China - New Era (continued)
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Official Classes Now Responsive. In reviewing first of all the hopeful features of the situation, let us observe the complete change of attitude toward West-ern civilization and Christianity on the part of the official classes. To appreciate this change we should recall their former attitude. Let us remember that the combined foreign powers had to struggle for twenty-five years (till the Treaty of Peking in 1860) before China would consent to receive foreign envoys at her capital, even as despised inferiors. Let us not forget that for forty years more the officials and literati resented the presence of the foreigner. A leading worker in China stated that he would have felt well repaid if he could have been the means of the conversion of even one of these officials or literati in his lifetime, and had he been offered the opportunity of winning as many as twelve of these men as the work of a lifetime, he would gladly have given his life for the chance. But now a door of access is thrown wide open to these hitherto inaccessible classes. Almost every missionary in every part of the country can testify to this sudden and surprising change. The writer noticed this especially on his recent tour.
Representative Men at a Banquet. On arrival in Shanghai a banquet was given to welcome Dr. Mott and myself. It was a sight to see the leaders of this young republic, arrayed in evening dress, gathering in the Palace Hotel some two hundred strong. In the chair was Mr. K. S. Wong, business manager of China's great iron and steel works, and perhaps the future Carnegie of China. In these works, employing over 4,000 workmen, we saw skilled laborers turning out the finest steel rails with which to build the new railways of China, which will stretch from Shanghai to Burma and from Canton in the south to Siberia in the north. On the left sat the celebrated Dr. Wu Ting-fang, former minister in Washington, who represented the revolutionary forces in the negotiations with the Manchus in forming the new Republic of China. Next him sat the manager of the Nanking Railway, a graduate of Yale. Though not a Christian he said: " Confucianism has supplied China with precepts in the past, but China imperatively needs Christianity to-day to furnish her with moral power. Many leading men are now turning toward Christianity as the hope of China ; it is a sign of the times." Others gave the same testimony.
Requests Show Changed Attitude. On Dr. Mott's right at the banquet sat a Confucianist, who had made a six hours' journey to Shanghai as the special representative of the governor at Hangchow, to ask for a Young Men's Christian Association building and officially to request the organization of an Association in their city, the governor promising to give the site. Requests similar to this are coming in from various parts of China.
How the Work Spreads. The attitude of several other governors in various parts of China is typical of the complete change under the new régime. The Provincial Assembly of Kirin in northern Manchuria showed their confidence in this Christian work for young men by voting to request the extension of the Association throughout the cities of their province. The governor in southern Manchuria erected at his own expense a great hall for the evangelistic meetings. The writer interviewed on two succeeding days the two generals who had commanded both the northern and southern armies and had led the two forces in the recent revolution. Both are now governors, and both spoke enthusiastically of the Christian work for young men going on in their city. Each of them asked that it should be extended to help the young men of the province at this time. General Li Yuan-hung, Vice-President of the Republic, who commanded the south-ern army, was particularly cordial. He gave us a European luncheon, and discussed with us the moral conditions of the young men of his province. Both these governors are themselves liberal supporters of the work.
Openings in Western Provinces. The two governors in the extreme western provinces on the borders of Burma and Tibet have shown the same remarkable spirit of cordial cooperation. In one of these provinces, which seemed the last stronghold to yield to mission effort, where, apart from the aborigines, thirty years of work had yielded less than one hundred converts even from the lower classes, and where the hearts of high and low alike seemed hardened to the gospel message, the new era was introduced by two Chinese students who had just returned from japan. There they had been won to Christ in the local Young Men's Christian Association, and upon their return they told the governor that a political revolution was not enough. It was necessary they said to change the hearts of the people. They urged him to lend his assistance in founding a Young Men's Christian Association. The governor granted them a large Buddhist temple for the use of the new Association. The students ground the idols to powder, and used them to make bricks for repairing the building. The missionaries were called in to address the crowds that daily poured in to listen to the gospel message. It was, perhaps, the hardest city and province to influence in the whole of China, and yet in a day all was changed. Favorable edicts were issued throughout the city and province concerning the work. Non-Christian Confucian leaders began to demand the formation of Christian Associations in other cities of the province, and the work is still spreading.
