well instructed in Christianity as an equal number of persons in the country parts of England. And doubtless it has been thus christianized the more fully because of the large supply of religious teachers furnished by the different sections of the Church of Christ.

It is evident that the converts in Jamaica occupy a much higher position of physical and social comfort than those in GUIANA, and that the latter are not so well off as they were five-and-twenty years ago. While wages have fallen and prices have increased, it is evident that the moral influence of the 25,000 Coolies from India, with all their heathen vices, on the 100,000 Creoles has been exceedingly injurious. In neither colony has there been that thorough spiritual growth, that self-control, that self-reliance among the christian converts generally, which their best friends hoped for and thought they were able to find. This cannot be deemed unnatural, when it is considered that only thirty years have pa.s.sed since the Act of Emanc.i.p.ation, and that ages of training will be needed before the moral taint of slavery is purified away.

[Ill.u.s.tration: RIDGEMOUNT, JAMAICA.]

The Directors therefore feel that it would be in every way a mistake to throw these young and imperfect churches at once upon their own resources. They have also not seriously entertained the suggestion made to commend them to the care of some other evangelical denomination seeking the same end as ourselves. Nevertheless the Board cannot think it right or wise to continue the present system unchanged. If unable completely to run alone, our churches are too large, the members too numerous, and their resources too great to justify any continuance of that complete dependence upon the Society which has prevailed with them hitherto. The Board desire to see the churches strong in themselves, managing completely their own affairs, providing the ministry by which they shall be instructed, and engaged heartily in missionary efforts for the conversion of their heathen neighbours. This is the end which, they trust, will henceforth be distinctly kept in view, and which should be sought by every means which practical experience finds suitable to promote it.

They have resolved, therefore, to adopt the following measures:--First, they limit the staff of English missionaries to the number of men (thirteen) now left in the field. They desire that steady efforts shall be made to place all the churches under the pastoral charge of suitable Native ministers. They desire that all the local and incidental expenses of the mission shall be entirely defrayed by the Native Churches. Lastly, they will limit their grants from England to the allowance of the English missionaries.

XIV.--INCOME AND EXPENDITURE.

1.--RECEIPTS.

1. CONTRIBUTIONS FOR GENERAL PURPOSES--

a. Subscriptions, Donations, and pound. s. d.

Collections 56,685 2 11 b. Dividends 584 4 9 c. Australian Auxiliaries and Foreign Societies 3,191 6 10 d. Legacies 10,875 13 7 e. Fund for Widows and Orphans and Retired Missionaries 4,500 15 0 f. Mission Stations, English and Native Contributions, raised and appropriated 19,414 16 4 g. Ditto, additional from the South Seas, unappropriated 1,070 19 5 ------------ 96,322 18 10

2. CONTRIBUTIONS FOR SPECIAL OBJECTS--

a. For the Extension of Missions in China 552 12 10 b. For the Extension of Missions in India 371 5 4 c. For Madagascar Mission 1,521 7 11 d. For Memorial Churches 1,267 17 0 e. For Training Native Agents, other than in India 1,000 0 0 f. For Missionary Ship 253 19 0 g. For Expenditure of 1867 and 1868 79 7 8 ------------ 5,046 9 9 ------------ Total Income 101,369 8 7

3. Balance in hand, May, 1868 1,062 8 4 4. Funded Property, Tasmania Bond, paid off 500 0 0 5. Value of Stock transferred from Ship Account 2,432 0 0 6. Rev. Dr. Tidman's Testimonial Fund 3,483 18 11 ----------- 7,478 7 3 ------------ 108,847 15 10 ============

2.--EXPENDITURE.

