The Life of J. Hudson Taylor: Chapter 20 - Closing Events
It was now become evident that Mr. Taylor would be obliged to have help in superintending a work so large. Accordingly after long and prayerful consideration ten District Superintendents were appointed in the different provinces.
"Shall we not pray," suggested Mr. Stevenson, "for immediate reinforcements -- a hundred new workers during the coming year?"
Faith burned brightly in every heart. Then I and there the Hundred were asked and accepted from God, in fullest confidence; after which the new Council set to work to make the best arrangements in their power for receiving them during 1887.
"Let us see that we keep God before our eyes; that we walk in His ways, and seek to please and glorify Him in everything, great and small. Depend upon it, God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supplies." The autumn that followed proved the truth and reality of this faith; for before the year was ended the last detachment of the Hundred sailed.
Just before Christmas 1887, when the last of the Hundred were on the eve of departure for China, a young American stranger came to Pyrland Road to see Mr. Hudson Taylor. A successful man of business in the state of New York, Mr. H. W. Frost, had a warm heart for missions, and recently had consecrated his life to God for service on behalf of China. Hearing of the C. I. M., his sympathies had been drawn towards it, specially on account of the simplicity and breadth of its principles.
And the more he prayed and pondered, the clearer did it become that he should go to England, and urge Mr. Taylor to establish a branch of the C. I. M. in North America.
The proposal was unexpected and interesting. But, to the visitor's great disappointment, Mr. Taylor's reply was not hopeful.
"The Lord has given me no light about it. I do not think it is His purpose thus to extend the work."
This was the first step.
The second was, that a few weeks later another American stranger reached Pyrland Road, bringing a request from Mr. Moody that Mr. Taylor would come to Northfield for the Students' Summer School of the following year. About the same time a letter also arrived, asking him to take part in the Niagara Conference of July. Both these invitations were accepted, but without any thought of the important results destined to follow.
A two months' visit to the United States and Canada en route for China, was all that Mr. Taylor planned; but it was not all that was purposed in the counsels of God.
Limitations of space forbid our entering here upon the story of the North American branch of the C. I. M. Many are familiar with it already. They have followed Mr. Taylor through the crowded, impressive meetings held at Northfield, Niagara, and Chicago; have felt with him the wonder and solemnity of that midnight hour at Attica, when he learned that from most unexpected sources money had been contributed to support eight American workers in connection with our Mission; have sympathized with the unusual perplexity he experienced in finding himself thus possessed of money, but with no men to use it; and have realized the sense of responsibility that overwhelmed him, when he saw that he must pray for missionaries, and organize without delay the very extension he had declined only a few months before. Many have traced the hand of God in bringing together the first band of fourteen, who sailed with Mr. Taylor just twelve weeks after he had landed in New York without a thought of their existence; and have marveled at the providences connected with the formation of the tentative Toronto Council, which undertook to carry on the North American work.
Full of joyous anticipation, the first American party, on board the great Pacific steamer, sighted Japan. Mr. Taylor, after nearly two years' absence, was looking forward to reunion with the workers on the field, and eagerly expecting news. Already in the spring of the year three had been taken, by death, from the ranks of the Mission in China, but now the summer was over, and less danger was apprehended.
At Yokohama, a large bundle of letters was put into Mr. Taylor's hand. There was only time to glance through them and select the most recent. Prayerfully it was opened and scanned -then dropped, in sorrow and amazement! Adam Dorward and Herbert Norris -- gone? What could it mean? The Lord makes no mistakes. But these two!
In March, '89, the exigencies of the work at home required Mr. Taylor's presence, so that in spite of the need on the field he was obliged to leave for England.
The summer that followed Mr. Taylor's return to England witnessed development in several departments of the home work. Inglesby House was opened as a center for receiving and training young men for China, while 41 and 41a, Pyrland Road were secured for the young women candidates. A Ladies' Council was formed, and Miss Soltau became its Secretary.
In Scotland sympathy with the Inland Mission had grown, until it was felt desirable to establish a regular center at Glasgow. Eight gentlemen kindly undertook to form an Auxiliary Council, to test all applications north of the Tweed. A month's visit to Scandinavia in the autumn of the year also led to important results.
In response to a long-standing invitation from Pastor Holmgren, Secretary of the "Swedish Mission in China," Mr. Hudson Taylor, went over to Sweden in November '89.
Thus the Spirit of God, moving and guiding in many spheres, carries steadily forward the evangelization of the great land. Here a seed-thought, there a living word, or the powerful influence of a consecrated example -- better than precept -- all doing their silent work towards the supreme end.
Such a seed-thought, replete with living power, fell at this time into good ground.
It was early in October, 1889, and Mr. Hudson Taylor, wearied with continued labors, went down for a little rest to Hastings. Pondering and praying over the needs of China, he was struck afresh with the direct command expressed in the Master's words, "To every creature." If he had not meant it He would not have said it. And since He both said it and meant it, we are responsible literally to obey.
This led to a careful consideration of what would be involved in carrying out the Divine commission and really preaching the Gospel "to every creature" in China during the present generation.
The little paper entitled "To Every Creature," which embodied these facts, went forth at the close of the year '89. Soon it was scattered far and wide, bringing its stirring message to many a heart.
