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store, in the market, in religion, and in the home; and when they begin to give up Buddhism, and accept Christ and Christianity, the former must inevitably give way. So also the introduction into Siam of the telegraph, the telephone, the railway car, hospitals, schools, and the like, demonstrates to the people that Christian lands from which these improvements come are superior to anything native, and any thinking mind that can put two and two together must draw an inference in favor of Christianity.
NATIVE COLPORTEURS.—The lack of suitable colporteurs occasions much embarrassment. At the present time we have none in Siam proper. Of the two formerly in our employ, one withdrew on account of illness in his family, and the other, the older, after long illness died at Petchaburee last November. In Laos one colporteur has been employed at the joint expense of the Agency and the Mission. There have been circulated 1,121 books, almost entirely by sale.
MISSIONARY CORRESPONDENTS.—It gives me great pleasure to speak of the earnest and practical interest of the missionaries of the Presby. terian Board in giving the word to these people. Messrs. Eakin and Eckels have toured along the west coast and sold many hundreds of our books in connection with other Christian literature. Mr. McClure and Dr. J. B. Thompson bave charge of our stock in Petchaburee and Ratchaburee. Messrs. Cooper and Snyder have done good Bible work in Bangkok. Among the missionaries in Laos, Mr. Wilson, I understand, is reading the Bible in course to the natives in the employ of the Mission, and to others who choose to attend the services. Dr. McGilvary is persistent in his grand evangelistic work, which puts many a Portion of the Scriptures into the hands of the people. Mrs. Phraner is an earnest and efficient worker in charge of our books at Chiung Mai, her husband seconding all her plans for the work.
In a recent letter, Dr. McGilvary says: “ The last few days I have been making the rounds of the temples, selling books and reading and explaining them, and I have been surprised at the readiness of the priests and the youth studying for the Buddhist priesthood to buy our books. Hitherto I have given to the priests, and have very seldom thought of offering to sell; but this week all but one of six temples which I visited bought something. This afternoon I took with me a copy of Proverbs, Matthew, Luke, Jolin, the ‘Shorter Catechism,' and two of Mrs. McGilvary's new Laos tracts, and the first temple I visited the high priest took the pile, and probably he would have taken
The Rev. Mr. Eckels says: One of our chief discouragements arises from the fact that so much light and trashy literature has been circulated throughout the country.
The Sianese are a reading people, and were they not poisoned by the other kind I think they would more readily buy the Scriptures. I find the women more ready to buy than the men, although many of them confess that they cannot read. They say they will buy and take them home for some one else to read."
Advance along the lines of mission work implies corresponding drafts upon the resources of the Bible Society. Indeed, from the inception of the missionary movement in this part of Asia, keeping pace with its every step of progress, there is increasing demand for our Scriptures in every form for the Bible in the Classic style, in the Mandarin, and in the local dialects, together with separate editions of the Old and New Testaments, and the Portions which are used more especially for general distribution among the heathen. We receive but small returns for the immense outlay, but the satisfaction is ours that we have no insignificant share in the peaceful assault upon that paganism which is represented by the most ancient and populous empire on earth. Our field of operations takes in the whole vast empire. Our books go to all the provinces, to Siam, the Hawaiian Islands, and to many places in the United States (from Portland and San Francisco to Boston), as well as in Canada. All the American Missions in China are numbered among our patrons, while not a few of other nationalities co-operate with us.
SOWING FOR THE HARVEST.
From time to time we learn of men rescued from their old evil life and started on a path of inquiry that has brought them into the faith and lope of the gospel. The Agent is able to show figures that speak of much work accomplished; but, as has been well remarked, “The good of Bible work is not seen in the mere tabulation of statistics."
Spiritual results cannot be weighed with the same scales as tea and rice. The seed sown and germinating in many hearts produces a gradual lessening of the hatred against foreigners, a removal of much ignorance and superstition about the religion of Jesus, and a preparation of the soul to receive the truth.
Rev. J. M. Foster, American Baptist Mission, Swatow, sends the following:
“At a service I attended last November was a young Chinese schoolteacher whose interest in Christianity began more than fifteen years ago, when he received some books from a native preacher, who has now gone to his rest. The next day I was invited to a house in a neighboring village where a number of young men congregated who listened attentively. One of them said, as I mentioned Matthew's Gospel : Matthew ? Yes; I have Matthew. I have many of your books. I go to Shanghai and other places and get them. The teaching is good, but it is distressingly hard to break away from these village customs. Another, sitting next him, laughed and said, 'He is half Christian. His rejoinder was, They repeat the stories and rumors about Christians and I tell them such things are not true, for I have read the books and know the teaching is good.' He was evidently far from being a Christian in profession or in practice, but it is cheering to know that the dissemination of Christian literature does something to counteract the poison of heathen slanders."
