Board of Managers, Protestant Episcopal Church,
23 Bible House, New York.
IN the judgment of the safest critics, the term Sinim refers to China. The acceptance of this interpretation satisfies the demands of Philology, history, and Exegesis. It is a pivot text which opens a glorious field of expectation and effort to the Christian Church and, in the centre of this text, is that strange word SINIM, the only geographical one in the whole chapter, which brings before us the greatest of Eastern nations, and the most populous of Oriental kingdoms. We have here then a special prophecy, indicating by name the adhesion of China, to the sway of the Messiah, and in order that this shall be accomplished GOD declares in the previous verse, "I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted,"--i.e., mountain-like obstacles shall be overcome, and highways of access shall be opened, whereby the Messiah shall be made known to those of "the land of Sinim."
Meeting as we do this morning, for the purpose of setting apart one, who is to be a Missionary Bishop in that far-off country, with what better words can we introduce the solemnities of this hour, than by those of the text which declare the future purpose of GOD toward this Chinese nation?
The wise general who undertakes to war upon a foreign enemy makes a careful reconnoissance of the country he is to invade, and studies the nature and extent of the military resources with which he is to cope. He must learn the strength and character of his foe, before he can rightly adjust his means of warfare to the enemy he is to encounter. Let us imitate this wisdom, and ask, what are the moral and intellectual forces with which the religion of JESUS CHRIST will have to contend in China? What are the confronting armies, which, encamping on their own soil, with their base of supplies lying all around them, stand ready to attack the sacramental host of GOD'S elect, as, a portion of it, under the leadership of this our Brother, goes forth to battle for CHRIST and for His Church? Without attempting an exhaustive answer, let us consider some of the more prominent.
The Christian religion which we seek to plant in China finds itself confronted there by Confucianism, by Buddhism, and by Taou-ism, the three religions, which claim the faith and worship of the four hundred millions of the Celestial Empire.
The religion of Confucius, the most honored by the Government and [3/4] by the learned, is the basis of most of the intellectual cultivation in China. The works of Confucius, or the works of his disciples, constitute mostly the class books of its schools and colleges; and the text books of that graded series of competitive examinations, rising from the humblest day-school, to what may be called the highest university, and by means of which civil service examinations, persons enter upon, and are promoted in, official life in the administration of the government. His teachings have so stimulated the Chinese mind, that among them, learning takes precedence over age. The literary person ever so young is a "venerable father" and "while there are no property entails, the descendents of scholars are often ennobled."
Confucianism is the state religion of the empire. Its founder styled "the Prince of Wisdom" is the nation's patron saint. All literary men pride themselves on being his followers. Yet it is a religion thoroughly rationalistic, having little to do with the supernatural or the immortal. It rests on human reason; and, built up by human wisdom, and adorned with human virtues, it stands out among the great religions of the world as the least sensual, the most intellectual, and the most politico-philosophical of all the religions of man's devising. It has, however, no personal god to worship, no redemption from sin, and no rectifying principle of spiritual life.
The religion of Laou-Tsze, or Taou-ism, is equally ancient, but not so potential or prevalent. It is the ascetic religion of China. It manifests itself in various forms now, as "a philosophy of the absolute or unconditioned," and thus anticipating the teaching of the German Hegel by twenty centuries; now, as a system of utilitarian philosophy, resolving duty into prudence or selfishness, and thus by two thousand years anticipating the school of John Stuart Mill; and now as a system of magic and necromancy, such as in some respects has been revived in this age by the so-called spiritualists of our day. This strange composite system is utterly incomprehensible to the ordinary mind, and is fall of the wildest speculations--magic rites, demonology, and antagonisms, at once irreconcilable to reason--and baffling every conscious need of man's better nature, and every yearning after future life.
