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Memoir of the Rev. Wm. C. Burns, M.A.


(See page 129.)


The following extract from a deeply interesting letter, addressed by Mr. Bums to Mr. M‘Cheyne, and which has come into my hands after this work had nearly passed through the press, will be read with deep interest, as throwing much light on the very first beginnings of the revival movement of 1839, both in his own soul, and in the scenes of his earliest ministry:—

“Dundee, Nov. 18th, 1839. -Dear Brother in Jesus Christ, —After having forcibly withdrawn myself from many other pressing engagements in order to write a few lines to you, I experience the greatest difficulty in making a commencement, from the multitude and variety of the thoughts which rise to view before me. Indeed everything connected with the whole period of my residence here, since April last—a period the most remarkable but one (that of conversion) in my own life, and all the thoughts and feelings growing out of these—embarrass and oppress my mind so much, that I hardly know what to begin with first.

“God’s wonderful and most merciful procedure towards me, in connecting me with you and your dearly beloved flock in Dundee, I saw unspeakable cause to admire from the very first moment that that connection was formed. I felt myself not only without, but almost against my own intentions, at once drawn into the most endearing union with one of the few ministers in Scotland that I had seen cause to regard as making ‘ full proof’ of the ministry of the gospel of Jesus, and one of the few congregations that I had ever heard spoken of as really deriving visible saving benefits from the labours of their pastor. These things made me astonished at the mercies of my God and Saviour from the very first; but now, when, after the lapse of seven months, I have been allowed to see at least some part of the development of the Lord’s designs in this matter, I know not what to say, or how to speak. I feel almost as if it were my duty to be silent in adoring wonder, and leave that theme for the harps of the heavenly Jerusalem, which I can but dishonour while my mind is so blind, my heart so cold, and my mouth so little accustomed to the matchless praises of Jehovah. ,

“When I came among your people I found such evidences of the Lord’s work, in convincing and converting sinners, as was truly refreshing to my soul, after having spent more than seven years from the time when, if ever, I was brought to know the Lord, without, alas ! ever seeing so much as a single case of open and visible transition from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. I knew a few, who, I had reason to think, had really been brought by the Spirit to the knowledge of Jesus, and a few more who, I hoped, had reached the extreme edge of the safe side of that line which divides the kingdom of Satan from the kingdom of God; but, an awakened sinner seeking after Jesus with the whole heart, I do not remember to have ever seen, from the time when I began to feel an interest in looking for such evidences of the Spirit’s presence, until, in the astonishing, free, infinite, and sovereign mercy of my matchless Redeemer and Lord, I was sent to your beloved and favoured flock. Here I found not a few who seemed to have passed from death to life under your ministry, and who, in addition, had got beyond that ice-cold region of formal profession, in which even those who are alive to God are in general afraid to speak, as it were, above their breath, of any of those gracious exercises of the regenerate soul, which so much offend, because they so holily condemn, a secure but godless generation of carnal professors. From the atmosphere into which I at once discovered the Lord had brought me, when I entered your church, I learned that there were not a few to whose conversation, as well as to whose minds and hearts, their own state as sinners under a glorious dispensation of divine grace was become familiar. I almost immediately invited from the pulpit, all those who were under any anxiety about their souls, and might 'wish private direction, to call on me at particular hours for this purpose; and I soon learned from the intercourse to which this led in many instances, that the necessity of union to Jesus, and entire dedication to his service and his glory, was a truth to which the mind of the congregation in general had been brought under your ministry to yield assent, and one which, through the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, not a few seemed to have savingly realized in their consciences and hearts. Excited by my intercourse of this kind (the only kind, with little exception, that I have had) with your people, and supported by the prayers of God’s children among them, I prosecuted my labours among them during the first four months of my residence here with great benefit and pleasure to myself, and not without a pleasing testimony in the consciences and hearts of many of the people of the Lord, that I was really teaching some part of the truth ‘as it is in Jesus.’ Besides preaching on Sabbath at the usual times, I continued the Thursday prayer-meeting, and the male and female classes, which were all attended, as far as I could find, by about the same number as during your own ministry, and seemed to the outward view to make interesting and encouraging progress. There was one thing, however, that always appalled me, when I was enabled to realize the necessity of the second birth, that so few seemed under my ministry to be awakened to a solemn and supreme concern about their souls, though I had every reason to believe that there were hundreds in the congregation and parish, who, with a name to live, were in reality ‘dead in trespasses and sins.’ Many seemed interested, and some of the people of God appeared to be refreshed, but very few, indeed only two or three persons, awakened for the first time from the sleep of carnal security, came to me in anxiety for direction in the way to Zion. I sought to declare the truth of God, both in the law and the gospel, with all faithfulness on every occasion, and to ‘labour fervently in prayer to God’ in behalf of the people at all times; but still there wTas no appearance of a general awakening among them to the sense of their natural state of sin and misery, and of their absolute need of the glorious Saviour who is offered freely to sinners in the gospel. I always felt as if the ground which was won from the enemy on Sabbath was lost during the following week. Many of the people I feared were in danger of thinking of whatever was said to them as doctrine suited to the pulpit and the Sabbath, but not to be considered true, and of supreme importance, on week-days and at their ordinary business; and thus, however plainly their state was taught, and however urgently they were besought to flee to the Lord Jesus as the only Saviour, they seemed still in general to continue going on in the beaten track of their ungodliness, impenitence, and unbelief. There were a few fellowship meetings in the parish while you were here, and these had increased but very inconsiderably in number and size. Still there were at the time when I was called to leave the people, in order to attend at my father’s communion, some indications of an approaching revival of the work of God among them. There appeared to be an increasing earnestness in desire and prayer among the people of God, and especially, I think, among the younger Christians, who had been brought to Christ under your own ministry, for a larger outpouring of the Spirit of God, and a more general awakening and converting of souls to Jesus. I remember of being told also, at the time when I was going away to Kilsyth, by a person to whom I had been lamenting the little success that seemed to attend the preaching of the Word, that she had seen several persons from time to time around her shedding tears upon the Sabbath; and the very last time that I met the young men’s class before my departure, I was encouraged by noticing more than usual solemnity among all, and one young man in particular, who has since, I trust, been savingly converted, weeping profusely, while I was pressing the necessity of a full and immediate acceptance of the Lord Jesus.

