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Christianity upon their children and upon the individual women in the Church. Again, if barriers of dullness are to be broken down and a way made into sluggish brains old jaded Bible-women will not do. It demands the sprightliness and patience of educated women. While always magnifying woman's work for women it is still amazing to me that capable women continue to think they can thus accomplish more than by educating and moulding the character of girls in school. Indeed the great marvel of my missionary life is the practical indifference to this supremely important branch of our work. There are missionaries who go so far as to insist that girls under the influence of a foreign woman are unfitted for the duties of life. If true, this means simply that Christianity is a failure. Such views must have come from observing the results of some miserably mismanaged and neglected school that did not deserve the name of school. I have read of the outcome of twenty-three Syrian girls twenty years after graduation. Two died a triumphant death; the remaining twenty-one were all heads of families, esteemed and honored in their communities, while nine were still teaching school. I have in hand letters from eight schools in China. All say that the girls are not unfitted for the realities of life. Most say that the demand for them as wives is greater than the supply.
In order to satisfactory results in a girl's school at least three things are essential: First. The girls must come young enough and be kept long enough under the personal influence of the foreign teacher to enable her to mould and fix reliable Christian character. A well-built character cannot be turned out by the rapid processes of modern machinery. Under the most favorable circumstances at least five years will be required. After the conversion of Jennie Lind she refused to sing at the opera. She received a message saying, "The king of Sweden commands you to sing." She replied, "I am already under command from the king of a higher court not to sing." We must have women in China so loyal to king Jesus that they will stand firm in the face of the imperious commands of heathen customs. In order to this, roots must strike deep and the character be developed into the strength and maturity of Christian principle, or these terrific storms will overwhelm it. We are distressingly powerless to deliver these people from poverty, but by thus influencing the girls for years much can be done to redeem their families from degradation, which is the curse of poverty.
Second. While in school the girls must be kept filled with the ambition to make themselves useful in practical ways, such as cooking, sewing, embroidery, and also be kept in touch with their own people by spending a portion of each year at home and by other
means devised by the person in charge. Lady originally meant breadserver and wife-wearer. In the hands of a sensible woman there is no reason why girls should not take pride in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well, and at the same time be prepared to make their homes nurseries of souls as well as of bodies. Of course it is not contended that this undertaking will have much in common with a picnic excursion.
Third. There must be something more than the mechanical storing of the mind with useful knowledge. They must be thoroughly taught to think and reason. Their minds must be awakened and stimulated and filled with beautiful hopes, dreams, ambitions and aspirations. They must catch the spirit of self-sacrifice, which is the mind of the Lord Jesus. In a word their lives must be made a part of the divine life.
David Abeel, Pioneer Missionary to China.
BY REV. JOHN G. FAGG, AMOY.
[American Reformed Mission.]
CHINESE house under a wide-spreading banyan on the island of Kolangsu, opposite Amoy, still stands a landmark of the labors of godly David Abeel. He was the first foreign missionary sent out by the American Reformed Church. He was the pioneer of the Amoy mission.
He was born June 12th, 1804, at New Brunswick, New Jersey. His father was an officer in the U. S. Navy during the Revolution, and was honored by Congress for valor in several hotly-contested sea-battles.
The son inherited his father's military instincts, and when a youth of fifteen applied for admission to West Point. The applications that year were so numerous that he withdrew his request. He gave himself to the study of medicine for a year. Meanwhile he had come to the great turning-point in life which determines destiny. He became a Christian. His conception of the Christian life was lofty. From the beginning his life bore the impress of a coin fresh from the mint of heaven. It was so bright with a singularly attractive holiness. His heart turned naturally to the Christian ministry. At the age of nineteen he entered New Brunswick Theological Seminary. It was not long before the question forced itself upon him, "Where shall be my sphere of labor?" Abeel's consecration was too real, too deep to admit of his deciding on a
limited, one-sided view of duty. He saw the needs of his own Church. But his vision took in a wider horizon. The needs of the perishing millions beyond the seas appealed to him. Near his home was a grove where he made a bower to which he resorted for prayer and meditation. There he heard the voice of the Lord calling him to the regions beyond. He was at that time the only surviving son of his parents. They were advanced in years. To go to a foreign land in those days signified to most men life-long exile. The only highways to the Far East were by way of the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn. The voyages were always long and often perilous. When on board the ship Roman, bound for Canton, David Abeel wrote: "To the missionary, perhaps exclusively, is the separation from friends like the farewell of death. Though ignorant of the future he expects no further intercourse on earth. To him the next meeting is generally beyond the grave." Under these circumstances it is not strange that he found it difficult to come to a decision.
He accepted a call to Athens, New York, his first and only charge. There he ministered for two years and six months, when ill-health compelled him to resign. His brief ministry was one of marked spirituality. The people could not forget it. When, after twenty years of travel and multiplied labors in Eastern lands, he came to visit his first flock, the house of God became a very Bochim, for joy to greet their faithful shepherd once more, for sorrow because they should see his face no more. He was already treading the border land of a brighter world.