1. FOREIGN EXPENDITURE.

a. China Mission: allowances of the English Missionaries; Rents; Repairs; Sick Leave; Expenses of Itinerancies; Native Agency; Education, and the Press (as detailed in the last Annual Report) 10,103 7 3 b. India Missions: Bengal and North India; the Madras Presidency; and Travancore 35,386 13 11 c. Madagascar Mission 6,686 4 4 d. South Africa Mission 9,872 1 6 e. West India Mission 9,225 10 9 f. Mission in the South Seas 13,454 19 2 g. Education of Missionary Students 2,109 10 1 h. Retired Missionaries; Widows and Orphans 3,398 8 0 ------------ TOTAL FOREIGN EXPENDITURE 90,236 15 3

2. HOME EXPENDITURE.

a. Expenses of Administration 1,913 16 10 b. Expenses in Raising Funds 3,477 12 4 c. Periodical Literature 1,539 1 1 d. General Home Expenses 794 19 8 ----------- TOTAL HOME EXPENDITURE 7,725 9 11 ------------ Total expended in 1868 97,962 5 2 3. Investments 9,017 0 0 4. Balance in hand, May 1, 1869 1,868 10 8 ------------ 108,847 15 10 =============

This statement shows that the greater ordinary income secured during the past year is needed every year, to maintain the Society at its present strength. Even with revised establishments working at a reduced cost, the Directors still require 75,000 pounds a-year to meet the various items of general expenditure for which they have directly to provide. But that is precisely the amount which the revived interest and the earnest exertions of deputations and collectors have brought into their hands; and no margin is left at their command to cover any extraordinary expense which may arise.

Nowhere, therefore, may our friends relax their efforts or diminish their recent gifts. Givers, collectors, ministers who plead, are still invited to uphold the hands of the Society, and to urge its claims. And if we look to extension, that extension which comes naturally to a prosperous field: still more to that extension for which the field untouched cries mightily day by day: how shall this enlargement of our operations be secured but by still augmented resources, by still higher consecration, still greater liberality, and more earnest prayer?

The SOCIETY DESERVES such help from our Churches; its history, its sphere of usefulness, the spirit in which it is managed, the rich prosperity which the Lord has granted to its labours, all appeal in its name. THE FIELD DESERVES AND NEEDS IT. How little has been accomplished of the holy purpose which Missions have in view.

Compared with the millions unevangelized, the converts gained are numerically nothing. Indeed, the sphere of our labour has continued ever to grow wider, and every answer of G.o.d's providence to the Church's gifts and prayers and self-denial has been to extend its power to be useful and give it much more to do.

And does not the LORD CLAIM from us this larger service? He has shown the need of the heathen world more clearly, and made the argument for instructing it unanswerable.

We have prospects for the future to which the gains of the past are poor. With our skilled agencies, all shaped by experience, with plans well-tried, with our versions and our literatures in every tongue, with China opened widely in answer to prayer, with India deeply moved, with Africa free, with Polynesia raised and civilized, with Madagascar purified by fire--what tokens have we of manifest blessing, of approval, and of divine help! The old systems have fallen, or are paralysed, or are trembling with fear; and the young life of the world is drawing towards freedom and truth. Our results are incomplete; they are but an earnest of successes yet to be gathered; and the full reward will be reaped more truly as the years go by. But how n.o.ble that reward will be!

A pleasant custom prevails in India which will ill.u.s.trate our position. At all the military stations of the Empire, the troops are summoned to parade in the early morning by the firing of a gun. The night may still be dark; the restless sleeper may fancy it will yet be long. But suddenly amid the stillness loud and clear booms out the morning gun. The stars are still shining, and the landscape is wrapped in gloom. But THE DAWN IS NEAR; and soon every eye is open, every foot astir, and the busy, waking life of men again begins. The fleecy clouds that hang on the eastern horizon grow ruddy with gold; and the arrowy light shoots its bright rays athwart the clear blue sky. The dust and foulness which the night has hidden stand revealed.

But in the forests and hills the pulses of nature beat fresh and full; the leopard and the tiger slink away; the gay flowers open; the birds flit to and fro, and with woodland music welcome the rising day. In the city all forms of life quicken into active exercise. The trader sits ready on his stall; the judge is on the bench; the physician allays pain; the mother tends her child. The claims of human duty come again into full force; benevolence is active; suffering and disappointment, forgotten in sleep, press with new weight on weary hearts. What a mighty change one hour has made!

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