“I left Dundee upon Tuesday, the 16th July, intending to return to it on the 24th, after attending at the communion, which was to be dispensed at Kilsyth on the 21st of that month. But the marvellous outpouring of the Spirit of God, which was witnessed on Tuesday, the 23d, having made it appear to many inexpedient for me to leave so soon that favoured parish, I remained there for a fortnight longer, and only returned to Dundee upon Wednesday, the 8th of August. In my absence Mr. Lyon, missionary at Banton, in the parish of Kilsyth, came over to Dundee and officiated for me; and I found on my return, as was natural, that the accounts which had been brought to them by Mr. Lyon, of what he had witnessed on that ever-memorable Tuesday at Kilsyth, together with the fact of my being detained from returning to them in consequence of being employed as an instrument in the Lord’s work in another place, had produced so deep an impression as seemed eminently to prepare the way for the commencement of a similar work among themselves. However, I cannot say that I returned to Dundee with this distinct expectation, which I was in some degree kept from entertaining by a full conviction that the work at Kilsyth was almost entirely dependent for its origin on the prayers of God’s people there, which had been for some time incessant and most fervent; and that it was in a very inferior degree, indeed, connected with any particular instrument employed in preaching the gospel. I entertained perhaps less hope of an outpouring of the Spirit on the people at my return, also, because I was inclined to think, as other people thought, that I must be exhausted by the incessant labours of the preceding fortnight, and I had rather the idea of taking rest on my return, than of then beginning, and from that time continuing to labour day by day as constantly, and in the same glorious and blessed work, as I had been engaged in at Kilsyth.

“It will be painful for me to part with your people; but it will be as pleasant as it could be made when I leave them in your hands as their pastor under the chief Shepherd. I pray, as many of them are doing, that your expected meeting with them on Thursday night may be blessed for the awakening and conversion of many souls. Your letters when absent were much blessed, and not least the two last, which, though they contained less perhaps that was directly hortatory, yet, coming at a time when little goes far, they were the means of awakening some that I have met with. But most of all do I believe that your prayers for your people have been answered in this work of the Lord. Indeed, I do not know how far dependent it may be all found to be on your wrestlings in the Holy Spirit in behalf of your flock, both while among them, and while absent on the Lord’s chosen errand.

‘‘Glory, glory, glory to the Lord Jehovah! ‘Ye angels that excel in strength, praise him! ’

‘“Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!’ ‘ The Lord Jesus be with thy spirit.’ Amen.

“Your humble brother in the Beloved,

(Signed) Wm. C. Burns.

