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“NUNC DIMITTIS," OR A CHINESE SIMEON.
I visited him again in October of the same year, with the senior catechist of the district, Sing Eng-teh.
We were obliged to shout into the old man's ear, he being exceedingly hard of hearing, and having no ear-trumpet. The catechist, who has a penetrating voice and a ready tongue, spoke with great vigour for a long time; and as sentence after sentence, either convincing of sin, or telling the good news, caught his ear, the old man shouted and clapped his hands for joy. A large number of the villagers were standing around, amongst others, the old man's sister and the schoolmaster. “Tell him not to curse," said his sister, for this appeared to be his besetting sin. He learnt a prayer, and declared his fixed purpose to come to the chapel next Sunday, and to walk in the true way which he had found. I told him I should inquire of his sister and of the schoolmaster, on my next visit, whether he had left off this bad habit or not.
Soon after I heard from the catechist, that in order to remember the doctrine the better, he had, of his own accord, burnt a cross on his wrist; a remarkable proof of earnest sincerity, though still mixed with much ignorance, as the catechist rightly thought. Indeed, were this the only use of crosses, one could better bear with it. For some weeks, however, he did not visit the chapel ; but on the 30th of January 1866, when I called on him again, I found that he had been forcibly prevented from going to the Tsông-gyiao station, three miles from his home, by his youngest son, who had returned from Shanghai. We talked to him for a long time, and saw good reason to believe that he had not gone back. He assured me that he prayed three times a day, and this, the unbelieving son, who was present, corroborated. In May he applied earnestly for baptism; but during the greater part of the year illness, and his son's opposition, prevented his attending the chapel.
In March 1867, when they visited him again, he said he could not leave off his old habit. His tongue was accustomed to curse, and refused to obey. I
gave him two prescriptions ; first, prayer for the Holy Spirit's influence, and, secondly, calling to remembrance Christ's sufferings for this
In May I saw him again at the Tsông-gyiao chapel, by appointment. He was eager to be baptized, and assured me he had overcome his sin. “Listen," said he; “my son has some eggs under a hen, and I thought that in this wet weather they would be better in-doors. So I took them up, hen and all, and put them in the room. Presently my son comes in to dinner, and when he had done, up he gets and steps back straight into the nest, breaking two eggs. Didn't he abuse me! Well, I used to give him back abuse with interest, but I did not then. I was only sorry to have put down the eggs so carelessly.”
I did not like to put off the old man any longer, and, having received a good account of him from the catechist, who had visited his home, I baptized him at a special service in the Tsông-gyiao chapel on the 18th of June, 1867. From that day he grew in zeal and faith, though, from his deafness, it was difficult to impart much fresh instruction. He received the communion to his great joy, for the first time, in the autumn. In January last he attended a combined Chinese prayer-meeting, held in 106 “NUNC DIMITTIS," OR A CHINESE SIMEON. the Presbyterian church in Ningpo, when some 300 Christians were present. On this occasion he seemed to himself to have climbed half-way to heaven.
In February the Bishop of Victoria visited Ningpo, and old Simeon was confirmed with thirty-five others. He made a desperate effort to get into my dining-room, and fall down before the bishop; and my last intercourse with my old friend consisted in the struggle to raise him from the ground, saying, “ Stand up, the bishop also is a man.”
For the sake of the vast surrounding district, and partly also on Simeon's account, I opened a small chapel last January, about a mile and a half from his house, in the large town of Loh-do-gyiao. He diligently attended the services, often bringing with him his sister, who at last, though still very ignorant, applied for baptism. He was exceedingly zealous in persuading others to come, and had succeeded in inducing a man named Wông to do so just before he was suddenly called home.
I had fixed April 29th for a visit to him and his sister, but was hindered, first by the arrival of catechists from the country, and then by the rain. I was not aware that at that time he was laid low with virulent typhus. I received, however, on that very day, fresh assurances from the Tsông-gyiao Christians, that the old man's besetting sin had disappeared. On the following day the catechist, going over to tell him of the postponement of my visit, found him very ill, but happy; and when delirious, fancying himself in the chapel, now at Tsông-gyiao, now at Loh-do-gyiao. The catechist anticipated no immediate danger, but arranged to call again. On Saturday night, however, before that visit could be paid, he died, having first given strict directions to his son-inlaw, the only one of his relatives who attended him, to have no idolatrous feast nor superstitious ceremonies at or after the funeral. “I trust in Jesus,” he said: “I don't want such things.” And so he died. Mr. Bates, who was taking the service at Tsông-gyiao on the following day, sent me the news in the evening. I was filled with sorrow and with joy ;-joy, for if our merciful Lord will receive us at the last, after all our light and all our sins, has He not welcomed Simeon, after his sixty years of darkness, yet, with such firm vigorous faith and earnest zeal ? He has gone to the grave with the sign of the cross on his wrist; and I believe the crucified has received his soul.
