Pagans And Christians Pray For Each Other
( Originally Published 1902 )
MRS. McKINLEY, who accompanied her husband and the members of his Cabinet on a tour of the West, became dangerously sick in California. Her life was in the balance, and earnest prayers were offered for her restoration. Heathens, as well as Christians, united in their petitions for her recovery. The following wonderful and beautiful request, that the Chinese of San Francisco prayed for the recovery of the President's wife, was published in the Ching Sai Pat Vo, the Chinese daily paper of San Francisco ;
" It is our custom that each householder erects within the living room of his residence, however humble the home be, a shrine before which he may worship after his own faith. We request that, this night, the elder of each and every Chinese family pray fervently and tenderly to the Creator to spare and restore to health the wife of this great man, the heart of his heart, for whom he has shown a devotion which must excite the admiration of every true-hearted man, be he Christian or pagan. We may differ materially in our religious faith ; and, because of thousands of years of training, it is sometimes difficult for us to agree on certain ceremonial laws ; still, our love for those whom we have taken to our hearts is identical, and the same tender love for wife and family is common to all mankind. Our sympathy for the President is as sincere and as intense as it could be were it expressed by his own people."
This request for prayer astonished us greatly, as we were not aware that the Chinese people entertained such a distinct faith in the existence of the Supreme Being, or of his willingness to hear and answer prayer. Confucius, who thought that the gorgeous Oriental mind had given undue emphasis to the spiritual and eternal, paid almost no attention to them in his teachings, insisting that to meet obligations with reference to this world was the whole duty and reward of man. He taught rigidly the sacred relations of ruler and subject, parent and child, of husband and wife, of brother and sister, and it would be perfectly natural for the Chinese mind to be profoundly impressed with the sorrow of the great ruler of the great nation for his beloved wife, and his unceasing devotion to her. It is likely that the nearness of these Celestials to our western civilization gave them a spiritual light which Confucius did not have, which prompted them to cry out to a personal God.
The tender sympathy of the universal heart and its instinctive cry to the Supreme Being for the help of another, is also similarly illustrated in the prayer of the missionaries and the native Christians for Li Hung Chang when he was so dangerously wounded by the assassin's bullet in Japan. The Earl wrote a public letter, in which he expressed his belief that the prayers of the Christians for his restoration had been heard, and that God had spared him to do some good in the world. And, during his visit to this country, when the representatives of the various missionary societies called at the Waldorf Hotel, New York City, and presented to him an address, which was handsomely en-grossed in a black sealskin portfolio lined with red, he made a beautiful answer, closing with these words :
" I have to tender in my own name my best thanks for your most effective prayer to God to spare my life when it was imperiled by the assassin's bullet."
In this acknowledgment, Li Hung Chang, as well as the California Chinese, went farther than Confucius in his belief in a personal God, who hears and answers prayer. The Hindoo mind seems to be moving toward Christian faith. May it not be possible that the Chinese mind, so stationary for four thousand years, is now taking a step or two at least toward Christ ?