« AnkstesnisTęsti »
After graduation he was two years principal of Beaver Academy, Penn. (1857-1859.) He graduated in Western Theological Seminary, was ordained to the ministry 1861 in Delaware, Ohio, and was pastor in Delaware until 1863. He then, in company with Mrs. Mateer (Julia A. Browni) and Rev. and Mrs. Hunter Corbett, set sail for China, July 3, 1863, just while the battle of Gettysburg was raging. After a trying passage of five months in a poor sailing ship, with wretched fare and a bad captain (the voyage ending with a shipwreck), they finally arrived at their future home in Tengchowfu, Shantung, in December of the same year.
Of what were the inspiring reasons which brought Dr. Mateer to China we know oply one. His mother early consecrated six of her seven children to the missionary work, all of whom offered themselves to the Presbyterian Board for work in China. This story of her consecration his mother never told till her old age.
Four of the six were accepted and came, while two were declined for health reasons. How suggestive is this of the mighty power of a mother's consecration and a mother's prayers, and all united with a mother's beautiful life.
On arriving in China two things impressed themselves upon Dr. Mateer as of great importance-study of the language and schools. Of the first he said: "I determined to master the language,” that is, the Mandarin Colloquial. And of the second he made the remark : “I saw from the first that, if the church was to become a power in the Chinese empire, it must have within it a nucleus of educated men. To this task of educating men he gave his best life-blood for about thirty years.
He began by gathering a few boys together and, “with that unbending inflexibility which was one of his prominent characteristics, he persevered in the work, overcoming enormous difficulties, in the face of obstruction from the Chinese, and misunderstanding on the part of his missionary brethren," not to mention the total lack of text-books and scientific apparatus. Both these lacks he set himself, as far as possible, to meet. For Dr. Mateer to see a want, was always to set the grey matter in his brain in motion to supply it.
He was fortunately endowed with a talent for mechanics, and by the time this insignificant beginning of a school had risen to the grade of a college (in 1880), he had already constructed more than a thousand dollars worth of philosophical and electrical apparatus. “His ability in matters pertaining to electricity
and electrical apparatus was truly phenomenal."
He was accustomed to work in his machine shop in the early morning, his chief and almost only recreation. This shop became a training place for students who had a genius for tools, mathematics and electricity. Certain of Dr. Mateer's scholars have acquired great skill and some fame by knowledge acquired in his machine shop, under his tutelage. “In making scientific theories practical, in putting them to work for the good of men, he possessed a wonderful sagacity." In the end he left his large machine shop, filled with valuable tools, to the college.
Dr. Mateer had even made a little study of watch repairing and dentistry, and he had a complete set of dentist tools. The last tooth he had filled was by a student under his direction. And it was well done.
But he also prepared a number of mathematical books-of which subject he was a master--primarily for the use of his students. All the above in addition to the exacting labors of president, teacher, ayd preacher.
Dr. Mateer's labors were not, however, confined to the college. During the first years of his missionary life, like Dr. Corbett of evangelistic fame—sometimes in company with him - he made long tours in the country, preaching, all through East Shantung, the glad evangel. And to the end he still possessed the evangelistic spirit, and earnestly longed to see his students preachers of the Gospel, he himself giving a course of lectures on homiletics and pastoral theology to several classes preparing for the ministry.
While thus engaged in preaching and teaching, he was, meanwhile, pursuing his studies in the Mandarin Colloquial, which began to take the form of a book of lessons. He at length secured release from other duties and spent a year or two in travels through Central China for the single object of comparing the sounds and idioms in different localities. The result is a large and valuable quarto of Mandarin Lessons, now extensively used and fitted, not only for the first years of study, but also for subsequent researches, especially in its chapters on various idioms and in its discriminating explanations of Chinese synonyms. In this subject Dr. Mateer was well-nigh a master. This book was followed by his Primary Lessons in Mandarin, Mrs. Mateer (Ada Haven) earnestly seconding his efforts, and finally perfecting the work.
DR. MATEER'S WORK ON BIBLE REVISION. China, on its southern and south-eastern borders, is so filled with different languages that men think of the whole country as a great mosaic of numerous dialects. In truth, however, the Mandarin Colloquial, with many local differences, is spoken by more than three-fourths of the population, including the whole of North China and most of Central and West China. The China Conference of 1890 set in motion the audacious enterprise of translating the Bible into a universal Mandarin ( i ), and a committee of seven were chosen for the task. From the beginning Dr. Mateer had been the chairman of this committee, and had never been absent from its sessions for a single day until about twelve days before his death.