Sometimes the seed sown in toil and weariness brings forth fruit after many days. A lady missionary, Miss Nellie Marchbank, who is working in connection with the China Inland Mission at Kwei K'i, Kiangsi Province, and is diligent in distributing our books, tells a striking story :
“One case was very interesting. An old lady bought a Portion of the New Testament from a foreigner who came to Kwei K’i selling books fifteen years ago. She took it home to her only son, who knew a few characters. He read the book but did not understand very well what it was all about. Time passed on, and by-and-by missionary sisters came to live here. His sister was converted and became a very bright Christian. She is with us as a Bible woman, and has been a help and blessing. She was very anxious about her old mother (the woman who bought the book), and last year she and we had the joy of hearing her confess openly that she belonged to Christ. After her mother was saved, my dear woman prayed for the conversion of her brother. He was taken very ill, and in his weakness turned to the Lord and said if He would raise him up he would henceforth live for Him. The Lord heard and did raise bin up, and a little over a month ago he was baptized. We could not help thinking of the seed sown fourteen years ago. After a long time it has brought forth fruit. The mother and son live together, about;two li from the city, and we always get a warm welcome when we go to see them."
N. S. Hopkins, M. D., of the Methodist Episcopal Mission at Tsunhwa, near Peking, gives a similar instance:
“ As an incident in book distribution, I would like to tell how an influential, wealthy man was added to our church at Lauchow. His father, some fifteen or twenty years ago, had business in Shanghai and was away from home most of the time, but on returning for a visit he left two books at home, saying he had bought them at a bookstore and wished his boy to be very careful of them and read them. The father died in the south and the books were lost sight of. About four years ago I passed through his place dispensing medicine and bookselling. As is my custom, I counselled all to buy a book. This son received a copy of the catechism and was struck with the similarity of the teaching with the books his father gave him years before. In a rubbish-heap in an outhouse this copy of the New Testament in Wenli was brought out and compared with a Christian tract. Thus started an interest that resulted in his conversion."
Events which come to our knowledge indicate that the influence of the colporteurs and the power of their message are far-reaching. Notwithstanding the trials which often fall to their lot, it may be said, of some of them at least, that their growing familiarity with the word and their patient continuance in well-doing under difficulties are working out the highest results. Some of these men, brought up in the school of the Bible work, are destined to occupy conspicuous and useful places in the Church. A number who were at one time in our employ are now catechists, or preachers, in some one or another of the Missions.
IN EVERY KIND OF SOIL. It occasionally happens that our books are distributed by methods which were never devised by us, and yet with most happy results. Rev. B. C. Henry, D.D., of the Presbyterian Mission in Canton, in a letter to the Agency, January 28th, says:
“When the Presbyterian mission-house and hospital at Kwai Pung, in May, 1886, were looted and burned, a number of New Testaments and Gospels were stolen. They were scattered over the country, and the ignorant people considered them as the evil books which the foreigners used to bewitch the people. One of them, a copy of Matthew, fell into the hands of a scholar of a neighboring district, who afterward came to Canton and attended several of the chapels. Although be failed to comprehend the preaching of the Cantonese men, the interest awakened by the Gospel continued. Some time afterward he was visiting a friend who held an official position in another part of the province. While there, Mr. Wells and Mr. Remedios, of the American Bible Society, came to the place. They were ill-treated, and this man gave them some timely help and was presented with a Bible. He studied it with earnest interest, but did not as yet fully understand its meaning: A few months ago le came to Canton again and was fortunate enough
to find one of our native preachers, who is a Kwangsi man. Under his instruction he has come into fuller light and unquestioning faith, and a few days ago I baptized him. His name is Ng-wan Chü, and his family is an influential one. His father held the office of prefect, his elder brother ranks as captain in the military service, and he is himself a Sui-tsai (equivalent to our B. A.), as is also his son. He is now returning to Kwangsi, with the intention of bringing his son to Canton to be instructed in the Christian doctrine."
We drop the good seed of the Kingdom here and there on what would seem to be unpromising soil, and yet it is a part of our sowing beside all waters,” knowing not “whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” Some time ago a missionary in the far interior wrote the Agent about a Mohammedan who had been temporarily appointed to the mayoralty of the city where he lived. The locum tenens won golden opinions from the people, and advised kind feeling toward the foreign missionary, who presented him with an Arabic Testament which he seemed greatly to value. The mayor showed it to the ahong, or minister of the mosque, whereupon the latter expressed a desire to possess one himself, preferring his request to the missionary through a mutual Mohammedan acquaintance that a like beautiful book might be procured for him. Having learned the facts, I immediately forwarded a whole Bible in the Arabic tongue, and have since learned that the gentleman has acknowledged its receipt with apparent pleasure. The Christian propagandist has had but limited success among the believers in Islam, but we may not cease our efforts to enlighten the blind followers of the Prophet.
DO THE HEATHEN READ INTELLIGENTLY? Much has been said about the inability of the uninstructed heathen to understand our Chinese Bible. Difficulties of terminology are certainly found, but we have ample evidence that the thoughtful pagan mind does comprehend much of the revealed truth presented to it through the medium of the printed page. A missionary writes of one such who repeated the parable of the talents and correctly interpreted it. Says my informant: "I thought that parable peculiarly liable to misinterpretation, so was the more agreeably surprised.” Another missionary mentions the case of a man who had read a number of tracts, and in his hearing related with accuracy to a crowd the miracles of the loaves and fishes as found in the Gospel of St. Mark. The writer adds: “On the whole, he was about the most interesting man I met during the year, and his deepest impressions seem to have been gathered from the Gospels.” A Testament was placed in the hands of a thoughtful countryman by a native Christian, and it was read with the greatest interest for some years. “This religion,” reflected the man,
66 is the true one, and I must find out where its followers meet.”
We have no means of tracing, in the majority of instances, the lines of influence we have sent out among the masses of China, but the