Individual Transformation. Having observed the changed attitude of the officials and leaders of China, let us note the transformation in individual character wrought by Christianity in the new era. Only the Christian ideal, realized in the lives of true patriots, can save and uplift China. There is C. T. Wang, of Yale, who has had such a brilliant career in the young republic. He was trained in a Christian home as the son of a humble preacher of the gospel. Finally he became Secretary of the Young Men's Christian Association, and the writer observed his able work among his fellow Chinese students when in Tokyo seven years ago. Later he graduated from Yale with high honors, and as Secretary of the Chinese Student Movement in America was the recognized leader of the hundreds of Chinese students in this country. His burning and fervid appeals for China will long be remembered by all who heard him deliver addresses in the United States, in Canada, in Constantinople, and elsewhere, for he is a true orator in the highest sense of the word.
He Goes to the Front. Upon his return to China he again entered the service of the Young Men's Christian Association as a National Secretary. Then came the revolution. Without risking his life his own position would have been assured. He had only to wait till the revolution blew over and he could have received a high office from either party that was successful, but he said: "I must go to the front. This is the hour of my country's need. The revolution may fail, or it may succeed. If it fails I could never forget that in the hour of the nation's need, at the crisis of her fate, I did not put my life upon the altar. Should it succeed I would then have waited until there was no longer any risk, and I would have had no part in China's fight for freedom. No, I must join the movement when there is a chance to die." So saying, he started for the front.
During the War and After. Serving in the ranks of the Red Cross work, helping the wounded, he was soon made a member of General Li's staff, and acted as Minister of Foreign Affairs under him in the provisional government. The Vice-President, then General Li Yuan-hung, sent him to be one of the representatives of the revolutionary forces in the negotiations for peace. When Dr. Sun Yat-sen became the Provisional President of the Republic, Mr. Wang be-came his personal representative in important negotiations. Elected a member of the National Senate he was a factor for peace and unity in reconciling the contending forces of the north and south in seeking to hold China together. Soon he was called to be Acting Minister of Commerce in Yuan Shih-kai's Cabinet, but as soon as his work permitted he left that post to return again to Christian work. During recent months he has been engaged in the great plan for constructing the new railway system by the Central Railway Company of China.
A Reformer and Christian Leader. Mr. Wang is no idle dreamer, but a practical reformer and leader of men. Recently he has been elected Vice-President of the new Senate in Peking, and with some sixty other Christians in that great body is laboring with high purpose and splendid self-denial as a burning patriot for the welfare of China. Perhaps more than any man in China to-day he is playing the part that Alexander Hamilton played in the constructive period after the American Revolution. In a recent address in Shanghai he said: " China is poor today, not for lack of resources, but because our one burning need is for moral character and for moral leadership. Christianity alone can supply this need for China."
Chang Po-ling, Educator. Another typical man of the new era is Chang Po-ling, the Arnold, not of Rugby, but of North China. He was a graduate of the Imperial Naval College and an officer in the Chinese navy. He resigned from the navy because he felt that China's greatest need was education. He was invited by the gifted Mr. Yen Hsiu to aid him in his educational program. Mr. Yen was, perhaps, the greatest of China's modern educators. As the head of the Board of Education in the metropolitan province of Chihli he raised the number of students within his province from two thousand to two hundred and fifteen thousand within the seven years following 1903. He then became Vice-President and acting head of the Imperial Board of Education for the whole empire. Under his patronage, and with the generous contributions of the gentry and officials of thousands of dollars, a model educational institution was started in Tientsin, and Mr. Chang was made the principal or president. So famous has this college become that it now enrolls students from all the eighteen provinces of China, and Chang has left his stamp on every student, as Arnold did at Rugby.
Inquiring the Way. Professor Robertson came in contact with Mr. Chang and through his personal friendship for him helped him by lecturing in his college. Mr. Chang's mother had been an earnest Buddhist, his father a strict Confucianist, but through the materialistic writings of Spencer and Huxley Chang himself had become a Confucian atheist. Oppressed by the problem of evil and human suffering, he became a confirmed pessimist and was deeply discouraged over the condition of China, which seemed to be drifting upon the rocks. When he unburdened his heart to Robertson he said: " I notice that you Christians seem to have some hidden 'source of joy and peace and power. What is the secret of this power? " Robertson invited him to join him in studying the Bible and they began with the problems of the book of Job and then studied the life of Christ. Months passed and their friendship grew. When Mr. Chang was appointed a representative of his province on a commission which was sent to visit America and Europe, Robertson invited him to his home before his departure.
Conversion and Witness-bearing. Till nearly midnight one evening Mr. Chang told the writer the thrilling story of his conversion. On the night before his departure Robertson spoke to him again of Christ, and asked him if he would join him in prayer. Chang said that, as he knelt to pray, it seemed as if a great light filled his soul and flooded his whole being. His conversion seemed almost as clear and instantaneous and revolutionary as the blinding vision of the Apostle Paul himself. He knelt an agnostic, he rose a Christian; he knelt a pessimist, he rose an optimist. The face of all the world seemed changed; he looked out upon a new heaven and a new earth. The whole night he could not sleep for joy. In the morning he said:
" I have been drifting for ten years like a ship at sea without chart or compass ; now I know where I am going." He hastened to Tientsin, and spent the first day with his family telling them of his decision. The next day he went to his college, and called together the teachers and students, and finally the Board of Directors. One can see those proud officials in their flowing silk robes as they come into the room. The young man with glowing face tells them why he has become a Christian, and opening the Scriptures reasons with them with that loving sympathy and joyous enthusiasm that to this day marks his every utterance. He resigned his college position that his presence as a Christian might not embarrass the administration, for he could not bow to the tablet of Confucius. The next day he journeyed to Peking, and spent the day with the officials, boldly telling them the reasons for his decision. A whole week was spent with these men, especially with the Commissioner of Education, who was his best friend. Opening his heart, and opening up the Scriptures as well, he told them of his wonderful experience. Finally, they said : " Well, be a Christion if you must, but be a Christian in secret; do not resign your college position, we cannot spare you. Simply bow to the tablet of Confucius ; it is only an empty, outward form, and you can believe what you like in your heart." But Chang stood firm and with his winsome smile said : " A few days ago One came to dwell within my heart. He has changed all life for me forever. I dare not bow to any other lest he depart." When urged by some of his Christian friends to be more cautious, he said boldly : " I want everybody to know that Chang Po-ling has become a Christian."
Reinstated and Working. After spending six months in America and Europe visiting the leading institutions, he returned to give his report in China. He was then called to be the President of his old college as a recognized Christian leader, and he occupies that position today. When during the student strike he was asked to lead some three thousand students to present their petition to the Throne regarding the wrongs in Manchuria, he stood firm before all their threats. Though they offered him the power of life and death over them as their leader, he persuaded them to go back to their institutions and resume their work. Two years ago he organized a church in his city. When the writer visited Tientsin he saw that wonderful church crowded to the doors. Some twenty of Mr. Chang's professors and students had already been baptized, and a hundred men from the leading classes had united with the church within the past two years. Night after night he presided at the evangelistic meetings and swayed a vast audience of two thousand students as he gave his ringing testimony for Christ with such sweet reasonableness and joyous fervor that repeatedly that great audience of non-Christian government students broke out into applause. After one of the meetings the writer saw him step up to a non-Christian Chinese gentleman of wealth and position. He said: " My friend, I have been praying for you daily by name for many months. Will you not now decide to accept Christ as your Savior?" " I will," replied the man. " You have long studied the matter ; will you not be baptized and join our church to-morrow morning? " Chang asked. Again came the reply, " I will," and the writer saw this man with some of the government students admitted to the church the next morning. Mr. Chang's younger brother became one of the first student volunteers in China, and is to-day one of the most prominent students being educated in America. A growing company of men are going out from Mr. Chang's college with the stamp of his own life and character upon them. It is such men who are to be the makers of the new republic.
