Part 3 out of 3
for toleration. This was not strange. It was one of the earliest efforts,
if not the earliest, for church union and separate autonomy on heathen
soil. It was a new departure. But the battle was really won. The
question was never broached again. The strongest opponents then are the
warmest friends of union and autonomy now. Thirty years of happiest
experience, of hearty endorsement by native pastors and foreign
missionaries are sufficient testimony to the wisdom of the steps then
In November, 1864, Mr. Talmage married Miss Mary E. Van Deventer, and
forthwith proceeded to China, where he arrived early in 1865.
In 1867, Rutgers College, New Jersey, recognized Mr. Talmage's successful
and scholarly labors in China for a period of full twenty years, by giving
him the degree of Doctor of Divinity.
X. THE ANTI-MISSIONARY AGITATION.
Prince Kung, at Sir Rutherford Alcock's parting interview with him in 1869,
said: "Yes, we have had a great many discussions, but we know that you have
always endeavored to do justice, and if you could only relieve us of
missionaries and opium, there need be no more trouble in China."
He spoke the mind of the officials, literati, and the great masses of the
people. Heathenism is incarnate selfishness. How can a Chinese understand
that men will turn their backs on the ancestral home, travel ten thousand
miles with no other object but to do his countrymen good? The natural
Chinaman cannot receive it. He suspects us. And he has enough to pillow
his suspicion on. Let him turn the points of the compass. He sees the
great North-land in the hands of Russia. He sees the Spaniard tyrannizing
over the Philippine Islanders. He sees Holland dominating the East Indies.
He sees India's millions at the feet of the British lion. "What are these
benevolent-looking barbarians tramping up and down the country for? Why
are they establishing churches and schools and hospitals? They are trying
to buy our hearts by their feigned kindness, and hand us over to some
Western monarch ere long." So reasons our unsophisticated Chinese. He is
heartily satisfied with his own religion or utterly indifferent to any
religion. He has no ear for any new doctrine except as a curiosity, to
give momentary amusement, and then to be thrown to the ground like a
The missionary appears on the scene in dead earnest. "Agitation is our
profession." We are among those "who are trying to turn the world upside
The Spirit of God touches and dissolves the apathy, melts the ice, breaks
the stone, and we see men alive unto God; "old things are passed away,
behold all things are become new." What a change in the recipient of God's
A change, too, takes place in him who resists. Icy apathy becomes burning,
bitter hatred. The whole enginery of iniquity is set in motion to sweep
off this strange foreign propaganda. Malicious placards are posted before
every yamen and temple. Basest stories are retailed. "The barbarians dig
out men's eyes and cut out men's hearts to make medicine of them." The
thirst for revenge is engendered, until, like an unleashed tiger, the mob
springs upon the missionary's home, and returns not till its thirst has
been slaked with the blood of the righteous. That is the dark shadow
hanging over missionary life in nearly every part of the Chinese Empire.
We have had no name to add to the foreign missionary martyr list, from the
region of Amoy.
Chinese martyrs there may have been. Men who have endured the lifelong
laceration of taunt and sneer and suffered the loss of well nigh all
things, there have been not a few. Though the fires of persecution have
burned with fiercer intensity in other parts of China, yet we have not
escaped having our garments singed in some of their folds.
Perhaps the most widespread anti-missionary uprising in China occurred
during the years 1870 and 1871.
It was during the summer of 1870 that Dr. Talmage was compelled to go to
Chefoo, North China, for much-needed rest and change.
On August 8th he wrote to Dr. J. M. Ferris:
"The next day after my arrival at Chefoo the news was received of the
terrible massacre at Tientsin on June 21st. (Tientsin is the port of
Peking, and has a population of upwards of one million.) Nine Sisters of
Charity, one foreign priest, the French consul and other French officials
and subjects, and three Russians--in all, twenty-one Europeans--were
massacred. Many of them were horribly mutilated. Especially is this true
of all the Sisters. Their private residences and public establishments, as
well as all the Protestant chapels within the city, were destroyed."
Not long after, the American Presbyterian Mission at Tung chow, Shantung
Province, North China, was broken up, for fear of an intended massacre.
The missionaries were helped to Chefoo by two vessels sent by the British
Admiral, Sir Henry Kellet.
At Canton, vile stories about foreigners distributing poisonous pills were
gotten up, and such was the seriousness of the crisis that two German
missionaries had to flee for their lives, one having his mission premises
utterly destroyed. A people whose credulity is most amazingly developed by
feeding on fairy tales and demon adventures from their childhood, are
prepared to believe anything about the "ocean barbarians" whose name is
never spoken without mingled fear and hatred and suspicion.
The ferment, started at Canton, spread along the coast. The people of Amoy
were inoculated with the virus.
On the 22d of September, 1871, Dr. Talmage addressed a letter to General Le
Gendre, U. S. Consul at Amoy, informing him of the state of affairs in and
about Amoy. The missionary knowing the language and having constant
dealings with the people would be more likely to know the extent and
gravity of any conspiracy against foreigners than the Consul. A part of
the letter reads:
"In July last inflammatory placards were extensively posted throughout the
region about Canton, stating that foreigners had imported a large quantity
of poison and had hired vagabond Chinese to distribute it among the people;
that only foreigners had the antidote to this poison and that they refused
to administer it, except for large sums of money or to such persons as
embraced the foreigner's religion. In the latter part of July some of
these placards and letters accompanying them were received by Chinese at
Amoy from their Canton friends. They were copied, with changes to suit
this region, and extensively circulated. The man who seems to have been
most active in their circulation was the Cham-hu, the highest military
official at Amoy under the Admiral. He united with the Hai-hong, a high
civil official, in issuing a proclamation, warning the people to be on
their guard against poison, which wicked people were circulating. This
proclamation was not only circulated in the city of Amoy, but also in the
"It did not mention foreigners, but the people by some other means were
made to understand that foreigners were meant. The district Magistrate of
the city of Chiang-chiu issued a proclamation informing the people of the
danger of poison, especially against poison in their wells. Two days later
he issued another proclamation, reiterating his warnings, and informing the
people that he had arrested and examined a man who confessed that he, with
three others, had been employed by foreigners to engage in this work of
poisoning the people.
"Their especial business was to poison all the wells. This so-called
criminal was speedily executed.
"A few days afterwards a military official at Chiang-chiu also issued a
proclamation to warn the people against poison, and giving the confession
of the above-mentioned criminal with great particularity. The criminal is
made to say that a few months ago he had been decoyed and sold to
foreigners. In company with more than fifty others--he was conveyed by
ship to Macao. There they were distributed among the foreign hongs, one to
each hong. (Hong is pigeon English for business house.)
"That afterwards he with three others was sent home, being furnished with
poison for distribution, and with special direction to poison all the wells
on their way. They were to refer all those on whom the poison took effect
to a certain individual at Amoy, who would heal them gratuitously, only
requiring of them their names. This, doubtless, is an allusion to the
hospital for the Chinese at Amoy, where the names of the patients are of
course recorded and they receive medicine and medical attendance
"In this confession foreigners are designated by the opprobrious epithet of
'little'--that is, contemptible--'demons.' This, by the way, is a phrase
never used to designate foreigners in this region except by those in the
mandarin offices. Besides the absurdity of charging foreigners with
distributing poison, the whole confession bears the evidence not only of
falsehood, but, if ever made, of having been put into the man's mouth by
those inside the mandarin offices and forced from him by torture, for the
express purpose of exciting the intensest hatred against foreigners.
"In consequence, excitement and terror and hatred to foreigners, and
consequently to native Christians, became most intense, and extended from
the cities far into the country around. Wells were fenced in and put under
lock and cover. People were called together by the beating of gongs to
draw water. The buckets were covered in carrying water to guard against
the throwing in of poison along the streets. At the entrances of some
villages notices were posted warning strangers not to enter lest they be
arrested as poisoners. In various places men were arrested and severely
beaten on suspicion, merely because they were strangers. The native
Christians everywhere were subjected to much obloquy and sometimes to
imminent danger, charged with being under the influence of foreigners and
employed by them to distribute poison.
"Even at the Amoy hospital, which has been in existence nearly thirty
years, the number of patients greatly decreased; some days there were
In the large cities of Tong-an and Chinchew placards were posted in great
numbers. They averred that black and red pills were being sold by the
agents of foreigners under presence of curing disease and saving the world.
