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China to co-operate with the representatives of American universities who are investigating conditions here. During the year the cause of Christian literature has received a stimulus from the visit of a delegation from the Religious Tract Society of London. This Society has in hand the raising of a sum of £20,000 for the direct work of Christian literature in China. The disproportion so frequently noted between the numbers of the men engaged in literary and other branches of missionary work has been emphasized by the enormous increase and growing power of the Chinese press. The failure of mission policy to respond adequately to the demand for Christian literature is one of the disquieting features of the year's review.
Kindred Movements.-Of these the first to occur to the mind will be the anti-opium crusade. The missionary body, and especially some of its veterans, may feel considerable satisfaction in wliat has already been accomplished and even more in the promise of what is to be done. While the movement in the provinces has not shown consistent progress, some officials being very lax in the matter, it is acknowledged that the zeal of the high officials in Peking has been admirable. The events of the year leave the Chinese government in a much stronger position in regard to prohibition than many supposed possible a year ago. Abolition seems to be coming within the range of practical politics.
In 1907 the management of the anti-foot-binding movement was handed on to an influential Chinese committee, in the hope that the crusade had reached a stage at which it was possible to leave those Chinese interested to carry it on themselves. That committee has somewhat disappointed the expectations of its well wishers, but in spite of that disappointment the progress of the movement has been steady. The press of China in this, as in the opium reform, is consistently for progo
The demand for constitutional government has been met during the year by repeated promises of its future accomplishment, and the Throne has urged on the appointment of local governing bodies, although it has so far given them little in the shape of executive power.
One of the first acts of the Regent Chun was to renew the promise of a constitution. The awakening of Turkey to a peaceful and successful revolution has been an augury of good for the reform movement in China. On the other
hand, the unrest in India, which it was feared, at one time, might prove the prelude to considerable unrest in this land, has made little impression. The end of the year finds China in a far more peaceful condition both in relation to its own provinces and to foreign countries than did its opening. The ignorant attitude of some of the provinces towards railway development, encouraged for a time by the weakness of China's statesmen, seems giving way to a saner and more progressive point of view. China may, on the whole, congratulate herself on the ease with which she has passed through both her foreign and domestic troubles.
The national movement has grown stronger and grows steadier. Such symptoms of growing pains as ill-advised boycotts, however, still remain. As the later generation of students really educated abroad, returns home and is available for service, many of the earlier troubles due to ignorance or semi-education will pass away. This year has seen the return of a number of Chinese students from abroad. The census of students in Tokyo shows a drop from the 18,000 of two years ago to 6,000 to-day, and those at present studying in Japan are there for adequate courses of study. Chinese education, under Chinese management in this land, has not yet found its feet. A truly national system of elementary education, in spite of the command of the Throne urging compulsory education upon the provincial authorities, is still "sadly to seek'. The field of education is wider open to the efforts of Christian educationists than ever. Signs have not been wanting, however, that China is determined to overcome what it already recognizes as one of its national weaknesses, and the development of its educational system upon national lines is only a question of time.
The Advance of Direct Evangelism.-To many the crux of the whole year's review will lie in the answer to the question as to what the church has done to bring non-Christians into its fellowship. To this it is not easy to give any specific reply, for figures are not available and the 'kingdom cometh not with observation'. Probably there has not been such a striking accession of numbers to the church as in some previons years, although the acceptance of the Gospel on the part of thousands of the members of the aboriginal tribes of South-west China is noteworthy. More has been done, however, in preparation for the coming conquest than during many years past. The
nature and method of the missionary apologetic has been searchingly under review and discussion concerning the best and wisest lines of approach to the Chinese mind and heart with the Christian message of salvation has occupied much thought and prayer. Most of all, the increased attention given to the adequate training of the Chinese pastor and evangelist, and the encouragement of the self-governing instinct of the Chinese churches are in themselves an assurance of evangelistic ad
The quiet and effective development of the resources of the Chinese church is the call which the missionary body generally has heard and responded to during 1908, and herein it has possibly found the secret of final achievement for which it has been working, chiefly along other lines, in years gone by. There has been every sign that the burden of the conversion of China is being laid with definiteness upon the Christian churches of this land. In this accomplishment each year that passes gives to the foreign missionary a less conspicuous, but a more effective and responsible place.
W. N. B.
Past and Present
BY REV. E. MORGAN.
