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The Convert Tsae-a-ko,-His Baptism.-Contributions of
the Religious Tract Society.- Comparison of different Institutions.-Itinerant Printing.–Chinese and English Dictionary completed.- Dr. Morrison's arrival in England. - Presentation to the King. - Visit to a Chinese Pagoda. — The Convert Leangafa.- His Conversations with Natives.—His Letter to the Treasurer of the London Missionary Society.—Grounds of Hope and Motives to Prayer with regard to China.—Recent Converts.- Tract distribution-Importance of the Mission Press.-Death of Dr. Morrison.- American Mission-Missionary prospects.
DR. MORRISON had now, for a long period, diligently laboured to diffuse knowledge; it was hoped that salutary impressions were made on the minds of some of those who attended on the sabbath, and of others who read the Scriptures and tracts at home; but, until 1814, no individual had resolution to seek admission, by baptism, into the church of Christ. The Chinese government had not indeed officially noticed the proceedings of the protestant mission; for it was always an object with those engaged in it to proceed quietly, and attract as little notice as possible; but it was feared that an open profession of christianity might excite their attention ; and it was possible that they would not be at the trouble to examine and discriminate between different modes, but condemn it altogether as a foreign religion. This, it was believed, tended to hinder two or three persons from declaring themselves on the side of the gospel. A native Chinese, however, named Tsae-a-ko, aged twenty-seven, after
instruction and examination for a considerable time, came forward and confessed his faith in Christ, in the following terms :
“ Tsae-a-ko desires baptism, and his written confession respecting himself is as follows:
“Jesus making atonement for us is the blessed sound. Language and thought are both inadequate to exhaust the gracious and admirable goodness of the intention of Jesus. I now believe in Jesus, and rely on his merits to obtain the remission of sin. I have sins and defects, and without faith in Jesus for the remission of sins, should be eternally miserable. Now that we have heard of the forgiveness of sins through Jesus, we ought with all our hearts to rely on his merits. He who does not do so is not a good man. I by no means rely on my own goodness.
When I reflect and question myself, I perceive that from childhood till now I have had no strength, no merit, no learning. Till this, my twenty-seventh year, I have done nothing to answer to the goodness of God, in giving me existence in this world as a human being. I have not recompensed the kindness of my parents, my relations, my friends. Shall I repine ? Shall I hope in my own good deeds ? I entirely call upon God the Father, and rely upon God for the remission of sin. I also always pray to God to confer upon me the Holy Spirit.”
Dr. M. has given the following sketch of Tsaea-ko. “He is the son of a second concubine. When he was twenty-one years of age, he came to my house, and heard me talk of Jesus, but says,
he did not well understand what I meant. That was my first year in China. Three years after, when I could speak better, and could write, he understood better; and being employed by his brother in superintending the New Testament for the press, he says, that he began to see that the merits of Jesus were able to save all men, in all ages and nations, and hence he listened to and believed in him.
“ His natural temper is not good. He often disagreed with his brother and other domestics; and I thought it better he should retire from my service. He however continued, whenever he was within a few miles, to come to worship on the sabbath day.
“ He prayed earnestly, morning and evening, and read the decalogue as contained in the catechism. He says, that from the decalogue, and instruction of friends, he saw his great and manifold errors, that his nature was wrong, that he had been unjust, and that he had not fulfilled his duty to his friends, or brother, or other men.
“ His knowledge, of course, is very limited, and his views perhaps obscure, but I hope that his faith in Jesus is sincere. I took for my guide what Philip said to the eunuch, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest be baptized.” Oh that at the great day he may prove to have been a brand plucked out of the burning. May God be glorified in his eternal salvation.
“ Tsae-a-ko, when at school, was often unwell, and did not make so much progress as his brother
sae-a-hëen, who is with ine. Tsae-a-hëen is mild and judicious; but is, I fear, in his heart, opposed to the gospel. His attendance to preaching on the Lord's day is also constant; but insincerity and want of truth are vices which cling to the Chinese character.
At a spring of water, issuing from the foot of
a lofty hill by the sea side, away from human observation, I baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Tsae-a-ko. Oh that the Lord may cleanse him from all sin in the blood of Jesus, and purify his heart by the influences of the Holy Spirit. May he be the first-fruits of a great harvest: one of millions who shall believe and be saved from the wrath to come.”
On Tsae-a-ko's confession it is appropriately remarked, that if great imperfections attend the most enlightened christians, who have, from their very infancy, been trained up in the ways of God, how much more may this be expected to be the case with the first converts from paganism, who cannot be supposed, in a short time, to divest themselves entirely of the influence of native prejudices, or completely to break the force of former habits. To object to first converts, because they are less perfect than christians who have enjoyed higher privileges, discovers great ignorance of human nature. Tsaea-ko adhered to his profession of the gospel until his death, which took place in 1818.
In a volume entitled “A Retrospect of the First Ten Years of the Chinese Mission,” the writer acknowledges certain grants of £1000 received from the British and Foreign Bible Society, for printing the Scriptures in Chinese, and thus proceeds :
consequence of an application to the Religious Tract Society, a sum of £300 was voted for the purpose of assisting the Chinese mission in printing and circulating religious tracts in the Chinese language. A second grant of £400 was subsequently received from the same society, and for the same purposes.
Great are our obligations to that institution, and great is the necessity that
exists in these pagan lands for the exercise of its beneficence. Tracts are soon read through, and easily carried about with one. Several hundreds of different sorts and on different subjects, may with facility be packed up in a very small compass. They admit of greater familiarity of diction, and a more diffuse style, than is befitting the majestic sublimity of the sacred oracles themselves. They may be circulated more widely than the sacred Scriptures can. If we calculate either the price, or the persons capable of deriving profit from the religious books among the Chinese, we shall find that fifty tracts may be given away for one New Testament. Thus fifty persons may be made acquainted with at least one important truth for the expense of Testament.
A missionary, in his itinerant labours among the heathen, can carry a hundred tracts in his hand; and he will ever find great satisfaction in leaving an appropriate one in the house where he has been visiting; or by putting one into the hands of those with whom he has been conversing; or by dropping one on the highway, where it is likely to be taken up by some passing stranger; or by reading and explaining one to those who are inclined to hear. A tract may be inclosed in a letter, and sent into a persecuting country, without much risk of discovery. These things show the high importance of the Tract Society, and how powerful an auxiliary it may become in the conversion of the heathen to Christ. Indeed, it holds the third rank in point of utility among those societies which constitute the glory of christendom. Missionaries must ever be entitled to the first place, at least in as far as the heathen are concerned ; inasinuch as without them