Instead they were causes of terrible diseases which none but the foreign
dogs or their agents could cure. And to get cured, one must join the
foreign religion or else give great sums. It was asserted that all this
poison emanated from the foreign chapels, was often thrown into wells, and
secretly put into fish or other food in the markets.
A preacher, sixty miles from Foochow, one hundred and fifty miles north of
Amoy, barely escaped with his life. He was pounded with stones while the
bystanders called out, "Kill the poisoner, the foreign devils' poisoner!"
The whole object of this diabolical calumniating was to kindle the people
into a frenzy against foreigners, especially missionaries, and to make
foreign powers believe that the people are so anti-foreign that the
authorities cannot secure a foreigner's safety outside of the treaty ports.
Even when these reports were traveling like wildfire there were those among
the Chinese who knew better, and it was often said, "It cannot be the
missionaries and native Christians, for have they not been going in and out
among us all these years and they never did us any harm?"
Speaking of the "Political State of the Country," Dr. Talmage says:
"With the atrocities committed at Tientsin the world is acquainted, though
many seem still to be under the grievous error that these atrocities were
designed only against Romanism and the French nation.
"If this were the fact, it would be no justification. Others are under an
error equally grievous, that the Chinese Government has given reasonable
redress. It has given no proper redress at all. Instead of reprobating
the massacre, it has almost, and doubtless to the ideas of the Chinese,
fully sanctioned it. The leaders in the massacre have not been brought to
justice. The Government has readily given life for life--a very easy
matter in China--but it has so highly rewarded the families of the victims
thus sacrificed to placate the barbarians, and put so much honor on the
corpses of these martyrs to foreign demands, that it has encouraged similar
atrocities whenever a suitable time shall arrive for their perpetration.
The Imperial proclamation stating even this unsatisfactory redress, which
the Government solemnly promised should be published throughout the land,
has not been published except in a few instances where foreigners have
compelled it. The massacre at Tientsin is known throughout the empire, but
it is not known generally that any redress at all has been given.
"Instead of the publication of this proclamation the vilest calumnies--too
vile to be even mentioned in Christian ears--have been circulated secretly,
but widely throughout the land. Throughout the coast provinces of this
southern half of the empire the people have been warned of a grand
poisoning scheme gotten up by foreigners for the destruction of the
"Because the foreign residents in China report the truth in regard to the
feeling of hatred to foreigners, and warn the nations of the West of the
coming war and designed extirpation of all foreigners, for which China is
assuredly preparing with all its might, we are charged as being desirous of
bringing on war. We know that the Church will not impute such motives to
her missionaries. But the testimony of missionaries agrees in this respect
with that of other foreign residents. We see the evidence, as we walk the
streets, in the countenances and demeanor of the literati and officials,
and somewhat in the countenances and demeanor of the masses.
"We see it in the changed policy of the local magistrates toward the
Christians; we learn it from rumors which are circulated from time to time
among the people; we see it in the activity manifested in forming a proper
navy and in preparing the army.
"We learn it from the secret communications, some of which have reached the
light, passing to and fro between the Imperial Government and the higher
local authorities, and we fear that we have another proof in the barbarous
treatment of a shipwrecked crew some two weeks ago along the coast a little
to the north of Amoy.
"A British mercantile steamer ran ashore in a fog. She was unarmed. The
natives soon gathered in force and attacked the vessel. The people on
board attempted to escape in their boats. These boats were afterwards
attacked by a large fleet of fishing-boats and separated.
"One boat's company were taken ashore, stripped naked, wounded, and robbed
of everything. They finally made their way overland to Amoy. The other
three boats, after the crew and passengers had been stripped and robbed,
were let go to sea. They providentially fell in with a steamer which took
them to Foochow. Such atrocities were once common here.
"We do not believe that any large proportion of the foreign residents in
China wish war. We do wish, however, the rights secured to us by treaty.
These, with a proper policy, can be secured without war. We wish most
heartily to avoid war. Besides all its other evils it would be a sad thing
for our work and our churches. We still hope that God in His providence
will ward it off. He will do it in answer to our prayers if so it be best
for His cause. This is our only hope, and it is sufficient."
The threatening war cloud did blow over, and a restraint, at least
temporary, was laid upon the officials and the people in their treatment of
XI. THE LAST TWO DECADES.
Dr. Talmage was a man of strong convictions, at the same time possessed of
a spirit of genuine catholicity. The brethren connected with the London
and English Presbyterian Missions recognized him as a true friend. In his
later years he became the Nestor of the three Missions, the venerated
patriarch, the trusted counselor.
It will not be inappropriate to give two letters expressive of his
good-will toward his fellow laborers. The one was written on the occasion
of Rev. John Stronach's return to England:
FORTY CONTINUOUS YEARS IN HEATHENISM.
"March 16, 1876. Today we said farewell to the veteran missionary, Rev.
"He has been laboring many years at this place in connection with the
London Missionary Society. This morning he left us for his native land by
a new route.
"Each of the three Missions has one or more boats employed exclusively in
carrying missionaries and native preachers on their trips to and from the
various outstations accessible by water. These boats are called by the
native Christians 'hok-im-chun,' which means 'Gospel boat.' Mr. Stronach
embarked on one of these 'Gospel boats.' He expected to land at one of the
Mission stations on the mainland northeast from Amoy, and then travel
overland on foot or by sedan-chair to Foochow. He will spend the remaining
nights of this week and the Sabbath at various stations under the care of
the Missions at Amoy, and say some parting words to the native Christians.
"He expects early next week to meet one of the Methodist missionaries of
Foochow, and in company with him to pass on to that city, spending the
nights at stations under the care of the Foochow Missions. We may now
travel overland from Amoy to Foochow (a distance of one hundred and fifty
miles) and spend every night, sometimes take our noonday meals, at a
Christian chapel. Does this look as if missions were a failure in this
region? At Foochow Mr. Stronach will take steamer for Shanghai, thence to
Yokohama and San Francisco.
"All the missionaries of Amoy and many Chinese Christians accompanied Mr.
Stronach to the boat. It is very sad to say farewell to those with whom we
have been long and pleasantly associated.
"Mr. Stronach left England in 1837, thirty-nine years ago, to labor as a
missionary in the East Indies.
"He came to Amoy in 1844, shortly after this port was opened to foreign
commerce and missionary labor. He was soon sent to Shanghai as one of the
Committee of Delegates on the translation of the Scriptures into the
Chinese language. If he had done nothing more for China than his share in
this great work, the benefit would have been incalculable. After the
completion of this work in 1853, he returned to Amoy, where he has labored
continuously, with the exception of a short visit a few years ago to
Hongkong and Canton, and a shorter one last year to Foochow. Very rarely
has he been interrupted in his work by illness. In the history of modern
missions few instances can be found of missionaries who have been permitted
to labor uninterruptedly for nearly forty years, not even taking one
"In the case of Mr. Stronach the language concerning Moses may be literally
applied, 'His eye is not dim, nor his natural force abated.' He does not
yet have occasion to use spectacles, and the route he has taken proves him
still full of mental and physical vigor. Think of the discoveries and
inventions during the last forty years! Will Mr. Stronach recognize his
native land? The good hand of the Lord be with him and make his remaining
years as happy as his past ones have been useful."
The other letter, to Rev. John M. Ferris, D.D., was written on the occasion
of the death of the Rev. Carstairs Douglas, LL.D., one of the most
accomplished and scholarly men ever sent to any mission field:
"AUGUST 8, 1877.
"By this mail we have sad news to send. It relates to the death of Rev.
Carstairs Douglas, LL.D., of the English Presbyterian Mission at Amoy. He
was the senior member of that Mission, having arrived at Amoy, July, 1855,
twenty-two years ago.
"Dr. Douglas, two weeks ago to-day, was in apparent good health. On that
day he made calls on several members of the foreign community. To some of
them he remarked, concerning his health, that he had never felt better.
That evening he was in his usual place in our weekly prayer-meeting. The
next morning at four o'clock he began to feel unwell, but did not wish to
disturb others, so called no one until about half past six. Then some
medicine was given him and he sat down at his study-table for the morning
reading of his Hebrew Bible. About an hour after this he became much worse
and the doctor was sent for. On his arrival the physician pronounced his
disease to be cholera of the most virulent type, and the case to be almost
without hope of recovery.
