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The chief god of this temple is supposed to be a great policeman, who keeps his eye on the people when living and decides when they ought to die and appear before him.
Then he sends out two or three of his police devils, who seize the departing soul and bring it before him for its sentence of punishment: for nearly all the Chinese believe in a future punishment of sin, while but a small part have yet heard that the true God is willing to forgive the sins of all who truly repent. Now these heathen judge of their gods by themselves, and they suppose that they are quite like all the officials they ever knew. Hence they believe that this police spirit will, if he receives large bribes, make their punishment much lighter than it really ought to be.
But how shall they send him, living in the spirit world, money? I will tell
you. Many of them know how to make make-believe money out of paper. Some of it is cut round like cash, while some is made into shapes like the blocks of silver and gold which the rich bankers use. For a few cents worth of real money one can buy a peck or two of this spirit money, and this he brings to the temple and burns before the god, and feels that he has done a pretty shrew thing in laying up so much treasure in Hades.
Here is a money-seller just crossing the river to go to the fair to which we are also going. I feel quite sure that this man does n't burn any of these block: of paper silver that shine so brightly; not he. He would be only too glad to se all in his net for a string of cash, and wouid hurry home to make another load.
But we must go inside and see what their worship is like. We first enter the
temple courtyard, but will find it hard to edge our way through the crowd into that wide door over which you see the four characters which say, “Gods Help Good Men.”
If we could only see inside that room, we should discover that it is crammed full of men and women, of whom all in front of the idol are kneeling and bumping their heads on the brick floor, while their paper cash and silver and gold are burning in a great basin just before him. They believe, with one of our poets, that “prayer is the soul's sincere desire," and say nothing to the god : for does he not know that the only reason why he is getting these great heaps of money is that he should make as small as possible the punishments of these his worshipers ? The matter is too simple to need any explanation on their part. Do you not
think they need new hearts, so that, instead of having a little fear of punishment for sin, they might very much dislike the sin itself ?
Look again at this great crowd. You see the children go to the temples, and there are a good many there that you cannot see. Do you see the man nearly in the centre of the picture, looking rather crossly at us? He is a Confucian scholar, and perhaps a schoolteacher, and he looks as if he wanted to say to us, What are you foreigners doing here? We can turn the question around and ask as sharply, Why are you here? Certain it is that he has not come to pray. He thinks that the god can tell that he is not one of the common people, but a scholar and a teacher, and surely will not have the bad taste to be severe with him. Perhaps you can see something of this in his face.
And now that they have caught sight of us we must hurry away, for we are of much more interest than are their mud gods, which they have seen at least twice a year for many years.
I wish we could find some of the men who came here to-day clothed in muslin or cheese-cloth. You see that most of the people have on all their heavy cotton clothes, for it is very cold weather. But sometimes during the fall or winter a man makes a vow that if his sick father or mother or son gets well he will walk all the way from his village to this temple, on this day, dressed in the thinnest possible clothing, or if it is summer that he will do the same in the heaviest furs he can hire. All this is to prove to the god his sincerity, and also, I suppose, to let all the people see that he is n't ashamed of his religion.
But here we are outside again. The inquiring friends have followed us. As they are fairly quiet we will preach to them a little, and we will invite them to call in at the chapel and hear more, for I fear most of them at present are taking more with their eyes than their ears.
I notice that some have not even removed their earcaps. But we will be kind and gentle with them, and try to show them that we are wishing to do them good. And when any of them do come to see us we will tell them about our Sunday, and about the true God before whom they must all appear and be judged, and how he loves to forgive all who call upon him and turn from their sins. Do you think any work could be more interesting and useful than this?
CONTENTS cditorial Paragraphs.....
.429 MARATHI MISSION. From Mr. Gates and
Mrs. Winsor.. lev. William W. Howland, of Ceylon.
..470 By Rev. R. C. Hastings. (With Portrait) ..435
JAPAN Mission. — From Mr. Clark and
•471 The Joy of Christ in the World's Redemption. By Rev. N. G. Clark, D.D.,
ZULU MISSION. — From Mr. Ransom and Foreign Secretary.
Miss McCornack. • 437
....473 "he Fellowship of the American Board Miscellany .
•475 with the Churches : An Historic State Bibliographical Books Receiveli. ment. By Rev. E. K. Alden, D.D., Home
Notes for the Month. Secretary
......476 .440 Tissionary Qualifications. By Rev. Jud
Special Topic for Prayer. - Arrivals at son Smith, D.D., Foreign Secretary......449
Stations.-- Departures. - Arrimuls in the
United States. — Marriage.
477 Foreign Secretaries, Rev. N. G. Clark, Donations
477 D.D., and Rev. Judson Smith, D.D.....456 For Young People.....
481 ummary of the Report of Treasurer of the A. B. C. F. M. for the year ending
Becoming a Christian in Africa. By Rev.
William H. Sanders, of Bihi, West August 31, 1892
Africa. (Three Illustrations.) etters from the Missions....
•468 WEST CENTRAL AFRICAN MISSION. — From
Minutes of the Annual Meeting........485 Mr. Fay, Mrs. Webster, Mrs. Woodside, Reports of Committees on the Annual and Mr. Lee... .468 Report ..
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