Puslapio vaizdai


[ocr errors]

In Memoriam. Rev. William Scott Ament, D.D.

Missionary of the American Board in Peking. [Late in July last year Dr. Ament was stricken with a virulent ulcer in the chest cavity requiring several serious operations for the removal of parts of the ribs and breast bone. For some three months at Pei-tai-ho he made fair progress until he was brought back to Peking, where alarming symptoms of mental failure developed, until he lost much of his vocabulary and could hardly recognize his friends. He was lastened home to America under the care of Mrs. Ament and Rev. Lucius Porter in hopes that great brain specialists could do something for him. They arrived in San Francisco December 26th, where his son William met them, and death occurred there January 7th following. A post-inortem revealed an ulcer in the brain. The following sermon was preached in Peking at nemorial exercises by Rev. G. D. WILDER, after the long illness had been described by Dr. Young, his physician, and Mr. Porter.]

FTER more than five months' suffering, the spirit of William

Scott Ament took its flight. The physical life thus ended,

began A. D. 1852 in Owosso. This is a town in Southern Michigan. It is surrounded by a prosperous farming country. Dr. Ament's parents came as pioneers into the forest wilds and had a hand in taming the wilderness. His father, who was not a Christian, died when he was a lad, leaving the one son and a daughter in the care of a sainted mother. That mother brought up her son with true Christian wisdom. When he was fifteen years old he planned to go to the lakes as a sailor, and asked his mother's permission. “Yes, you may go," she said, and then immediately betook herself to a whole night of prayer that he might change his purpose.

The boy knew what she was doing and never again mentioned the plan. So it was no cant or generality of expression, but the definite statement of a solemn fact, when Dr. Ament repeatedly testified : “I owe all I am to my mother's prayers.” His love for her and hers for him was exceptionally deep and tender through life. She died in Oberlin last year. Probably a year or two after the sailor-life plan was given up,

he left the Owosso high school and went to Oberlin late in the sixties. He often said that he liked sport more than study, but he took an interest in the literary and debating societies and graduated from the classical course in the arts in 1873 at the age

He continued for a time in the study of theology at Oberlin, and then went for graduation to the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He took the degree of B.D. in 1877. Under appointment by the American Board, he was ordained, was mar. ried to Miss Mary Penfield, daughter of the professor of Greek at Oberlin, and came to China in the same year. They staid for the first winter in Tientsin to study the language and were then located in Paotingfu for about two years. In 1880 he came to Peking as Dr. Blodgett's co-worker. For twenty-nine years since then, without any interruption save for furloughs, he has labored

of 21.

[graphic][merged small]

in this city until last summer, when disease found him, using the last ounce of his energy in the summer-school for native preachers, while carrying the whole burden of his church work.

Fond of children and they of him, the loss of three of the four born to him was a great grief, relieved by the consolation of a firm Christian faith. He was always very tender toward children who reminded him of his own. When he was taken sick at Peitaiho last summer the children there were looking forward eagerly to a party to which he had invited them, but which he was unable to consummate. He leaves one son, William, a junior in Oberlin College.

After the death of one of the children in Paotingfu, Mrs. Ament was compelled to return to America for her health, and a few years later Dr. Ament was called home for a three years' furlough by the need of his mother, whose daughter had died, leaving her with the care of two children. Dr. Ament acted as pastor during these three years to the church in Owosso, and also to that in Medina, Ohio. I found that at the latter place he left a strong missionary interest and a warm place in the hearts of the people.

Others will speak of Dr. Ament's career in Peking, yet I cannot refrain from mentioning some of its outstanding features. His work was, in the main, strongly evangelistic and pastoral. He believed in the new birth, and was never content unless souls were being born again into the kingdom of love under his ministry. A preacher by birth and training, an excellent speaker of Chinese, his enthusiasm for preaching to the heathen was deep and abiding.

The street chapel at Tengshihk'ou never had a regular paid Chinese preacher, for he was ready to devote his afternoons daily to it whenever he was at home. His example and precept inspired sufficient voluntary effort by the native Christians to keep the work there going, whether he was present or absent. He believed in a “far-flung battle-line" and made long continued and distant trips to the country fields. With a statesman's eye he seized on strategic centres for establishing his out-stations. He was un

. sparing in the use of his own money to open stations, when the home board was unable to develop new work. He not only sought out strategic centres, geographically, but he had a knack for finding the influential rich man of a given town or the local bully who tyrannized over the place, or the scholar who led public thought, and by winning the respect of these he would gain an open door for the Gospel.

In these things he was full of resources. time he won the local bully, who had prevented the renting of a chapel, by negotiating a mule trade with him, after he had learned that his particular weakness was for horse trading. Again he wins a scholar by a judicious use of calls and scholarly books.


At one

His straightforward nature could not abide the Chinese custom of using middlemen, and he would often astonish his friends and foes alike by going to the enemies of the Gospel or persecutors of the Christians and settling matters face to face. In his field, stretching over 70 li north and 400 li south from Peking, largely through his efforts, there have sprung up four self-supporting churches and fourteen out-stations, with a total membership of 1,088.

While mainly engaged in evangelistic effort he was also interested in other forms of work. He believed in Christian education for the Chinese. He was an active member of the Board of Managers of the Peking Methodist University from the beginning and always had a number of protégés in the college of his own mission at Tungchou. The large part he took in developing the North China Tract Society, and the faithful labors for that organization are well known. He was always the friend to be counted on by the different Bible Societies when they had no other representatives on the field. He was interested in the work for the higher classes, and by reason of his knowledge of Chinese literature, etiquette, and social forms, he was able to enter into intercourse with them and to do much in breaking down prejudices in higher circles and building up confidence in all classes. His active mind was constantly delving in the stores of Chinese history and literature. The result was a number of well-written articles and many lectures on historic themes. He early saw the advantages of the Christian Endeavor Society in developing the infant church and is known as the Father of Christian Endeavor in North China.

The first twenty years of his work in Peking followed the ordinary lines of mission work as outlined above and then came the Boxer interruption. This cataclysm affected Dr. Ament personally in ways and to a degree experienced perhaps by no other. A year or two after my arrival in China, 1896, Dr. Ament kindly offered to induct me into the mysteries of country campaigning in my field. It was in the rainiest part of August. We travelled on the back of long-legged mules. I remember one day when, after swimming the animal over a river, we were plodding through the mud on a stretch of 90 li between meals, Dr. Ament said : I enjoy taking my ease in my study and sometimes think I will retire from this sort of roughing it. A literary reputation is a pleasant thing to win. But after all what China needs most is great body of Christians among the common people. I know that they cannot be secured without some of us burying ourselves out of sight in this country work. I only pray for the grace to be willing to work on without the notice of men."! I believe God gave him that grace. But in this very self-effacement for others his name came to the notice of the world.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »