I cannot see, with my small human sight,
Why God should lead this way or that for me;
I only know He saith, "Child, follow Me";--But I can trust.
I know not why my path should be at times
So straitly hedged, so strangely barred before;
I only know God could keep wide the door;--But I can trust.
I often wonder as, with trembling hand,
I cast the seed along the furrowed ground,
If ripened fruit for God will there be found;--But I can trust.
I cannot know why suddenly the storm
Should rage so fiercely round me in its wrath;
But this I know, God watches all my path;--And I can trust.
I may not draw aside the mystic veil
That hides the unknown future from my sight;
Nor know if for me waits the dark or light;--But I can trust.
[A favourite hymn of Mrs. Stewart's in 1893, before her last journey to China.]
"The house of Jacob shall possess their Possessions."--OBADIAH 17.
POSSESSIONS in China! Yes.--Let me tell you how a lady in England became heir to a whole village in China.
And she is only a specimen of many others who have "interest "in that country.
There was a missionary meeting in the village where she lived--a lecture on China, illustrated by lime-light views.
Her heart was specially touched when she heard about the Bible-women. Then and there she decided to give £6 a year for one of them to be her own representative in the foreign field. She would learn her name and all she could about her work. She would pray for her and take an interest in her, and help in every way she could.
How good it is not to let the interest excited at a missionary meeting die away! Something practical should follow.
Mrs. Ahok said at a large meeting, when she saw interested faces and sympathetic tears, "I am glad you feel for my people who are without God; but that is not enough. Think before you leave your seats what you will do for China. We have a Chinese proverb--
"'When the stove is hot
Put in the cakes.'"
A letter soon went to China carrying the good news, and an answer was received after some months from Mrs. Stewart, saying there was a young woman who had finished her training, and she could go out to teach school and visit in after hours: she was too young to travel about as the Bible-women do.
Mrs. Stewart suggested in this first letter, that our friend, instead of having a Bible-woman only, should have a whole village of her own to care for and pray for.
Great was her joy.
The time arrived for sending the £6 for another year. Circumstances made it more convenient to send £4. What could our friend do? Must she let some one help with her village? She had so loved to think that she had a whole village in China to be interested in and to pray for.
Before she had come to any conclusion, she received the following letter from Mrs. Stewart, who had heard nothing about the matter:
KUCHENG, January 15, 1895.
Many thanks for your kind letter and enclosure for the woman you so kindly support. The one I have chosen for you, as I explained to my sister, is practically the same as a Bible-woman, but we do not call her so, for she is too young yet, according to Chinese ideas of propriety, to travel about as much as the regular Bible-women do. However, she is doing quite as useful work to my mind, and we are truly grateful for your kind help.
The £6 you send is, however, too much; £4 is all that is needed for the women who teach, as the travelling expenses are saved; however, if you still like to send the £6, you will like to feel you are half supporting another teacher!
Your woman's name I cannot remember just now, for we generally call the women by the name of the village they come from (one of the curious customs in our part of China). Cluk-po is the name of your friend's village, and therefore she often goes by that title! I have written to one of our dear lady workers who lives at Sa-iong, the place where your woman is now working, asking her to kindly write and give you some account of her and her work, as she will know more about it than I do. Sa-iong is a town about a day's journey from this, and for some years there seemed little hope of the people ever becoming Christians.
A chapel was opened, but so little interest was shown, that after a time, the missionary removed the catechist to a more encouraging place; and Sa-iong was left without any one to speak to the poor people of the Saviour.
Time passed on, and about eighteen months ago some of the inhabitants began to wish for some one to tell them of the true God.
They heard that in other places people were learning to worship Him, and at last a few of them came to Mr. Banister, the missionary, who preceded Mr. Stewart, asking for a teacher.
A catechist was sent; and two of our lady workers volunteered to go. They have lived there now over a year, and God is wonderfully blessing their labours. One of them opened a day school for girls, and your woman was invited to teach them, and she has done so most faithfully. These little girls are not only learning to love the Saviour themselves, but act as little guides to the missionary ladies, leading them to visit their friends and relatives.
One of these workers tells me there are few houses now in Sa-iong where she does not find a welcome, and many have really given their hearts to God, as far as we can judge.
One remarkable instance occurred at Sa-iong last autumn of the way God honours simple faith.
There was a terrible fire in the town, and a large number of houses were burned to the ground, leaving the poor families homeless.
The people were greatly terrified, seeing the flames advancing and no means apparently of arresting their progress.
In one house, right in their path, was an old Christian woman. She climbed on the roof, and stretching her arms out towards the sky, she cried aloud to Jesus to save her.
Next day it was discovered that though the houses all round were burned, hers was untouched.
This event has much impressed even the heathen, and has led the Christians to have more simple faith in God.
One more incident I must relate about Sa-iong, for I trust it will lead you to pray even more earnestly for the poor women of China.
Miss Codrington (one of the missionary ladies) has a class of women at her own house.
She takes eight or ten at a time and teaches them for three months.
They then return to their homes. She has good hopes that nearly all she has had were really saved.
Well, one poor young thing had come from a distance. Her husband was an opium-smoker. She was staying with her father at the time she applied for admission to the school.
She was very bright and intelligent, and Miss Codrington quite loved her.
Suddenly we heard to our sorrow that her wretched husband was looking for her, and wanted to sell her!
He found her, and appeared at Sa-iong with ten men to carry her off. Miss Codrington, of course, had no power to refuse, but she made him wait till she sent for the girl's father; and very sadly she had to give her up to him.
The poor girl seemed broken-hearted, but after prayer with Miss Codrington she seemed comforted.
They spent that night in an inn, and next day some of the Christians saw the poor girl sitting in a sedan-chair, bound hand and foot with ropes.
She was taken to a village about half-a-day's journey off, and there sold, just as you might sell an animal! Poor young thing! Can you picture her misery?
Oh! do pray for the women and girls of China. Sad things like this occur constantly.
Women are simply bought and sold as the men please.
Yours, with grateful thanks,
The £4 was given to the friend who showed the limelight views, to be sent through his "Missionary Fund."
He added £2, and so £6 was the sum again sent.
On Monday, August 5, he received the letter given below.
The same morning he read in the newspaper the telegraphic news of the translation at Hwasang.
Here is Mrs. Stewart's letter:
KUCHENG, June 19, 1895.
DEAR MR. BLUNDELL,
The cheque you so kindly sent for £6 has safely reached us, and we are very grateful for it. £4 from Miss------for her native teacher, and £2 from your Missionary Fund.
You do not state what branch of the work you wish the £2 given to specially, but I presume it may also go to the schools.
We are glad to have any help just now for these schools, for we feel more and more that they are perhaps the very best means of evangelizing these great dark regions, where there is absolutely no light.
Mr. Stewart has just come back from a trip through this large district of Kucheng, and he is quite delighted with the evident tokens of God's blessing on the schools.
He examined the children on all the leading truths of Christianity, and says they answered beautifully, better than many Sunday schools at home!
Most of these children have heathen homes, and we have heard of many instances through the year in which the parents and friends have been influenced by what the children tell them of what they learn at school.
One of our lady missionaries was invited to a house a few months ago in a village a long distance from here.
She found the idols had all been put away, and the whole family were attending the Christian services.
On asking what had led to their becoming Christians, they said that a little girl had gone to a day school in their village, and every day when she came home she repeated the hymns and verses she had learned at school.
At first they all laughed at her, but at last became interested, and finally learned to trust in the Saviour for themselves.
This is only one of many similar instances. These schools are gradually spreading the knowledge of the Saviour in a more successful way than even preaching.
Whenever my husband examines a school, the room is packed as full as it can hold with men and boys, listening intently all the time, sometimes for two or three hours, and they learn a great deal in this way.
We are so glad to hear of the success of the lantern work, and hope that God will richly bless it. We must try and get some new slides for you.
With many thanks for all your kindness and help, and hoping you will continually remember this Province in prayer,
Believe me to be,
Yours in the Master's Service,
Some people who cannot themselves go to China in the body, can go in spirit through the wonderful power of believing prayer.
Is not this the way in which Ezekiel went to that valley where the bones were "very many" and "very dry"--a very hard case?
He says, "The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He carried me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones."
This work of intercessory prayer is not to be taken up, as our natural wishes might dictate, or our own minds decide.
"Can these bones live?"
"O Lord, Thou knowest."
Ezekiel confesses his own ignorance.
We know not what to pray for as we ought.
"Prophesy." "Say to them, Hear the Word of the Lord."
"So I prophesied as I was commanded."
The bones came together, but there was no breath.
"Come O breath, breathe upon these slain that they may live."
Ezekiel had simply said what God's Spirit spoke in him.
I am sure he did not understand.
Now God tells him, he had asked and obtained blessing upon "the whole house of Israel."
The Spirit Himself helps our infirmities and makes intercession for us.
"Whosoever shall say to this mountain be removed . . and shall not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he saith cometh to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith."
"Thou shalt decree a thing and it shall come to pass."
These promises are all made "to him that believes."
Another extract from one of Mrs. Stewart's letters cannot be omitted:
"Sometimes R. meets with such interesting characters as he goes round the station.
"One old man lately asked him to send them soon a catechist.
"'But,' he said, 'Singang, we don't want a fine stuck-up young man, whose voice can't be heard beyond the third seat, though he may be full of wisdom inside. We want a man who goes about like the night watchman. He makes only two sounds: Pok, pok! Pok, pok!' (And the old man got up and went marching round the room imitating the way in which the watchman strikes his bamboo at night to warn the thieves). We want a man to go through the villages with a loud voice, saying, 'Jesus can save! Jesus can save!'
"Another old fellow said, when R. asked him how long he had been a Christian, 'I have known the doctrine eight years, but I have known Jesus for six years only.'
"Another, when asked how he would tell a heathen the way to heaven, said, 'I would lead him to Jesus. Jesus is the ladder to Heaven.' "
Dear Hessie Newcombe, who was bound up in the bundle of life with Robert and Louisa Stewart, gives a graphic picture of how she went campaigning, accompanied by her sister, to "take" Chinese villages for Jesus.
"For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.''
A VISIT TO A MOUNTAIN VILLAGE.
The many friends at home who have followed with prayerful interest the history of the Fuhkien Mission, must have been painfully struck with the fact, that while many of the men had turned from idols to God, the women, as a body, were almost untouched.
This state of things is the result of the peculiar customs and habits of the Chinese, which make it an imperative necessity for women to be reached by women. But now that the country has been opened up by the missionaries and catechist, there is an open field- for the ladies to go in and sow seed; yea, even to gather grain to lay at the Master's feet. Perhaps a short account of a recent visit, which my sister and I paid to one little lonely spot, will best illustrate the truth of this statement.
It would be hard to find a place more picturesquely situated, more utterly out of the world, than the little village of Du-ling (Bamboo forest), about fourteen miles from this city (Kucheng), which we visited for the first time on November 2. The path leading to it wound round and round the mountain side; far beneath us the river meandered in and out through the wide plain, where many of the fields were still laden with golden grain, though some had already been shorn of their beauty.
All around us we were surrounded by the luxuriant vegetation of a tropical climate. Groves of graceful bamboos, contrasting with the dark pines towering above them. Trees of every shade, from deepest crimson to the palest golden tinge, lovely clinging mosses, ferns and wild flowers, combine to form a picture of rare beauty and delight.
For utter loneliness and wildness, it reminded us most of the walk from Keswick to Wastwater, where, just as here, we seemed utterly hemmed in by the mountains.
We arrived at the village (built right on the mountain side) about 1 p.m.; and as there was no catechist living there, nor any chapel, the coolies put down our chairs just outside the village.
The first time a thing like this occurs, you do feel rather a peculiar sensation, that is, at least if you are possessed of those troublesome things called nerves. Here you are in a strange place, not knowing exactly what to do, or where to go. You cannot ask for one particular person by his surname, as probably all the inhabitants of the same locality have the same surname; and in the meantime an inquisitive crowd gathers closely round you.
However, by this time we have got accustomed to this sort of thing, and we just ask to be brought to some Christian's house.
One of the women immediately constituted herself our guide, and led us at once to the house, a room in which was used for a chapel on Sundays.
Here the women soon gathered in numbers; and after dinner, while Inie and the Bible-woman remained outside with the greater number, I took a few into our little "Prophet's Chamber," the furniture of which was as follows: a bed, consisting of boards laid on two forms, and covered with straw; a table, and one form fastened to the wall. I expect Elisha's room had the additional attraction of cleanliness, which this certainly lacked.
But these things made little impression on me at the time. That hour was one of the happiest in my life, for there were seeking souls hungry for the "Bread of Life." They did not stop me to ask a single one of the usual questions as to age, family, etc.
All they knew, even the most enlightened among them, of the Christian doctrine amounted simply to this: that there was one great God, who made them and heaven and earth and all things, and who wanted them to worship Him instead of the idols, which could not help them. But, poor people, they were so eager to learn more. I can scarcely describe the awe that comes over one at such a time; you feel that God Himself is in the midst. I kept praying all the time for the right words to be given, and from the first, I think, they understood almost every word, repeating it after me.
How earnestly and attentively they listened, as by the help of the little black, red and white card, I tried to teach them something of sin, and the Saviour who came to save them, and make them holy! Just as I thought they must be getting tired, Inie knocked at the door, asking me to come out and play the concertina, saying that in the outer room the women had been just as eager to listen. I played and sang "Jesus loves me "over and over again, and they soon joined in. Then Inie asked them a few simple questions, and their ready answers showed how the previous lessons had been taken in and understood. That evening four or five of them learnt Miss Marsh's prayer printed on the back of Mrs. Grimke's cards.
Next morning (Saturday), as our house was up above the village, we went down to one of the houses below. Here the women gathered in such numbers that we had no opportunity for individual talking. The noise was sometimes almost deafening, but the concertina generally created a lull. It is sometimes hard to remember that it is from such sowing times are gathered the few earnest ones, who afterwards come one by one to learn more.
One thing which greatly pleased us was the readiness with which those who knew a little themselves tried to teach others.
In the afternoon some of the women came again, asking us to teach them, and it certainly is true that God does open their understanding. They asked me to teach them the Creed, and I was perfectly amazed how they took in its meaning. Even when we came to the "Communion of Saints," they seemed to see at once that as Christians we became as sisters, having the one great Father and the one Saviour to talk to each other about.
That evening we had a prayer-meeting in Martha's house, as I surnamed her. She certainly was a character! A middle-aged woman, with a fat, good-humoured face, possessed of ceaseless energy, both of hands and tongue. The former she fortunately used in the unusual business of keeping her house clean, as well as in dragging women by main force to listen, and then preparing all kinds of dainties, which she heaped upon both willing and unwilling guests. Her words poured forth like torrents. We always felt thankful if we could just catch the drift of the long oration. Yet she was so eager to learn, and to get others to learn: we felt she was, indeed, a friend, and yet one of those who give you a slightly uneasy feeling, as you are not quite sure what extraordinary thing she may do next.
But this village has also its Mary. How we were drawn together those few days! A quiet, grave young woman, so gentle and earnest, who seemed to drink in every word, and think it all over in her own mind. I expect much from her influence in the future.
On Sunday a great many came over from the adjoining village, where, as yet, there are neither Christians nor enquirers. But we are praying that the light which cannot be hid may soon spread to them also. One woman listened very attentively, and said she would come again. We visited the village in the afternoon. At first it seemed useless to try and talk to such a crowd as had assembled, but Inie at last gained the attention of a few. She noticed the fixed gaze of one young opium-smoker in the background, and it was very interesting to find the same young man coming and spending the whole of the next morning with one of the Christians.
On Monday afternoon I went down with the Bible-woman to Martha's house. At this time of the year the women are very busy drying and sunning their rice, so that it is hard to get them together, but Mary and one or two others came up. Martha did not at first appear, and I soon found to my cost that she was on hosp'tality intent, as in about half an hour she appeared, triumphantly carrying some soft, red cakes, that looked like soap, but were really made of rice cooked in oil. Out of common politeness, of course, I had to eat a little.
That hour I did enjoy so much. The Bible-woman read and expounded from our little catechism on the "Life of our Lord," and I found out the references in the Bible, Mary reading them after me. When we came to the history of our Lord's sufferings I read it straight from the Bible. Never before had it all seemed so real to myself as then, when I saw how they felt it. Mary shuddered all over when it came to the crown of thorns, the spitting and the scourging, and she said over and over again, "And He suffered it all willingly for us! Truly we should love Him and try to please Him."
When I asked her would she not try and tell others the good news, she said so earnestly that indeed she would.
Now, dear friends, why have I written all this? First of all, because I do want you so much to pray earnestly, perseveringly, believingly, for these young Du-ling Christians.
You can have no idea of the awful temptations and difficulties by which they are surrounded. Satan's power is tremendous in this land, but our God is strong to deliver. Oh, do pray for them. "Satan to Jesus must bow."
Then I do want you to pray that the eagerness to learn may soon be the rule, not, as now, the exception. This is the Holy Spirit's work.
"Pray louder, pray longer, for the great gift of fire
To come down on these hearts with its whirlwinds of grace."
The Master came to seek and to save the lost. Dear sisters, ask yourselves, are you, as He was, seeking the lost? Surely if any are the lost ones it is these poor women, led captive by Satan at his will.
Oh! for hearts laid low at the Master's feet! Oh, for burnt lips which will only cry, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do!" Then soon, very soon, our King, Jesus, would reign triumphantly in this land.
In a later letter Miss Newcombe writes:--
"... The time at Du-ling was most remarkable. I think there is quite a revival there. One felt so completely in the hands of the Spirit, so utterly taken out of oneself, only a mere instrument. . . ."
The following extracts from the journals of Miss Newcombe and Miss Clara Bradshaw (now Mrs. E. C. Millard) give interesting descriptions of travelling in China, and bring before our minds in a forcible manner the great need of workers in this vineyard of the Lord:--
"We left Foochow early on Tuesday morning, and in about four hours we reached Kuang-tau, and climbing over the side of the launch, found ourselves in a sanpan which took us to shore. Our cook hired native chairs for us, made as light as possible for mountain climbing, with bamboo seats and poles, and a covering of matting.
"We only stopped once on the road to Leing-kong city, and arrived there towards evening. It is a lovely place, and from the little room we slept in we could get on to the roof outside, looking over the river and long bridge made of such huge pieces of granite stone, some little houses stuck up on the end of it, and grand ranges of mountains with such jagged edges on the opposite side.
"We rested for a while, and then thought we would go out and look about. We found ourselves in a street, and stopping to ask some women had they 'eaten their rice yet?' conversation commenced; we soon had quite a crowd, and I believe some were really listening, and trying to take in what seems so hard for them to understand, how Jesus loves them, and wants to save them.
"We came in and enjoyed our meal of fish and rice, and being tired, thought of going to bed, when the door opened, and in came a number of women to be talked to. They remained till quite late, but we were very glad of the opportunity, and hope to stay some nights there when on our way back to Foochow.
"Next morning on we went, through most lovely scenery, and in the evening reached Lo-nguong.
"Next day and the day following were very wet, such rain as I think I never saw at home. We had time for 'rest, and waiting on Him to renew our strength and give us wisdom in all things.
"As I was writing, in came a message to say some one had come to lead us to a house where they wanted to hear 'the Doctrine.' So we went, and there stayed till the evening with such crowds; they listened wonderfully well, and five or six women seemed to take in the message.
"On Saturday morning the weather cleared a little, and we went to a village where there are some Christian women; we had our midday meal in one of their houses, and such a feast was prepared for us! But we could not satisfy them, however much we swallowed. They having fed our bodies, it was time for us to feed their souls, and yet it scarcely seemed like 'feeding' their souls, for oh! the black darkness of those minds! Poor people! I do think if you in England could only realize the need of workers, surely more would come.
"I remember at home parishioners were not satisfied if a clergyman's visit was not paid at each house at least once a year; I wonder how they would like instead to have the city of Dublin only receive one visit in the year? So it is with many of the places here, where there are a few Christians; the Missionary can only pay one visit to the place and have a general meeting, sometimes not as often as once a year. And then think of the numbers of heathen cities and villages that as yet have never been visited.