Our little church, however, sorrows deeply. Old Simeon was not a prince or a gentleman, but he was a living, earnest Christian ; and catechists and disciples alike felt the force of his example. God grant that that example may yet speak from my old friend's grave!
About the same time, Mr. Burns, of the “English Presbyterian Mission," was called home. “His works ” in Dundee, thirty years ago, and his long unwearied labours in China, “follow him " into heaven; and the whole Missionary army sorrows for its loss and rejoices in the warrior's joy.
I sometimes wonder in what different ways the angel choirs welcomed these two Christians home.
But this is a surer, sweeter thought, that they are both “like Him” in whom they believed, "seeing Him as He is."
A. E. M.
( 107 )
A COLLECTION MADE ON BEHALF OF THE CHURCH
MISSIONARY SOCIETY. THE details of this collection have been forwarded to us from Ireland, It is a considerable one, amounting to nearly 801. It has been gathered by Collecting Cards, and within the first six months of the present year. The Collecting Cards put into circulation numbered 113. One of them has been forwarded to us. It consists of a card folded, so as to be in size like a sheet of small note paper. On the first page the plan proposed to be carried out is explained thus
CHURCH MISSIONARY SOCIETY.
the Lord of Hosts.”—Haggai ii. 8.
Trusting to God, and praying earnestly to Him
for help, I will try and collect
to give weekly
Church Missionary Society.
Number of Collecting Card (170.)
July 1st, 1868, to
Church Missionary College,
On the fourth page of the Card the following sentence is printed in large type
WHAT CAN I DO
“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest.”—Ecclesiastes ix. 10. And after this, two verses of the hymn beginning
The heathen perish day by day,
108 A COLLECTION MADE ON BEHALF OF THE C. M. SOCIETY,
The two interior pages are reserved for the names of the Collectors.
The hive to which the honey is to be brought is plainly the Church Missionary College, Islington; but we do not know how to carry the similitude further, for the winged agents, which gather the honey, go forth from the hive, to which they bring it after a successful raid upon the flowers. But it is not so in this instance. They who gather this honey have their honey very widely dispersed indeed. They have evidently one interest, one object; but their homes are far apart, and although fellow-workers in this matter, will never meet, all of them, face to face, until, their work being done, they meet in the great home.
There is a difference between a circle and an ellipse. A circle has a centre. The ellipse has two foci. The influence connected with this little movement is not as a circle, but as an ellipse. It possesses not merely one point of influence, but two; for one of its Secretaries is an English, and the other an Irish clergyman, and thus, within the ellipse described, friends in England and Ireland are included.
The number of Collectors is ninety-five. Of these, two-thirds are dispersed throughout Ireland, the other friends having their residence in various parts of England, north and south. There is mention made of Torquay, Exeter, Portsmouth, London, Surbiton, Tunbridge Wells, Ipswich, Crewe, Hull, &c., and in Ireland, of Dublin, Kildare, Portarlington, Kells, Nenagh, Belturbet, Cavan, Clones, &c. &c. These Collectors have gathered, some more, some less, than 10s. Two of the Collectors rise as high as 41. each, one from Belturbet, the other from Surbiton ; they descend as low as 4s., 3s., 2s. 6d.; but in these cases, also, we doubt not the Collectors did what they could. But there is plenty of room for all workers, some having the greater, some the less opportunity; and abundance of room for more, should they desire to come in. The gardens are ample, and the flowers numerous from which the honey may be extracted.
There has been also a supplemental collection of 61. 6s. 8d., one of special interest, gathered at the Church Missionary Society Children's Home, and from the children of Missionaries. We have looked over this list with deep interest. The names are those with which we are familiar in the foreign work. These names send us flying off in our recollections to the four ends of the earth, and to the many fields of the Society's labour; India, North and South, Ceylon, North-west America, New Zealand. They are names honoured in the Mission field. They have now descended to these children. As they have entered into their father's names, may they in due time enter into their labours.
We have only one difficulty connected with this interesting movement: it is this. The kind friend who has forwarded these details to us, one of the Secretaries, and now girding on his armour, that he may go out himself to the Missionary field, has requested to have the accompanying lists inserted in the “Gleaner” for September.” But they would take up so large a portion of our little Number, that we should have no room for Missionary intelligence; and what would other friends say, who are not included in the charmed circle, when they opened the monthly Number and saw nothing but a list of names? There is reason to apprehend that the Editor would get into sad disrepute; and we must request our friend to accept this little notification as our amende.