"In consequence of our long and close intimacy word was soon sent to me. I
hastened to see him. He was already very weak and could not converse
without great effort. Everything was done for him that could be done. But
he continued failing until about a quarter before six in the afternoon,
July 26th, when he breathed his last. He knew what his disease was and
what would probably be its termination, but evidently the King of Terrors
had no terror for him. His end was peace. He retained his consciousness
nearly to the last.
"He was to have preached in our English chapel to the foreign community on
the following Sabbath morning. He told us his text was Romans vi. 23, 'The
wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus
Christ our Lord.' The text was so suitable to the occasion that I took it,
and in his place on the next Sabbath morning preached his funeral sermon
from his own text.
"By overwork he had worn himself out, and made himself an old man while he
was yet comparatively young in years. He came to China quite young and at
the time of his death was only about forty-six years of age, and yet men
who had recently become acquainted with him thought him over sixty. Is any
one inclined to blame him too much for this, as though he wore himself out
and sacrificed his life before the time? If so, he did it in a good cause
and for a good Master. Besides this, he did more work during the
twenty-two years of his missionary life than the most of men accomplish in
twice that time. And then, he reminds us of One, who when only a little
over thirty years of age, from similar causes, seems to have acquired the
appearance of nearly fifty (John viii. 57).
"Recently, especially during the last year, it was manifest, at least to
others, that his physical strength was fast giving way. Yet he could not
be prevailed upon to leave his field for a season for temporary rest, or
even to lessen the amount of his work.
"I never knew a more incessant worker. He was a man of most extensive
general information. I think I have never met with his equal in this
respect. He was acquainted with several modern European languages and was a
thorough student of the original languages of Holy Scripture, as witness
the fact of his study of the Hebrew Bible, even after his last sickness had
commenced. As regards the Chinese language, he was already taking his
place among the first sinologues of the land. We were indebted more to
him, perhaps, than to any other one man for the success of the recent
General Missionary Conference (at Shanghai).
[At this first General Conference of the Protestant missionaries of China,
held at Shanghai in May, 1877, Dr. Talmage preached the opening sermon and
read a paper, the title of which was, "Should the native churches in China
be united ecclesiastically and independent of foreign churches and
"As a member of the Committee of Arrangements he labored indefatigably by
writing Ietters and in other ways to make it a success, and though
comparatively so young, he well deserved the honor bestowed on him in
making him one of the presidents of that body. 'Know ye not that there is
a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?'
"This is a great blow to the English Presbyterian Mission in this place.
It is also, because of the intimate relations of the two missions and the
oneness of the churches under our care, a great blow to us. It is a great
blow to the whole mission work in China--greater, perhaps, than the loss
of any other man. You will not wonder that I, from my long intimacy with
him, feel the loss deeply, more and more deeply every day and week, as the
days and weeks pass away without him."
An episode in connection with the visit to China in 1878 of Dr. Jacob
Chamberlain, of the Arcot Mission, is described in a letter to Dr. Goyn
Talmage, as follows:
"Dear Goyn: I suppose I told you about the pleasant visit we had from Dr.
Chamberlain and family. The Doctor went with me to Chiang-chiu. While
there his carpet-bag was stolen out of the boat. We reported the case to a
military officer, and told him that we wanted the bag very much, and if he
could get it for us, we should make no trouble about having the thief
punished. In a few days after our return to Amoy the bag was sent to us
with all its contents complete. We bought an umbrella--a nice silk
one--and sent it up to the officer as a present. Perhaps you would like to
see a translation of the letter he sent in reply. It will illustrate
Chinese politeness. The letter reads as follows:
"'When the flocks of wild geese make their orderly flight,--the glorious
autumnal season deserving of laudation,--my thoughts wander far away to
you, Teacher Talmage, whose noble presence is worthy to be saluted with bow
profound, and whose dignified manners invite to close intimacy. Alas, that
our acquaintance should have been formed at this late day!--and that, too,
when, by wafting and by the plying of oars, having arrived at 'the stream
of the fragrant grain fields' (poetic name for the region of Chiang-chiu),
you met with the mishap of doggish thieves taking advantage of your want of
watchfulness! Truly, the blame of this rests on me. How, then, can I have
the hardihood to receive from you a present of value! A reward of demerit,
how can I endure it! During the three stages of life, (youth, middle age,
and old age,) I shall not be able to repay. It is only by inheritance (not
by my own merit) that I obtained the imperial favor of office. Thus, my
deficiency in the knowledge of official laws and governmental regulations
has subjected you to fear and anxiety. Shame on me in the extreme! shame
in the extreme! Only by the greatest stretch could I hope to meet with
forbearance, how then could you take trouble and manifest kindness by
sending a present. Writing cannot exhaust my words, and words can not
exhaust my meaning. It will be necessary to come and express my thanks in
person. Such are my supplications and such is my sense of obligation. May
there be golden peace to you, Teacher Talmage, and will your excellency
please bestow your brilliant glance on what I have written!'
"Is not that a specimen of humility? The stealing was because of his
neglect of duty, and his neglect of duty was because of inability, having
obtained his office through the merit of his father or grandfather. Of
course he kept the umbrella."
August 18, 1887, marked the fortieth anniversary of Dr. Talmage's arrival
in China. He said so little about it, however, that it was not known by
the friends of the other missions until the very day dawned.
The members of the English Presbyterian Mission--ladies and
gentlemen--immediately concluded to secure some suitable memento expressive
of their regard for Dr. Talmage and his work. A set of Macaulay's History
of England, bound in tree calf, and a finely bound copy of the latest
edition of the Royal Atlas, were sent for. In connection with the
presentation the following letter from Rev. W. McGregor was read:
"Amoy, April 3, 1888.
"Dear Dr. Talmage:
"When on the 18th of last August we learned that that day was the fortieth
anniversary of your arrival in China, the news came upon us unexpectedly.
We wished we had had more forethought and kept better count of the years,
so that we might have made more of the occasion. Each of us felt a desire
to present you with some token of our regard, and it seemed to us for many
reasons best that we should do so unitedly as members of the English
Presbyterian Mission in Amoy. We had at the time nothing suitable to offer
you, but we agreed on certain books to be sent for,--not as having any
special relations to the work in which you have been engaged, but as being
each a standard work of its kind. The books have now arrived, and I have
much pleasure in sending them to you as something that may be kept in your
family as a memorial of the day and a small token of our high esteem for
yourself personally and of the great value we attach to the work you have
done in the service of our common Lord.
"I am, yours truly,
"On behalf of the members of the English Presbyterian Mission, Amoy."
Dr. Talmage was blessed with a most vigorous physical constitution, but
years of struggle with one of the complaints peculiar to the tropics,
finally compelled his retirement from the Mission field.
In the summer of 1889, Dr. and Mrs. Talmage embarked on the steamship
Arabia for the United States. Dr. Talmage turned his face to the old
home-village, Bound Brook, New Jersey, all the time cherishing the hope of
one more return to China and his laying down the shepherd's crook and robe
among the flock he had gathered from among the heathen. That hope was not
to be realized. Though he had left Amoy, yet he ceased not to do what he
could for the work there. Though compelled to lie on his back much of the
time, making writing difficult, he sent letters to the Chinese Monthly
Magazine and to not a few of the pastors, encouraging them in their labors.
Chiefly did he devote himself to the completion of a Character Colloquial
Dictionary in the Amoy language, intended to be of special service to the
Chinese Christian Church. It was intended to facilitate the study of the
Chinese Character, especially those Characters used in the Chinese Bible.
It was also calculated to promote the study of the Romanized Colloquial
Version of the Scriptures as well as other Romanized Colloquial literature.
In the midst of multiplied duties and many distractions he had wrought on
it for upwards of a score of years. He was eager to make it thoroughly
reliable. He spared no pains to that end. He always felt very much out of
patience with any one who would give to the public an inaccurate book; and
it was the desire to make his dictionary as accurate as possible that kept
him from having it published some years since.
He consulted Chinese literary men. He pored over Chinese dictionaries. He
brought it home with him, requiring, as he thought, still further revision,
and his last labors were the completion of it with the valued assistance of
the Rev. Daniel Rapalje, of the Amoy Mission. It is now going through the
press and will soon be at the service of missionaries and native brethren
who have eagerly awaited its appearance for many years.
His strength gradually failed and on August 19, 1892, in his seventy-third
year, he quietly breathed his last at Bound Brook, New Jersey.
The mortal tent loosened down and folded was laid away in the family plot
near Somerville, New Jersey. Most of his living, working years he had
spent far away from the ancestral home. It was God's will that his dust
should find a place next to the kindred dust of father and mother, sister
and brother, in the peaceful God's acre but a few miles from the old
Dr. Talmage left a wife, two daughters and three sons, and a goodly circle
of relatives and friends to mourn his departure. Mrs. Talmage has since
returned to the Talmage Manse at Amoy and taken up afresh her chosen work
in educating the ill-privileged and ignorant women of China. The two
daughters, Miss Katharine and Miss Mary, are rendering most faithful and
efficient service, too, among China's mothers and daughters. Rev. David M.
Talmage fills a pastorate with the Reformed Church of Westwood, New Jersey.
Mr. John Talmage is a rice merchant at New Orleans, Louisiana. Rev. George
E. Talmage ministers to the Lord's people at Mott Haven, New York.
When the sun of Dr. Talmage's life set, it was to the Chinese brethren at
Amoy, like the setting of a great hope. The venerable teacher had left
them two years before, but he had not spoken a final farewell. They and he
looked for one more meeting on earth. He was known to the whole Chinese
Church in and about Amoy for a circuit of a hundred miles. He sat at its
cradle. He watched its growth until within two years of the day when it
went forth two bands united in one Synod with twenty organized,
self-supporting churches, nineteen native pastors, upwards of two thousand
communicants and six thousand adherents.
In the many breaks that occur in the missionary constituency, his life was
the one chain of continuity. The Churches had come to feel that whoever
failed them, they had Teacher Talmage still. His departure was like the
falling down of a venerable cathedral, leaving the broken and bleeding ivy
among the dust and debris. The Chinese Christians had leaned hard upon
him. They loved and revered him as a father. Since he passed away his
name has seldom been mentioned in any public assembly of the Church by any
of the Chinese brethren without the broken and trembling utterance that has
called forth from a listening congregation the silent, sympathetic tear.
Great and good man, fervent preacher, inspiring teacher, wise and
sympathetic counselor, generous friend, affectionate father,--farewell,
till the morning breaks and we meet in the City of Light. "And behold these
shall come from far, and lo, these from the north, and from the west, and
these from the land of Sinim."
"Oh then what raptured greetings,
What knitting severed friendships up,
Where partings are no more."
XII. IN MEMORIAM.
DR. TALMAGE-THE MAN.
BY REV. W. S. SWANSON, D.D.
[Dr. Swanson was for twenty years a valued member of the English
Presbyterian Mission at Amoy, and subsequently Secretary of the Board of
Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church of England until his death,
November 24, 1893]
My first meeting with Dr. Talmage took place in the early days of July,
1860, and from that day till the day of his death he was regarded as not
only one of the best and most valued friends, but I looked up to him as a
father beloved and respected.
One cannot help recalling now the impressions of those early days. There
was a marked individuality about this man that made you regard him whether
you would or not. You felt that he was a man bound to lead and to take the
foremost place amongst his brethren and all with whom he came in touch.
There was a firmness of tread, and the brave courage of conviction, united
with a womanly tenderness, that were unmistakable.
You saw he had made up his mind before he spoke, and that when he did speak
he spoke with a fullness of knowledge that few men possessed. He was every
inch of him a man.
And what touched us very much, who were young men, was the tender
forbearance with which he always treated us. We saw this more clearly as
the years passed on, and learned how much, perhaps, he had to bear from
some of us whose assertiveness in some matters was in the inverse ratio of
our knowledge. The reference here is to matters and methods regarding our
work as missionaries to the Chinese. He bore with us, and knew well the
day would come when, with increasing knowledge, there would come increasing
hesitation in pronouncing too hastily on the problems we had to face; and
he knew well that day would come if there was anything in us at all.
In my own study of the Chinese language he and another who also has gone to
the "better land"--the Rev. Dr. Douglas--assisted in every possible way;
and to both in this line am I indebted for what was the most important
furnishing in the first instance for every missionary to China. I can well
remember the plane upon which Dr. Talmage placed this study of the
It was our work for Christ, at this stage a far more important one than any
other. He encouraged us to use whatever vocables we had got, no matter
whether we were met with the wondering smile of the Chinaman in his vain
endeavor to understand us, or to keep from misunderstanding us.
"Use whatever you have got, be glad when you are corrected, but use your
words." To some of us the advice was invaluable.
And in other ways the same spirit was manifest. He did all he could to get
us to attend every Christian gathering, to sit and listen to the business
of the Sessions, and to show the Chinese as soon as possible that we were
one with them, and he succeeded. There was an enthusiasm and warmth
distinguishing these early days of the Amoy church that were formative in a
very high degree, and that are now a precious memory.
Then Dr. Talmage was a scholar, with a very wide range of scholarship. We
looked up to him and we respected him, with an esteem few men have ever
won. And in conjunction with his scholarly furnishing there was an
absorbing, consuming zeal for Christ and His kingdom, and an intense love
for the Chinese people. If he had not this latter, he could not have been
the unmistakably influential and successful missionary he was. These,
coupled with a Christian walk and devotion, formed the furnishing of this
man of God.
He was also a true gentleman, a Christian gentleman in every sense of the
word. The best proof of this was that we loved him, and if the foreign
ladies in Amoy who knew him were asked what they thought of him--many of
them have gone to rest--they would hardly get words to tell out all their
respect and love for him. His visits in our houses were most welcome, and
when he spent an evening with us there was always sunshine where he was.
He was essentially a happy man, and nothing pleased him more than to see
all happy around him.
There is still one point to which reference must here be made.
Missionaries were not the only foreign residents in Amoy. There was also a
considerable number of American and European merchants. Unfortunately the
missionaries and the merchants did not always see eye to eye. Dr. Talmage
was a favorite with every one of them. They esteemed him, they would have
done anything to serve him; and at no cost of principle or testimony he won
this place with them.
And to those who know the conditions of life in China, it will be at once
understood what a man he must have been to win such a position.
It may not be generally known that in Amoy we have a "Union English
Church," with regular Sabbath services in English. These services were
conducted by the missionaries in turn. And we fear it may also not be
known what Dr Talmage's powers as a preacher were. He was a very prince
among English preachers; and if he had remained in America this would very
soon have been acknowledged. There were no tricks or devices of manner or
words employed by him for winning the popular ear. He never seemed to
forget the solemnity and responsibility of his position in the pulpit. He
hesitated not "to declare the whole counsel of God." He stands before me
now as I listen with bated breath to the fire of his eloquence, denouncing
where denunciation was needed, contending with a burning earnestness that
never failed to carry us with him, for "the faith once delivered to the
saints," and then with exquisite tenderness seeking to draw his hearers to
Him who is Saviour and Brother. He never failed to think and speak as much
about temptation as about sin. It was a real feast to attend the English
service when it was conducted by him. And during all my time in Amoy,
there was always a large congregation when Dr. Talmage was the preacher.
He was not all tenderness. He would only have been a one-sided man if this
were all. He was as strong as he was tender; a keen and powerful opponent
in discussion. And we often had very warm and keen discussions; keener and
warmer than I had ever seen before I went to Amoy, or have ever seen since.
We had to discuss principles and methods of translation, hymnology, Church
work, Church discipline, and many other subjects. And there was no mincing
of matters at these discussions. Foremost amongst us was Dr. Talmage,
tenaciously and persistently advocating the view he happened to have taken
on any question. There were men of very strong individuality among us, and
these gave as good as they got. I can recall these scenes, but I cannot
recall a single word he said that involved a personal wound or left a barb.
When it was all over he was the same loving brother, and not an atom of
bitterness was left behind. By us, the brethren of the English
Presbyterian Mission, he was looked up to as a revered father, just as much
as he was by the brethren of his own Mission. This will be seen more fully
further on, and a simple statement of the fact is all that is necessary
There is another and most sacred relation--his position as the head of a
family,--the veil of which it seems almost sacrilege to uplift. But it
must be said, and it is only a well-known fact, that few happier homes
exist than his home was. He was there what he was elsewhere, the man of
Dr. Talmage was not perfect. He was essentially a humble man, and he would
be the first to tell us that of every sinner saved by grace, he was the
most unworthy. And when he said it, he felt it. And he had not the very
most distant idea how great a man he was. Sometimes one fears that this
very modesty pushed to an extreme prevented others who did not know his
life and his work from accurately gauging his real work. Better perhaps,
he would say, that it should be so; better to think of the work than of the
workers. To hold up Christ and to be hidden behind Him is the highest
privilege of those engaged in the service of this King. And this, his
uniform bearing, made him all the greater.
DR. TALMAGE-THE MISSIONARY.
It would be useless speculation to lay down here what should be the special
qualifications of a missionary to the Chinese. The better way is to find
them in the concrete, so far as you can do so in an individual, and set Him
forth as an example for others. The friend of whom we write would
deprecate this, but it is the only way in which we can see him as he was
and account for the singularly prominent place he occupied amongst us.
I do not need to say here that he was a man of faith and prayer, earnest
and zealous for the spread of Christ's Kingdom; in the face of difficulties
and dangers, of disappointments and failures, maintaining an unwavering
faith that the Kingdom must come and would yet rule over all.
He had both an intense love for his work and enthusiasm in carrying it on.
He came with a definite message to the people to whom the Master had sent
him. There was no apologizing for it, no watering it down, no uncertain
sound about it with him. Christ and Christ alone can meet the wants and
woes of humanity,--Chinese or American or British. He had no doubt about
it whatever; and hereby some of us learned that if we had not this message
it would have been far better for us to have stayed at home. And this
feature marked him all over his course. You felt as you listened to his
pleadings that sin and salvation were terms brimful of meaning to him. He
had traveled this road, and all his pleadings seemed to be summed up in the
one yearning cry, "Come with us and we will do thee good." "This is a
faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into
the world to save sinners." And he would have gone to the end, "of whom I
Then he had a great love for the people. He made himself acquainted with
the family and social conditions of the people. He had not come to
Americanize but to Christianize the Chinese. And for this he equipped
himself. I never saw him so happy as when he was surrounded by them. He
was then in his real element, answering their questions, solving their
difficulties, opening up to them the Scriptures, and meeting them wherever
he thought they needed to be met. And go to his study when you liked, you
almost always found some Chinese Christians there. He was the great
referee, to whom they carried home difficulties and family trials, assured
that his sympathy and advice would never be denied them. This endeared him
to them in an extraordinary manner. We never on such occasions found a
trace of impatience with him. What would have annoyed others did not seem
to annoy him, and the consequence was that the whole church loved him.
There was an inexhaustible well of tenderness in the man's nature, and it
was sweetened by the grace of God in his heart.
We sometimes thought he erred by excess in this particular. He was
unwilling to think anything but good of them, and was thus apt to be
influenced too much by designing and astute Chinamen. Often we have heard
it said, "Well, if you won't listen to us, Dr. Talmage will." But, looking
back to-day over it all, if it was a fault, it was one that leant to
virtue's side. He was wonderfully unsuspicious: and so far as his fellow
men were concerned, Chinese or Westerns, the mental process which he almost
invariably employed was to try to find out what good there was in a man.
And now one loves him all the more for such a Christlike spirit.
Dr. Talmage was thoroughly acquainted with the spoken language of Amoy.
Few men, if any, had a more extensive knowledge of its vocables. He spoke
idiomatically and beautifully as the Chinese themselves spoke, and not as
he thought they should speak. There was no slipshod work with him in this
particular. Here was the indispensable furnishing and he must get it. And
he did get it in no average measure. This was the prime requisite, and
through no other avenue could he get really and honestly to work. There is
no royal road to the acquisition of the Chinese language. It is only by
dint of hard, plodding, and persevering study one can acquire an adequate
acquaintance with it.
And till the last he never gave up his study of it. He was not satisfied,
and no true missionary ever will be satisfied with such a smattering of
knowledge as may enable him to proclaim a few Christian doctrines. Such
superficiality was not his aim or end. And when he first acquired Chinese,
it was more difficult to do so. There were no aids in the way of
dictionaries or vocabularies.
It may be his knowledge of the language was all the more accurate on this
account. He got it from the fountain-head, and not through foreign
sources. He was thus qualified to take a prominent place in all the
varied work of a mission--in translation, in revision, and in
hymnology--departments as important and as influential for attaining the
end in view as any other possible department in the Mission.
As a preacher to the Chinese he was unrivaled. The people hung on his lips
and never seemed to lose a word. He was in this respect a model to every
one of us younger men.
The ideal of the church in China which he had set before him, the goal he
desired to reach, was a native, self-governing, self-supporting, and
self-propagating church. This is now axiomatic.
It was not so in those early days. The men in Amoy then were men for whom
we have to thank God--men ahead of their time, with generous and
far-reaching ideas; not working only for their own present, but laying the
foundation for a great future. Side by side with him were the brethren of
the English Presbyterian Mission, with whom he had the fullest sympathy,
and they had the fullest sympathy with him. It is difficult to say who
were foremost in pressing the idea of an organized native church. All were
equally convinced and strove together for the one great end. After many
years of waiting the church grew. Congregations were formed and organized
with their own elders and deacons, and in this he took the first steps. He
was a born organizer. And then came the next great step, the creation of a
Presbytery and the ordination in an orderly manner of native pastors. Some
congregations were ready to call and support such pastors, and the men were
there, for the careful training of native agents had always been a marked
feature of the Amoy Mission. But how was it to be done? Common sense led
to only one conclusion. This church must not be an exotic; it must be
native, independent of the home churches. And there must be kept in view
what was a fact already--the union between the Missions of the "Reformed
Church" and of the "English Presbyterian Church." It must be done, and done
in this way, and so it was done.
The Presbytery was created with no native pastor in the first instance, but
with native elders and the missionaries of both Missions. Then came a
struggle that would have tried the stoutest hearts.
The "Reformed Church" in America declined to recognize this newly-created
Presbytery. Dr. Talmage went home and fought the battle and won the day.
To its great honor be it said, the General Synod of the "Reformed Church"
rescinded its resolution of the previous year, and allowed their honored
brethren, the missionaries, to take their own way. So convinced were the
missionaries of the wisdom, yea, the necessity, of the course they had
taken, that they were prepared to resign rather than retrace their steps.
But that painful step was not necessary. The Synod of the English
Presbyterian Church gave their missionaries a free hand. There is this,
however, to be said for the General Synod of the "Reformed Church." It was
only love for their agents and deep interest in this Mission that prompted
their original action. They feared that by the creation of this native and
independent church court, the tie that bound them to the men and the work
might be loosened; and when they saw there was no risk of that, they at
once acquiesced. But it was Dr. Talmage's irresistible pleadings that won
The native church has grown. About twenty native pastors have been
ordained, settled, and entirely supported by their own congregations. The
Presbytery has grown so large that it has to be divided into two
presbyteries; and these, with the Presbytery of Swatow, where brethren of
the "English Presbyterian Church" are working, will form the Synod of the
native Presbyterian Church in those regions of China.
In connection with all this we must mention another name--the name of one
very dear to Dr. Talmage, and of one to whom he was very dear. They were
one in heart and soul about this. We refer to the Rev. Dr. Douglas, of the
English Presbyterian Mission. They stood side by side during all their
work in Amoy.
Dr. Talmage was by a good many years the predecessor in the field. They
were both great men, men of very different temperament, and yet united.
Not on this point, but on many another, they failed to see eye to eye, but
they were always united in heart and aim. True and lasting union can only
exist where free play is given to distinct individualities.
And so it has always been with this union, the first, I believe, between
Presbyterian Churches in any mission field. And when the history of the
Amoy Mission comes to be written, these two men will have a leading place
in it; for to them more than to any others do we owe almost all that is
distinctive there in union and in methods of work.
And when our beloved father Talmage passed from earth to heaven, what
thankfulness must have filled his heart. In the night of his first years
in China there were labor and toil, but there was no fruit for him. The
dawn came and the first converts of his own Mission were gathered in. When
he went to rest, there was a native church; there were native pastors;
orderly church courts; a well equipped theological college, the common
property of the two Missions; successful medical missionary work, woman's
work in all its branches, and a native church covering a more extensive
region than he had in the early days dreamt of. And there was another
honored Mission in Amoy--that of the London Missionary Society, whose
operations have been followed by abundant and singular success. To this
Mission he was warmly attached; and he never, so far as we can remember,
ceased to show the deepest interest in its work, and the heartiest
rejoicing at its success.
And now he has gone, the last, we may say, of the men who began the work of
the Presbyterian Mission of Christ in China; but ere he passed away, he
knew that men of God were still there with the old enthusiasm and the old
appetite for solid and substantial work.
We cannot part with him now without one fond and lingering look behind.
