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ciety of Christian Endeavor; – in short, the entire alphabet for a complete vocabulary of Christian activity. And the Mormons, too, have recently sent emissaries to Japan.
The missionaries have been, and are, a mighty force in New Japan, not merely through their preaching of the Gospel, but also through their practising of the Christian virtues; not only by their teaching of all-sided truth and wisdom, but also by their touching, their social contact with the people; not only by their logic, but also by their lives. They are vivid and impressive object-lessons of the ideal Christian life, — “living epistles, known and read of all men.” They are, in general, welleducated men and women, a noble company, respected and loved by the Japanese.
The Japanese Christians are not strong numerically; but they exercise an influence entirely out of proportion to their mere numbers. There are less than 150,000 nominal Christians of all kinds, who may represent a Christian community of, perhaps, twice that number. But, in spite of their faults and failings, due to the fact that they are less than fifty years removed from anti-Christian influences of the worst types, and are still surrounded by various hindrances, they are also a noble body of men and women, loved and honored by fellow-Japanese and foreigners. The Christian literature of Japan is truly volumi. nous, and is an important factor in moulding and elevating public opinion. The Bible has been translated into the Japanese language, and is widely circulated; it is published in many forms by the Bible societies. Until a few years ago, it was almost impossible to induce a non-Christian bookseller to keep the Bible on hand; for its presence in his store might prejudice him in the eyes of the public, and, besides, it was not easily salable. But such prejudice has died away, and a demand for the Bible has sprung up, so that it has become to the book-dealer a profitable article of his stock. Commentaries on the books of the Bible and theological treatises are numerous, and tracts are counted by the millions.1 Christian magazines and books are published and obtain circulation. The Methodist Publishing House and several Japanese companies find the publication of Christian literature a profitable venture. There are daily newspapers, owned and edited by Christians, who use their columns to teach Christian ideals. And in 1902 was issued a popular novel, called “Ichijiku” (The Fig Tree), which is Christian in tone and teaching
1 See Uchimura’s “ Diary of a Japanese Convert.”
The work of foreign missionaries and native Christians in Japan may be divided into four kinds : evangelistic, educational, publication, and philanthropic. It is, however, very difficult and extremely unwise to attempt always to make and to maintain these distinctions; for these classes of work often overlap and supplement each other. The work, as a whole, is carried on much as it is in the West, except that the measures and methods must be more or less adapted to the peculiar conditions in Japan. Thus Christianity is represented there by certain institutions, which, according to various circumstances, are flourishing in a greater or less degree in different localities, but which, as a whole, are exerting a tremendous influence upon the nation and are creating the ideals for Twentieth Century Japan.
1 There is now a “Japan Tract Society."
There are hundreds of churches and chapels, but they are seldom indicated by spires and steeples pointing upward as signs of the doctrine which leads mankind onward and upward. For that reason they are not generally discovered by the “globe-trotter,” who tries to do Japan in a month or less, and is not usually looking for such things, but yet goes back to report Christianity a failure in Japan. Nevertheless, the churches and chapels are there, - perhaps in out-ofthe-way places, on narrow side-streets, or even on the principal thoroughfares, and they may be only ordinary Japanese houses; but the work is going on there, quietly and unostentatiously. There is also a "gospel ship ” (Fukuin Maru), cruising about the long-neglected islands of the Inland Sea.
1 It is unfortunate that there are any missionaries, with more zeal than knowledge, who seem to forget those wise words of Paul, the courageous, but tactful, and therefore succe
ccessful, preacher, in 1 Corinthians ix. 22. But most of the missionaries, or the best of them, always bear in mind Christ's own instructions in Matthew
In the churches and chapels, or in other buildings, or even in the private houses of foreigners and Japanese, are about 1,000 Sunday-schools, where the children are being instructed in the simplest truths of the Bible. They may not understand at once much of what they hear; but they gradually come to better and better ideas, and when they reach years of understanding, many of them fully accept the truths learned in Sunday-school."
But the duty of the Christian propagandist is not completed by the conversion of unbelievers; it extends also to the training of these converts into a useful body of Christian citizens. It is unwise to rely entirely upon public education by a system so well organized even as that of Japan. If private schools under Christian auspices are useful in America, they are an absolute necessity in Japan. It is dangerous to leave Christian boys and girls under the irreligious and often immoral influences of public institutions. As “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, it is supremely important to keep Christian Japanese youth under positive Christian instruction and influences during that impressible period. And it is also necessary to train up a strong body of Christian
1 It is no small matter for encouragement to Christian workers in Japan that it is now possible to find among Japanese Christians three generations of believers ; so that the words of Paul in 2 Timothy i. 5 may be applied here : “Having been reminded of the unfeigned faith that is in thee; which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and thy mother Eunice." The future of Christianity in Japan is insured when it begins to be inherited.