New Leaders through a New Religion. Thus the power of the new age is manifesting itself in the lives of China's leaders. When we look from the lives of the former leaders to men like Chang Po-ling, we have passed from the old era to the new, and a great gulf separates the two; it is as wide as that which separates Confucianism from Christianity. Thus, the spirit of the new age is seen to-day throughout China in the new attitude of her officials, but most of all in the lives of the Christian men who are to leaven the whole nation and to lift the young republic into a place of power.
The City of Martyrs, Paotingfu. Nowhere is the contrast between the old era and the new more striking and dramatic than in such a city as Paotingfu, amid scenes of the Boxer uprising. We visited the city just after the revolution. We spent twenty-four hours crowded with glorious opportunity in this city made sacred by the blood of the martyrs. I had long wished to preach the gospel where my friend and classmate, Horace Pitkin, laid down his life for China before he had time to learn the language or win a single convert, and where more than forty other missionaries and Chinese Christian workers were massacred. We stood beside the white stone that marks the grave of Pitkin to draw new inspiration for the work, and reconsecrated ourselves to the Master whom he served so well.
Ringing Words of Pitkin. The crisis came on June 30,1900, for the missionaries of the Presbyterian Board in Paotingfu. Five foreign missionaries and three children, together with a company of faithful Chinese Christians, received the martyr's crown. Pit-kin's spirit is reflected in the last letter the writer received from him in India: "It may be the beginning of the end. God rules, and somehow his kingdom must be brought about in China. . . . We may not be left to see the end. It is a grand cause to die in. Jesus shall reign, but we hope that long life may be for us in this work. Our affectionate greetings to you all. . . . God leads, thank God, he does. We can-not go out to fight. We must sit still, do our work, and take whatever is sent us. It will be but a short time before we know definitely whether we can serve him better above or not. . . . We cannot be sure of a single day's life. Work and pray for us."
All Doors Now Open. How great the change today! The city gates are open, the people are friendly, the former palace of the old Empress Dowager houses a modern government university. We went from the martyrs' graves to our meeting at the Li Hung-chang Memorial Temple, which had been generously given us for a Christian service. The missionaries estimated the attendance of government students at the first meeting at three thousand. More than half these men were standing for nearly two hours during the address, while several hundred were turned away from the doors for lack of room. We gave three addresses in succession without a break, and as we closed, in speaking on the cross of Christ, we could find no better illustration than the death of Pitkin himself, for there were men in that audience, doubtless, who had seen these martyrs die. We told them of his farewell message to his wife in America : " Tell her that God was with me at the last, that his peace was my consolation ; tell her to send our boy Horace to Yale, and tell him twenty-five years from now to come out and take up my work in China." After warning them that following Christ would mean opposition, if not persecution, nearly three hundred signed cards as inquirers, promising to enter Bible classes. In the meeting with these inquirers in the evening, ninety of them, who already knew something of Christianity, rose, promising to become Christians, to be baptized and join the church. Some of them have already done so. After leaving the meeting with the inquirers we hastened outside the city at the invitation of the authorities of the Military Academy, which is training fifteen hundred cadets as the future officers of China's army, to address these men drawn up at " attention" out of doors, in the bitter cold, at ten o'clock at night. The general and his staff were present, and we had perfect freedom to speak upon Christianity.
Growth of Christian Missions. At last Christian missions are coming to their own in China, and that after centuries of waiting. Early in the sixth century the Nestorian Christians had entered China, but had not survived the persecution of those early centuries. As early as the thirteenth century Roman Catholic missionaries entered the country, and the community of Roman Christians now numbers over a million per-sons. In Protestant missions, the years from 1807 to 1842 mark the Period of Preparation begun by Morrison. From 1842 to 186o, beginning with the opening of the first five ports by the Treaty of Nan-king, is known as the Period of the Port Cities, when mission work was almost impossible in the interior. From 186o to 1900 has been called the Period of Penetration and Progress, as Hudson Taylor and the members of the China Inland Mission and other societies pressed into the interior of the country. From 1900, the New Era begins with the fall of the older order. In 1910 there were 5,144 Protestant and 1,475 Roman Catholic missionaries in China. Protestant missions were conducting 170 hospitals, 14 orphanages, 16 leper asylums, and wo opium refuges. There were 553 mission colleges, academies, and higher institutions, and 3,708 primary institutions, with 117,000 pupils. The number of Protestant adherents was 324,890. The Church instead of being wiped out has gained nearly 80 per cent. since the Boxer uprising. The Bible Societies have printed and distributed 46,400,000 Bibles and portions. The increase of the Protestant communicants in China may be seen by the following table:
1807 Protestant Communicants o
1814 " „ 1
1842 " " ......... 6
1853 " " .......... 350
1860 " " ............. 960
1876 " " ........... 13,515
1889 " " ............. 37,000
1900 " " ............ 113,000
1910 " " ............ 196,000
Christian Problems. We have reviewed the hopeful features of the situation in China as seen in the attitude of the officials, of individual converts, and in the centers of the Boxer uprising. Let us now notice some of the problems facing the Christian Church in China to-day.
