China the Climax of Change. China furnishes the climax of the new era in Asia. The recent changes are more vast, sudden, and complete than in any other land. The new era stands out in violent contrast to the old. From the most corrupt and autocratic of absolute governments, China has swung to an extreme republican form. From an attitude of disdain and age-long conservatism and rejection of all innovation, she is now seeking reconstruction with headlong rapidity. What is the significance of these sweeping changes? As national members of the great international brotherhood the. fate of China affects us all. Her enormous population, her political relations to the Western powers, her great economic resources, and her religious possibilities, emphasize the significance of the new era in China.
Vast Elements Involved. Let us notice the vastness of the change. China has an area twelve times as great as the United Kingdom, and seven times as great as France. China’s population is eight times as great as Japan and thirty times that of Korea. Her large resources, her commercial and economic possibilities, her political significance to the world, either as a successful republic or, if weakened, as a bone of contention among the nations, all alike emphasize the significance of Napoleon’s prophecy : ” When China is moved she will move the world.”
Suddenness of Movement. Observe also the suddenness of the change which has swept over China. She was slower to yield than the other nations, but when she yielded she moved all at once. China was exposed far longer than other countries before yielding. The versatile and precocious peoples of Italy and France enthusiastically embraced the renaissance of Europe. The slow and conservative English and Germans long held out against every innovation, but when moved they were moved to the moral depths of their national life. Japan may prove to be the France of the Orient and China the British Empire of the East. China was repeatedly invaded as the other countries of the Far East were not, and for nearly a century held out against long and continued pressure brought to bear upon her by the foreign nations. Even as late as 1896 Lord Curzon in his Problems of the Far East prophesied that China would never yield to the forces of Western civilization. He writes : ” That the empire . . . whose standard of civil and political perfection is summed up in the stationary idea; which after half a century of intercourse with ministers, missionaries, and merchants, regards all these as in-tolerable nuisances . . . and which, after a twenty years’ observation of the neighboring example of Japan, looks with increasing contempt upon a frailty so feeble and impetuous that this empire is likely to falsify the whole course of its history .. is a hypothesis that ignores the accumulated lessons of political science and postulates a revival of the age of miracles.”
Completeness of Transition. Let us note also the completeness of the change in China. The movement has not been controlled from above with the retention of the old form of government, as was the case in Japan. It was not forced by outsiders as was the case in Korea. It was not supervised by an alien government as in India. Led by the students and educated young men, the revolution has affected the merchants and even the literati, and has finally been accepted by the common people themselves. The change in the form of government will make possible a more complete transformation than was the case either in Korea or Japan. To outward appearance Japan seems democratic and the government of China hopelessly autocratic. As a matter of fact, the government of Japan is a somewhat liberalized oligarchy, while that of China has been an autocracy superimposed upon a broad democracy. Now the last vestige of autocracy, so far as the old dynasty is concerned, has been swept away, and the democracy remains. The key-note of the Japanese people is solidarity, that of the Chinese, individualism and democracy. This offers a more hopeful field than the conditions in other lands in Asia. Not only all classes, but all departments of national life have been affected by the changes in China. To realize how vast, how sudden, and how complete the change has been, let us note the striking and often even dramatic contrast between the old era and the new in two typical cities of China. Let us take Can-ton, the radical revolutionary center of the south, and Peking in the north, the capital of the Manchu dynasty and of the new republic.
Canton Entered by Morrison. First of all, let us observe the contrast in Canton. Potentially, the new religious era in China began the day that Robert Morrison stepped ashore in Canton. Met by the stolid conservatism of the most changeless race of antiquity, and by the opposition of the government, he saw no outward evidence that a new era had begun in China. But Morrison carried in -his heart the same message that the Apostle Paul brought to Europe when he landed in Philippi. The leaven had been hidden, and it was only a question of time until the last man of the four hundred millions of China should feel the power of the new age. It was significant that Morrison had prayed that ” God would send him to that part of the missionary field where the difficulties were the greatest and to all human appearances the most insurmountable.” His prayer was abundantly answered.
