Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub
[merged small][merged small][graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

to the truth by studying Ecclesiastes, and considering Solomon's advice to fear God. Buddhism, he said, taught that all was vanity, but this went further, and showed men where to find that which was not vanity.

Of Medical Missions in Japan one need not say much. In the early days of the opening of the country the American Mission hospitals did a splendid work, and are still not without their influence, but medical science has progressed with rapid strides in Japan; and now when many of her medical men have been educated in Europe or America, and others have received a similar training at the Tokio University; and when efficient native hospitals are found all over the country, there is of course neither the same opening nor the same need for medical mission work, as, for instance, in China or India. But the leper hospital lately opened in the island of Kiushiu, does meet a very real need, as these poor sufferers cannot be admitted to the ordinary hospitals, and are found in increasing numbers towards the south of the country. There has been a Roman Catholic leper hospital for many years at the foot of Mount Fuji.

For educational mission work there is the fullest scope, notwithstanding the complete and

be efficient, for a Christless education puts the most dangerous power into the enemy's hands, uprooting the old faith, and leaving blank atheism in its stead. Let the children be gained, their hearts won for Christ, and be trained in Christian knowledge and practice: and not only are they themselves the best missionaries in their own homes, but the church of the future is being built up, and its workers prepared. 6 Oh then, yours is not real missionary work, you have a school,” is the kind of remark that educational missionaries not unfrequently hear, a remark that makes one long to take the author of it, just for one day, to Japan, quite long enough to give him a very different impression. Most of these schools are in the hands of our American brethren and sisters, who have in Japan been first in the field, and strongest, and to whose experience and co-operation we English workers owe much.

Look for a moment at the school which I know best. Come into this class-room any morning during the first hour, and see the tinies of the Infant Department with their bright, bonny little faces, full of interest in the Bible story that is being told them by a teacher, herself once a child in the school, and who was there brought to know and love Christ, and now delights in telling others

[ocr errors]

what she learnt, and is a special favourite. Many are from heathen homes, some perhaps are hearing to-day for the first time, but how careful they are never to miss this first hour. “The nicest lesson in the day,” both they and the elder ones say. We pass by two or three other rooms, where intermediate classes are being taught by native Christian teachers, and enter one where there are fifteen or sixteen of the older girls, all Christians, and most of them looking forward to going out from the school as Christian workers. They have been comparing the passage for the day with other parts of Scripture, and have questions to ask about difficulties, for a keen speculative mind is not confined to the young men of Japan, and most important it is, that the difficulties of these girls should be explained, and they be able to give a reason for the hope that is in them. The hours of Bible study with these eager girl students are most interesting, and, I think, as great a help to the teacher almost as to the pupils. They are very anxious for, and responsive to, real spiritual teaching, and it is a great joy to be able to lead them on into the deeper truths of our faith and life in Christ.

A thoroughly g od Japanese education is of

children know what we care for most, In the school of which I am speaking, two-thirds of the girls at present in it are Christians, about half of these, i.e. one-third of the whole nu

number, having been baptized in the school, the other half being the children of Christian parents. Not one has finished the school course who was not a Christian, and of these four-fifths have gone out as Christian workers.

And it is not only in these organised schools that we are able to get hold of the children. Any day after three o'clock, when play begins; any hour of Sunday, the national school holiday, a crowd of children can be quickly gathered, all eager to hear what is to be told them. This work is splendid training for our elder scholars and our young Christians, and, although it has been very inadequately carried on so far, the results have been striking, and are a great encouragement to much larger development in the same line. Now is the golden opportunity for work among children in Japan.

Our theological schools are of course distinct from ordinary educational mission work; their value, needless to say, is exceedingly great, and indeed they are absolutely indispensable. There

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors]

A TEMPLE IN KUMAMOTO, FREQUENTED BY LEPERS. [There are many lepers at Kumamoto. A leper hospital has lately been opened through the

instrumentality of the Misses Riddell and Nott.]

course given in these schools, in accordance, to a great extent, with the regulations in the Government schools, and English learnt from a foreigner is considered a special attraction.

Yet our

are now nineteen of these in Japan, belonging to different denominations, and containing nearly four hundred students, who are carefully trained by lectures and in direct evangelistic work. On

these we depend for the supply of native pastors converts were remarkably numerous, the increase and catechists.

in the whole body of Protestant native Christians Of one other branch of work I must briefly reaching 60 per cent. in 1883, it was a prevalent speak. The women of Japan are not shut up in idea, though not, perhaps, held by those who knew Zenanas, do not have their feet bound, have in Japan and the Japanese nature best, that within many ways a very free life, but, as elsewhere, a decade missionaries would no longer be needed, the work amongst them must be done mainly by and Christianity would become the national rewomen, and forms a very important branch of ligion of the country. Not a few things pointed missionary work. It is seven o'clock in the t) this. Some of the reformers of the country evening when we find ourselves seated on the talked as coolly about changing its religion, as of matted floor of a Japanese house : in the winter, with a little charcoal brazier near us, in the summer, with the paper walls of the house withdrawn, and, busily plying the fan always provided for a visitor, look out on the miniature garden behind the house. By degrees the women drop in, punctuality being of small account, but the late arrival of some has given us an opportunity of getting to know others better in friendly conversation, before the meeting begins. Then, shoes left in the vestibule, and all sitting on our feet in native fashion, we sing some simple hymn, and, hanging up a large coloured picture, tell some Bible story, speak of sin, and point to Christ as the Saviour. Questions follow, the talk is often carried on till quite late ; and we are asked to go, as soon as we can, to the home of one and another, that we may see them there and tell them more. Many an entrance is thus found to the homes of the people, and often through the wife we reach the husband. asked to go again and again, and from one house get an introduction into another. One woman, who, when first she heard of Christ, and I had responded to an invitation to visit her, said to me, “ Twice a week is not nearly often enough. You must come every day," soon took me to her next-door neighbour, who, entirely owing

