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for themselves the happiest words, while the words serve to develop and co-ordinate the thoughts. Writing through an interpreter is fatal to the highest attainment either in thought or stylo.
Another and more important advantage which the Chinese author will have is an intimate acquaintance with Chinese character, and appreciation of Chinese feelings. The foreign author betrays himself at every step. No matter how long he has been in China or how hard he has studied her character and her institutions, he is not à Chinaman. He does not see things as a Chinaman does. He does not form his opinions in the same way, nor from the same standpoint. It is far easier to wear Chinese clothes, or to eat Chinese food, or to speak the Chinese language, than it is to think as a Chinaman thinks, and to feel as he feels. The Chinese author will be at home and at ease.
He will indeed have new thoughts inspired by new knowledge and a new faith, but he will clothe them in native dress and adapt them to the Chinese heart. His intimate knowledge of domestie life and social customs will give him means of illustration and facilities for reaching the feelings and the hearts of his own people, that no foreigner can possess. The Chinese are a peculiar people and their peculiarities are most intense and positive, such as the Chinaman cannot throw off nor the foreigner put on. In books purely doctrinal and didactic, the foreign and Chinese author are approximately equal, but in books of a more popular kind designed to enter into the domestic life of the people and move their hearts with the truths of the gospel, the Chinese writer has every advantage. Books of the former kind will never be extensively read by the heathen. They do not value truth for its own sake. There is very litile spirit of inquiry among them, especially in regard to moral truth. This no doubt accounts largely for the very limited extent to which the Chinese will read Christian books. Books of popular kind which will interest and fascinate, the Chinese will read, the heathen tu some extent and the Christians with avidity. Such books can only be written by Chinese authors. They only will be able to put themselves into full sympathy with the reader, conciliate his opposition and enlist and move his feelings. Such books if written by men of genius, may become a prodigious power in China.
4.-—The special circumstances of the church in China will give rise to special needs, and these will be best met by Chinese writers.-Peculiar heresies will no doubt arise, special abuses will grow up, and special temptations will beset the Christian life in China. These things will call for special books making special applications of gospel truth. It is self evident that the Chinese will be able to write such books much better than foreigners. Their intimate
knowledge of native life and customs will enable them to point out and reprove the peculiar vices of their own people, and apply the principles of the gospel in the most effective way for their correction. Attacks also will certainly be made on Christianity by means of books. That fifty years have elapsed and twenty-five thousand converts been made without the appe urance of such books, shows in a striking light the mental and moral apathy of the Chinese. They have hatred enough to persecute the Christians in every quarter, and passion enough to raise mobs and burn chapels, but not intellectual energy enough to assail Christianity by means of books and tracts. The day will come however, when they will do so, and when they do, it will be a fortunate thing if the Christian church has trained men who will be ready and able to vindicate the truth. The most formidable and dangerous enemies Christianity has ever encountered have been those who wielded the pen. If the church had not had in her own bosom men as learned and as gifted as those who attacked her she would, humanly speaking, have perished long ere this. In every land to which Christianity has gone she has led the van of education, and she has always had trained and gifted sons standing in the front ranks of intellectual progress prepared to repel every attack that has been made. To plant the Christian church in China and nourish it into life is the work of foreign zeal and faith, but to secure its ultimate purity in doctrine and practice, and to defend it from the attacks of its foes, the church must look to its own devoted and gifted sons.
In view of these facts and principles I wish to make a plea for the encouragement of Chinese authorship.–Our work as Christian missionaries in China is temporary. The sooner it is done and we can leave, the better. We are to decrease and the Chinese are to increase. All departments of Christian work are to pass into their hands, and not the least important of these is the writing of Christian books. I began by laying stress on the difficulties which stand in the way of Chinese authorship, and I wish to conclude by laying still greater stress on the importance of speedily overcoming these difficulties. The Chinese mind must be awakened, the Chinese heart must be inflamed, and Chinese talent enlisted, Vigorous and popular books written by Chinese authors will greatly increase the faith and stability of the church, and give Christianity character and respectability in the eyes of the heathen. Its roots will then take hold of the soil, and its trunk stand up in the strength to resist the storms of opposition that are sure to beat against it. This day may seem distant, perhaps, to some who take pessimistic views of Chinese character and capabilities. I am not one of that class. I
hope for great things of Chinese Christian writers ; not as quickly perhaps as might be desired, yet none the less surely. Everything must have a beginning. It is hardly likely that the first efforts of Christian authorship will be the productions of trancendent genins which will defy criticism and command universal admiration. It is much more likely that the mental and moral stupor which holds the Chinese mind in its embrace, will pass off gradually; that at first, we shall have modest, mediocre efforts, which will achieve a partial success, and then, step by step, as the church awakens to a clearer sense of her responsibilities and her strength, bolder and more successful efforts will be made. Only when the Christian church in China has native writers able to repel the attacks of her foes, and to nourish the intellectual and moral life of her members, will she emerge from her foreign pupilage and exalt her head in the strength of an independent life. In the first steps especially, the fostering care and help of those who are now the leaders and teachers of the church are imperatively demanded. • They should act in the most liberal spirit towards aspirants to authorship, giving such help and encouragement as the circumstances may seem to require. Particulary:
1.—They should help by way of suggestion.--Genius is generally modest. It has happened more than once that young men who have subsequently attained to distinction have been stimulated to make their first efforts chiefly by the suggestion and encouragement of their friends. If this has been the case in western lands much more is it likely to be the case in China. Here Christian authorship is an untried field. Christian readers are few and poor, and the heathen are strongly averse to Christian books. The Chinese also are characteristically wanting in enterprise, and not inclined to sperd either labor or money on anything which is new, or that does not give sure promise of success. Suggestions should also be given in regard to suitable themes as well as in regard to their most judicious treatment. The wider knowledge which the missionary has of the history and experience of the Christian church, as well as his superior mental training, will enable him to make such suggestions and so give important assistance to the young Chinese author. Thus it may perhaps turn out that the most important work of a missionary's life has been suggesting to a gifted Chinese writer the preparation of a well-timed book and pointing him to the best materials to use in his work.