‘Rev. R. M. M'Cheyne, 20 Hill Street, Edinburgh.”


(See page 96.)


“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.”—Ps. ex. 3.

The will, ray friends, is the ruling faculty in the soul of man, and a man’s character is very much determined by the prevailing bent of this power within him. It is the office, you know, of the memory to recollect what is past; it is the office of the fancy to plan and devise what is new; it is the office of the understanding to deliberate, of the conscience to pronounce the law of right and wrong, of the desires and affections to draw and impel, and above all these the will sits, as it were, supreme, pronouncing the final decision, and thus determining what is to be done. If you get a man’s will, you have him on your side, and may reckon on his support; whereas, though you may convince his understanding and delight his fancy, and move his affections, yet if his will remains opposed to you, he takes part against you. And thus, my friends, the state of the will is always made a matter of the first importance in inquiring into the position in which the soul of a man stands with regard to God. It is the crowning part of man’s depravity that his will is opposed to the will of God; that he does that which God forbids, and leaves undone that which God commands. Jehovah says, “Thou shalt;” man impiously answers in his practice, if not in words, “I will not.” Jehovah says, “Thou shalt not;” man again replies, “I will,” thus seeking to be independent of Jehovah—to be as God, giving law to himself, and following his own will, instead of receiving the holy law of his Creator, and making it the guide of all his resolutions. This is the state of the fallen soul by nature; and therefore, my friends, when God brings back in his infinite love the souls of his elect people to his service, he makes them willing. He has exalted, as you find from this psalm, the Lord Jesus as mediator to the right hand of universal power; and while he promises to Messiah that his enemies shall be made his footstool, he promises that those elect ones whom the Father gave him to redeem, and whom he purchased to himselt with his own blood, shall be willing, inasmuch as when the will is once renewed, and brought into the service of Jesus, the way is prepared* for every other faculty being restored to holiness, and every thought being brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

In this promise two things, you perceive, require explanation: I. The nature of this willingness which Jehovah promises Christ’s people shall have; and, II. The nature of that day of Jesus’ power in which this is to be accomplished. In endeavouring to explain the former of these topics, I remark—

1st. Christ’s people are willing to be saved by his imputed righteousness. This willingness appears to unconverted sinners as though it were not difficult to be attained; and many who are entirely unrenewed have the confidence that they possess it. They know that they are sinners, and being afraid, especially in times of distress and in the near prospect of death, of the wrath of a holy God, they most gladly cling to anything which affords them the prospect of safety, and thus, out of a mere desire for deliverance from hell, they would be very glad that the righteousness of Christ were accounted theirs, and that they should thus obtain forgiveness. This is in substance the kind of willingness for Christ’s righteousness that ungodly sinners possess, and not as if it were a saving appropriation of Jesus. But, my friends, though the faith of most persons who profess to follow Christ is little better than this universal desire for deliverance from pain produces, this is far different indeed from that willingness for Christ’s imputed righteousness which his true people have. For observe, among other things, that in the willingness of the unconverted soul for Christ’s righteousness there is no true and humbling conviction of personal unrighteousness. The sinner may see that God will accept nothing that he has done, and that he will charge him with the omission of thousands of duties, but then he does not feel nor acknowledge from the heart the propriety of God’s doing so; he does not humbly pass sentence against himself according to the judgment of God, but proudly thinks, at least in his own breast, that there is no such heinousness in his sin as that it would be unworthy of God and a stain upon his holiness if he should be pardoned. And then again, though he may desire the benefit of Jesus’ obedience, he has no true esteem for that obedience itself, he sees no glory in it, nor any such sufficiency in it that at the command of God he will venture hi§ soul’s eternity upon it and it alone; and so you always find that though such sinners profess that Christ is all their hope, they are unwilling to be convinced of their being great and flagrant sinners, and plainly discover that their chief trust is founded, not upon what Christ has done, but upon what they are themselves. On the contrary, when there is a true willingness to be saved by the imputed righteous of Christ, the soul is truly convinced of sin, and feels assured that it cannot be saved by any efforts of its own, and that it were glorifying to God’s holiness and justice to cast it for ever from his sight into the place of punishment; and then again, the soul while it sees itself all vile, has obtained some discoveries of the glorious perfection of the work of Jesus, its superlative excellence in the sight of God, and rejoices in the thought of being allowed to rest on this for salvation, not only because it is sufficient to procure its deliverance from wrath, but because it also gloriously satisfies the demands of God’s justice, and vindicates the honour of his holiness. But—

