« AnkstesnisTęsti »
that has been experienced, tested and applied in more and more completeness through these long centuries.
It is our privilege in coming to China to bring the doctrines tried by ages, the fullest development of Christian life and service, the ripest fruits of Christian experience, the highest ideals of Christian ambition, and plant them in this soil. When China once accepts as germs these gifts which we bring to her to what spiritual attainments and spiritual power may she not grow?
The most hopeful, most practical organization, yes the very flower of the Church is the Christian Endeavor Society. Where else can we find such enthusiasm for service, such spirituality of devotion, such loyalty to Christ and His Church? Where else is such emphasis laid on the facts that the field is the world and the Church is the God-given, God-guided agency for working the field. For Christ and the Church." Its very watchword sends a thrill through us. In it there is no dissembling nor fear, but a frank truthfulness of aim, a grand courage, a whole-hearted loyalty to Christ and a God-given wisdom that accepts God's instrument as sufficient for God's work. How refreshing it is to turn to this society from the multitudes of organizations that try to lead men piecemeal to Christ after casting out this or that sin, and that so often would step in and relegate the Church to a position of respectable inactivity-making it a sort of gathering place for those who have been rescued from the power of sin, an instrument too beautiful, too sacred for common every-day use.
Thank God in the Christian Endeavor we have the Church organized for service as never before! We may truthfully say the Christian Endeavor ideal is the Church at work. "All at it," in all ways and at all times! At the coming of the kingdom into the soul and sinew of men. It aims to make every Christian what Mr. Moody calls "out and out for Christ."
Christian Endeavor crowns Christ the King of our lives as He has never before been crowned by the great mass of the Church.
I have seen the workings of this society for eight years of its growth. I have proved its power in developing the energies of one of those home fields, hardest to work, a little country Church. I came to China with the glow of that mighty New York Convention still warm within, a convention that stirred the city of New York, as none other ever did; that made multitudes take new courage when they saw how like a mighty army moves the Church of God, and that aroused deep and lasting enthusiasm and sowed it as seed throughout the length and breadth of America.
It is no exaggeration to say that the Christian Endeavor movement is the greatest movement that America (modesty only
forbids an American from saying "the world") has produced in this century. We now take this brightest gem which the new world offers, and would set it in the crown that we are bringing to this hoary nation.
I certainly was predisposed to the conclusion. I am now convinced that Christian Endeavor has a great work before it in the evangelization of China. This is clear from the fact that its principles are fundamental to Christian life, growth and service, irrespective of customs, nationalities and all that differentiate the races. These principles are, to state the more important ones briefly: 1st. Every Christian must nourish his spiritual life by private study of the word of God and private prayer.
2nd. The Christian is personally united to Christ, represents Him, and is accountable to Him.
3rd. Each Christian has a part in the Christian enterprise, and is responsible for the evangelization of those about him, even to the ends of the world.
4th. The prayer meeting is the fulcrum of Christian power. It should be a prayer meeting and not a lecture.
5th. The Church is Christ's appointed agency for saving individual men and society, and it is a sufficient one.
6th. All true believers in Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, should form a Christian brotherhood and co-operate in the Christian enterprise. These principles are not new ones nor the especial property of the Christian Endeavor Movement, but Christian Endeavor brings to them a new definiteness of statement, a new emphasis and new applications.
There is again especial need and opportunity for this emphasis and application in China-where we are, as it were, beginning afresh-where there is, on the one hand, such boundless call to Christian service, and on the other such dead weight of heathenism to oppress and crush out one's spirituality. Who has not felt that power has gone from him here and been forced to go again and again to the source of power? Like many another, I presume, I came to China with that watchword of the Students' Volunteer Movement ringing in my soul, "The evangelization of the world in this generation." The evangelization of China seems to one in China very different from what it did from the home standpoint. Perhaps we settle down too soon to the conclusion that generations will be required for this task. We all see that it
can be accomplished only when the native Church is organized and enthused for this work. Dr. Clark, the father of Christian Endeavor, added his view to the common testimony, when in passing through India he said: The hope of this great land
lies in the educated Christian natives. The missionary cannot Christianize the land; no foreigner can evangelize another country than his own; the springs of religious life must be found in the soil itself."
One great problem in China is how to get the native Christians as a body to do this work and to prevent their making it merely a matter of time. The Christian host will not gain the victory under the sole leadership of paid lieutenants. There is need of the devotion and enthusiasm of volunteers. We must have an enthusiasm on the part of the whole native Church for the evangelization of the land. I believe that Christian Endeavor is the surest plan of co-operating with God in bringing that about. It will enlist, arm and unite the native Christians in a devoted army of volunteers. Such veteran workers in education as Dr. Calvin Mateer and in evangelism as Dr. Hunter Corbett have a warm welcome for this movement.
The late Dr. Nevius, who wrought so long and well in the field of literature, also endorsed the movement. In fact, a few years ago he devised a scheme which embraced many of the features of Christian Endeavor, and printed it for the use of distant and scattered groups of Christians. Thus he became in a real sense the forerunner of the movement in North China, and this he himself recognized. Finally, the flexibility of the organization by which it has been adopted already in so many lands makes possible successful adaptation to work in China.