"From the little window of our room here we see a very high hill; a long steep path of stone steps goes right over the mountain, and since we arrived I have not seen the long line of people passing up and down those steps cease. It seems an endless stream of immortal souls. Nearly all of them are burden-bearers carrying loads, and as I see them I think of the way their bodies and souls are weighed down, the slaves of Satan; my heart goes out in prayer for them, and I plead with the King to send forth--no, 'thrust forth'--some of His soldiers to free those slaves of Satan fast bound in misery and iron. They pass before our eyes, and we know we shall never see them again until they pass by the Great White Throne. Can you imagine how we pray for them?
"Sunday was another pouring wet day. That night we had special prayer to know how to get better at the people, and I think the prayer was speedily answered. Next day we went out visiting quite early in the morning, but could not move beyond one house, for there we had such numbers to speak to. It is difficult to know what to do with the men, for if they come the women won't, so in this house we had them all turned out. In a few minutes I looked up and saw the same congregation of men assembled on the top of the roof of the next house, looking right in on us.
"One dear old woman with white hair seemed greatly impressed, but Satan was as busy as ever, and when we pressed her to leave her idols and come to God, she vanished in a second out of the room. Satan so often seems to do that; sometimes the whole crowd of listeners suddenly jump up, and in a moment disappear, and one cannot get them back again.
"We returned to the city for our midday meal, and then started again to a house at some distance, where they 'received us gladly.' Here I counted fifty women listening, and the large doorway was quite crowded up by men, so that soon we wondered where we should get air to breathe, much less room to move. A woman and a girl beside me were so interested, and asked me to repeat anything they did not understand.
"Next day we started early for a village a good way off, and walked there. Such numbers of villages we passed by, where the people all came out to look at us! How we longed to stop at all these places, but we knew' we must not; at some we promised to go another time. At last we reached the village we were seeking; there we found a Christian woman, and in her tiny hut sat down on stools; very soon this little house was quite too full, and we had to disperse the crowd, which not only filled the house, but the narrow street outside, by promising them we would meet them in a larger place (the Bible-woman explaining to them where), and tell them the 'Doctrine.' As we were doing this tea was brought, and also eggs and chopsticks, which we ate, and then continued talking. But I don't feel I can give you any idea of the crowd, or how they pressed on us, not to mention pigs, etc. We went on as long as we could, and then had to push our way through for fresh air.
"We spent the night in the house of a Christian widow--such a nice bright little woman. She had been the wife of a catechist, and could read St. Matthew and St. Mark, so every morning and evening she holds prayers in her house for the villagers, a most remarkable thing for a woman in China to do, but as she could only read these two Gospels, the people never heard any of the rest of the Bible."
From Lo-nguong city Miss Newcombe and Miss Bradshaw, accompanied by Seng-lai, the wife of the Chinese clergyman, made a tour round the Mission Stations to the west of the city, which they thus describe:--
"Monday.--Started from Lo-nguong early, in chairs. Got along slowly; roads bad after rain. Went nine miles by eleven o'clock, which brought us to the village of Heng-long. While the people of the house were cooking rice for us, we had a splendid opportunity of delivering our message. First we invited the women into our little bedroom, but it was soon filled to suffocation, and there were more coming, so the catechist suggested the little chapel, which was airy and large, and opened on to the street. We went in, and in two minutes it was packed. There must have been considerably over 100 people, men and women, in it. We got on the raised platform, and had a good talk with them about John iii. 16, finding out by questions that some were following what was said.
"After dinner we started for O-iong in pours of rain. It was nine miles all uphill, and at times so steep that we got out and walked, to ease the burden for the poor coolies. We reached our destination a little after four o'clock, the rain still pouring, in spite of which the little upstairs room we were shown into soon was densely packed with women.