2.—They should help by a broad and liberal criticism.-Not only are missionaries disposed to be harsh critics of each others' literary work, but they are, I think, even more disposed to depreciate
the efforts of their Chinese brethren. They apply western ideas of logical thought to the conduct of the Chinaman's argume.it, and western ideas of a faultless syntax to his style, and thus overwhelm lein with so many objections that he gives up in despair. I recollect a case which came within my personal knowledge some years ago. A Chinese preacher had prepared a sheet tract on his own ideal. He had done the work with great care and had had it reviewed by competent Chinese critics. Before being printed ij had to pass through the hauds of a foreign publication committee. Several points in the treatment of the theme were at first objected to, but finally, after discussion, were waived. One or two supposed defects in expression were however more seriously and persistently condemned. The native brother expressed his disgust at the foreign critic, and was inclined to abandon his tract rather than yield. As it happened a foreign brother was within reach whose Chinese scholarship stands unchallenged, and at my suggestion a final appeal was made to him on the merits of the case. He promptly pronounced the contested expression as unexceptionable from a Chinese standpoint, and so, at last, the tract was approved and printed. I should like to know how many
well meant efforts of the same kind have been frowned down by the severity of foreign critics.
However missionaries may assail with unsparing severity the Chinese productions of their foreign brethren, and refuse to use in their work any books but their own, I wish to put in a plea that they deal in a different spirit with native brethren who may aspire to authorship. History shows that the first efforts even of men of genius, have sometimes met with the most depreciating criticism, and writers whose fame has afterwards become world-wide, have come very near utter discouragement at the first. Be generous to young authors. Look at their productions in a broad and magnanimous spirit. Do not suppose that every departure from the technical forms of theological expression will necessarily breed a heresy. Do not lose sight of the natural presumption that the Chinese writer probably understands the genius of his own language, and the modes of thought that will arrest the attention of his own people. Do not be more concerned for his reputation than he is himself, nor assume that because there are a few defects in its work it is not therefore worthy to see the light.
3.-They should give all needed help in securing the printing and circulation of new books.—For the present, at least, Chinese authors are likely to be poor and without the means of printing and circulating their own books. Unfortunately for Christian authorship in China, Christians generally expect books either to be given to
them outright or sold to them for a song. Anxiety to circulate Christian books, and the generous gifts of the church at home, have largely brought to pass this state of things, though it has been assisted, no doubt, by the antecedent fact that native sects have long been accustomed to distribute religious tracts gratuitously. It is needless to say that it practically renders the spontaneous and remunerative sale of a Christian book impossible. In these circumstances native authors need the same assistance that foreign authors need. The Chinese have no tract societies of their own to assist those who might desire it; therefore let missionaries hold out a helping hand, securing to every deserving author a portion of the aid so generously furnished by the churches at home. There will of course be some mistakes and some failures. No great result has ever been accomplished without them. If Chinese authors do make some failures they will at least have the advantage of a good many venerable precedents amongst their foreign brethren.
In conclusion, I venture to express the hope that the day is not distant when well trained Chinese scholars will wield their pens for Christ, both in books and in newspapers. There is plenty of talent in China. Let us not undervalue the capabilities of Chinese genius. Look at the varied and extensive literature which China has wrought out for herselt in the past. If her gifted sons have done all this when blinded by heathen superstition and fettered by her treadmill system of education, what may we not expect when a rational education has enlarged and quickened their minds, and the inspiring motives of the Gospel have stirred their hearts with a new enthusiasm. If we pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest in the ministry, shall we not also pray him to send laborers into the important field of Christian authorship. Some of the greatest movements of modern times have been effected by means of books. God has more than once taken this very plan of carrying out his great purposes. If in His providence He shall raise up a few men of genius in China and inspire them to write books suited to the people and the times, they may yet prove to be the most potent of all human agencies in the Christianizing of China,