Incomparable Labors, Obstacles, Faith. Living in an insanitary ” godown,” where once the roof fell in upon him, with repeated breakdowns in health, owing to overwork and insufficient food, Morrison was opposed and thwarted at every turn. Forbidden to preach in public, laboring seven years without a convert, long able to speak of Christianity only behind locked doors with the three or four men in his employ, he was threatened repeatedly by the officials, his printing materials were destroyed, his stock of paper burned, his money stolen, his press closed. He was threatened with edicts which made even the translation of the Scriptures a crime guilty of capital punishment. Beaten, driven out in turn from Canton and Macao, broken in health, hated by the people whom he had come to serve, this brave man held to his course till his work was done. Often he dared not even walk out upon the streets in public, and he was so weak from his long toil of translation that at times he could not walk across the room. Six years he was left alone while his invalid wife was at home, and for sixteen years he toiled on to produce the six huge volumes of his Chinese dictionary. After years of unremitting labor the whole Bible was at last translated. Seven hundred and fifty thousand copies of books and tracts were issued by Milne and himself from his press during his lifetime, yet there were only one or two converts to show after a life of toil, and the combined efforts of all the little group of missionaries in China after the first twenty-five years did not result in ten baptized converts. Bold indeed was this man’s faith when, asked by a New York merchant if he expected to make any impression upon the idolaters of the great Chinese Empire. ” No, sir,” re-plied Mr. Morrison with energy, ” I expect God will.” During the twenty-seven years of Morrison’s life in China, from 1807 to 1834, the old era continued unbroken in its power, and for over sixty years, with all her pride and power, China resisted every effort to open up this great land of rock-like conservatism.
Contrast with the Present, All this is changed now ! We look on the scene of Morrison’s labors and then pass to the modern theater in Canton, to a great audience of three thousand picked men, admitted by ticket only, representing the government colleges and the leading young business men and officials of the city. During one week in Canton in January, 1913, eight thousand government students attended the lectures of Professor Robertson, while nearly three thousand men listened hour after hour as Dr. Mott made his evangelistic appeals.
Movement in the Meetings. How it would have delighted Morrison’s heart, to see to-day in Canton over a thousand men stay to an after-meeting, eight hundred enrolling themselves as inquirers, promising to study the Gospels which Morrison had labored so long to translate, and to follow Christ according to their reason and conscience. In his day it would have meant death either to preach or to accept Christ in public. Within a short time after the close of these meetings in Canton a hundred men had been received into. the church, and many others were pre-paring to follow in their public acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Whereas in Morrison’s day the officials opposed, insulted, or persecuted the missionary, to-day we find the Commissioner of Education in Canton presiding at Dr. Mott’s meeting, the Commissioner of Foreign Affairs introducing him to the audience, the Chief Justice presiding the following night, and some of the leading young men of the city coming out boldly as inquirers of Christianity. The contrast would be almost as striking if, instead of contrasting the present with the conditions of Morrison’s day, we should take those preceding the Boxer uprising, a little more than a decade ago. More students and young men of the leading classes have decided for Christ during the year 1913 than the total number of converts from among the officials, gentry, and literati in the first hundred years of Christian effort in China. Less than a thousand Protestant Christians had been gathered up to 1860, after more than fifty years of faithful seed-sowing, yet a larger number than this were enrolled as inquirers during a single night in the recent meetings in one city. Truly a new era has dawned upon China.
Sudden End of Political Despotism. Contrast the spirit of this new age with the old era, even down to the Boxer uprising of 1900. Politically, where the old Oriental despotism reigned, life was at the mercy of the absolute will of the monarch or high official. The very Emperor of China himself would be kept waiting for half an hour on his knees by the late Empress Dowager before he could see her, and when his favorite concubine, who was practically his wife, suggested that he remain in Peking at the time of the flight, she was promptly thrown down a well by the order of the Empress, in spite of the Emperor’s supplications.
Change in Other Elements. Intellectually, there was no freedom of thought in that obsolete system chained to an imaginary golden age of the dead past. Dr. Pott in The Emergency in China estimates that only one in twenty-seven of the men could read understandingly, while the education of women was al-most entirely neglected. Economically, trade was stifled under an ignorant system of iniquitous taxation, bribery, and corruption. The morals of the effete Manchu dynasty find their parallel only in the abominations recorded in the first chapter of Romans.