"Only one European lady had ever passed through this part of the country before, so our arrival everywhere created intense excitement. We could do but little talking, as we were so tired, and the people so packed, that they were continually getting on the top of each other, or, worse still, on the top of some poor little three or four-year-old, too small to be seen, this causing a serious commotion. We tried singing 'Jesus loves me' to quiet them down, and were rather surprised at its effect; they were evidently frightened, for they made a rush for the door, tumbling over each other in their hurry to get out, and we had some difficulty in persuading them that there was nothing to fear.
"Tuesday.--Before we were up this morning, from sounds going on downstairs we knew people were waiting to see us, and it was with great difficulty we kept our room free from visitors till our dressing was finished. Breakfast over, we came out into the hall, and did our best to speak to the people. I never saw such a sight, a great mass of people swaying backwards and forwards. We tried again and again to get a hearing, but it seemed hopeless, so we made for a door at the back of the hall, and, standing there, let none but women pass; in they filed, till every inch was filled, and they were standing out in the yard beyond. We had a really good time, some women listening most attentively as we went through the 'Wordless Book,' and showing by their answers they had taken in what we were saying. By twelve o'clock we were nearly exhausted, and fortunately the women wanted to go home to dinner, so we escaped by a back way, and got to our room unnoticed, barred the door, and had a good rest.
"We had determined after dinner to have first a quiet time with the Christian women before meeting the crowds again. They lived at some distance, and it was a pouring wet day, which accounted for the fact that, while we had crowds of heathen from the village, we had not seen the Christians before. There were seven or eight baptized women, and one woman and her daughter wishing for baptism. We began by asking them each how long they had been Christians, what they had worshipped before; and then, which was best, the idols, or God; and why God was best.
"They did not seem to understand this way of putting the question, so we asked, 'All the years you worshipped idols, what did you get from them? 'They confessed, 'Nothing at all.' 'And all the years you have worshipped God, what have you had from Him?' We got some nice answers; one woman said, she day by day received the Holy Spirit's help, both for what she did, and for what she said. Another said, the Holy Spirit daily helped her to do right. A third said, she had obtained forgiveness. We then had a little talk about prayer, and tried to encourage those who were still but beginning to worship to pray in their own words to God, words they themselves understood, for what they really wanted. We closed with a prayer-meeting, in which all joined, prayers short and to the point, and we felt thankful for this evidence that the message had been received. Some had evidently prayed aloud for the first time.
"Our little meeting over, we arranged with the catechist's wife, who had been at the Foochow Women's School for nearly two years, to have a special meeting for the women, before the ordinary Church Service on Sunday. After a short rest, we had to go down once more, to find another crowd of men and women waiting for us. But this time we had a really good opportunity. The Spirit was evidently present in power, compelling them to listen, and convincing them. Several were solemnized, who at first had lightly said that they knew the 'Doctrine,' and had heard it all before. At last, when we went upstairs, after a few closing words entreating them not to despise God's message, there was evidently a prolonged conversation with the catechist before some of them returned home.
"Wednesday.--Early after breakfast we started for Cai-tau, a village three miles off, where we heard there were six or seven Christian women. On getting there, however, we found not one of them had been baptized, or indeed knew anything about God or Christ at all. It was very sad; they called themselves Christians, and were so, just in so far as they did not worship idols, but no further. We asked the reason, and were told, that being three or four miles from the nearest Church, they could not possibly, on their bound feet, walk there over that rough hilly road; and we felt this was true, as with our large feet and good sound boots, we had felt quite tired out, after walking over that morning.
"One of these women is a catechist's wife. We spoke to him and asked him how it was. He said, 'She is a woman; women are too stupid and dull to take in anything! 'You may feel inclined to blame him, but I feel inclined to blame ourselves, their Christian sisters at home and abroad, who have done so little towards bringing them that Gospel of Salvation, which we ourselves prize so dearly!
"That night was spent at Ching-kang, and the next morning in talking with heathen women, who came 'en masse.'' They had 'never before seen a foreign lady, or heard the Doctrine.'
"Thursday.--long-tau. We had a very hot time in the sun. The path was one long ascent; I don't think I had ever been up such a perpendicularly steep ascent. We arrived about two o'clock feeling very tired and very hot. . . . It is now evening; we have had the people pressing round us the whole afternoon, and now I am afraid I sympathize with the disciples, when they asked for the multitudes to be sent away.