Abeel's entrance upon the pastorate did not signify that he had hushed God's call to go hence to the heathen. It is to be feared that many a man has done it to his lasting regret. He fanned and fed the flame of missionary zeal by reading the lives of David Brainerd and Henry Martyn. He surrendered himself completely to God's will. He sought guidance.
In December, 1827, he resolved to offer himself to the American Board, through which agency the American Reformed Church carried on her missionary work for upwards of twenty-five years. When first contemplating the foreign field his mind was drawn to Palestine. But he never saw the Holy Land. His field was to be 8000 miles nearer the rising sun.
In September, 1829, he received a call from the American Seaman's Friend Society to undertake work on behalf of seamen at Canton. The ship was to sail in a month. He had four weeks in which to decide and prepare. He accepted the call. About the same time the American Board extended a call to Dr. Elijah Coleman Bridgman, then a student at Andover, to proceed by the same ship to China. He was given three days to decide. He had decided
within the next twenty-four hours. The ship Roman, in which Abeel and Bridgman sailed, was owned by D. W. C. Olyphant, a distinguished Christian merchant and friend of missions.
It was in response to his earnest efforts that these first American missionaries were sent out. He gave them free passage and promised to provide them a home free of cost for a year after their arrival. During the voyage of four months Abeel wrought for the sailors by meetings in the cabin and friendly conversations in the forecastle. Several men were deeply impressed. After a year of service, under the Seaman's Friend Society at Canton, Abeel joined the American Board.
He was forthwith commissioned to make an exploring tour to Malacca, Siam, Java and the other larger islands of the East Indies. He was to ascertain the character of the people, their number, their religion, and the practicability of establishing missions among them. He visited Batavia, Singapore and Bangkok. A year was spent in Siam. Thither thousands of Chinese had emigrated. He devoted himself to the study of their language, to dispensing medicine, to the distribution of books and tracts. For a short time he was chaplain to the foreign residents at Singapore.
But failing health compelled him in May, 1833, to take ship for England. From London he went to Holland with a view to forming some connection between the Churches of Holland and the United States as a basis for co-operation in foreign missions. His hopes were not realized. While in London, in 1834, David Abeel was instrumental in organizing the first Woman's Missionary Society, called Society for Female Education in China and the East." The first appeal was drawn up by him, and the profits of the sale of his "Missionary Narrative" were devoted to its support.
His extraordinary piety impressed people wherever he went. A lady in London says: "There was nothing austere, narrow-minded or extravagant in his religion. There was a beautiful symmetry, a holiness, refinement and tenderness about it which struck the most ungodly. Though so weak physically that he scarcely expected to reach America he came forward at a meeting in Exeter Hall and challenged the young men in the colleges to join the missionary ranks." Said he, with unusual energy: "And who has given you a dispensation to remain at home when the whole world is calling so loudly for assistance."
Arrived in America Dr. Abeel made a missionary tour through nearly all the Reformed Churches in New York and New Jersey. He addressed congregational Churches in the principal cities of New England. His appeals to the students at Andover, Princeton and New Brunswick were a bugle-call to many a young man to join the
Lord's advance-guard in the distant East. In a sermon entitled "The Missionary fortified against Trials," preached to a company about to leave for Africa, occur these words:→
"Remember you go on His errand. He has sent you. Animating truth the enterprise is not ours. Let those who denominate a world's conversion a wild scheme, remember who devised it. Let those who look upon missionaries as enthusiasts reflect whose command has made them such. Let those who believe the nations can never be evangelized consider whose power and veracity their incredulity sets at defiance. While Jesus has died to redeem the world, while the sceptre of the universe and the throne of all hearts is in His hands, while the angels are His servants and the devils are beneath His feet, while all power in heaven and earth are His and His for this express purpose, then who has the privilege of prosecuting His work with assurance and delight if the missionary of Christ has not?"
He once more set sail for Cantou in the autumn of 1838. Farewell services had been held at the Middle Dutch Church, New York. The large place he had won in the heart of the denomination was evidenced in a hymn composed for the occasion by Dr. G. W. Bethune. Two verses of the poem read as follows:
"Go, then, brother; God is calling,
And thou know'st His welcome voice;
"Go, for our weak hearts are growing
Go, for bosoms overflowing,
Choke our accents as we sing."
Dr. Abeel arrived at Canton on the eve of the first war between England and China. The universal unrest made direct missionary work impossible. The American Board commissioned him to make another voyage of investigation through the East Indies.
During Dr. Abeel's absence of nine months the British forces had successfully attacked Amoy, Tinghai, Chinghai and Ningpo. The island of Kolangsu, opposite Amoy, was held by the British. The treaty of 1842 declared Amoy one of the five open ports.
The door to Amoy was no sooner opened but Dr. Abeel hastened to enter. He left Macao and proceeded to Amoy, where he arrived. February 24th, 1842. Though he had but a limited knowledge of the Amoy dialect he began work immediately. Throngs of curious onlookers, as well as interested hearers, crowded the little worship room from dawn to dark. The courtesies of the highest officials were extended to him. In 1844 Messrs. Pohlman and Doty, from the Borneo mission, joined him as co-laborers. But he was not to enjoy their fellowship very long. Disease was making deeper and deeper