Confucianism Proved Inadequate. Although Confucianism had furnished a great moral restraint to the people in its high ethical teaching, the religions of China had proved utterly inadequate to save the people. Confucianism, which as Dr. Faber points out, is ethically by far the best of the three, recognizes no relation of the common people to a personal God, takes no adequate account of sin, permits polygamy and polytheism, is without a mediator and without prayer, deifies human ancestors in the place of God, and offers no comfort either in life or in death. Noble as are many of its moral maxims, Confucian-ism as a religion is unable to satisfy the spiritual needs of China. After more than four thousand years of trial it has failed to meet the demands of the new age. Without the dynamic of evolutionary and progressive Christianity it cannot afford the basis and power for an advancing civilization which would give China her rightful place among the nations.
Present-day Peking. Let us now pass to Peking, the present capital of China. Arriving in Peking the railway passes through the ancient city walls, and as we approach we see the battered bastions, which carry us back to the siege of Boxer days in 1900. The huge picturesque gateways, the enormous spreading towers above the ponderous walls, that rise in places to a hundred feet in height, remind us of the pomp and power of this ancient people. In Peking under the old era, according to Sir Robert Hart, men were sometimes drowned during the rainy season in the deep pools of mud and water in the main streets of the city. Now we were speeding from college to college in a taxicab, in order to keep our lecturing engagements in the government colleges. Though we had to slow up occasionally for a camel-train or plodding donkey-cart, as reminders that the old era was still obstructing the advance of the new, it was nevertheless evident that the new had the right of way, and had come to stay.
Government Prepared the Way for Meetings. The government threw open to us for the first time all the colleges of the city, and arranged our meetings for us. Taking five meetings a day we were able to visit the Imperial University, the great Law School with its four hundred enthusiastic students, and some important colleges never before opened to Christians. The Tsing Hwa College, built by America’s returned indemnity money, stands in the palace grounds that were reeking with the blood of the Christians in the Boxer uprising. Today, under a Chinese Christian principal and fifteen Christian American professors, this college is training all the government students who are to study in America and the West, and who will be the leading officials in the new China. The students, drawn from the eighteen provinces, are a strong body of men. Their studies are conducted in English, and indeed they could not understand each other in any other spoken language, as their provincial dialects are often unintelligible to each other. Be-fore the revolution China had organized in 1910 42,444 schools in the provinces, enrolling 1,284,965 students and pupils, but it will take some time to reorganize their educational department, and adequately finance it after the disorder of the revolution.
Cities Mark the Chinese Movement. A visit to the cities of Canton and Peking must convince any sympathetic and unprejudiced observer of the vastness, the suddenness, and the completeness of the change in China. But the change is not only in these cities. Every city in China shows evidences of the new era. From Foochow in the south to Mukden in the north; from Shanghai in the east to far-away Chengtu in the west, or at Hankow in mid-China, one sees the adamantine rock of China’s former conservative customs and institutions now melted as by a volcanic, revolutionary upheaval, and flowing freely into new molds. And from the score of provincial capitals out to the seventeen hundred walled cities, to the thousands of secondary cities and towns, and even to the remotest villages, the influence of the new era is gradually permeating. But in the great cities first of all, more even than in the cities of the Roman Empire in St. Paul’s day, the leaders of thought and government students are being won to Christianity. In Mukden alone, where the governor generously erected a pavilion for Dr. Mott’s evangelistic meetings at his own expense, for the five thousand government students of the city to attend, thirty-six officials, professors, and teachers were enrolled among the inquirers. The Mukden correspondent for the North China Daily News characterized the recent evangelistic meetings for students in that city as ” the most significant Christian movement in the history of missions in Manchuria.” In all, in fourteen cities of China, within the first three months of 1913 over 7,000 inquirers were enrolled in the series of special meetings, chiefly among the government students. In one city missionaries who had been once in danger of their lives before the bigotry of angry throngs of the conservative students of the old régime rejoiced to behold this movement where such a change was now manifested. In India Christianity has won its greatest triumphs, not in the cities, but in the remote villages. In the Far East, as in the early Roman Empire, the cities have not only been the first to feel the effects of the new era, but have yielded the largest results in reaching the upper classes.
