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Wisconsin. – Lancaster, Cong. ch., for work
FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.
THE CONVERTED SILVERSMITH.
ABOUT eighty-five miles from Hong Kong, and ten miles from the island of St. John, is situated Kwong-hoi, a walled city containing from Io, ooo to 20,000 inhabitants. Every night the four gates of the city are shut, a custom which is observed in all Chinese cities, though there may be as many people living outside of the walls as within them. On the north side of the city, and just outside the city walls, are a number of Chinese shops where trade is carried on. Here is situated one of the chapels of the American Board, where for a number of years the gospel has been preached every evening. The chapel is really nothing more than a Chinese shop fitted up with tables and benches, where persons may gather to receive instruction. Some of the older residents say that the place is haunted, and even now few heathen Chinese will venture to spend the night there alone.
It was in the latter part of the year 1889 that a number of Christians were gathered here to preach the gospel to the heathen. It often occurs that not only one or two speak, but as many as may be present. Whatever may be the custom of conducting preaching services in Christian countries, in China any Christian with some knowledge and experience is expected to bear testimony to the truth, no matter whether he holds the office of preacher or not. It was during one of these series of discourses that a young man entered the chapel and listened to the truth, almost for the first time, and, singularly enough, realized that it contained the word of eternal life. As soon as the service ended ...the usual invitation was given for any interested person to remain a little while
A CHINESE MERCHANT.
for personal conver ution, and this young man among others remained behind and gladly accepted the invitation to drink tea and read the Christian books. I remember how I gase to three or four Chinese a simple Christian classic, dealing with the foolishness of idolatry; then we read it all in concert, stopping occasionally to explain certain characters. Then followed our evening devotional service, which is always an interesting occasion to those who have never seen the Christian worshiping his God. Such a practical object-lesson is always helpful to the heathen mind, and is often more convincing than long and labored arguments. Whatever may be thought of the inquiry meeting in Christian lands, we cannot do without it in China, where conversation, prayer, and praise are employed to show the heathen the way of worshiping the true God. Chin Po, as we shall now call this young man, was interested in all the exercises, and every night after this one might have seen him wending his way to the chapel to learn more of the “Jesus doctrine.” At first he listened more to the preacher, but after a time he became interested in the Book, and commenced to read the Word of Life for himself. It is always a hopeful sign when a man begins to read books, and so it was with this silversmith. The more he read, the more he was convinced of the truth of the gospel. It was soon observed by the heathen that he was a regular attendant at the chapel, and this offered them an opportunity for persecuting him in little ways, and for slandering the Christians as much as possible. At first they ridiculed him, and asked him whether he had drunk any of the foreigners' tea; for it is a common saying among them that foreigners drug the Chinese in order to make them become Christians. Strangers often have refused the usual cup of tea in a chapel lest it contain a decoction which will make them become Christians. To all these sneers and defamatory speeches Chin Po paid little attention, except to bring the cavils of the heathen to the Chinese preacher, who answered them each in its turn. During the day he made silver bracelets, bodkins, and earrings for the Chinese women, but at night he came to the chapel, generally bringing a number of questions with him which troubled his own mind, or which had been proposed by his heathen persecutors. It was only a few days after he had heard the gospel that I asked him what he thought of the Christian religion, when he told me that he believed it. His answer surprised me greatly, for persons who have been abroad are always harder to bring to a knowledge of the truth than those who have never been away from home. He had been in the Straits Settlements for several years, but his heart was still young and tender, and when the Spirit called him, he heard his voice and began a new life in Christ Jesus. It is always difficult for Chinese converts to pray, and I have seen even literary scholars break down entirely when they first commenced to pray; but to Chin Po this seemed an easy task, and his first prayer was couched in smooth and good Chinese terms. He continued to study and read the Bible and other books, but at the same time the persecutions also increased. His father and mother were informed of his new faith and his employer constantly ridiculed him; but he never wavered, and soon he wanted to be baptized. He knew what the requirements of the Christian Church were as to the Sabbath. On the one hand stood the Word of God, which demanded that he should keep the day holy; on the other stood his employer, who demanded that he should labor on the Sabbath, and also the parents for whose support he was obliged to labor. What should he do? Would it be right for him to work
o :" on the Sabbath? He did not fear the insults of his fellow-workmen, but what work on the Sabbath? Ah it was a hard question for him to answer; and so he came to me and asked me whether it would not be possible for him to be a Christian and still work on the Sabbath. I was sorry for him, for I knew the hard struggle through which he was passing. I did not answer his question directly, but asked him what the Bible said about it. To which he replied, “It forbids all work on the Sabbath day.” “And what is our guide in such matters?" I asked further. “The Bible,” was his quick response. I said no more, and he immediately went away to consult with his employer, and in a little while he returned, saying that he had decided to keep the Sabbath and receive baptism, though he did not know that his employer would employ him any longer. “It is always safe to obey God and leave the consequences with him,” replied I. And so he was baptized and received into the church, after a searching examination. During the day we prayed earnestly that he might be enabled to retain his situation, for we all expected that his employer would give him work no longer. But when the next morning came, his employer told him he might go to work again. The Christians were all rejoiced, and I think Chin Po’s heart beat easier; but now he was persecuted more and more by his comrades. Vile stories were carried to his parents about his having become a traitor, and day by day he was made the butt of slanderous and vile epithets. So many reports were current about his apostasy from the Chinese faith and his unfilial conduct that even his parents became alarmed. And so his mother came to the chapel to complain of the wrongs that we had inflicted upon her son. I shall never forget her lamentation as she accused the Chinese preacher of having robbed her of her son. Her eyes were wet with tears, and all the efforts of the preacher were unavailing in comforting the poor woman's heart, as she continued to sob and exclaim, “I have lost my son I have lost my son!" When the preacher said that he had not caused him to believe in the gospel, but that God himself had called him to abandon idolatry and serve him, she only wept the more. “Is it not better,” said he, “that your son should accept of
Christ, than be a gambler or an opium smoker?” To which the wounded hear:
of the mother replied, “O that you had taught him to gamble and to smoke opium, instead of this hateful Jesus doctrine !” As I heard her use these words my own heart was pierced, and I turned my eyes heavenward and uttered this prayer: “O Lord how hard it is to lead one of these heathen souls to the true light, for they call darkness light and light dark ness l’” After her paroxysm of grief had been spent she returned home and since that time she has been more reconciled to her son's being a Christian. All these things did not move Chin Po's purpose to serve God. He was faithful in his Sabbath observance and continued to grow in grace. At the close of the year his employer refused to give him work any longer, and being very anxious to study, I sent him to school where he is now preparing himself for the ministry. His entry into the Christian Church has been difficult, but another brighter and happier entrance will be ministered unto him into the kingdom above.