Burns, Sandeman, Doty, Douglas, and Talmage; what a galaxy these early
pioneers in Amoy were. Few churches have had such gifts from God, few
fields more devoted, whole-hearted missionaries. It was a privilege to
know them, to work with them, to learn at their feet, unworthy though some
of us may be as their successors.
May the Lord of the Harvest rouse His own Church by their memories to
greater energy and self denial in the spread of His Kingdom.
Their memories will never die in China. Those who have lately visited Amoy
tell us that they who knew them among the Chinese Christians speak lovingly
and fondly of those early heroes. And they will tell their children what
they were and what they did, and so generation after generation will hear
the story, and find how true it is that workers die, but their work never
dies. "Their works do follow them."
VENERABLE TEACHER TALMAGE.
TRIBUTE OF PASTOR IAP HAN CHIONG.
[Pastor Iap was the first pastor of the Chinese Church]
Teacher Talmage was very gentle. He wished ever to be at peace with men.
If he saw a man in error he used words of meekness in convincing and
converting the man from his error. Whether he exhorted, encouraged or
instructed, his words were words of prudence, seasoned with salt, so that
men were glad to receive and obey.
Teacher Talmage was a lover of men. When he saw a man in distress and it
was right for him to help, he helped. In peril, he exerted himself to
deliver the man; in weakness, in danger of falling, he tried to uphold;
suffering oppression, he arose to the defense, fearing no power, but
contending earnestly for the right.
Teacher Talmage was very gracious in receiving men, whether men of position
or the common people. He treated all alike. If they wished to discuss any
matter with him and get his advice, he would patiently listen to their
tale. If he had any counsel to give, he gave it. If he felt he could not
conscientiously have anything to do with the affair, he told the men
He could pierce through words, and see through men's countenances and judge
what the man was, who was addressing him.
Teacher Talmage had great eloquence and possessed great intelligence. His
utterance was clear, his voice powerful, his exposition of doctrine very
thorough. Men listened and the truth entered their ears and their hearts
Teacher Talmage was grave in manner. He commanded the respect and praise
of men. His was a truly ministerial bearing. Men within and without the
Church venerated him.
Sometimes differences between brethren arose. Teacher Talmage earnestly
exhorted to harmony. Even serious differences, which looked beyond
healing, were removed, because men felt constrained to listen to his
Teacher Talmage was exceedingly diligent. When not otherwise engaged,
morning and afternoon found him in his study reading, writing, preparing
sermons, translating books.
He preached every Sabbath. He conducted classes of catechumens. He
founded the Girls' School at the Church "Under the Bamboos." He founded
the Theological Seminary. Others taught with him, but he was the master
spirit. He was ten points careful that everything relating to the
organization and administration of the Church should be in accordance with
the Holy Book.
Only at the urgent request of two physicians did he finally leave China.
He was prepared to die and to be buried at Amoy. And this was not because
he was not honored in his ancestral country, or could find no home. No, he
had sons, he had a brother, he had nephews and nieces, he had many
relatives and friends who greatly reverenced and loved him.
But Teacher Talmage could not bear to be separated from the Church in
China. Surely this was imitating the heart of Christ. Surely this was
loving the people of China to the utmost.
REV. JOHN VAN NEST TALMAGE, D.D.
BY REV. S. L. BALDWIN, D.D.,
[Recording Secretary of the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal
My memory of Dr. Talmage dates back to the year 1846. I was then but
eleven years old, but I remember distinctly the earnestness of his manner,
as he preached early in that year in the Second Reformed Church of
Somerville, New Jersey. His missionary zeal was of the most intense
I was present at the Missionary Convention, at Millstone, New Jersey,
August 26, 1846, and saw him ordained. The Rev. Gabriel Ludlow preached
from 2 Timothy ii. I, and the charge to the candidate was given by the Rev.
Elihu Doty, of Amoy. Mr. Doty, at a children's meeting in the afternoon,
asked us whether we would come to help in the missionary work, and asked us
to write down the question and think and pray about it, and when we had
made up our minds to write an answer underneath the question. I did "think
and pray about it," and some weeks afterward, under a sense of duty, wrote
"Yes" under it. From that time on, it was not a strange thought to me, to
go to China as a missionary; and when the call came in 1858, I was ready.
In 1860, on my first visit to Amoy, I renewed old acquaintanceship, and
during my twenty-two years in China was several times a guest in Dr.
He was in the very front rank of missionaries. For ability, for fidelity,
for usefulness, he had few equals. As a preacher, he was clear, forceful,
fearless. As a translator, his work was marked by carefulness and
accuracy. In social life, old-fashioned hospitality made every one feel at
home, and one would have to travel far to find a more animated and
interesting conversationalist. He held his convictions with great
tenacity, and was a powerful debater, but always courteous to his
Many missionaries fell by his side, or were obliged to leave the field; and
in the providence of God he remained until he was the oldest of all the
American missionaries in China. His was a most pure and honorable record,
and his death was universally lamented. From little beginnings, he was
privileged to see one of the most flourishing of the native communions of
China arise and attain large numbers and great influence among the
Christian churches of the empire.
Such a history and such a record are to be coveted. May the Head of the
Church raise up many worthy successors to this true and noble man!
THE REV. J. V. N. TALMAGE, D.D..
BY REV. TALBOT W. CHAMBERS, D.D., LL.D.,
[Pastor of the Collegiate Reformed Church, New York City.]
My acquaintance with Dr. Talmage began at a very early period. During the
years 1842-5 his father was Sheriff of Somerset Co., N. J., and resided at
Somerville. While there he and his wife were members in communion of the
Second Reformed Dutch Church, of which I was pastor; and from them I heard
frequently of their son John, who was then a student in New Brunswick.
He prosecuted his studies in the College and Theological Seminary with zeal
and success, and was duly licensed, and then, while awaiting the arrival of
the period when he would be sent to join the mission in China, he accepted
the position of assistant to the Rev. Dr. Brodhead, who at that time was
minister of the Central Church of Brooklyn. Here his services were very
acceptable, and the training under such an experienced man of God was of
great value to him. His course was what might have been expected of one
reared in a peculiarly pious household. His father was a cheerful and
exemplary Christian, and his mother was the godliest woman I ever knew.
Her religion pervaded her whole being, and seemed to govern every thought,
word, and deed, yet never was morbid or overstrained. The robust common
sense which characterized her and her husband descended in full measure
upon their son John. His consecration to the mission work was complete,
and his interest in the cause was very deep, but it never manifested itself
in unseemly or extravagant ways.
So far as I can recall, there was nothing particularly brilliant or
original in the early sermons or addresses of the young missionary--nothing
of those wondrous displays of word-painting, imagination, and dramatic
power which have made his brother, Dr. T. De Witt Talmage, famous. But
there was a mental grasp, a force and a fire which often induced the remark
that he was too good to be sent to the heathen, there being many at that
time who labored under the mistake that a missionary did not require to be
a man of unusual ability, that gifts and acquirements were thrown away on a
life spent among idolaters. Still, while this was the case, none of his
friends expected that he would develop such marked and varied power as was
seen in his entire course at Amoy. I remember the surprise with which I
heard the late Dr. Swanson, of London, say from his own observation during
ten years of the closest intercourse at Amoy, that Dr. Talmage was equally
distinguished and efficient in every part of the missionary's work, whether
in preaching the Word, or translating the Scriptures, or creating a
Christian literature, or training native workers. Nothing seemed to come
amiss to him; everywhere he was facile princeps. I suppose that the
explanation is found in his thorough and unreserved consecration. He was
given heart and soul to the work. Whatever he did was done with his whole
mind. There was no vacillation or indecision, but a deliberate
concentration of all his faculties upon the task set before him. Nor did
he work by spurts or through temporary enthusiasm, but with a steady,
unyielding determination. So he went on through life without haste and
without rest, doing his best at all times and in every species of service,
and thus earning the brilliant reputation he acquired. The same qualities
rendered him as wise in counsel as he was efficient in working. He was
able to look on both sides of a given problem, was not inclined to snap
judgments, but preferred to discriminate, to weigh, and, if need be, to
wait. Yet, when the time came, the decision was ready.