[This object is dragged about the streets with shouting and dancing to her influence, had already

and finally burnt. The custom is peculiar to Fukuoka.] thrown away her idols. If some of our time in visiting has to be taken up with the the new regulations and new uniforms in the many bows, and the inquiries after “honourable army. Then, in 1884, Buddhism was disestablished feelings,” and so on, we find that this conformity by imperial edict. Before this the undermining to the ways of the country helps us to get close to of its power had begun, and it has gone on steadily the people, and opens the way to the hearts we since, strong as its hold is still in many parts of wish to reach.

the country, and vigorous as are the efforts to And now, after this sketch of some of our fan the flame of enthusiasm. methods of work, some of our many openings for ignorant people in the country still blindly follow it, let us take a broad glance at the general the priests, and yet their power is shaken, and relations of Christianity to Japanese life.

they know it. It is doubtful whether the heathen Ten or twelve years ago, when, not only was religions can really raise their heads again. Yet everything foreign the fashion in Japan, but this means no general turning of the land to Christ.

[graphic]

We are

[ocr errors]

A PROCESSION CONNECTED WITH IDOL-WORSHIP.

The mass of the

It is this tendency which has given the impression we find prevailing in some minds now, that the first movement towards Christianity has spent its force, and that nothing remains but for the nation to continue its dritt towards secularism. This seems as great a mistake in one direction as was the hope of the speedy establishment of national Christianity in the other, serious as is the danger, and fully as all workers in Japan must be aware of it. Among hopeful things is the fact that the Japanese have proved the power of their indigenous civilisation, to pave the way for the Gospel, by a willingness to examine and weigh. Even though they have the unsavoury memories of the Spanish mission, there is no nonChristian country where there has been so little attempt at persecution. The recent massacre in China, for instance, could not, humanly speaking, have taken place in a country of law and order such as Japan at the present day; and, in regard to religious liberty, she is far ahead of some professedly Christian countries, where Rome is still in the ascendant. But their generous way of receiving missionaries and their message lays on us all the greater responsibility. It is a time of

a tremendous crisis in Japan, and although the general opinion of those most capable of judging, is contrary to the expectation of any immediate, widespread movement towards Christianity in the empire, yet her future seems really to depend on the action of the Christian Church at this juncture.

But what has been done already? some will ask. The present number of Protestant Christians throughout the whole of Japan is calculated at nearly 40,000. The Roman Catholics are given as 47,000, and the adherents of the Greek Church, Japan being the only foreign mission field undertaken by Russia, as 22,000. There are thirty-one Protestant societies at work in the country, most of these being American. Many of the societies combine, to a certain extent abroad, as for instance the various Episcopal ones, which are united into one Japanese Church, constituted in 1887; and the various Presbyterian societies, which form one Japanese Presbyterian Church.

Within the Churches there is a growing spirit of independence, and it is well that it should be so, where independence means self-support, and an acceptance of responsibility. The following extract from a Christian magazine article will show that some at least do accept this responsibility. While discussing the problem, “Shall this great and civilised nation become completely a Christian nation ?” the writer says : “If Christianity is to become the religion of Japan, then we Japanese must do the work. The aid of foreign Christians and the work of foreign missionaries are necessary. Especially at this crisis we must ask their help, or we cannot do a tithe of what is before us.

But it is not a wise plan to be for ever relying on them. We Japanese must accept full responsibility, and do the main work ourselves.”

Perhaps a great danger in the churches is the tendency in some individuals, not a large number, rather to try to Japanise Christianity than to Christianise Japan. In other lines they have not only carefully chosen and adopted, but adapted to their peculiar needs what they have learnt from us, for the Japanese genius is one of assimilation rather than mere acceptance; and there are those among them who would choose of God's truth that which they like and drop the rest. Yet, on the other hand, it is important that the churches shall be truly national, and that we should be careful not to try and force upon them things that have grown up round our own churches in the West, and may be non essentials; and, that in these matters, and in every step of the work, we should be willing to stand behind our Japanese fellow Christians, and help them, rather than ostensibly lead.

A step has recently been taken which must considerably influence Christian work in the country. The Revision of the Treaties, for so many years eagerly demanded by Japan, and which has formed the topic of so many violent discussions, in parliament and out of it, has at length taken place, and the new treaties are to come into effect in 1899.