The third and greatest religion of China is Buddhism. This is a foreign religion, having been brought thither by Buddhist Missionaries about the beginning of the Christian era. This religion, which "extends from the steppes of Tartary to the palm groves of Ceylon, from the vale of Cashmere to the isles of Japan," is the popular every-day faith of the. Chinese. It has everywhere its temples, its gods, its priests, its altars, its sacrifices, its ritual, its monasteries, its legends, its saint-worship, and its degrading, belittleing superstitions. The few good and noble sayings of Guatama, and the earlier Buddhists, are overlaid and well-nigh forgotten by the senseless Sûtras and Myths and Naga-worship, which fill the [4/5] popular mind and guide the idolatrous worship. The Buddhist Scriptures among the Chinese include nearly one thousand five hundred distinct works, comprised in over five thousand five hundred books and yet we are told that "these form only a fractional part of the entire Buddhist literature which is spread throughout the empire." The immense mass of the Buddhist Canon may be known from the fact, that the work of the Indian translators in China amounts to about seven hundred times the size of the New Testament and one section alone is eighty times as large as the New Testament. The knowledge of these Scriptures has come to us only within the last forty years, and is an important element to be understood if we would know the moral forces opposed to Christianity. The Catena of Buddhist Scriptures which has been published, is sufficient to show the general tone and aim of that religion. Its various Sûtras and Gâthas, its Pratimôksha, its daily manual of the Shaman, its Nirvâna, are so many windows which permit us to look inside this vast religion as into one of its old temples, and see its interior, strange, mystical, full of fantasies and grotesque illusions. The mind becomes bewildered, the memory burdened, the conscience troubled, and the soul finds therein nothing to cleanse sin or secure peace. "The key-stone of the arch of Buddhism," as Archbishop Trench terms it, is Nirvâna. Sifting the contradictory opinions as to what this Nirvâna means, we learn that it is a state reached after myriads of years, and hundreds of transmigrations; where all desires cease, all passions die, and the soul, if not annihilated, retires within itself in the listlessness of unimpassioned and never-to-be-disturbed rest. This is the consummation of Buddhist hope. This is the Buddhist Heaven. This religion of Buddha has had two thousand five hundred years in which to work out its principles, and has had sway over three quarters of Asia, and yet, as St. Hilaire says, "it has never been able to found a tolerable social state or a single good government."
To these three great religious opponents, we must add a fourth, the Literature of China. This, in truth, is the outgrowth of the religions of China but yet when aggregated and massed together in its full power, may well be termed a fourth enemy, and one which specially deserves to be carefully studied by the Missionary to China. It is said that the Jew will not tread upon paper lest the name of Jehovah be written upon it. But the Chinaman will not tread upon paper because he worships the Chinese character, and hence to him each word is sacred. Like the Norse runes, these mystic characters are termed "eyes of the wise," and the common belief is that he who fails to pay them due reverance shall be born blind hereafter. The Chinese are in one sense a highly educated people. They have a system of common schools which ramifies into the humblest hamlet. They have over two thousand colleges of the first and second order. They have competitive examinations for civil service, which, in spirit, we might profitably copy. They have public libraries in [5/6] every great provincial city, circulating libraries in every large town, and no nation on earth has such a multiplicity of histories, anthologies, encyclopædias and standard works of archæology, law and letters, as the Chinese. The honors which are paid to literary men surpass those paid in any other kingdom, and it has been well said "that a nation of four hundred millions falls down at the feet of a philosopher and burns incense to the tablets of scholars."
Such being the religion of China and its philosophy; it follows that the best means for conducting Missions is to adjust them to the work to be done. To do this, however, we must re-adjust to a certain extent our plan of working Missions. Experience teaches us that new methods of treatment are required. The old were good in their day, and the best that could then be devised, but their day has gone by; and as the old hand-looms of Arkwright's time had to give place to the power-loom; and the old hand-presses of Franklin's day to the Hoe press; and the old wooden war ships to the iron-clads and the old stage coach to the rail car;--so, increasing knowledge as to the geography, the ethnology, the languages, the laws, the religions of the heathen world, obtained in such wonderful abundance in the last half-century, render it necessary to reconstruct our Missionary system and adjust it to the new position in which we thus find ourselves placed. As a nation which should not keep pace with the improvements time makes in the implements of war, would prove 1:eoreant to its duty, and would necessarily fall out of line, in the rank which it formerly held, and so subject itself to insult and ruin so our Missionary Boards must ever be on the lookout for the rising and the changing tides of thought and action; must be quick to discern the signs of the times, and shape their course so as to avail themselves of the new powers, the new phases of life, the new relations, created by commerce and science and literature, and make each and all servitors in the train of the LORD of Hosts.
To open up this subject as largely as it deserves to be, would take more time than I can give to its consideration. But I will mention two points both bearing upon our work in China, which in my judgment demand prompt and specific action.
Here let me premise, that I want no change made in the precious Gospel which is to be preached to the Chinese. I want no change made as to the necessity of individual regeneration by that new birth of water and of the Spirit, which our LORD declares to be essential to one's salvation. I want no change as to the general teaching of Divine truth as set forth in the formularies of our Church. I want no ignoring or weakening or undervaluing the office of the HOLY SPIRIT in the work of conversion, whether it be of the individual, or of the nation.
