THE purpose of this volume is (1) to set forth some of the main principles of the mission movement on which it rests in its appeal at home and in its work abroad, (2) to apply these principles in some illustrative instances, especially to the conditions in China, with which men are now most familiar, and which many regard as putting the missionary enterprise to its conclusive test, (3) to suggest by a few sketches of mission fields and the results of mission work in life, both the need and power of the work, and (4) to enforce the duty and privilege of the serious attempt speedily to evangelize the world, and thus enable Christianity at once to display and to realize its divine mission to all mankind.
Some of the chapters of this book have appeared in the Churchman,
the Sunday School Times,
the Homiletic Review,
the Missionary Review,
and other papers. The concluding chapter appears also in Twentieth Century Addresses,
a volume containing the addresses delivered by the appointment of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, in recognition of the advent of the Twentieth Century, before the General Assembly in Philadelphia, on May 14th, 1901.
The convictions that underlie these discussions are (1) that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour and Lord of human life, and that it is as certain that He is to rule the whole world as it is that the world needs to be
redeemed and rightly ruled, and that He alone is able to redeem and rule it rightly; and (2) that Christ is Master not only of the life that now is, but also of that which is to come, that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, that no man cometh unto the Father but by Him, that out of Him there is salvation neither here nor hereafter, while
"In Him is life provided
For all mankind."
FOUR LIFE STORIES
THE Church of Christ which is growing up in Persia is composed of diverse elements. Mohammedans, Nestorians, Armenians, and Jews make up the population of the country and the membership of the Church. But in the state the seven and one-half millions of the Mohammedans dominate severely the twenty-five thousand Nestorians, the forty-five thousand Armenians, and the twenty thousand Jews, who made up the non-Moslem population until the massacres in Turkey drove down tens of thousands of both Armenian and Nestorian refugees to increase these numbers, and find shelter under the more tolerant government of the Shiah Kajars. In the Church, naturally, the predominant element still is from the Gregorian and Nestorian Churches, which have maintained the Christian name, and the forms, at least, of a Christian faith, under twelve centuries of Moslem oppression. Each of these four peoples, however, has its first fruits in the little Church of which at least as much can be said as was written to the church in Philadelphia: "Thou hast a little power, and didst keep my word, and didst not deny my name."
Desirous of seeing how men of these different races came into the society of Christ, when in Persia I asked four representative types to tell their stories. The first was a converted Moslem gentleman in Tabriz, attached to the suite of a prominent nobleman, who, though a Mohammedan, protected his Christian friend from persecution. He had left Islam for Sufism, but its petty laws brought yet greater unease and burden upon him.
He was taught, for example, that, if a man carried an ant on his person from one section of the city to another, he should take it back, and deposit it where he found it. From Sufism he turned to Babism, but the Bab, he said, had been a dissolute and drunken young man, and wrote ungrammatically. He could not believe that the Bab was God.
After that, this was his story: "A statement of the way I found the mercy of the Lord Jesus, and escaped from the bonds of the law, and from the heavy load which I have borne. For a long time I gave myself to eating, sleeping, and frivolity, and had no portion in the spiritual life. Little by little I came to this thought that, of necessity, from the beginning of creation to the last day, there must be a person pure and holy, without sin, and full of kindness, a Mediator between the Creator and his creatures, to free all the creatures from sin and uncleanness. With this thought, I began to read the books of the teachers of my native city. I could not find the Mediator. On a certain day it happened that I was at the house of a friend, and saw a copy of the Old Testament. I read in it, and found wonderful and heart-pleasing things. I borrowed the book, asking whence it had come. My friend said that about forty-five years ago an Englishman had translated it. I took it home, and read it continuously, and sought also the New Testament. My heart was drawn to the words of these books, and I obtained some comfort, but not to my heart's desire. And I cried and prayed, 'O God, lead me to the road which is straight, and in which Thy pleasure is.'
"Then, on a certain night, I dreamed that I was in a ruined city, where there was no living thing, and it was unutterably dark. I was afraid, and speechless. Wherever I turned I sank to my waist in mire.
I saw myself near to destruction, and began to weep. I continued to say, 'O God, by Thine own dear honour free me from this.' Then I heard a voice from heaven, the speaker being invisible, which said: 'If thou wouldst be delivered from this city of destruction, thou must believe on Jesus, else thou must stay here till the judgment day.' Thrice I heard this voice in the same way. Then I said, 'I believe on the Lord Jesus, O God.' The voice replied, 'Art thou firm in thy confession?' And I answered 'Yes.' Immediately that city of destruction became as heaven, and now I am unable to describe its beauty. After that, I awoke from my sleep, and said I must see the teachers of these books. I saw my remedy in this. There were a few people from America in Tabriz, and I sought them, and they became my leaders in the road which I travel. After many temptations, I received baptism, and by the mercy of the great One, I have remained near Him until this day, being of the number of the followers of the Lord Jesus, who said, 'Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out.' I hope to my last breath to remain in the love of the Lord Jesus, and to be of firm step in the day of judgment before the Father and the Son, and that I shall not have a black face (be ashamed), and be cast out of heaven. During life I praise the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."
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