2d. Christ’s people are willing to be brought into subjection to his kingly power. This is a still more clear and decisive mark of a true convert than the one which we have just been noticing. Those who desire Christ’s righteousness merely from carnal motives, without any humbling knowledge of themselves, or any just esteem for its excellence, will always be found to shun the yoke of Christ. The end of their religion is peace; and if peace could be got without true conversion to the love of God, they would never seek after an attainment which is much too holy for their taste. In every heart, however, which Christ makes willing, there is a supreme desire to be brought under dominion to Christ’s love, a holy hatred of all sin, and a real longing that Christ would come and set free the heart from every lust, and passion, and idol which oppose the law of God, and dispute the supreme^ place with him in its affections. It is true, as all real converts know, and as the Lord has so fully taught us by St. Paul, that the power of sin in the soul, though broken, is not destroyed, that the flesh warreth against the Spirit, and that not un-frequently the will, which is but partly renewed, seems to consent to sin. But even in such cases the man sins with a divided will; there is a secret wrestling against that desire which is for the time superior, and after a time the holy, spiritual will shows its supremacy, and the soul is humbled in deeper self-loathing and contrition in proportion to the degree in which it has backslidden from God. The soul of the true believer, though it is not free from sin, would be free entirely and for ever if a resolution of the will could give sin its death-blow. However, it is not so. Though the will be renewed, sin still dwells in the members. The believer would do good, and yet evil is present with him; he delights in the law of God after the inward man, and being unwillingly detained in bondage, he cries out with the apostle, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” and willingly adds, rejoicing in Christ’s kingly power to deliver him from sin, “I thank God through Jesus Christ my Lord.” But—

3d. Christ’s true people are willing to bear the cross in following him. It is one of the marks, you know, which Christ gives of the stony-ground hearers, that in times of persecution they fall away; but it is not so with Christ’s true people. In giving themselves up to him they make no reserve, and are well satisfied to have him instead of all else that the world counts dear, and even at the expense of life itself. This last great sacrifice we are not at present called to make, but there are many others that still remain for God’s people to try the reality of their attachment to Jesus, and the value which they set upon him. They are often called to confess his name before his enemies, and those who are his professed but false-hearted friends; and many other trials they must endure, especially in the first days of their new life, when old companions observe the change of their character, and try every art, by means of smiles and frowns, and bribes and reproaches, to draw them back into their former ways; but in all such cases the true convert is willing to bear the cross. He finds it hard and painful, but easy in comparison to parting with Jesus. He naturally fears and shrinks from suffering, tut by grace he still more fears and shrinks from sin; and if there is no alternative but either to deny his Master or die for his name, he is enabled to be faithful still, yea, to rejoice that he is counted worthy to suffer shame for his holy and blessed name.

We proceed now, however, in the second place, to remark regarding the day of Jesus’ power here spoken of—

1st. This day is the time of his exaltation to the mediatorial throne. It is on this throne, you perceive, that in this psalm he is spoken of as sitting as a priest and as a king; it is on this throne, at the right hand of the Majesty on high, that he wields the sceptre of universal dominion, and that he rules in the midst of his enemies on earth; and it is from this that he sends forth that power which makes his people willing to obey him. Jesus, you know, exercised his kingly power even before he came in the flesh and offered up that sacrifice on account of which the Father exalted him, and thus the saints under the Old Testament were brought in subjection to his law. But it is most properly after Christ ascended up on high that he received all power in heaven and on earth, and therefore the latter days, or the times which reach from his ascension to his second coming, are more properly called the day of his power, and it is in these, accordingly, that the great multitude of his redeemed are gathered under his sceptre. In these times, my friends, blessed be God, we are privileged to live, and are therefore called to look for the fulfilment of the glorious promises that relate to it and to it alone. But—