Having premised these things, with a few others less radically important, which I need not now mention, I say, first, that the principal aim of [6/7] our Mission work in China should be THE RAISING UP OF AN INDIGENOUS MINISTRY.
In the establishment of our Mission in China, much time, labor and expense had to be incurred in learning the language, establishing schools, planting Mission stations, and in translating books. For more than forty years this work has been going on, and still we feel that we are but standing on the outer edge of the country, and are but in the infancy of our Missionary life. This must ever be the case, so long as we approach the Mission field as foreigners, and labor as aliens and strangers in their midst.
The one principal thing which we should do, is to make our schools and all our efforts in China tend to the raising up of a native Ministry, trained on the soil and for the soil.
The native youth who becomes a Christian under the instruction of the Missionary, and desires to preach the Gospel to his fellow natives, should not be taken away from his native land, he should not be trained up in a foreign land, and in a foreign language, and amidst foreign habitudes of thought and life, so that when he goes back, he is regarded with suspicion, and occupies a sort of half-way position between the native and the foreigner, and so slighted by both. This should not be. Everything which makes these Candidates for the Ministry less native and more foreign which destroys ethnic characteristics, and grafts into their character foreign traits; and which dislocates them from all their social and civil articulations with the body politic in which they were born puts barriers between them and their fellow-Chinese, incites distrust, and often turns the native Christian, thus foreignized, into an object of scorn and ridicule. The Apostles never denationalized their converts. They never run the Greek, the Roman, the Syrian, the Egyptian Christian in the same mental, and social, mould. The converted Greek was a Greek still in all save his religion. The baptized Roman was a Roman still as to all his rights of citizenship. Each believer kept up all his relations just as before, save only in what the now faith forbid. This is just what we should do. Instead of taking a religious boy and tearing him away from home, and sending him to England or America to learn how to become a Minister of CHRIST, he should be educated in a school, or college on the soil. Instead of weaning him from the dress, the dwellings, the food, the habits and customs, the family circle and the civil obedience due from him as a citizen of that kingdom; his whole status should be preserved intact, so that the people should feel and see, that he is one of themselves, and thus inspire confidence in his truthfulness and honesty, and so secure a better hearing and a larger influence. Just in proportion as heathen converts are Americanized, or Anglicized, or Germanized, to that extent their home influence for good is destroyed; and often a basis is laid for hypocrisy and deceit in the minds of the converts themselves. It is [7/8] utterly useless to expect to supply the demand for laborers in China by exporting Missionaries to China. The Church can nationalize itself in China only through a Chinese Ministry. It is the native pastorate which will make effective and national the native Church; and it is from the native Church, that the pastorate must, before long, draw its supplies, and not from foreign sources.
What Bishop Cotton, of Calcutta, said in reference to India applies equally to China. "I hope," said the lamented Bishop, "that we English Bishops are only the foreign Augustines and Theodorets, to be followed, we trust, by a goodly succession of Stigands and Langtons." And we reiterate this hope, and say that we trust that before long the time may come, when from all our now foreign Mission fields shall rise up native Prelates, Presbyters, Pastors, Professors, to found, to build, to teach, to rule in their own National Church.
The second point, and closely related to what I have just spoken, is the duty of establishing a MISSIONARY COLLEGE IN THE HEART OF CHINA.
The Chinese, though heathen when looked at from a Christian standpoint, are yet a highly civilized and well-educated people. Civilized, when all Europe was barbarous. They were the first to discover the use of the compass; the art of paper-making and printing; the making of gunpowder; the prophylactic virtue of inoculation; and many other things necessary to national greatness. Hence, they have all the elements of modern civilization except the important factor of Christianity. It is also well to notice in this connection that Buddhism, Confucianism and Taou-ism, the three religious systems which sway the Chinese people, are each interwoven throughout with false history, false chronology, false astronomy, false geography and false natural philosophy; which falsities not only allege a divine basis, but are themselves made to uphold a false theology and morality. Here then is one of those vulnerable points, or rather series of points, where education and science come in most advantageously as handmaids of our Missionary work in spreading our holy religion.
The teaching and demonstrating of a true science and philosophy, will necessarily break down the false and this vast basis of error removed, the superincumbent structures will topple and fall, as did the temple of Dagon when Sampson bowed himself upon its central pillars.
The truth of this is already seen in the results which have followed the establishing of the Hindu Colleges in India. As the process of enlightenment through these educational institutions goes on, the natives relax their hold on their ancestral faith and hereditary traditions; and the educated mind turns away from systems of religion, honey-combed with error, and propped up only by popular delusions for political effect.