Five months later, the Missionary Conference, assembled in Shanghai, made their remarkable appeal to the home churches. In words of intense earnestness they pleaded for one thousand men within the next five years for the work of Christian evangelization in China.
A telegram from Mr. Taylor in Shanghai authorized the formation of an Australian branch of the Mission, and on May 22nd, 1890, the Council was formed in Melbourne, consisting of nine members.
Soon after came the welcome news that Mr. Taylor himself intended to visit the Australian colonies. He arrived in July, 1890, and remained till November, when he returned to China accompanied by the first party of eleven missionaries. His meetings were fraught with unspeakable blessing to the churches visited, and resulted in a great missionary awakening in all the colonies.
Under the helpful influence of its devoted honorary secretary the work grew rapidly and spread to other colonies.
A few weeks after Mr. Taylor's return to Shanghai with the first reinforcements from Australia, the largest missionary party ever known to arrive in China was given to the C. I. M. in one day, and that without our having done anything in the matter, either written a word, or spent a penny, or made one single effort to bring them; just given of God, in answer to prayer, part of the coming Thousand!
The work grew rapidly until, in January, 1894, the Inland Mission was at work in 110 principal stations, with more than 100 outstations; its members and associates numbered over 550; its native helpers 362; and its roll of baptized communicants, about 4,000. Seven different Missions from Europe and America were laboring in connection with us, while fourteen nationalities and all evangelical sections of the Church of Christ were represented in our ranks.
One of the first indications that Mr. Taylor's nervous system was giving away under the strain of his long responsibility and numberless exposures was in Boston in 1900, when, after the great Ecumenical Conference, he was holding meetings, and it was observed in an otherwise effective address that he repeated one or two sentences a score of times or more. These sentences were as follows:
"You may trust the Lord too little, but you can never trust Him too much."
"If we believe not yet He abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself."
There was something pathetic and poetic in the very fact that this repetition was the first visible sign of his breakdown, for was it not this very sentiment and this very quotation that he had kept repeating to himself and all his fellow-workers during all the years of his missionary work -a blessed sentence to break down upon, which had been the buttress of his whole life of consecrated endeavor. What would he desire to be made emphatic by his whole career if not this simple lesson of the impossibility of trusting God too implicitly, too boldly, and too constantly?
For Hudson Taylor's best, and all-unconsciously written, autobiography, we must read the early volumes of "China's Millions." No record of his life can better portray his true character, and nothing he has ever written is better worth republication than his short comments upon the texts of Scripture printed as page illustrations in these early volumes. These articles, under the general heading of "China for Christ," are faithful reflections of the missionary zeal -- the faith -- the prayerfulness which made Hudson Taylor what he was. In them we may see the seed corn that was sown some thirty years ago, of which the China Inland Mission of today is the manifest truth. The lesson is for us all. It is that God honors faith, answers prayer, and never fails those who "attempt great things for God, and expect great things from God."
After the many years of the most strenuous labor, there came, in 1900, a complete breakdown of health, and Mr. Taylor was compelled to withdraw from the work of active leadership, though glad to advise, as needed, his successor in the general direction of the mission-- Mr. D. E. Hoste. He retired for quiet and rest to Switzerland, and during his stay in that country had to bear the great sorrow of the loss of his devoted wife, whose help both in health and sickness had been to him of inestimable value. In the beginning of 1905 he felt well enough to decide to revisit China -- traveling via America to avoid the great heat of the Red Sea. After a very brief stay in Shanghai he went on to Yang-chau, to the training-home for the lady missionaries of the C. I. M.
Mr. Taylor had set his heart on a visit to Chang-sha, the capital of the Hu-nan Province. He reached that city, and there on the 3d of June the home-call of the weary laborer came. Of all the unevangelized provinces in China in which he had sought to place missionaries, the province of Hu-nan was the last to receive them.
It was fitting that this modern apostle should receive the home-call from Chang-sha. It is the capital of what was for years the most violently anti-foreign province in China -- a province for which the C. I. M. has worked perseveringly for the last twenty years.
Mr. Taylor held a service for the Chinese on the day that he fell asleep. His daughter, Mrs. Howard Taylor, was with him when the summons came, suddenly but quietly, as the venerable missionary rested in his room in the evening. His body rests in Chinkiang (Chenchiang), the city of his early residence, and the burial place of his first wife and their four infant children. Mr. Taylor's earthly tabernacle was laid to rest with a simple Chinese Christian funeral service in the presence of his two sons and forty China Inland missionaries.
Thus this Mission, with no financial backing except the promises of God, has steadily progressed until today there are connected with it more than 1,000 missionaries with 1,000 paid native helpers and 2,000 self-supporting helpers, working in 200 stations and 1,000 out-stations. There are more than 35,000 native converts now in fellowship, and more than 50,000 have been baptized since the Mission was opened the remarkable thing about it is that no backward step has ever been taken for lack of funds.
The Mission is non-denominational, being pledged to no creed except the general principles of evangelical Christianity. The work is interdenominational in that its workers represent all evangelical denominations.
Thus has God proven to the world His ability and willingness to answer prayer that is inspired by the Holy Spirit: and that His work, done in His way, at His time, and by His chosen workmen, will never lack His support.