Beyond the churches, how has Christian teaching influenced the people? Most at least know the word “Yasu,” by which they mean “the Jesus, or foreign religion. Amongst the mass of the people this simply means "something very bad ;"

” and there is ignorant opposition of heart, but when the Gospel is brought to them, we generally find a hearing, and prejudices are broken down. Then again, more and more, as we travel farther and go about amongst the people, we find those who have heard something, and want to know more. But besides this there is a more general influence being brought to bear on the mass of the people, an influence which is Christian, though they do not know it. Woman's position is being raised by slow degrees; the sick are being

red for as never before; and in other matters a higher standard is spoken of, where they do not yet understand that only in Christianity is there the power to live up

to it. The attitude of Japan at present towards Christianity I have heard described as

one of “respectful attention.” We may thank God that

But remember that only one in a thousand of the population is even a professed Protestant Christian. What is wanted is not only new doctrine, but new life, the life that can only come as the Holy Spirit is poured forth upon the people.

[ocr errors]

can

KATHARINE TRISTRAM.

it is so.

a

THE PROPHET OF A FALLING KINGDOM.

SCENES AND STUDIES FROM JEREMIAH.

IV.

WITHI

was

[ocr errors]

PROPHECIES RESPECTING HEATHEN NATIONS,

voice, the Philistian cities seem to appeal against

their doom : JITH his forced departure to Egypt, the ministry of Jeremiah in Palestine

“O) thou sword of Jehovah, brought to a close. He was yet to utter

How long will it be ere thou be quiet? to his fellow-exiles oracles of large significance ;

Put up thyself into thy scabbard, but before we follow his course to the end, we may

Rest, and be still ! ” pause to notice words which he had spoken at different times respecting the peoples that sur- But with calm inexorable voice, the prophet takes rounded Judæa, her hereditary enemies, now in- up the invocation : volved with her in common desolation. For at the outset of his career he was commissioned not only “ How canst thou be quiet ? to his own countrymen, but to “the nations : "

Seeing Jehovah hath given thee a charge thus taking his part with those other seers of

Against Ashkelon, and against the sea-shore. Judah, who, as Dean Milman finely says, “ uttered

There hath He appointed it!" their sublime funereal anthems over the greatness of each independent tribe or monarchy, as it was

With equal certainty, and with more detail, the swallowed up, first in the empire of Assyria, and

prophet passes on to pronounce the doom of the then of Chaldæa. They were like the tragic eastern frontier-nations of Palestine; Moab, chorus of the awful drama which was unfolding Amman, and Edom. And here is given a striking itself to the Eastern world.”

example, too little noticed by Bible readers, of The scope of these prophecies is indicated in the

the way in which the common material, so to twenty-fifth chapter, in which Jeremiah depicts

speak, of prophecy recurs in the inspired writers the “cup” of Jehovah's wrath as handed round in

of different ages.

One prophet repeats in form or turn to the nations. It is here, indeed, that the substance his predecessors' words. There was in Septuagint introduces that whole group of dis- those days no literary canon against what we call courses which in our Bible occupies the forty-sixth

plagiarism ;” or, let us rather say, that under and five following chapters. In chapter xxiv. 13,

the guidance of the selfsame Spirit, the same the Septuagint turns the last clause into a kind of

thoughts, the same language reappear, illustrating heading: The things which Jeremiah prophesied the stedfastness of the Divine purpose and the against the Nations ; followed by the successive continuity of the revelation. A comparison of predictions, although in a somewhat different order

these prophecies "concerning the nations," with from that in which we have them.

other parts of Scripture would be a Bible study This most interesting series of prophecies carries most fascinating and instructive, but we can only us back to the early part of Jehoiakim's reign, and give a specimen or two. to the rout of Egypt at Carchemish, noted in a Regarding Moab and Ammon, we read in former paper. Then, from the description of Jeremiah: Pharaoh's fall, the prophet turns to note the overthrow of Philistia, the ancient foe of Israel. “A fire is gone forth out of Heshbon, The chronological reference at the head of the

And a flame from the midst of Sihon, forty-seventh chapter,“ before that Pharaoh smote And hath devoured the corner of Moab, Gaza,” is somewhat uncertain. Either Pharaoh

And the crown of the head of the tumultuous one. Necho, in the expedition that ended so disastrously

Woe unto thee, O Moab! for King Josiah, had subdued Gaza on his way, or

The people of Chemosh is undone: else, which seems more probable, the Egyptian

For thy sons are taken away captive, king, on his retreat from Carchemish, seized the

And thy daughters into captivity." cities of Philistia as a bulwark against the advancing Chaldæan foe. But it would be vain. The mighty flood from the north would overwhelm the valley; and Tyre and Sidon, equally doomed,

Here we have the echo of an ancient strain. would seek in vain for helpers from the south,

In that remarkable chapter of the Fourth Book How dramatic the outburst! With pleading

i See, as a help to such investigation, "Deuterographs"

(Oxford Press), by the Rev. Canon Girdlestone, a volume 1 See SUNDAY AT HOME, June, p. 526.

full of fresh suggestiveness.

1

1

66

(Ch. xlviii. 45, 46.)

« PredošláPokračovať »