TWENTY-SIX YEARS IN CHINA.* SIMPLICITY is the keynote of this
record of work with the Chinese Inland Mission for twenty-six years. The writer says :—
"Many incidents have been forgotten ; others too sacred for the public eye necessarily omitted; but if what has been written of the joys and sorrows, encouragements and disappointments, of a missionary's life, will serve to cheer some lonely heart and strengthen some feeble knees that are apt to be weary through the difficulties of the way, by reminding them afresh of the Lord's own promise, In due season ye shall' reap if ye faint not,' my effort will not have been in vain."
It is not possible, therefore, to criticise such a book, and yet many of our Scotch readers and others interested in " nude-
nominational" missionary work will be glad to have their attention called to it, as, on its own lines, it is one of the most readable of such volumes. It is just suitable for those readers who liked John Paton's biography. Every one who could read this book with pleasure will know what that remark means, and those who do not had better not begin with this biography to make acquaintance with the simple piety of the Scotch Christian who knows the literal text of the Holy Scriptures, and who knows nothing else. Moreover, those who accept the historical churchmanship of Christendom would at best regret such things as the admission of an un- baptised Christian to a "communion service," and other practices, or glosses upon literal texts, which would seem to them to be the outcome of real ignorance. We hope thus to have made it clear to those who do not know what religious
bodies the Chinese Inland Mission represents, that there are many who, prima' facie, will be offended, and many who will be delighted with the teaching of the book.
Leaving that point, there are two lines of interest in the volumes,—the insight which all plain tales give into character, and the information which is derived from reading of those lives spent on the outposts of Christian work. From other sources, as well as from the volume before us, the truthful- ness of the narrative may be taken for granted, and that in spite of the difference of phraseology and the utter division in matters of external religion, one reads a story which might be summed up in the words of St. Ignatius Loyola, carried by St. Francis Xavier long ago to China, but never heard of by the circles which support the Chinese Inland Mission. Yet is not this the "same spirit" P St. Ignatius Loyola says :—
" We must, then, above all things, endeavour to establish in ourselves a complete indifference to all created things, even that ef which the use is not forbidden us ; not preferring, as far as depends on us, health to sickness, riches to poverty, honour to humiliation, a long life to a short one."
There is little difference between the spirit of the Society of the Jesuits and that of the Stotts of the Inland Mission.
It seems that in 1865 one of the workers in the city of Glasgow, a Miss Grace Ciggie, went through certain spiritual experiences, of which, aided by the habits of her station, school, and country, she is able to speak very freely. Those who have worked with various classes of young women know what a help and what a hindrance to tree spiritual life is found in the outspokenness demanded by those of all bodies which base their membership on the assertions of the members. Bat, where the character is true and living, the unveiling of the simple soul must take place in some way or other, and the sight of a measure of attainment of goodness may be as helpful to others still struggling, as the hearing of good music is to a student., or the reading of good literature is to a writer. Excellence, or indeed any attainment, in
• Twenty-six Years of Missionary Work in Chino. By Grace Stott. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
others is provocative. So, the narration of the way in which her vocation came to the young girl, who" had never heard" of another "going to a heathen land," may be very useful to others. She wished to go ; she had to stay through illness. Then, after she had become resigned to stay, she was able to go. The narrative passes lightly over what strikes an outsider as quaint. That mission and some others are best served, it is thought, by married workers; the "strapping old maids" vigorously demanded by an English Bishop in the African Church are at a dis- count; so Miss Grace Ciggie, an enthusiastic girl such as some of us can easily picture, and Mr. Stott, who had been lamed from farm work, were duly paired, and a very happy
marriage it appears to have been. When asked "why he, with only one leg, should think of going to China, Mr. Stott's remark was, I do not see those with two legs going, so I must.'" Before her marriage Miss Ciggie was extremely poor. She says :— " I had never heard of living by faith, and, if asked, could hardly have told the meaning of the words ; but I did know if an earthly master sent his servant to do some special work for him, he would at least see that he had enough to eat, and I dared not think my Heavenly Father would treat His child worse than that."
As Mrs. Stott she met her privations with courage, and a sense of humour is evident in all her feminine experiences with husband, house, and servants, in circumstances far removed from the ken of ladies, who find such possessions very trying in normal circumstances. Man, for instance, always strikes his wife as incapable when he supposes himself to be most clever. Here is Mr. Stott, as a bachelor, with nnmended stockings :—
"One day, whilst looking in his box for something with which to fill up a large hole, he spied a dress coat which be had brought from England with him. It was useless as it was, so he thought it would do for mending; cutting off one of the tails and spread- ing it on the floor, he put his foot on the top, made a chalk mark all round, leaving a good flap and turnover. It was a good evening's work, and when I,' says Mrs. Stott, ruthlessly cut off the feet of the said stockings, he boasted they had lasted two years.'"
As for the house question, not only were there all the diffi- culties of a private and eventually of a community life to undergo, or the real dangers of its being burnt or sacked always a possibility and at last a fact, but the "neighbours complain" a:so in China. There they expect to be attended to ! The Stotts had to take down a chimney because a child died in the neighbourhood ; but when the stable was asked
for- " My husband explained that he could not afford the expense, but, as it was for their own benefit, they were at liberty to pull down the obnoxious thing and rebuild any shape they approved at their own expense. The poor horse's stable was left untouched."
As for servants, cooks, and such-like, the "troubles of a housekeeper" in China may please many who will not deeply enter into the story of missionary life. Certainly from the point of simple admiration for pioneers it is impossible not to be struck with the cheerfulness with which incidental privations were borne as well as with the calmness of those who carried their lives in their hands from day to day. Be it always remembered that it is not mere death which is faced by the men and women of the up-country stations in China.
Into the outcome and influence of the work done we cannot enter here. In detail, there are in this volume very many in- teresting studies of cases and characters such as make up the joys and sorrows of all evangelical work at home or abroad. There are bitter disappointments and sad failures. But none who are real in themselves ever seem to doubt that some supernatural influence is the means which alters the practical life and develops the devotional side of all who are lastingly influenced. Whether it be to gain advantages in
China or advantages at home, there will always be many hangers-on to every religious work, and no care can be too great or probationary discipline too severe for such. And, from the present writer's point of view, the Christianity of the bodies represented appears as the Christianity of Apollo
did to Aquilla and Priscilla! Bat as against heathenesse, with its gruesome horrors, the Stotts and those who joined them had a success. A generation and more—twenty-five
years of work—passed, and they had chapel, schools, teachers, preachers, and "Church members" round them, and really caring for them. They suffered for their faith in health, and in 1888 returned to Scotland, thence going to Cannes, in hopes of recovery for Mr. Stott. But he died on Easter Sunday, 1839. The narrative is very touchingly told. Mrs. Stott, however, returned, as Naomi, to her work, finding a Ruth in Miss Bardsley. In 1895 a very pleasantly given testimonial was presented to Mrs. Stott, "the one bright gleam in the midst of a cloudy sky." It was the year of danger to all the foreign missions, and of the massacre of Ku-chang. But Mrs. Stott's work was brought to an end for a time by her own breakdown from exhaustion, —though Mr. Hudson Taylor, who writes the preface to its narrative, suggests that it is as yet an "unfinished record." He calla it also "an unvarnished tale." Though we cannot sympathise wholly with either the methods or the doctrine of the China Inland missionaries, or feel that experience proves that the second stages of non-Church work are as useful as the elementary ones, we can most cordially recommend this volume to all who are satisfied with the principles of the Mission, and suggest to others that they may be interested in the simple and devout personalities of the narrative, without agreeing with all their views.