“Christian or Heathen—Which?” American Sentinel 14, 19, pp. 288, 289.

A SHORT time ago at a banquet in Philadelphia the Chinese minister to the United States was present and made a speech in which he very neatly stated some quite closely pertinent truths. One of the passages is the following:—

“The most important questions with which the Chinese government has to deal arise from the spirit of commercialism and the spirit of proselytism. Unfortunately most of the troubles occurring in China have arisen from riots against missionaries. Hence it has been said by some foreigners in China that, without missionaries, China would have no foreign complications. I am not in a position to affirm or deny this.

“But let us put the shoe on the other foot, and suppose that Confucian missionaries were sent by the Chinese to foreign lands with the avowed purpose of gaining proselytes, and that these missionaries established themselves in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and other cities, and that they built temples, held public meetings, and opened schools. It would not be strange if they should gather around them a crowd of men, women, and children of all classes and conditions. If they were to begin their work by making vehement attacks on the doctrines of Christianity, denouncing the cherished institutions of the country, or going out of their way to ridicule the fashions of the day, and perhaps giving a learned discourse on the evil effects of corsets upon the general health of American women, it is most likely that they would be pelted with stones, dirt, and rotten eggs for their pains.

“What would be the consequence if, instead of taking hostile demonstrations of this character philosophically, they should lose their temper, call in the aid of the police, and report the case to the Government at Washington for official interference? I verily believe that such action would render the missionaries so obnoxious to the [289] American people as to put an end to their usefulness, and that the American Government would cause a law to be enacted against them as public nuisances. Can it be wondered at, then, that now and then we hear of riots occurring against missionaries in China, notwithstanding the precautionary measures taken by the local authorities to protect them? It must not be understood that I wish to justify or extenuate the lawless acts committed by ignorant mobs, nor do I underestimate the noble and unselfish efforts of Christian missionaries in general who spend the best part of their lives in China. What I desire to point out is that the preaching of the gospel of Christ in the interior of China (except with great tact and discretion) will, in the nature of things, now and then run counter to popular prejudice and lead to some disturbance.”

Therein is strikingly exposed a glaring evil that attaches to the work of the majority of the missionaries to such countries as China and Turkey. They go there depending far more upon their governments than upon God. They are therefore more American missionaries than they are Christian missionaries. Depending thus upon their government and being backed up by the power of their nation, they act arrogantly and disrespectfully toward the people and even toward the government; and then if checked or called to account they at once appeal to their government for a man of war or an army to vindicate their standing and rights as citizens of the United States.

If the missionaries would go as Christian missionaries only, depending upon God for protection and support, they would realize more the essential need of winning their way with all the people, by a respectful bearing toward all whatever their dress, their manners, or customs; by deference also to authorities; and by presenting their new and strange doctrines for acceptance upon their own inherent merit more than upon the weakness and foolishness of the religion which the people already possess. Then they would never be an element of discord between nations, threatening the disturbance of the peace of the world.

As to what is civilization, this man who in the eyes of “the great Christian nations” stands as a heathen gave some instruction which every one of these so-called Christian nations would do “right excellently well” to follow implicitly. He said:—

“Some people call themselves highly civilized, and stigmatize others as uncivilized. What is civilization? Does it mean solely the possession of superior force and ample supply of offensive and defensive weapons? I take it to mean something more. I understand that a civilized nation should respect the rights of another nation just the same as in society a man is bound to respect the rights of his neighbor. Civilization, as I understand it, does not teach people to ignore the rights of others, nor does it approve the seizure of another’s property against his will. Now, if people professing Christianity and priding themselves on being highly civilized, should still so far misconduct themselves as to disregard the rights of the weak and inexcusably take what does not belong to them, then it would be better not to become so civilized.

“China welcomes to her shores the people of al nations. Her ports are open to all, and she treats all alike without distinction of race, color, nationality, or creed. Her people trade with all foreigners. In return she wishes only to be treated in the same way. She wants peace—to be let alone, and not to be molested with unreasonable demands. Is this unfair? She asks you to treat her in the same way as you would like to be treated. Surely this reasonable request cannot be refused. We are about to enter into the twentieth century, and are we to go back to the Middle Ages and witness again the scenes enacted in that period? I believe that in every country there are men and women of noble character—and I know in this country there are many such—whose principle is to be fair and just to all, especially to the weak, and that they would not themselves, nor allow their respective governments to commit acts of oppression and tyranny. It is such men and women that shed luster on their respective countries.”

To all of which every true Christian will heartily say, Amen.

A. T. J.

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