1. The New Classes Made Accessible. The native Church in China is faced by the problem of taking advantage of the opening suddenly presented to reach the official and leading classes when it has an insufficiency of highly educated leaders adapted to such work. There is the problem of handling the large number of inquirers from the government student class, and of taking immediate advantage of the present evangelistic opportunity in China today.
2. The New Religious Workers Needed. There is the problem of raising up speedily an adequately trained ministry and a sufficient force of strong lay workers to meet the present unprecedented situation in China. Since the Christian Church was drawn at first necessarily from among the obscure and the poor, the ministry was not highly trained, though recruited from the best class available. The situation would be even more grave than it is to-day were it not for the work of Pastor Ding Li-mei, who has been used of God to lead an indigenous Student Volunteer Movement to raise up men for the ministry. Some hundreds of the most gifted students have enrolled and signed the volunteer declaration to give their lives to the ministry in China. This means accepting a salary often of one fifth or even one tenth the amount they could receive in government service. There is all the more need of raising up a trained ministry in this period of transition in China. The educated classes are prepared to consider the claims of Christianity if they are intelligently presented. The Church is facing to-day a revival and reconstruction of the old religions, on the part at least of an educated minority. There is a " neo-Confucianism," just as there is a revival of Hinduism in India. There is a revival of Buddhism, though not on a large scale as yet ; for, not being native to China and having appealed more to the ignorant masses, it does not present the same claim upon the patriotic leaders of China as an indigenous religion. There is a new eclecticism springing up similar to the movement in japan, though not so pronounced as yet as that in India. There is a cult in China which calls itself " Confucio-Christianity." Many of the educated Chinese are trying to receive the best in all religions, without professing allegiance to any one of them, not having found as yet that this has been tried repeatedly but has always proved a failure in the end.
3. Relation of Foreign and Native Forces. The problem of right relations between the foreign and Chinese forces is a very real one. This great nation is in a most sensitive, adolescent period. There are many foreigners who do not realize the changes in China itself, and who have not been able to adjust themselves to the new era. A student from the West who contemplates going as a missionary to cultured lands of the East, like Japan, China, or India, with -their ancient systems of philosophy and religion, and their superior courtesy, should not be sent abroad if he goes with any mistaken notion that he is to be a prominent leader, superintendent, or dictator, who is to employ and direct native helpers. Rather, the foreigner should go to help these great leaders of the East. He will find in many respects that he, as well as his barbarous ancestors, is inferior to the culture and courtesy of the blue blood of some of these ancient nations.
4. Question of Church Unity. The problem of church unity and the question of comity, cooperation, and interdenominational relationships has not yet been solved in China. The Chinese do not appreciate nor value the denominational differences of the West. They are impatient with divisions which keep them apart, which were not created by them, and which they say have no meaning for them. However precious some of these differences are to those who fought for great principles in the past, they themselves feel more ready to fight for unity than to perpetuate division. A number of independent churches are already springing up in different parts of China. It will be well if there is a careful diagnosis of the situation in time to prevent a wide-spread disaffection. If foreigners are not' prepared to lead in the movement for unity themselves, the Chinese will take the lead. But this very independence and ability for leadership raises grave problems among a people who have but little experience in Christianity, and who may not realize all the issues involved nor know all the lessons of Christian history.