HE difficulty that presented itself, 250 years ago, to the
Emperor Kang Hsi, often occurs even to the missionary
traveller now, when he is brought vividly into contact with the vast multitudes, who seem apparently indifferent to their need of Christ and quite content without a share in His mercies. It will be remembered that in a letter written to Monsieur Rouillé, Minister of State, by Père Louis de Comte, in which he gives an account of his attempt to bring the claims of the Christian religion before the attention of the Chinese Emperor, Kang Hsi gave as one of his objections the following: “If the knowledge of Jesus Christ is necessary for salvation, and if God sincerely willed to save us, how comes it to pass that He has left us so long in the paths of error ? It is now 16 centuries since your religion, which you say is the only way by which man can go to heaven, has been established on the earth. Yet we, here, know nothing of it. Are the Chinese so insignificant that they deserve no thought, whilst you in Europe alone are worthy of consideration ?" The missionaries answered the objection by reminding him that two events in the past history of the empire went to prove that God had not forgotten China, but that in the dispensation of His providence He had visited the nation twice already, records of which visitations might be found in their own histories. One was the coming of St. Thomas from India, the other the coming of the Nestorians to Shensi, a permanent monument of which remained to this day. “And thus we may conclude," they said, “that without doubt the Chinese owe it to their criminal negligence and an obstinate perversity that they do not enjoy the gift of God."
They conclude by saying : “ Though the Chinese histories refer to the matter in such a scanty way that we should know nothing definitely and certainly about the circumstances, had not providence given, in an unmistakeable way, its desire to affirm without doubt this witness of the faith in this great empire."
It may appear to some that these arguments are not wholly satisfactory, and after the lapse of more centuries and more visitations, the mind is still troubled with the deep problem. Difficulties confront the Christian worker on every hand, and the man of halting faith must confess that Kang Hsi's objection demands a deeper answer than that offered by the Catholic fathers. One cannot travel any distance or touch any shore without feeling acutely the difficulty. The "gloomy hills" still stand high, hiding so much and guarding well the secret ways of God to man ! The mind is forcibly arrested on every side. Whether we think of the populous land of China, or pass Ceylon and view the various agencies of the indigenous religions, with their fresh activities of Buddhist schools for girls and boys, supported, as they are, by theosophists, or whether we penetrate in thought the depths of Africa, or pass the frontiers of India and think of its crowded cities, Kang Hsi's question is ever present! The mind is staggered when it thinks of the multitudes that “lift blind eyes to the skies" !
There is, however, this to be said, that the work of God for the emancipation of the soul of man has not ceased, but that to-day His will for the salvation of the world through Christ is being carried out on a vaster scale than ever before. The many operations that are at work abundantly witness to the activity of the church and give ample testimony to the fact that the present will show to succeeding generations its attempt to win the world for God.
I had an opportunity, on a recent journey, to see many phases of this activity, but only a few of those things that impressed one most with their value and importance can be touched on.
I should like, in the first place, to refer to St. Stephen's College in Hongkong as an example of a work which is full of hope and promise. It may be said, of course, that the conditions are peculiarly favourable. This may be so, but the point I would emphasize is this, that here you have the well-todo class of Chinese sending their sons to an institution in which the teaching of the Christian religion has the first place. The college is mainly supported by the Chinese students and their friends. They meet all expenses, I believe, except the personal allowance of the headmaster, the Rev. E. J. Barnett, M.A. The students are not only keen on secular learning, but there is also a deep tone of spiritual life. The college is successful financially, as well as educationally. It is a centre of spiritual culture and an instrument of evangelistic usefulness. The missionary body will do well not only to look with pleasure on such an institution as this and others like it, such as Dr. Hart's college in Tientsin, but also to study the principles which guide the promoters of them in their work.
I must not dwell too long, however, on the outposts, as I wish to touch, more especially, on the condition of the centre. In the present state of foreign mission work almost all depends upon the health and activity of the latter. For were this to decay, then the operations at the circumference would decay also. The following remarks are, however, very cursory and do not pretend to give an exhaustive view of the present position of the missionary question in England. In the opinion of some experienced pastors, devoted to the services of foreign missions, there is not the same keen enthusiasm now as there used to be in foriner years. The wave of heat that passed over churches has cooled to a certain extent. This, however, may apply to Christian work generally, and may either be a passing pbase, or be due to the changing conditions of social and industrial life. The facilities offered for travel and week-ends, and the increasing wealth of the community, make it more possible to go away for short holidays. When people are away from home, there is a tendency to neglect public worship, and so there results a modification in church life. Motors do not only affect first-class railway fares, but also the pew in the church.