Gibraltar, Algeria, Malta, Egypt, India, Burma, Singapore, China, Japan, Korea, Russia
March 19th, 1889
My Beloved Angee,
It was a great cheer to my heart yesterday to receive your letter of the 7th February and to find that you had in the tender mercy and goodness of our God recovered from the cold – I trust also you will have had journeying mercies granted you on your travel to London and that your visit to our dear ones will be a happy one in every way. The same mail also brought a long letter from Arundel giving an account of that which the goodness of God appears to have opened up for him. Everything has to be proved in this world and as it passes through this process which is sometimes a painful one I trust it may be made manifest that it was the Lord's own ordering and that it may contribute to their present need which He Himself knows – "Our Father knoweth that ye have need of these things". It commends itself to my mind and can be taken up without wrecking that which he is already going on with. What a mercy it is too that dear Harriett is so much better and is able to go on and do a mother's part with all those dear children – when we contemplate what God is His love has wrought for us in the gift of His own dear Son and that infinite work He has accomplished wherein God was so glorified and a righteous foundation laid so that the heart of God might gratify itself to the full in glorifying that worthy One and in blessing us in Him and with Him and also when we think of His present grace and care over us here, we may well have praise waiting on our lips and in our hearts for Him. This thought brings to remembrance the moment when it was first ministered to my soul in much power many years ago at Carlisle when a few Northern labourers were assembled together for reading the word and dear Mr Darby was present. On returning to Mr Cross's for dinner after a morning meeting dear Mr D. gave thanks for the food and it was then referring to the precious truth we had had before us and now this taken of His present care even for our bodies that he said "We may well have praise ever waiting for Thee" – I have never forgotten it. Well the gracious Lord so keep us dwelling in His presence that He may find it so with us my beloved Angee and so for all those the Father has given to Him.
Last Saturday evening I met several of the missionaries belonging to the China Inland Mission and Mr Hudson Taylor was among them. In their room was a large map of China with all the 18 provinces and great and small rivers clearly marked out also a mark indicating each mission station of which there are one or more in every province – Shanghai is a sort of centre for them where all communications are received and supplies of many things forwarded and there is generally a good batch of letters to hand every week from various parts relating to the progress of the work – many of these were read at the meeting last Saturday which deeply interested me. There were several present who were leaving in a few days for various stations and some of them spoke a little and I am bound to acknowledge that I have never met in this world before, men and women, who so impressed me with the reality of a purpose of heart to devote them all to the Lord's work. I was not prepared either to expect such an acquaintance with the truth as many of them possessed and also the manifest spirit of Christ – simplicity and lowliness. Mr Hudson Taylor is really the most child-like man and my soul was deeply moved I assure you in listening to the pouring out of his heart to God in prayer and supplication and excepting dear J.N.D. or dear Mr. Stoney I never remember to have been so consciously brought into the presence of God through the prayers of another as then – what struck me so much was the unclouded confidence in God and all the way He was taking with each of us, assured that the bitter things were as much in His hand for our good as things that were pleasant to us. After the meeting I had a nice time with him and some of the others I found that Mr Huntingdon Stone as well as his father were known to them. On Lord's Day afternoon and evening meeting the Lord blessed His Word to the salvation of a seaman on board H.M.S. "Constance". There is a little company of Christians here about 25 I think He seems to be dealing with in a distinct way – they call themselves Baptists but seems to dislike the thought of a sect and yet do not as yet see the simple scriptural ground of gathering, but one can feel in their prayers how very near they are to the truth. I have gone in and out among them and their kindness and hospitality toward me is unbounded so that I am with them in their meeting or at their private houses every night. This is their habit to have readings at each other's houses nearly every night in the week and they do love the Scriptures which is a pretty clear proof that the Lord Jesus Christ is known and believed on. They have been curious to know what I belong to and on returning from a meeting one evening one of the chief men among them asked me the question which I answered – he said they had heard about Brethren but did not quite understand how they acted but felt much in sympathy with them in believing they were acting scripturally. Yesterday I went to the mission house and a plain meal (dinner) with Mr Taylor and several others – he had kindly sent round one of them to invite me and I did enjoy the little time again spent with them and they were much interested in my missionary work and some of the little incidents met with – one dear fellow among them called Macarthy had walked right across China, a distance of about 3,000 miles – it appears the great means of communication here is by water, rivers and canals – there are no roads and for the last two thousand years they have had a good postal communication all over the Empire and it has not changed. It is generally so safe, that the Government will guarantee a registered letter or a packet containing money. You will not be surprised to hear from the few letters already received from me since my arrival in China how deeply interesting I feel it to be in every way and I trust it may all redound to the Glory of God so that He in all things may be glorified.
March 21st 11.15pm
Tomorrow is mail day and a very heavy one so I will add a little more by way of finish before retiring. I have been very busy all the week and God has wonderfully prospered the business and the little time spent with the saints has been full of interest too and I have managed to spend about an hour and a half with them every evening, they are certainly very bright and happy and I quite hope the Lord may lead some of them out to Himself. There was a large room at Mr Dyer's house quite full for a meeting this evening between 6 & 7.15 and that in spite of heavy rain. Mr D. spoke to me privately and said they would have an open meeting and hoped if the Lord gave me a word for them I should be free to do so. After I had said a few pointed words, a brother I felt rather sought to turn aside the edge of the truth but on his sitting down one of the China Inland Mission men a noble young fellow rose and clenched the word I had spoken and gave me a very hearty shake of the hand on leaving. Mr. D. kindly invited me to tea with him tomorrow and D.V. they have asked me to preach the gospel in a large hall on Lord's day evening which I purpose to do and also at the mission room after this where we have a meeting too in the afternoon. There are about 18 of the seamen on board the "Constance" converted and they are a noble band of fellows I can tell you – regular live coals. The dear fellow that was converted on Lord's day evening wrote to his parents in England two days after to tell them he had found the Saviour and to confess that he had told them a lie some years ago and had maintained it by many more since then saying that he was in the engagement during the bombardment of Alexandria and was not.
Well all this is cheering and only proves that God is still working by His Spirit in conscience and heart.
I do not think I have ever visited a place in the world where I have met so many kindred spirits and friends – I am just as much at home and as friendly with all the merchants, Europeans and Chinese as I should be among one's customers at Gravesend or Portsmouth – it is all the mercy and goodness of God and I do often bow down to acknowledge His gracious care. The pigeon English spoken here among the Chinese is very amusing and one gets into it from hearing nothing else spoken. I remembered yesterday afternoon that I had forgotten to send my usual cable on Tuesday, so sent it off about 6pm last night and had a code word I was expecting from P.F.&Co. by breakfast time this morning. And now to conclude once more, I do trust that you are well and enjoying your visit and that all our dear ones with you are well and going on nicely in all their ways and with much love to dear Harry and Emma and the darling children, Eunice and Margie and our dear ones at Barnstaple and Ilfracombe and a double portion for yourself believe me my dearly beloved wife.
Being very affectionate Husband
All well – on Monday D.V. I go up the great river to Hankow and so you may not get a letter by the next mail.