He perceived earlier than his brethren at home the true policy as to
churches in heathen lands, that is, that they should not be mere
continuations of the denomination whose missionaries had been the means of
founding them, but should have an independent existence and grow upon the
soil where they were planted, taking such form and order as Providence
might suggest. When the proposal was made in accordance with these views
to build up a native Chinese Church strictly autonomous, there was an
immediate revulsion. The General Synod in 1863 emphatically declined to
consent, not, however, from denominational bigotry, but on the ground that
the new converts must have some standards of faith and order, and, if so,
why not ours, which had been tested by centuries? And, moreover, if they
were to be regarded as an integral part of the Church at home, that fact
would prove to be a powerful incitement to prayer and liberality on the part
of our people. But the rebuff did not dishearten Dr. Talmage. He renewed
the appeal the next year, and had the satisfaction of seeing it succeed.
Full consent was given to the aim to build up a strong, self-governing,
and, as soon as might be, self-supporting body of native churches in China,
who should leave behind the prejudices of the past, and form themselves
under the teaching of God's Spirit and Providence in such way as would best
meet the demands of the time and be most efficient in advancing the Kingdom
of God upon the earth. The consequences have been most happy. The
missionaries of the Presbyterian Church have cordially co-operated in
renouncing all denominational interests and giving all diligence to the
forming of what might be called a Chinese Christian Church, freed from any
external bond and at liberty to shape its own character and course under
the guidance of the Divine Spirit. The experiment has been entirely
successful, and stands conspicuous as a testimony to the true policy of
carrying on missionary work in countries where there is already an antique
civilization and certain social habits which need to be taken account of.
Dr. Talmage always kept himself in touch with the Church at home by
correspondence or by personal intercourse. His visits to America were in
every case utilized to the fullest extent, save when hindered by impaired
It is matter of joyful congratulation that he was permitted to finish the
usual term of man's years in the missionary field. Others of our eminent
men, such as Abeel, Thompson, Doty, and Pohlman, were cut off in the midst
of their days. But he spent a full lifetime, dying not by violence or
accident, but only when the bodily frame had been worn out in the natural
course of events. Our Church has been signally favored of God in the gifts
and character and work of the men she has sent into the foreign field--and
this not merely in the partial judgment of their denominational brethren,
but in the deliberate opinion of such competent and experienced observers
as the late Dr. Anderson, of the American Board, and the late S. Wells
Williams, the famous Chinese scholar; [One remark of Dr. S. Wells Williams
is worth reproducing: "I think, myself, after more than forty years'
personal acquaintance with hundreds of missionaries in China, that David
Abeel was facile princeps among them all."--Presb. Review, II. 49.] but I
think that none of them, neither Abeel nor Thompson, surpassed Dr. Talmage
in any of the qualities, natural or acquired, which go to make an
accomplished missionary of the cross. I enjoyed the personal acquaintance
of them all, having been familiar with the progress of the work from the
time when (October, 1832) our Board of Foreign Missions was established,
and therefore am able to form an intelligent opinion. Our departed brother
can no more raise his voice, either at home or abroad, but his work
remains, and his memory will never die. For long years to come his name
will be fragrant in the hearts of our people; and his lifelong consecration
to the enterprise of the world's conversion will prove an example and a
stimulus to this and the coming generation. The equipoise of his mind, the
solidity of his character, the strength of his faith, the brightness of his
hope, the simple, steadfast fidelity of his devotion to the Master, will
speak trumpet-tongued to multitudes who never saw his face in the flesh.
The unadorned story of his life, what he was and what he did by the grace
of God, will cheer the hearts of all the friends of foreign missions, and
win others to a just esteem of the cause which could attract such a man to
its service and animate him to such a conspicuous and blessed career.
REV. JOHN VAN NEST TALMAGE, D.D.
BY REV. JOHN M. FERRIS, D.D.,
[Editor of the "Christian Intelligencer" and ex-Secretary of the Board of
Foreign Missions of the American Reformed Church.]
Circumstances which tested character, ability, and attainments brought me
into intimate relations with Rev. Dr. John V. N. Talmage. The impressions
I received are these: He was eminently of a sunny disposition. A smile was
on his face and laughter in his eyes almost all day long. He was
conspicuously cheerful and hopeful. The strength of his character was
unusual and would bear victoriously very severe tests. Mental and moral
ability of a very high order marked his participation in public exercises
and his demeanor in social life. It seemed to me that in mind and heart
there were in him the elements of greatness. Greatness he never sought,
but avoided. Still, from the time succeeding the opening years of his
ministry, he was a leader among men until seized with the long illness
which terminated his useful life. Those who knew him appointed him one of
their chief counselors and guides, and in any assembly where he was
comparatively unknown he was accepted as a leading mind as soon as he had
taken part in its discussions. A wide range of knowledge was his. It was
surprising how he had maintained an acquaintance with the research and
discovery of his day while secluded in China from the life of the Western
nations. With all this his intercourse with men was marked by modesty and
the absence of ostentatious display. The deference with which he treated
the opinions of others and of his manner in presenting his knowledge and
convictions to an audience was extraordinary. He was courteously
inquisitive, seeking from others what they knew and thought, and this
oftentimes, perhaps habitually, with men much his inferiors. Such a man
would be expected to be tolerant of the opinions of others, and this he was
eminently, although his own convictions were clear, strongly held,
earnestly presented and advocated. How often we heard him say, "So I
think," or "So it seems to me, but I may be wrong."
Accuracy in statement was sought for by him constantly, sometimes to the
detriment of his public addresses. When we who were familiar with him were
humorous at his expense, it was almost invariably in relation to this
constant endeavor to be accurate, which led now and then to qualifications
of his words that were decidedly amusing. He was animated, earnest, and
strong in public addresses. His mind was active; apt to take an
independent, original view, and vigorous. His sermons were often very
impressive and powerful. Few who heard in whole or in part his discourse
on the words, "The world by wisdom knew not God"--an extemporaneous
sermon--will forget the terse, vigorous sentences which came from his lips.
It was, I believe, the last sermon he prepared in outline to be delivered
to our churches in this country. It was full of power and life.
Dr. Talmage was a Christian and a Christian gentleman everywhere and
always. It seemed as natural to him to be a Christian as to breathe.
Conscientious piety marked his daily life.
He was a delightful companion through his gentleness, sympathy, wide range
of knowledge, cheerfulness, animated and earnest speech, vigor of thought
and expression, deference for the opinions and rights of others, and
unselfishness. He asked nothing, demanded nothing for himself, but was
alert to contribute to the enjoyment of those around him. The work of his
life was of inestimable value. He was abundant in labors. Only the life
to come will reveal how much he accomplished which in the highest sense was
worthy of accomplishment. Those who knew him best, esteemed, loved, and
trusted him the most.
Ecclesiastical Relations of Presbyterian Missionaries, especially of the
Presbyterian Missionaries at Amoy, China.
BY REV. J. V. N. TALMAGE, D.D.
We have recently received letters making inquiries concerning the Relations
of the Missionaries of the English Presbyterian Church, and of the American
Reformed Church to the Tai-hoey [Presbytery, or Classis,] of Amoy; stating
views on certain points connected with the general subject of the
organization of ecclesiastical Judicatories on Mission ground; and asking
our views on the same. We have thought it best to state our answer so as
to cover the whole subject of these several suggestions and inquiries, as
(though they are from different sources) they form but one subject.
Our views are not hasty. They are the result of much thought, experience
and observation. But we are now compelled to throw them together in much
more haste than we could wish, for which, we trust, allowance will be made.
As preliminary we remark that we have actual and practical relations both
to the home churches, and to the churches gathered here, and our
Ecclesiastical relations should correspond thereto.
1. Our Relation to the Home Churches. We are their agents, sent by them to
do a certain work, and supported by them in the doing of that work.
Therefore so long as this relation continues, in all matters affecting our
qualifications for that work,--of course including "matters affecting
ministerial character,"--we should remain subject to their jurisdiction.
In accordance with this we retain our connection with our respective home
Presbyteries or Classes.
2. Our Relation to the Church here. We are the actual pastors of the
churches growing up under our care, until they are far enough advanced to
have native pastors set over them. The first native pastors here were
ordained by the missionaries to the office of "Minister of the Word," the
same office that we ourselves hold. In all subsequent ordinations, and
other ecclesiastical matters, the native pastors have been associated with
the missionaries. The Tai-hoey at Amoy, in this manner, gradually grew up
with perfect parity between the native and foreign members.
With these preliminary statements we proceed to notice the suggestions made
and questions propounded. "To extend to the native churches on mission
ground the lines of separation which exist among Presbyterian bodies" in
home lands is acknowledged to be a great evil. To avoid this evil and to
"bring all the native Presbyterians," in the same locality, "into one
organization," two plans are suggested to us.