Special Needs. How then are we to meet the present situation in China? In addition to the four suggestions already made as to the demands of the situation in Japan, China seems to need at this time the following :
1. Adequate Trained Foreign Force. There is need of an adequate force of trained Christian workers from abroad. Once again, what we do for China must be done quickly. A race so strong, so independent, and so gifted in leadership may not long be willing to receive help from without even when it is needed. The present forces in China are inadequate to cope with the situation. Our missionary staff should be greatly strengthened and extended, and we should study national strategy in dealing with so vast a problem as that which confronts the Church in China.
2. Enlarged Educational Work. We should greatly strengthen the present Christian educational system in China. For years to come the government will be unable to supply education for the whole population. Even when it does so, the example of secular education in Japan proves how inadequate it may be. Strong Christian universities should be established at certain strategic centers, and the entire system of education of the surrounding provinces coordinated and related to these universities. The Christian colleges of China, such as St. John's University in Shanghai, Boone College in Wuchang, the Canton Christian College in South China, the Shantung Christian University, Peking University, and other institutions in the North, have trained notable Christian leaders, and together with the returned students from abroad are furnishing the men who alone can solve the problems of China today.
3. New Leaders. Able Chinese Christian leaders must be raised up from among the young men of China who are outside of the relatively small number of mission institutions. The 3,000 Chinese students studying in Japan, the I,000 in America, and nearly 200 in Europe, together with the large numbers in the government colleges of China, furnish a field for evangelistic effort and influence. Every Chinese leader won is an asset for the republic. We should spare no pains to raise up an adequate Christian leadership for China.
A Manifest Work of God. It is not too much to say that greater changes have been wrought in the form and principles and spirit of the life of this most conservative nation of history during the last decade than in the four thousand years of China's history before the landing of Robert Morrison. Such an effect must have an adequate cause. If we believe in a philosophy of history, if ever God has been at work anywhere, surely he is working in China before our very eyes. " Behold I work a work in your days which you will in no wise believe." It is always easier to relegate God's mighty works to the past, or to postpone them to an ever-retreating future than to expect or to discern God's work in the all-important present. But we cannot deny the argument of solid facts.
Call of the Present Crisis. For a century the Church prayed for open doors in Asia. It would be almost blasphemy to pray that prayer in China to-day. Rather, God seems to be saying in the unmistakable logic of events: " I have begun to deliver. . . . Go in and possess the land." If we care at all how the other half lives, if humanity is anything more than a mere name, if religion is more than a dead rite or empty form, surely it must move us to the depths to behold one fourth of the human race struggling up out of ages of bondage and darkness toward the light and liberty of Christian civilization. Here are the facts confronting us. What are we going to do about them? More can be done in a decade now than in a whole generation in the future if we lose this one priceless opportunity. As an African proverb says, " The dawn comes not twice to waken a man." Where else in all the world is there another nation of four hundred millions so -open to the gospel? At what period in history has the Church been confronted with such a population, with such a mass of humanity waiting before its doors? But China's appeal is not only quantitative but qualitative. She is as colossal in her character as in her numbers. It is her deep moral earnestness that is so characteristic of China. Her greatest asset is in her people. They are a noble race, fit to survive. They constitute not a " yellow peril " but, as one has said, " the golden opportunity of Christendom." And when will such an opportunity return?
What Is Our Answer? In Japan during the eighties the Christian Church failed to press its ad-vantage, and no succeeding years have sufficed to overcome the strong current of materialism which has swept through all the life of Japan. Shall we again fail God in this greater crisis? We must act or there will be an inevitable reaction. Is China to turn, as we saw in the first chapter, toward Christianity, or toward a hopeless revival of the old national religions, or to a bitter experience of materialism, agnosticism, and immorality? If ever a nation needed help it is China to-day. If ever a nation was capable of responding to the best it is China. If ever a call came to Christendom it is here and now. What shall be our answer to China's need? What shall my answer be?
The New Era In Asia:
Asia - The Renaissance Of Asia
Japan - New Era
Korea - New Era
China - New Era
China - New Era (continued)
India - New Era
Near East - New Era
New Era In World Missions