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to preserve her national existence, (2) to resist the unreasonable demands of the foreigners, and to resist it with a sufficient force if necessary, and I am sorry to say force is a necessity and is the only salvation of China from the hell of the western militarism, (3) to improve the conditions of (a) individual living and b) social welfare.
It is the duty of those who have received the light freely and early, let us say, to shine freely and brightly. It is incumbent upon them to act unselfishly and enlightenedly. Christians as Chinese citizens are under the absolute obligation to study and think diligently, soberly and carefully in order to receive more and better light themselves, and then to awaken, enlighten, agitate, direct, lead, and keep the nation on the way of prosperity and progress. Everybody cannot do everything, but everybody must do something..
So great my admiration and worship of the Western civilization has been and still is; so deeply have I been intoxicated with Christianity while in Christian schools at home and abroad, and still am; so predominantly I have been influenced and attracted by the good Christians and missionaries, and still am, and their influence upon me is, after all, not bad, but beneficent and ennobling, I think. Yet, miserable me! in spite of all, I cannot help feeling an irresistible reaction in my spirit and soul. I have something against the Christians as such and their conceptions of Christianity.
At first I thought that the enlightened West knows China with her people and civilization, and knows us better than the so-called ignorant and uncivilized China knows the great modern and proud world. But really, is there any difference between the Chinese as knowers of others and others as knowers of the Chinese? I can tell you only truly and respectfully that there is too much ignorance even in the circle of university men here. You can tell the rest yourself.
I think the missionaries, in spite of their good will, noble devotion, and unselfish work, have done more harm to China than good; they have done more harm than any other people from the West, politicians and traders, and the greatest of all these harms is that China has been made unknown, and much worse, misunderstood. Consciously and unconsciously, purposefully and indifferently, directly and indirectly (such as through statesmen, travelers, etc.), missionaries make misrepresentations and thereby cause the Western people to form
misunderstandings. It may be that I can as well say that the missionaries have played upon the people and made fools of them. Am I saying too much? Of course I am addressing
now the intelligent people.
The missionaries, generally speaking, are confined within the low parts of China's civilization. They come into contact with the worst element of China's citizenship and morality. It has been, furthermore, their interest and habit to see the dark and gloomy side of China. The truth is that the missionary attitude in China has been largely egotistic faultfinding, almost never wholesome criticism. When they write home, they usually draw pictures of the worst things that they have seen, and often give bad interpretations of good things. When they come home, they tell the people of abnormal and unusual cases that they know of. Of course the purpose of the missionaries is to appeal to the missionary sympathy of their own countrymen. They want to arouse and revive their missionary spirit and work up and stir up missionary enthusiasm. I do henceforth ask for a fair and square answer to my honest and sincere question, "Who is responsible for the misconception of things Chinese in this large western part of the world?”
No doubt it will be interesting to everybody, as it ought to be so, to reconsider some concrete facts. The Chinese are accused of being liars and bribers while the Americans are defended as being truth-tellers and not grafters. "On Sundays" there is a bold and imposing generalization that "all business in America is closed." America is told that a China woman beats the feet of her little young daughter into pulp and then sells her.
Very unfortunately China has bad things. But quite uniquely the missionaries tell them to America either at random or at wholesale, accompanied with imaginations and exaggerations naturally. Enough of this. Enough of this. Before we proceed, perhaps it may be worth while to have you missionaries and us missionaried come together and talk it over. Remember the fact that from the Chinese standpoint the students here have many things to tell their fellow-countrymen when they return home and, if they will, to the great discredit and shame of Christian America.
I may be mistaken myself, or may mislead the opinion of others, or some people may misunderstand me themselves.
There is no perfect thing and no perfect man in the world, because perfection does not exist here. Therefore the missionaries may be, as I hope them to be, better in reality than in my thought and expression. They are sure enough good men. The only trouble is, in my opinion, that they are not only not so good as they ought to be, but also not so good as many people are inclined to think them to be. What I am certain is that from the standpoint of nationalism and patriotism, they give us little or no satisfaction or substantial aid..
I like to add that as far as personal characters, morality and relations are concerned, I am sorry to say that in my own experience I have been unable to find much difference between Christians and non-Christians in this country. The fact is that non-Christians treat me as well as the Christians, if not better.