Positive and Negative Causes. Let us now ex-amine the causes which led to these changes and to the success of the revolution. In addition to three general and positive causes, contact with Western trade, Western education, and Christian missions, three negative causes have operated in China to produce the vast changes which we are witnessing.
Opposition to Manchu Rule. There was a growing dissatisfaction and opposition to the foreign Manchu rule, which had imposed itself upon the Chinese people since 1644. It was not only opposition to the Manchus, however, as foreigners, but also to the principle which controlled their government. That principle was one of selfishness, not of service, which is the obligation of the new era. Every office had its price. Almost every official lived for himself and disregarded the national welfare. This produced such a corrupt and impoverished condition of affairs that the leaders of the nation finally rose in indignant revolt. Seeing the danger which menaced the empire, the young Emperor, Kuang Hsu, with a band of young advisers, had instituted a program of radical reform, issuing some twenty-seven edicts in the course of two months. The old Empress Dowager, however, aroused by these changes, in a frenzy of rage seized the government, threw the young Emperor into confinement, and led a blind and bigoted reactionary movement which finally culminated in the Boxer uprising, which she secretly encouraged. The final efforts of the Manchus to save their tottering throne came too late.
Breakdown of Old Standards. There was a general breakdown of the old system of life intellectual, social, and religious which had been based upon Confucian standards. High as were its ethics and its system of political morality, it was without conception, in the Christian sense, of the Fatherhood of God, of the universal brotherhood of man, and of eternal life. Its center of gravity was not in the expanding future but in the changeless past. It was petrified, static, dead. Despite its noble ideals and moral maxims it contained no power of advance. It could not be adapted to the spirit of the new age. The true principle of life is that which fully develops and fully satisfies man’s highest nature, but Confucianism could neither fully develop nor fully satisfy the people of China. A bar to progress, it left China in an arrested state of development. It was a cumbersome, cast-iron system of man-made rules, not an organic body of eternal principles, revealing the moral order of the living God. Hence it was doomed.
Economic Dissatisfaction. There was a growing dissatisfaction with economic conditions under the old system. This was the one fundamental, underlying cause of the recent Chinese revolution. It was shown in the gathering tide of unrest that swept across China and finally dashed itself against the very walls of Peking. The suffering of three million people from famine and flood, the death of thousands from pneumonic plague in Manchuria, the growing poverty from oppression, misrule, and stagnation of business, the failure on the part of, the nerveless central government to suppress the gathering bands of outlaws who were roving throughout the country, all added to the growing discontent. The foreign loan negotiations and the nationalization of the railroads aroused indignation among the provinces, in their dread of foreign intervention and suspicion of the national government, for provincialism is strong in China.
Two Defeats. Rendering these causes operative, were certain occasions which brought matters in China to a crisis. These were furnished by two de-feats and two victories. The first defeat was that of China at the hands of her long-despised neighbor, Japan, in 1895. The second, which showed China her utter helplessness, was by the relatively small force of foreign troops who represented the Western powers in the suppression of the Boxer uprising in 1900. As Dr. Pott says, ” In that wild outburst of bigotry, frenzy, and ignorance of the year 1900, we see gathered to a focus all the elements in China opposed to progress.” With much of her territory already lost, and with books rapidly appearing on The Break-up of China, The Partition of China, etc., the leaders of the nation aroused themselves to one supreme effort to save the country before it was too late.
Two Victories. Two victories, however, brought hope to China’s leaders. The first was Japan’s victory over Russia in 1905. The victory of one of the smaller nations of the East over what was supposed to be one of the greatest and most dreaded nations of the West convinced China that the hour had come for her to cast off the grave-clothes of the dead past and enter the arena of modern life. Secondly, the successful agitation of the radical leaders of the Young China Party furnished the occasion for the final incoming of the new era. The growing unrest of the masses was voiced and guided by the young revolutionary leaders. The dumb discontent of the multitude became articulate in the insistent demands of the educated. Three classes especially led in the revolt. These were the returned Chinese students with their new revolutionary ideas imbibed in Japan, the more highly educated young men who had been trained in America and the West, and the aggressive, radical leaders of Canton and the Yangtze Valley. China rapidly became honeycombed with revolutionary societies. Dr. Sun Yat-sen and others had for years been working in China and among the Chinese in Japan, America, and other lands, until the psycho-logical moment for action came in 1911.
