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is your profession ?' I told him that I was a teacher of religion. . After a little time, a great noise was heard outside, and the arrival of the chief magistrate of the city was announced, when several officers came in, and requested me to go and see his worship. He appeared to be a middle-aged man, but assumed a stern aspect as I entered, though I paid him the usual compliments, and took my seat in a chair placed opposite. This disconcerted him much, and as soon as he could recover himself from the surprise at seeing a barbarian seated in his presence, he ordered me to come near and stand before him ; while all the officers called out, “Rise ! Rise !” I arose accordingly, and asked, whether I could not be allowed to sit at the conference, and as he refused, I bowed, and left the room. I was soon followed by Chin and Wang, who tried every effort to persuade me to return; this, however, I steadfastly refused to do, unless I could be allowed to sit, as others of my countrymen had done in like circumstances. . . . . . . “Having been joined by Mr. Stevens (who had been distributing books among the crowd without), we proceeded to converse more familiarly, and to deliver out books to the officers and their attendants, as well as to some strangers that were present, till they were all gone. A list of such provisions as were wanted had been given to Wang, whom we requested to purchase them for us, and we would pay for them. By this time the articles were brought in, which they offered to give us as a present, and seeing that there was no other way of settling the question, we resolved to accept of the articles, and send them something in return. The rain having moderated, we arose to take a walk, and proceeded towards the boat, where the sailors were busy eating their dinner. Wishing to enter the city, we turned off in that direction, but were stopped by the officers and their attendants, and reluctantly returned to the temple. After another hour's conversation, and partaking of refreshments with the officers, they departed. On the steps near the boat, we observed a basket nearly full of straw, and on the top about half a dozen books torn in pieces and about to be burnt. On inquiry, they told us that these were a few that had been torn in the scuffle, and in order to prevent their being trodden under foot they were about to burn them. Recollecting, however, that Chin had told his servant to do something with the books he had received, it now occurred to us that he had directed them to be burned in our presence. On the torch being applied, therefore, we took the presents which were lying by and threw them on the fire, which put it out. The policeman, taking off the articles, applied the torch again, whilst we repeated the former operation; to show them, that if they despised our presents, we also disregarded theirs. Finally, the basket was thrown into the river, and we left, much displeased at this insulting conduct.”*
* China; Its State and Prospects, pp. 371—377; Chinese Repository, Vol. IV., pp. 330, 331.
EFFECTS OF MIISSIONS AMONG. The Chinese. 367
How great the contrast now ! Doct. Lockhart says, in his report of the hospital for 1845, that “Mr. Medhurst has kindly attended three times a week, and addressed the patients on the leading doctrines of Christianity, and it is very pleasing to see the marked attention with which they listen to the exhortations made to them.” He has also taken an excursion into the country in a hired boat, and returned after four months, without any molestation. In 1845, Bishop Boone, formerly stationed at Amoy, arrived from America, accompanied by several fellow laborers, of whom two female teachers have opened a girls’ school. The London Missionary Society has also reinforced its missions at this important place; and Rev. Mr. McClatchie, of the Church Missionary Society, has recently settled there. Bishop Boone has baptized one convert, and the attendance on the public services of all the missionaries is highly encouraging. The courteous treatment they, and all foreigners generally, receive from the inhabitants, stands in strong contrast with the insults and restrictions experienced at Canton.
The consequences of the introduction of the Gospel into China are likely to be the same that they have been elsewhere, in stirring up private and public opposition to what is so opposed to the depravity of the human heart. There are some grounds for hoping, that there will not be much systematic opposition from the imperial government when once the chiefs of the nation learn the popular sentiments and will. The principal reasons for entertaining the hope that China is to be evangelized without the terrible convulsions which attended the Reformation, are found in the character of the people, who are not cruel, or disposed to take life for opinions, when those opinions are held by numbers of respectable and intelligent men. The fact, that the officers of government all spring from the body of the people, and that these dignitaries are neither governed nor influenced by any state hierarchy—by any body of priestly men, who, feeling that the progress of the new faith will cause the loss of their influence and position, are determined to use the power of the state to put it down, leads us to hope, that such officers as may adopt the new faith will not, on account of their profession, be banished or disgraced. Such was the case with Siu, who assisted and countenanced Ricci. The general character of the Chinese is irreligious, and they care much more for money and power than they do for religious ceremonies of any kind ; they would never lose a battle as the Egyptians did, because the Persians placed cats between the armies. There are no ceremonies which they consider so binding as to be willing to fight for them, and persecute others for omitting, except those pertaining to ancestral worship ; and these are of so domestic a nature, that thousands of converts might discard them before much would be known or done by the people in relation to the matter. The conscientious Christian magistrate would be somewhat obnoxious to his master, and liable to be removed, for refusing to perform his functions at the ching-hwang miau, before the tutelar gods of the empire. These and other reasons, growing out of the character of the people, and the nature of their political and religious institutions, lead to the hope, that the leaven of truth will permeate the mass of society, and renovate, purify, and strengthen it, without weakening, disorganizing, or destroying the government. There are, also, some causes to fear that such will not be the case, arising from the ignorance of the people of the proper results of Christian doctrines; from a dread of the government respecting its own stability from foreign aggression; from the natural consequences of the smuggling trade in opium, and the drainage of the precious metals; and from the disturbing effects of the intercourse with unscrupulous foreigners and irritated natives often leading to riots and the interference of governmental authorities. That the government at present is inclined to allow the introduction of Christianity, so far as they know its character, is evident from the following rescript to the memorial of Kiying.