It may be written here that no literary work of such peculiar difficulty has been undertaken since the first translation of the Scriptures by Morrison. To produce a Bible, whose language shall run close to the original, simple enough to be understood by ordinary persons when read out in church, or in the home, and yet chaste in diction ; this work to be done by a committee chosen from widely distant localities (from Peking in the north-east, to Kueichow in the south-west) might well frighten any body of men! For the first years together the work was almost the despair of the committee. Their efforts to make themselves mutually understood, and to unite on a rendering, were often indefinitely prolonged and exasperatingly amusing. It should be said here that the Union Mandarin Version of the New Testament has grown from a style rather crude in the beginning to its present form, the whole work having been carefully revised, and that the fifteen years of work spent upon it has been a tutelage for all the members of the com inittee. Dr. Mateer often referred to this. During the later years, while still holding to a rendering easily understandable by ordinary people, no one made greater efforts than he to make a style clean and chaste. In the interest of truth it must be added that no man gave so much time and hard work, or dug quite so deep as Dr. Mateer. His effort to produce a translation which should match the original, to translate the figures and preserve their beauty, was extraordinary.
The work of Bible revision at length so filled his heart and time that he resigned the presidency of the college (in 1898 ?); that office to be filled, first by Rev. W. M. Hayes, D.D., and afterward by Rev. Paul D. Bergen, D.D., two able successors.
From 1898 to 1906 there were eight meetings of the committee, and a total of about two and a half years was spent in the daily sessions together; the last two sessions being given to a revision of the whole work, as stated above. At these sessions Dr. Mateer, by his strong and masterful personality, as well as by the thoroughness of his preparation, did much to set the style of the work.
At length, by vote of the Centenary Conference, the committee was reorganized, with five members, for the revision of the Old Testament, and the first meeting was held in Chefoo last summer. In this work all of Dr. Mateer's heart was engaged, and he bestowed the utmost pains upon it, especially in rendering the metaphors and idioms of the Psalms. And so he worked on, with a grip which nothing could loosen but death, almost to the very end.
The day before he died, his brother, the Rev. Robert M. Mateer, kneeling by his bed, prayed that an abundant entrance might be given him into the heavenly rest. Dr. Mateer cried out, “Keep up your faith a notch higher, Robert. Pray that I may be spared to finish the translation of the Old Testament, especially the Psalms." Then he asked that Dr. Hayes be called in and requested to pray for this. When Dr. Hayes had finished, he added, “O Lord, may this prayer be answered." Alas! It could not be granted.
DR. MATEER AS A PREACHER.
Dr. Mateer was first and last a preacher. He considered it a very important part of his work to preach. And he never entered the pulpit, except after most careful preparation ; the great thoughts of his subject-always a great subject-struggling within him for utterance. And here let it be said that what he preached he believed, and what he believed he preached. With great reverence and impressiveness he conducted the opening exercises, while he poured all his heart into the sermon, largely in terms of logic, mixed with Scripture and exhortation, but with frequent touches of poetry, as in his beautiful serinon on “ The Bright and Morning Star".
Dr. Bergen writes of him : “Although so much of his time was given to educational and literary work, his deep interest in the airect preaching of the Gospel never waned. He was himself a preacher of unusual power, both in English and Chinese. It was his dearest wish that the college should be
the nursery of devoted men, who would become pastors to this people.''
Dr. Mateer also delivered some famous addresses. The Rev. W. B. Hamilton, D.D., of Chinanfu, writes : “One source of the Dr.'s unusual power as a speaker was the intensity of his conviction. This was illustrated at one of the most notable occasions on which I have leard Dr. Mateer speak. It was at the opening of the English Baptist Institution in Chinan, November, 1907. The highest officials of the province, as well as half a hundred of lesser rank, honored the event with their presence.
Never in the liistory of Shantung missions has a missionary had such an audience. The Dr. took as his theme, The Importance of An Upright Character. It was a grand address, delivered with great earnestness and power.”
DR. MATEER'S LITERARY WORK.
We have written that he was a fine mathematician. It will not seem strange then that Dr. Mateer, with his love for mathematics, found time to prepare an arithmetic in tbree volumes, an algebra in two volumes, and a geometry in two volumes. And he had the courage to write these books in simple language. They are all used extensively in China. He also prepared, as has been said, a large book of Mandarin lessons, a book of primary lessons, an analysis of over 2,000 characters for spelling, a review of methods in missionary work, a pamphlet on the meaning and proper use of the word Shen (God). In company with Dr. Nevius, he prepared a hymnal; many of the hymns being his own translations. This was his knitting work. He was also chairman of a committee to prepare a dictionary of technical terms, and he served on a committee to prepare a list of chemical terms. And finally, he was chairman of the Bible Revision Committee, not to mention articles occasionally contributed to periodicals. 'He wrote no books on science and ethics, " writes Dr. Hayes, “yet in teaching them, he made his deepest impression in the class room."
From all the above it will be seen that the variety and extent of Dr. Mateer's work was very great, suggesting the remark by Dr. Bergen that “Dr. Mateer, during the course of his long life, did the work of at least three ordinary men. His educational work, his scientific translations, his labors in the Mandarin translation of the Scriptures, form labors any