This sapping and mining of these old strongholds of heathenism, built up on false science, can only be done by giving a true science and sound [8/9] philosophy, which shall undermine and supplant the time-worn and time-hallowed errors of ages.
The ordinary Mission work does not do this. Its sphere is different. Its line of action is direct indoctrination of the popular mind by the public and private preaching of the Gospel and the translating and circulating of the Bible. This is right and proper to a certain extent. But when you have to operate in a laud like China, you must adjust your enginery of warfare on a larger scale, and move along other lines of attack. Education is mental engineering. It is destructive as well as constructive. It has to dismantle the fortress of error, as well as build up strongholds of truth. It has to undermine and tunnel mountain-like idolatries and superstitions, as well as lay broad tracts for the swift march of modern knowledge. Its instruments of warfare are the manifold appliances of natural science. Its success is as sure, as the advancing daylight after a night of darkness; and thus it will ever act the part of a John the Baptist, and be the prophetic voice crying in the wilderness of error, "Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our GOD."
These errors so deep-rooted, so wide-spread, must be removed before the Gospel can gain the ear and the heart of that people. One of the most effective ways of doing this will be to establish such a Missionary College as our Brother-beloved, now about to be consecrated, has devised and so eloquently urged upon the Christian Church. The pre-eminence everywhere accorded in China to letters and literary men, and the fact that the literary class is the ruling class, seem to make it imperative that there should be established there, an institution of the highest kind; an institution in which superior mental culture, will be blended with true Christian culture; that will send out men versed alike in Chinese Classics, Western science, and the Christian religion who, upon their own soil, in their own dress, and under their rights and privileges as citizens of the Celestial Empire, shall prove themselves well-trained teachers, scientists, scholars and Clergymen:--men, who shall not only preach the Gospel, establish schools, and found Churches; but also prepare, what does not now exist, and what is a very great desideratum, a theological, and ecclesiastical literature in the Mandarin language, to be put into the hands of Candidates for Holy Orders, and to be the basis of a Christian and exegetical literature for all future time in that marvellous land and language. Such an institution, will be one of the most powerful of the Mission agencies in China. It will lift up our whole Mission work in the eyes of that nation; it will compel the respect of the influential classes; it will mould hundreds of youthful minds; it will be the standing, ever-present evidence of disinterested zeal and Christian philanthropy; and be a centre of operations, a hundred fold more productive, both of temporal amid spiritual results, than can possibly be secured by the [9/10] present unorganized, and congregational, and issolated efforts, valuable and blessed as these efforts have been.
In a word, that scheme which does most to fit the Chinese themselves to become Christian Ministers, is the most pressing need now for China, and is the true Missionary work for our branch of the Church to undertake, and by God's grace and man's liberality to accomplish. I cannot, Fathers and Brethren, too strongly urge the duty to establish such a College, or too earnestly enforce its claims to a wide-spread and liberal support.
Thirty-three years ago this month, at the close of a remarkable session of the General Convention, in the city of Philadelphia, the first Missionary Bishop for China, Dr. Boone, was consecrated to his high office. Of the eleven Bishops who were present on that occasion, only two (Bishops Whittingham, and Lee) survive.
Thirteen years ago, the body of this Brother beloved, this patient, learned, toiling and faithful Bishop, was laid to rest till the Resurrection morning in a grave in Shanghai. He was buried in Chinese soil, and is it not the Church's pledge that China shall not be abandoned as a Mission field, until a native ministry shall be reared up to carry on and complete what a foreign Ministry began?
At the close of a remarkable session of another General Convention in Boston, we again assemble to consecrate another Bishop for China. We have chosen one who for twenty years has devoted his life to the work of spreading the knowledge of GOD in that land. His name and his works are known not in China only, but throughout the Missionary circles of the world, as the principal translator of the Holy Bible into the Mandarin language. The greatness of this work in itself, and the toil and study which it required, are beyond our ability to understand. The influence of this work, not to the present generation only, but to all coming generations in China, can be computed only in the arithmetic of Heaven.
As the Bible is the basis of all Missionary labor, so he who translates that Bible lays in that Mission field the foundation on which, JESUS CHRIST Himself being the Chief Corner-stone, are to be reared the Christian life, the Christian family, the Christian School, the Christian Church, the Christian nation. What a gift beyond all computation, even in a literary point of view, is this gift of a translated Bible to a people hitherto ignorant of it! It infuses into the veins of that language the richest and holiest streams of pure and purifying thought. It acquaints them with the truest cosmogony, the earliest authentic history, the profoundest and most ancient laws, the grandest Divine ritual, and a biography and a poetry and a. philosophy, in comparison with which, the wisest human utterances, are but as the glow-worm's light compared with a mid-day sun.