A Comparatively Bloodless Revolution. The writer traveled down in the train from Peking to Hankow with General Sun, whose bomb accidentally exploding on October 9, 1911, in Hankow, was the spark which set the nation ablaze. A plot was discovered, and in order to save their own heads after the execution of some of the revolutionists by the local officials, the leaders were forced to raise the standard of revolt in Central China. When the Manchu government showed its inability to cope with the uprising in Hankow and Szechwan, the revolutionary societies roused the people all over the country, and seized the reins of government in province after province. General Li Yuan-hung threw in his lot with the revolutionists and took command of the southern army. Within three months fifteen of the eighteen provinces had cast in their lot with the cause of freedom, and within four months the most wide-spread revolution in history, and comparatively speaking, perhaps the one accompanied by least bloodshed, was concluded by the edicts of February 12, 1912, proclaiming through the child Emperor the abdication of the Manchu dynasty, and the acknowledgment of the new republic for one fourth of the human race. It is estimated that less lives were lost in the entire conflict than the numbers sacrificed in the single battle of Gettysburg in America during the Civil War. Just at the right time Dr. Sun Yat-sen arrived in China, and on January I, 1912, was chosen as the first President of the provisional government.
Growth of Humane Christian Spirit. During the revolution the work of the Red Cross Society, and the humane treatment both of foreigners and Chinese, showed that a new era had dawned for China. The only place where a massacre occurred on a large scale was in Shensi, where there were no educated Christian Chinese in positions of leadership. In contrast to this, during the Tai Ping rebellion of fifty years ago, from 1852 to 1864, over twenty millions of lives were sacrificed, most being butchered in cold blood. What but the principles of Christian civilization produced this humanitarian change in the conduct of the recent revolution? Even the Manchus were spared as a rule, the Emperor’s life was protected, and the royal family were permitted to occupy their ancient palace, and were generously pensioned for life.
Remarkable Official Action. On Sunday, April 13, 1913, a united prayer service was held in Peking and other places ” for the Chinese nation and the National Assembly at this important time of the inauguration of a permanent government.” The following message was adopted by the Cabinet, and was telegraphed by the Chinese government to all Provincial Governors and other high officials within whose jurisdiction there are Christian communities, and also to leaders of Christian Churches in China, both Catholic and Protestant :
National Request for Prayer. ” Prayer is requested for the National Assembly now in session; for the new Government; for the President who is to be elected; for the Constitution of the Republic; that the Government may be recognized by the Powers; that peace may reign within our country ; that strong and virtuous men may be elected to office ; and that the Government may be established upon a strong foundation. Upon receipt of this telegram you are requested to notify all churches in your province that April twenty-seventh has been set aside as a day of prayer for the nation. Let all take part.”
An Unprecedented Step. The North China Daily News, in commenting upon this announcement, says : ” This is the first time in the history of the world that such an appeal came from a non-Christian nation.
The hard fact remains that the Central Govern-ment has telegraphed to provincial officers as well as to Christian leaders, asking prayer to be made, almost in the familiar phrase, ` for the House of Parliament as at this time assembled.’ The change in the spirit of China that can lead to such an appeal as this is unquestionably great. That it is something more than a surface change was shown the other day at the opening of the Assembly, when, as our Peking correspondent wrote, of the members present no fewer than sixty were Christians. Revolutions have an awkward knack of exalting the purely material. But it is something that her leaders can give this public acknowledgment of the spiritual side of things.”
Unmistakably a New Age. As we glance at the China of Morrison’s day, or even at the China of 1900, and then at the modern republic, whose President and Cabinet thus called upon the Christian world for intercessory prayer in behalf of the nation, it seems like passing from darkness to light, from the crucifixion of martyrdom to the resurrection power and life of a new age.
Resultant Problems. Having noted the changes which have swept over China, and the contrast between the old era and the new, let us now observe some of the national problems involved in the present changes which confront the Chinese to-day.