Before specifying suggested adaptations let me emphasize the three essentials of the society, which must not be modified. These are the pledge, the prayer meeting and the use of committees. We find objection made to the pledge-that it is a vow, that it is too explicit, that it is too easily taken by Chinese and will be as easily broken. All these objections, except the last (founded as it is on a supposed especial weakness of the Chinese), have been urged and met at home. The pledge there has magnificently vindicated itself, and the society without the pledge has proven a failure. The pledge proposes only what every Christian ought to do. It gives law to Christian life, regulated by conscience. It gives both definiteness and completeness to Christian effort. By the prayer meeting I mean a meeting in which there is a general participation by the members and in which prayer is pre-eminent. The committees are the hands and feet of the society. They give it direction and grasp, and develop the objective side of the Christian life. Without them the society would die of the disease so faithfully diagnosed in the Epistles of James, "Faith without works is dead."
The adaptations which should be made are along three lines. 1st. Adaptations to accord with the conditions of work coutrolled by foreigners and with the state of development of the Church. These will be adaptations of organization.
2nd. Adaptations to conform to the degree of intelligence of the people and the customs of the land. These will be adaptations in methods of work,
3rd. Adaptatious to meet the especial needs of the field. These will be adaptations to specific objects.
As regards adaptations of organization. We see that at home Christian Endeavor is as it were au after thought. There were ruts too deep to wrench the Church from in one turn, there were those wedded and trained to old ways. The Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor is a concession to this condition, and the charge that the society forms an ecclesia in ecclesiam is both true of, and unjust to, the home society. Praise God, though, at home the ecclesia is fast swallowing up the ecclesiam. Here in China we are building from the foundations with new material. We have already dropped the distinctive name "Young People's." If we are wise we will take the Christian Endeavor ideas as the ground on which to place the first fruit God gives us in each community and then stack our Church around it. As far as possible we will have each Church a Christian Endeavor Society. We will merge the C. E. into the Church. Its pledge, its prayer meeting, its committees, its officers will be those of the Church. In so doing we will be most loyal to C. E. which, like John with Jesus, would decrease that He might increase. But the organized Church is not the only field for Christian Endeavor to enter in China.
There is the growing educational work. We want a C. E. Society to be the society of every school. There are thousands of out-stations with little groups of disciples. Christian Endeavor offers a plan of organization that shall foster these, maintain public worship and nourish Christian life until it is possible to form a Church and call a pastor. I doubt if what we want in China is paid evangelists enough to maintain preaching in every station, or foreign-paid pastors enough to supply every Church that has not attained self-support. I believe the work will make both more sure and rapid progress by depending less on paid workers, by the Christian Endeavor, co-operative, volunteer system, carefully superintended.
Again much of the street chapel preaching can be conducted by Christian Endeavor Societies; and the Y. M. C. A. organization, which is a class movement, though it sprang up first at home and was the foreruuuer of C. E., here can and should be organized as
a branch of the Christian Endeavor. We have analogy for this in the Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Y's as they are called. Finally, under organization there will be adaptations neces sary, because the movement must at first be developed and superintended by foreigners, fostered from without rather than developed from within. In addition to the ordinary officers the foreigner in each place must be a bishop, wise to exercise a firm control and to lead to self-control.
Now turning to adaptations in methods of work we see at once that as the standard of intelligence is much below that in home lands and the press much less utilized we must make use of the printed page. Even in the matter of the daily Scripture reading we will often have to be satisfied with a very meagre portion, or with passages once tried and recalled from memory. Possibly there will be cases where the clause in the pledge on daily Bible reading will have to be omitted, but I would rather favor strenuous efforts to teach each convert to read at least the simplest portions of the word. One Christian brother I know has had a peculiar service before his Sunday morning preaching, when each one who could read undertook to help one who could not. It is a good suggestion for us to incorporate in C. E. work It is wonderful how soon the common people can be given a little start in Bible reading. Another adaptation that must be made in conformity to the ancient traditions and because of the present low morality is the holding of separate meetings for the sexes. In some cases there can no doubt be a common society with two wings as it were. In the majority of cases, I presume, it will be the most advantageous to have a separate society for each sex. We aspire to see in China that healthy, Christian fellowship of the sexes which Christian Endeavor promotes in the home lands. But I fear this is something to be realized in China only in a distant future. So there must be distinctive women's societies if the women are to get their due share of the blessing.
In the matter of conventions too we cannot expect, must not plan, to make them the mass gatherings that they are at home. Travel is too expensive; the foreigners are too few and too busy ; the natives are too poor. This has especial reference to national conventions. We are not yet in a position to think much of province conventions. But we will find the local conventions, I think, well adapted for promoting fellowship, giving instruction and arousing enthusiasm. I believe special attention should be paid to developing these.
We have still to speak of adaptations to meet special needs. I would have in every society an Evangelization Committee