“Kiying, imperial commissioner, minister of state, and governor-general of Kwangtung and Kwangsi, respectfully addresses the throne by memorial.
“On examination it appears, that the religion of the Lord of heaven is that professed by all the nations of the west; that its main object is to encourage the good and suppress the wicked; that, since its introduction to China during the Ming dynasty, it has never been interdicted; that subsequently, when Chinese, practising this religion, often made it a covert for wickedness, even to the seducing of wives and daughters, and to the deceitful extraction of the pupils from the eyes of the sick, go
* This is thus explained by a Chinese. “It is a custom with the priests who teach this religion, when a man is about to die, to take a handful of cotton, having concealed within it a sharp needle, and then, while rubbing: the individual's eyes with the cotton, to introduce the needle into the eye
EDICT TOLERATING CHRISTIANITY. 369
vernment made investigation and inflicted punishment, as is on record; and that in the reign of Kiaking, special clauses were first laid down for the punishment of the guilty. The prohibition, therefore, was directed against evil-doing under the covert of religion, and not against the religion professed by the western foreign nations. “Now the request of the French ambassador, Lagrené, that those Chinese who, doing well, practise this religion, be exempt from criminality, seems feasible. It is right therefore to make the request, and earnestly to crave celestial favor, to grant that, henceforth, all natives and foreigners without distinction, who learn and practise the religion of the Lord of heaven, and do not excite trouble by improper conduct, be exempted from criminality. If there be any who seduce wives and daughters, or deceitfully take the pupils from the eyes of the sick, walking in their former paths, or are otherwise guilty of criminal acts, let them be dealt with according to the old laws. As to those of the French and other foreign nations, who practise the religion, let them only be permitted to build churches at the five ports opened for commercial intercourse. They must not presume to enter the country to propagate religion. Should any act in opposition, turn their backs upon the treaties, and rashly overstep the boundaries, the local officers will at once seize and deliver them to their respective consuls for restraint and correction. Capital punishment is not to be rashly inflicted, in order that the exercise of gentleness may be displayed. Thus, peradventure, the good and the profligate will not be blended, while the equity of mild laws will be exhibited. “This request, that well-doers practising the religion may be exempt from criminality, I (the commissioner), in accordance with reason and bounden duty, respectfully lay before the throne, earnestly praying the august emperor graciously to grant that it may be carried into effect. A respectful memorial. “Taukwang, 24th year, 11th month, 19th day (Dec. 28th, 1844), wa received the vermilion reply: ‘Let it be according to the counsel [of Kiying].” This is from the emperor.”—Chi. Rep. Vol. XIV., p. 195.
This paper grants toleration to the Christians already in the country, known for two centuries by the term Tien Chu kiau, or religion of the Lord of heaven, and referring only to those persons who profess Catholicism. It was obtained at the instance of the French ambassador to China, M. de Lagrené, who deserves the thanks of all those interested in the progress of Christianity
and puncture the pupil with it; the humors of the pupil saturate the cot
ton and are afterwards used as a medicine.” This foolish idea has its origin
in the extreme unction administered by Catholic priests to the dying. VOL. II. 17+
for having brought the matter before the imperial officers. Subsequently, H. E. the French minister was asked to state whether in making this request of the Chinese officers he intended to include Christians of all sects, as there had been some doubts on that point. He therefore brought the subject again before Kiying, who issued the following explanatory order. It appears in the form of a communication to the American consul at Canton, and seems to grant as extensive toleration to all Christian sects as the Chinese commissioner was able to do from his knowledge of the differences between them.
“Kíying, of the imperial house, governor-general of Kwangtung and Kwangsi, a director of the Board of War, a vice high chancellor, vice guardian of the heir apparent, minister and commissioner extraordinary of the empire, makes this communication:
“A dispatch has been received from the French commissioner Lagrene, in which the following appears: “Formerly, in requesting that a memorial might be laid before the throne for removing the prohibitions against the religion of the Lord of heaven, it was my original design that all persons professing this religion and acting well, should alike share the imperial favor, and that the great western nations should all as one be held blameless in the practice thereof. The religious customs referred to on a previous occasion, were those of my own nation; yet if persons of other nations did not entirely conform to these, still there was to be no distinction, no obstruction,-thus showing great magnanimity.’
“Now I find that, in the first place, when the regulations for free trade were agreed upon, there was an article allowing the erection of churches at the five ports. This same privilege was to extend to all nations; there were to be no distinctions. Subsequently the commissioner Lagrené requested that the Chinese, who acting well practised this religion, should equally be held blameless. Accordingly, I made a representation of the case to the throne, by memorial, and received the imperial consent thereto. After this, however, local magistrates having made improper seizures, taking and destroying crosses, pictures, and images, further deliberations were held, and it was agreed that these [crosses, &c.] might be reverenced. Originally I did not know that there were, among the nations, these differences in their religious practices. Now with regard to the religion of the Lord of heaven—no matter whether the crosses, pictures, and images be reverenced or be not reverenced, all. who acting well, practise it, ought to be held blameless. All the great western nations being placed on an equal footing, only let them by acting well practise their religion, and China will in no way prohibit or impede their so doing. Whether their customs be alike or unlike, certainly it is right that there should be no distinction and no obstruction.