"Friday.--Lau-iong. Last night we had the most tremendous thunderstorm I ever heard. The lightning followed, flash after flash in quick succession, and the peals of thunder, rolling and roaring on the top of each other incessantly, sounded exactly as if great rocks were being smashed in pieces. Then the rain commenced, and went on getting heavier and heavier. I could not have imagined rain falling could have made such a noise.
"After breakfast we started in chairs, which we were thankful to obtain, for we were tired. We had thought yesterday that we had gone as high as roads could carry us, but we still found ourselves going up step by step, till at last valleys and depths were quite lost to sight, and nothing was to be seen around us but a wavy billowy sea of mountain tops. It was bitterly cold, and the rain poured, but we reached this in good time, and have had a really delightful time downstairs, the people listening splendidly; and though the room was full, and a large crowd of men were standing at the door, there was perfect quiet, while we told the Story of the Cross from the 'Wordless Book.' We were so very thankful for the women who had never heard before. At first they seemed unable to take in anything, but before we left some had certainly got hold of the main points. Oh! when will our English sisters take compassion on these lost sheep, and come to seek and save them?"
Saturday and Sunday were spent at A-chia, where there was not much to encourage, and on Monday they travelled through magnificent scenery to Uongpuang, which was reached about midday. They write:--
"The crowds here were gathered to meet us, and we are in a nice clean little loft, outside the house, with a ladder to get up to it. We had a little gathering of Christians this afternoon. It was very fine. They told us how they had become Christians, and what two said struck me very much. They had heard of our God, but had not believed, until one had got very ill, and prayed our God to make her well, which He did, and both women believed on Him, and have worshipped Him ever since. Afterwards we went to the heathen, and tried to tell them the way of salvation.
"We left Uong-puang early next morning as soon as our last entreaties to the people to believe in Jesus were ended, and reached Sioh-piek about noon."
A day, fully occupied up to twelve o'clock at night, was spent at Sioh-piek, and the following day the ladies returned to their starting point, the city of Lo-nguong. They write:--
"We came back here with hearts overflowing to God, with thanks for all His mercies and goodness to us, in this our first tour in this district. How wonderfully He has kept us, and has, I believe, given us confidence and faith, to expect the 'greater things,' throughout this whole vast Province.
"On coming back here, the first news we heard at the gate was, that in one of the houses we had been visiting, the old woman with whom we had pleaded so especially, but who had run away when pressed to decide, had passed into eternity. Oh! time is short, soon the chance of writing home and asking you to come and help, in prayer and every way you can, will be over. The fields here are truly white unto harvest, the labourers are few. 'Pray ye,' 'Come ye,' and share with us in the glory of the Harvest Home.
"For your Father's sake, who loves these lost ones, for Jesus' sake, who died for them, be up and doing. Come; souls are dying without having heard of life. Is it your fault? Why are you not out among the heathen, telling them the good news that has flooded your own soul with light and joy?
"When I hear, as I do in letters from the Homeland, of Gospel meetings, at one of which there are three or four Christian workers if it is a small meeting, and far more if a large one, I do feel jealous. Did Christ not die for China? Are these Chinese sisters less dear to Christ than our English or Irish ones, that for one who will go to the heathen, there are hundreds to speak to the people at home? If you but offer to the Lord that which costs you nothing, think you He will accept it at your hand? Your staying at home is withholding blessing, alike on the work you cling to so closely, as well as on the neglected field you are leaving untilled.
"God is with us for our Captain. 'Come ye to the help of the Lord against the mighty.' "
On their return to headquarters they write:--"Back again in civilization, knives, forks, spoons, etc., and wishing to be out of it, and back again to the chopsticks of these last happy weeks.
"Our first visit to Lo-nguong is over, and with it our first attempt for any lengthened period to live on native food, and we have seldom felt in better health. We mention this, as it seems God's seal of approval on this effort to bridge over the chasm between us and the people. Anything that brings us nearer to them, and makes us more like one of themselves, is well worth doing for Jesus' sake, who, when He came to save us, became of one bone and flesh with us, and was 'not ashamed to call us brethren.'"