Patriotism is now my decided journey of life. For China, our dear great and old country, I am very willing, if it is necessary, even to sacrifice my insignificant self and give it in exchange for the sacred habitation of our dear ancestors and the happy land of our beloved successors. For the salvation of China I am even willing to damn my soul, if necessary.
By the way, let me call your attention to the spirit of sacrifice in Moses, Paul, and David, or Samuel. Each of these men wished to sacrifice his soul in order to save his people, if it had been necessary. In the career of my own choice, I have been long desiring and yearning for the same spirit and its realization thereof. Tell me wherein I am wrong.
In short, my position forcibly expressed, amounts to thisRather China without Christianity than Christianity without China. If Christianity cannot get along with the existence of China, or without disturbing or curbing her national life, we, at least most of us Christians, will have none of it. Upon this we are determined. Yes, if you please, you can call this to be a worldly idea of a worldly man. Indeed, in that sense, we do care for China and the world only; we do not want Christianity at all.
Personally, I believe, and really, that I myself can know and decide better than any human being can do for me as to what and how I shall live my life. I think I can do much better, perhaps a hundred times better, if you will, than if I chose to be a preacher, in accordance with the persuasion of
I refer to the religious interest alone; other things being put aside, in order to gratify your missionary appetite.
Preaching is all right. To love God and serve Him is all right. The trouble is that most of you people, as it seems to me, think that one is right only when he is a preacher, doing and knowing little or nothing else. I assert that such is the substance of your thought and conduct. That is a mistake.
The real trouble is that most of you, I do not say all of you, say that the Chinese ought to love our country (you never say, to serve it), but when we begin to try to realize our patriotic consciousness and express it in our speeches and actions, at once you want to stop and turn us back absolutely to indifference. You wish us as Christian citizens "to do nothing" and "to be nothing," so to speak. I think this alone is a sufficient reason for the enemies of Christianity to attack the missionaries and Christians at large and regard them as unpatriotic and traitors to China.
Perhaps the missionary situation is too peculiar and too deep for me. It may be more good than bad. But it is certainly bad to the patriotic cause. I have long found out that most of us enlightened Chinese Christians know that fact. The enlightened missionaries know it, too. And all missionaries ought to be enlightened, anyway.
According to my humble opinion Christianity is religion and Confucianism is ethics, and the two can and will cooperate with each other. Confucianism is ethical, because it leaves out the relation of man to God and the future life, which are, in my view, essential elements of all religions. I believe, and very resolutely, that there is no conflict at all between the true Christianity and the true Confucianism. Fight against Confucianism? You can, if you will. But I will not.
Should you missionaries and Americanized Christians, fortunately few, be more cautious, considerate and sympathetic, we would rejoice and bless you greatly. Then most Chinese will help you too. Or I seem to see as if there were clouds, darkness and dangers coming to cover and overwhelm them. Certainly one-sided and bigoted Christianity is doomed. Modern China will not tolerate it.
The Proposed Evangelistic Association
Y vote of the Centenary Conference the Committee on Evangelistic Work were instructed "to take steps. toward the establishment of an Evangelistic Association," and accordingly a call has been issued for the first meeting to be held in the Martyrs' Memorial Hall, on Tuesday, April 13th. The question has been raised in correspondence received by members of the committee, and more notably in a letter from "Evangelist," published in the February RECORDER, whether such an association is indispensable or not; if not indispensable, it may be granted that the organization should not be effected.
Two objections to the formation of a new association that are worthy of serious consideration are the following: 1. There are already too many organizations. 2. Evangelization is a question of men rather than of method. Concerning these, this may be said: Is all being done that might be, or that in order to success in China must be, done? The present method of every one working alone on his or her own lines results in much confusion and lessened power. That the results are as good as they are, is due to the fact that the men have been good where the method has been nil. It is not to be expected that a laissez-faire policy can do all that is needed in a country like China. Something more is urgently needed.
The following suggestions as to the aim and object of the proposed association may perhaps show that there is a field for real usefulness:
I. AIM. (1.) To enlist the best thought and experience of the world in what is confessedly the greatest problem that confronts the Christian world to-day, either through contributions of a literary kind or through lectureships. There are certain phases of the problem in China that need the help of the trained historian, whether he be trained in the Christian or in the great ethnic religions. If these men must be looked for at home, they should be found there and their help obtained. (2.) To serve as a means of influencing thought and directing the energies of the missionary body, especially of the younger missionaries.