 But if, beyond this merely literary benefit, you look upon this translation of the Bible as bringing into that scholastic language of the Chinese which sways the thought, the politics, the religion of three hundred millions of souls, the knowledge of the One living and true GOD, and the knowledge of JESUS CHRIST our LORD and only SAVIOUR, the knowledge of the HOLY GHOST the Comforter, the knowledge of the Church, its Sacraments, its Ministry; as introducing into that nation the soul's true guide-book to GOD and Heaven; then must you rank the Missionary who translates such a book, among the highest benefactors of the race; and his work, among the grandest achievements of the human mind.
Such a work has been done by this our Brother, and well and wisely has it been done. The Church now calls him to the front of her Mission forces, and commissions him as the overseer of that vast outlying field.
Bishop Boone baptized the first native convert, married the first Christian couple, buried the first Christian dead according to the ceremonies of our Church in China. He laid the first Corner-stone and consecrated the first Protestant Episcopal Church in China. He administered the first rite of Confirmation, and admitted the first native Candidates to the Diaconate and to the Priesthood in our Church. He established the first school for boys and the first for girls in connection with our Church, and was the first to introduce our Liturgy into the native Service.
The Bishop who immediately succeeded Bishop Boone, Bishop Williams, took up and carried on his work with the utmost diligence and fidelity. He spared not himself as to toil, time, money or self-sacrifice. With remarkable single-mindedness, and honesty of purpose, he pressed on unflagging in the Chinese Mission, until the providential opening of Japan to the outside world, caused him to transfer his overseership thither, feeling that such a suddenly opened door demanded a prompt entrance, and he therefore established the first Protestant Mission in those ''isles of the rising sun.'' Subsequent events have proved the wisdom of this action. Bishop Williams has before him a work second only to that which opens to our Mission in China; and if he should, as we trust he will, establish there just these instrumentalities of which I have been speaking, we feel sure that before long will be seen there a native ministry, and a native Church, and native training schools, which will be self-supporting and self-perpetuating and which, casting away the crutches of foreign aid, will walk forth in the strength of its own national organization, complete in all that pertains to doctrine, discipline, and worship of an independent Japanese Church.
Dear Brother, we are to consecrate you to-day to go back to China and to build on these foundations, the gradually rising structure of a permanent native Church, and a permanent native ministry. To root the Mission deeper in the soil. To give it greater breadth and range. To make it compass wider ends and aims. May Gun give you, my dear Brother, [11/12] all needed grace, faith, and power, to know and do His Holy Will in the responsible position to which you are called. We well know your reluctance to accept the office to which the suffrages of the House of Bishops twice elected you. We are aware also of the shrinking from conscious unworthiness which you now feel, in view of what lies before you. We sympathize with you in the inquiry, "Who is sufficient for these things?" while we realize also with you the grand assurance of St. Paul, "I can do all things through CHRIST strengthing me." See to it, dear Brother, that your Faith falters not, that your zeal wavers not, that your hope be not weak and dim. You are going out to new toils and to untried trials. You are to bear responsibilities from which an angel might shrink. You are to live and labor and die, it may be, in a land wholly given to idolatry. Yet be not dismayed. He that is with you, is more than they that are against you; and could your spiritual eyes be opened you might perhaps see, as the servant of Elisha saw, "the mountains fall of horses and chariots of fire" to protect and aid the LORD'S anointed.
It is said of the great Scottish Chief, Douglass, that when he went to war with the infidels he wore suspended around his neck a casket enclosing the heart of Robert Bruce; the most heroic of the Scottish kings. When his troops wavered, and would fain retreat, he would rise in his stirrups, take the silver casket from his neck, and with stalwart arms, fling it into the midst of the enemy, exclaiming as he did so, "Pass on brave heart into the battle, the Douglass will follow, where the Bruce leads."
Dear Brother, the Heart of CHRIST has already passed on before you into this Mission battle-field. His Word has already been sounded out as with trumpet voice, "Follow Me." His promise has gone forth, that "these from the land of Sinim" shall cleave unto the LORD their GOD and so, dear Brother, go forth to thy work, saying with loving faith and earnest zeal, Pass on Dear LORD into the midst of Thine enemies, Thy Servant will gladly follow where the CHRIST leads.