1. Representative Government. There is first of all the political problem of a representative government, or how to run a republic. Utterly unprepared, China is faced with the problem of developing a strong central government, which shall command the confidence of the people, unite the north and south, and bind together her divided and independent provinces. Even in the United States, with our incoming tide of immigration, a republic is a difficult form of government; but imagine the problem we would have with 90 per cent. of the people illiterate, and a population four times as great as our own. What a burden this places upon the educated minority! As Mr. L. P. Jacks says in the Hibbert Journal: ” It cannot be too much considered that democracy as it now exists, if in one aspect the freest, is in another aspect the severest form of government; less than any other form does it permit the natural man to do as he likes.”
Evil Inheritances. The inheritance of evil from the corrupt Manchu dynasty cannot be thrown off at once. Mismanagement, incapacity, and bribery almost beyond human belief, characterized the decaying rule of the Manchus. A prominent item in a Chinese official’s annual income was from the sale of offices. Almost every office and every piece of work had its price and its bribe, and an official had to reimburse himself by bribery for the office for which he had paid so much, and which he was liable to lose so soon.
Basis for Popular Rule. China has become a republic, but a complete transformation to representative government cannot be wrought in a single day. Even America has not yet fully achieved an honest and efficient government of the people, for the people, by the people. China always has been, however, in a large measure, self-governing. In the family, the clan, the trade-gild, the village, and the province, the Chinese largely manage their own affairs, and are ready to resist taxation, innovation, or undesirable orders from the central government. Mr. H. A. Giles of Cambridge refers to ” the Chinese who, strictly speaking, govern themselves in the most democratic of all republics.” The republic has come to stay. China now needs time; time to regain her equilibrium, and to utilize her vast resources. The elections have been held with a measure of success. True, there was but little supervision at the polls, there has been some ” repeating,” and coolies not eligible to vote have sometimes voted; but if America has not solved her own problems in this matter can we expect China to do so in a moment?
2. Financial and Economic Problem. China’s financial and economic problem is equally grave. There is the need of standardizing her currency, adjusting taxation, and collecting the revenues due from the provinces. There is the imperative need of building her much-needed railways, of developing the vast resources of her mines and the even greater possibilities of her manufactures. Almost bankrupt after the revolution, and with the encumbrance of debt inherited from the Manchu dynasty, China long sought a loan from the four nations, and later from the six nations, including British; German, French, American, Russian, and Japanese capitalists. China was unwilling to submit to a foreign supervision with regard to expenditure of the money which might prevent her maintaining an efficient army and navy for self-defense, and leave her a prey to the nations who might keep her in a helpless condition for their own interests. President Wilson wisely withdrew the support of the American government from this group in order to leave China more free. A loan was finally concluded with the five nations for $125,000,000. But the wise contraction and expenditure of foreign loans still remains one of China’s chief problems.
3. International Relations. The problem of China’s international relations, and the control of her provinces and dependencies is most serious. For the time being Russia almost controls Mongolia, Tibet seems nearly lost, and many fear that Russia and Japan may divide Manchuria. On January I, 1912, Outer Mongolia declared her independence, and on April 9 refused to join the Republic, and was sup-ported by Russia at the Urga Convention on November 3. There is also unrest in Eastern Inner Mongolia, which has attempted to assert its independence. Tibet seized her opportunity, and besieged and drove out the Chinese garrisons. On August 17, 1912, the British government protested against China’s hostilities in Tibet. At the same time Russia and Japan are steadily strengthening their hold in Manchuria. The revolutionary forces have not yet all been paid and discharged, and bands of outlaws still continue to plunder some of the remote districts. For the next decade or two China may lose her control over her outlying provinces, but if she once gets firmly established she can at leisure take them back from any power on earth, for no nation can withstand her within her own borders once she learns to govern her-self. Her real problem is internal and is one of good government.
4. Problem of Moral Character. But greater than her political, economic, or foreign problem is the one underlying central problem of moral character. This is China’s deepest need today. It is true that she has put Western nations to shame in her heroic fight against the opium traffic. The moral consciousness which China possesses is her chief asset and her greatest hope for the future. The splendid precepts of Confucianism have produced in the people a deeper moral consciousness than in any other nation in Asia, deeper, probably, than that produced by any non-Christian religion in the world; but they have not solved her deepest problem. The missing link is between conscience and character. In many things China knows but cannot do. A giant among the nations, she is still pathetically helpless. If China fails it will not be from foes without, for as her own great Mencius says, “A nation must injure itself be-fore it can be injured by others.” It will not be from lack of native ability or democratic spirit in her great people. The only fear is, as her own leaders feel deeply to-day, can she produce enough honest men in the positions which determine the destiny of the people to secure an efficient government? For it takes moral character and honest officials successfully to develop railways, mines, and manufactures.