The first plan suggested (perhaps we should say mentioned for it is not
advocated), we take to be that the missionaries become not only members of
the ecclesiastical judicatories formed on mission ground, but also amenable
to those judicatories in the same way, and in every respect, as their
native members, their ecclesiastical relation to their home churches being
entirely severed. This plan ignores the actual relation of missionaries to
their home churches, as spoken of above. Surely the home churches cannot
Perhaps we should notice another plan sometimes acted on, but not mentioned
in the letters we have now received. It is that the missionaries become
members of the Mission Church Judicatories as above; but that these
Judicatories be organized as parts of the home churches, so that the
missionaries will still be under the jurisdiction of the home churches
through the subjection of the Mission Judicatories to the higher at home.
This plan can only work during the infancy of the mission churches, while
the Mission Church Judicatories are still essentially foreign in their
constituents. Soon the jurisdiction will be very imperfect. This
imperfection will increase as fast as the mission churches increase.
Moreover this plan will extend to the native churches the evil deprecated
The second plan suggested we take to be that the missionaries, while they
remain the agents of the home churches, should retain their relation
respectively to their home churches, and have only an advisory relation to
the Presbytery on mission ground. This is greatly to be preferred to the
first plan suggested. It corresponds to the relation of missionaries to
their respective home churches. It takes into consideration also, but does
not fully correspond to the relation of the missionaries to the churches on
mission ground, at least does not fully correspond to the relation of the
missionaries to the native churches at Amoy. Our actual relation to these
churches seems to us to demand that as yet we take part with the native
pastors in their government.
The peculiar relationship of the missionaries to Tai-hoey, viz., having
full membership, without being subject to discipline by that body,--is
temporary, arising from the circumstances of this infant church, and rests
on the will of Tai-hoey. This relationship has never been discussed, or
even suggested for discussion in that body, so that our view of what is, or
would be, the opinion of Tai-hoey on the subject we gather from the whole
character of the working of that body from its first formation, and from
the whole spirit manifested by the native members. Never till last year
has there been a case of discipline even of a native member of Tai-hoey.
We do not know that the thought that occasion may also arise for the
discipline of missionaries, has ever suggested itself to any of the native
members. If it has, we have no doubt they have taken for granted that the
discipline of missionaries belongs to the churches which have sent them
here. But we also have no doubt that Tai-hoey would exercise the right of
refusing membership to any missionary if necessary.
It is suggested as an objection to the plan that has been adopted by the
missionaries at Amoy, that "where two Presbyteries have jurisdiction over
one man, it may not be always easy to define the line where the
jurisdiction of the one ends and the other begins; and for the foreign
Presbyter to have a control over the native Presbyter which the native
cannot reciprocate, would be anomalous, and contrary to that view of the
parity of Presbyters which the Scriptures present."
From our last paragraph above it will be seen that the "line" of
demarcation alluded to in the first half of the above objection has
certainly never yet been defined by Tai-hoey, but it will be seen likewise
that we have no apprehension of any practical difficulty in the matter.
The last half of the objection looks more serious, for if our plan really
involves a violation of the doctrine of the parity of the ministry, this is
a very serious objection--fatal, indeed, unless perhaps the temporary
character of the arrangement might give some sufferance to it in a
developing church. It does not, however in our opinion, involve any such
doctrine. It does not touch that doctrine at all.
The reason why Tai-hoey does not claim the right of discipline over the
missionaries is not because these are of a higher order than the other
members, but because the missionaries have a most important relation to the
home churches which the other members have not. The Tai-hoey respects the
rights of those churches which have sent and are still sending the Gospel
here, and has fullest confidence that they will exercise proper discipline
over their missionaries. Whether they do this or not, the power of the
Tai-hoey to cut off from its membership, or refuse to admit thereto, any
missionary who might prove himself unworthy, gives ample security to that
body and secures likewise the benefits of discipline. If time allowed us
to give a full description of our Church work here it would be seen that
the doctrine of the parity of all who hold the ministerial office so
thoroughly permeates the whole, that it would seem impossible for mistake
to arise on that point.
In connection with this subject it is also remarked "that where two races
are combined in a Presbytery, there is a tendency to divide on questions
according to the line of race."
With gratitude to God we are able to bear testimony that at Amoy we have
not as yet seen the first sign of such tendency. We have heard of such
tendency in some other mission fields. Possibly it may yet be manifested
here. This, however, does not now seem probable. The native members of
Tai-hoey, almost from the first, have outnumbered the foreign. The
disproportion now is as three or four to one, and must continue to
increase. It would seem, therefore, that there will now be no occasion for
jealousy of the missionaries' influence to grow up on the part of the
But, it may be asked, if the native members so far outnumber the foreign,
of what avail is it that missionaries be more than advisory members? We
answer: If we are in Tai-hoey as a foreign party, in opposition to the
native members, even advisory membership will be of no avail. But if we
are there in our true character, as we always have been, viz., as
Presbyters and acting pastors of churches, part and parcel of the church
Judicatories, on perfect equality and in full sympathy with the native
Presbyters, our membership may be of much benefit to Tai-hoey. It must be
of benefit if our theory of Church Government be correct.
Of the benefit of such membership we give one illustration, equally
applicable also to other forms of government. It will be remembered that
assemblies conducted on parliamentary principles were unknown in China. By
our full and equal membership of Tai-hoey, being associated with the native
members in the various offices, and in all kinds of committees, the native
members have been more efficiently instructed in the manner of conducting
business in such assemblies, than they could have been if we had only given
them advice. At the first, almost the whole business was necessarily
managed by the missionaries. Not so now. The missionaries still take an
active part even in the routine of business, not so much to guard against
error or mistake, as for the purpose of saving time and inculcating the
importance of regularity and promptitude. Even the earnestness with which
the missionaries differ from each other, so contrary to the duplicity
supposed necessary by the rules of Chinese politeness, has not been without
great benefit to the native members. Instead of there being any jealousy
of the position occupied by the missionaries on the part of the native
members, the missionaries withdraw themselves from prominent positions, and
throw the responsibility on the native members, as fast as duty to Tai-hoey
seems to allow, faster than the native members wish.
We now proceed to give answers to the definite questions propounded to us,
though answers to some of them have been implied in the preceding remarks.
We combine the questions from different sources, and slightly change the
wording of them to suit the form of this paper, and for convenience we
1. "Are the missionaries members of Tai-hoey in full and on a perfect
equality with the native members?"
Answer. Yes; with the exception (if it be an exception) implied in the
answer to the next question.
2. "Are missionaries subject to discipline by the Tai-hoey?"
Answer. No; except that their relation to Tai-hoey may be severed by that
3. "Is it not likely that the sooner the native churches become
self-governing, the sooner they will be self-supporting and
Answer. Yes. It would be a great misfortune for the native churches to be
governed by the missionaries, or by the home churches. We think also it
would be a great misfortune for the missionary to refuse all connection
with the government of the mission churches while they are in whole or in
part dependent on him for instruction, administration of the ordinances,
and pastoral oversight. Self-support, self-government, and
self-propagation are intimately related, acting and reacting on each other,
and the native Church should be framed in them from the beginning of its
4. "Is it the opinion of missionaries at Amoy that the native Presbyters
are competent to manage the affairs of Presbytery, and could they safely be
left to do so?"
Answer. Yes; the native Presbyters seem to us to be fully competent to
manage the affairs of Presbytery, and we suppose it would be safe to leave
them to do this entirely by themselves, if the providence of God should so
direct. We think it much better, however, unless the providence of God
direct otherwise, that the missionaries continue their present relation to
the Tai-hoey until the native Church is farther developed.
5. "Is it likely that there can be but one Presbyterian Church in China?
or are differences of dialect, etc., such as to make different
organizations necessary and inevitable?"
Answer. All Presbyterians in China, as far as circumstances will allow,
should unite in one Church organization. By all means avoid a plurality of
Presbyterian denominations in the same locality. But differences of
dialect and distance of separation seem at present to forbid the formation
of one Presbyterian organization for the whole of China. Even though in
process of time these difficulties be greatly overcome, It would seem that
the vast number of the people will continue to render such formation
impracticable, except on some such principle as that on which is formed the
Pan-Presbyterian Council. One Presbyterian Church for China would be very