Secularizing Drift. The danger is further increased and the need of a moral and religious basis for national life is further emphasized by the strong tendency toward secularization manifest at present in China. The new education bill passed by the National Council eliminates all religion from the schools of China, and the Director of Education of Kwangtung Province has refused to permit the veneration of Confucius in the government schools. The grounds of the sacred Temple of Heaven, the most holy place in China, are to be used as an experiment farm. As Mr. J. H. Oldham in the International Review f Missions asks, if these two foundation pillars, of worship at the Altar of Heaven and the veneration of Confucius, be removed, how far can the social and political structure of China survive, and what faith is to be the support of the new social order?
Christianity Essential. After several months in China, visiting many of the principal cities, meeting scores of officials, and seeing thousands of students, the writer returns with the conviction that there is absolutely no hope for China’s highest success apart from a Christian civilization. Numbers of officials and non-Christian leaders throughout the country feel that this is ” China’s only hope.” What would Europe have been without Christianity? What would we have been? What will China be?
China’s Future. China, after four thousand years of continuous history, with a conservative, law-abiding, and naturally self-governing and democratic people, will emerge from these times of trouble into a great, united, and stable republic. The nation which built the Great Wall, which invented the compass and gunpowder long before the Christian era, which dis-covered the art of printing nearly a thousand years ago, which gave to the world her manufactures of porcelain and silk, this great nation of scholars and of skilful agriculturalists and artisans, which had reached a higher civilization than that of Europe when visited by Marco Polo in the thirteenth century, this nation, with its great past, is rising today in the dew of its youth, in the dawn of a new era, facing a yet greater future.
Our Best or Our Worst. We have given her much of the worst side of our civilization. Do we not owe her our best as well? The ship that carries the missionary carries also Western tobacco, liquor, and perhaps opium, as well as the godless sailor and trader of the ports. We are debtors to give the gospel so adequately and purely that it shall triumph over these forces of evil from the West. We should show at least as great enterprise in missions as in trade. American oil is sold to-day in many villages in Asia where the gospel is not preached. The cigarette propaganda is an example of an efficient enterprise. It was through Spain that tobacco was introduced into China from North America in 1620; and though prohibited by edict it became almost universal both among men and women in China. The Dutch taught the Chinese to, mix opium with their tobacco about 1650; later opium was smoked alone. For over a century China has protested and fought against it, sometimes feebly, sometimes forcibly, but she feels it has been forced upon her from the West. Now that she is breaking away from opium the British-American Tobacco Company, with others, is giving away its cigarettes by the thousand to fasten this habit upon the people as they escape from that of opium. With the motto ” Taste and See ” they are said to have the aim of making every man, woman, and child in China form the cigarette habit. On a steamer in which the writer traveled was an agent of one of these companies taking a large consignment of cigarettes for free distribution among the Chinese. No one can deny their enterprise and efficiency. Should we show less in giving the gospel to China? As Professor Ernest D. Burton in the World’s Chinese Students’ Journal says, ” The open question is whether we shall, with our worst, give our best; by the gift of our best atone for the evil we have done in sending our worst, and at length displace the evil with the good.”
An Urgent Situation. China is facing the period of greatest peril in all her history. It is a time of transition. The danger is that the old standards may be temporarily abandoned before the new ones are created. It might have been safer if China could have had, for a time at least, a constitutional monarchy, and have prepared herself more gradually by a longer course of education for a republican government. But she has a republic on her hands and she must do something with it. It might have been better if the old religions could have retained their power until Christianity had taken a firmer hold upon the people, but the old supports are breaking down more rapidly than the new are taking their place as yet. China is making history rapidly for her own weal or wo. If ever a nation needed help it is China to-day. Every nation has its problems, but where else is there a population so vast which is facing problems so great? If we are ever to help China it must be now.