2d. It is the day of Christ’s power when the gospel is fully and freely preached. The gospel of Christ is called the pcnver of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. And it receives this grand appellation because it reveals Christ crucified, who, though he be to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness, is yet to them that believe, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. And thus you see, my friends, that whenever the Lord intends to grant a day of his saving power to sinners, he raises up and sends forth ministers who determine with St. Paul to know nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified. When God is frowning upon a people he does not always remove the public ordinances from among them, but withdrawing the teaching of his Spirit from those who come forward to preach his word, the pulpits become filled with men who know little or nothing of the power of God in their own hearts, and thus, though the preacher may study with diligence, and discuss with all the power of argument, and learning, and eloquence, that preaching of the cross which is to them that perish foolishness, is wanting, the glories of Jesus’ person and of Jesus’ work, with all the rest of his unsearchable riches, are forgotten, or but slightly and seldom touched; and thus, though the minister may preach and the people hear from day to day, the power of God is awanting, and souls perish unconvinced and unconverted. When, however, the Lord in his mercy returns to a nation ora city to gather out of them a people for his name, he raises up ambassadors who know from personal experience the evil and the guilt of sin, and have been led by the Spirit to rejoice in Jesus as all their salvation and as all their desire, the chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely. And then, my friends, the matchless glories of Emmanuel are displayed, his preciousness is opened up, his love to sinners, and his willingness to receive with the open arms of his infinite love all that feel their ruined condition and are anxious for deliverance, are proclaimed and magnified; and thus a day of grace from on high is introduced, sinners are awakened, and are drawn to receive the Lord Jesus, being made “willing in the day of his power.” But—

3d. This leads me to notice, in the last place, that the day of Christ’s power is the time of the outpouring of his Spirit. The doctrine of Christ crucified is called the power of God, because it is the instrument which God employs in pulling down the strongholds of sin and Satan. But yet, my friends, this doctrine is, after all, but an instrument which cannot be effectual unless when it is wielded by the almighty Spirit of God, by whose divine agency it is alone that sinners are loosed from the bondage of Satan, and brought into the glorious liberty of God’s children. Often is this great truth demonstrated in the experience of every Christian, and especially of every Christian minister. The truth of the gospel is often preached with clearness, fulness, earnestness, and affection, sinners are taught their ruined and perishing condition under the broken covenant of works, and Christ is freely held out to them and urgently pressed upon * them, and yet they remain despisers and rejectors of the Lord from heaven, and the minister of Christ is often found in sadness to exclaim, Who hath believed our report, and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? The people hear, and are perhaps attentive, and begin to reform many of those sinful practices in which they formerly indulged, but yet their hearts remain unconvinced of sin, and unenlightened in the glorious knowledge of Christ, and unconverted to God, there is still little seeking of Christ in secret prayer, little alarm experienced on account of sin, and few serious efforts to receive the Lord Jesus as he is freely offered. But, oh, how changed is the scene when the Spirit is outpoured! Then the hearts of God’s people become full to overflowing with love to Jesus, and are drawn forth in vehement desires, after his glorious appearing, to build up Zion. They are much in secret, and much in united prayer, and. are cheered by the gladdening hope that the Lord is soon to listen to the groaning of the prisoner, and save those that are appointed unto death. The ministers of God, also, are in general particularly enlivened and refreshed in their own souls. In private they are deeply humbled in soul before the Lord, and have an uncommon measure of the Spirit of supplication for sinners given them, with ardent love to Christ, melting compassion for perishing souls, and vehement desires for their salvation; and then, when they come to preach Jesus, they are evidently anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power, they speak with holy unction, earnestness, and affection, and sometimes hardly know how to leave off beseeching sinners to be reconciled to God. And then observe the frame of the hearers at such a time. Formerly no terror could awaken them from their sleep of death, they still said, Peace and safety, though sudden destruction was coming upon them; but now a few words are enough to pierce their inmost heart, and make them cry out often aloud and against their will, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Formerly Jesus was held forth and was despised, but now every word that tells of his love is precious, his name ik as ointment poured forth, and sinners are filled with an agony of desire for a saving union unto him. Men, and women, and children retire from the house of God, not to profane the evening of God’s day in idle talk or idle strolling. They have much business to do with God. Their doors are shut, their Bibles are in their hands, or they are crying to God upon their knees as they are conversing with the godly, and obtaining the benefit of their counsel to guide them on the way to Jesus. These, my friends, are, you know, some of the marks of a day of the power of Jesus. When the Spirit is poured out from on high, and sinners’ hearts are moved, the iron sinews of their necks are relaxed, and their brows of brass are crowned with shame; they flock to take shelter under his wings, like doves to their windows; they rejoice in his love as men that divide the spoil. Satan is discomfited, his captives are set free, and God is glorified. Such times of refreshing as these have been often experienced, and are destined to be still more gloriously displayed in coming times. Pentecost—Reformation—in Scotland, England, Ireland, particularly in Scotland—Shotts—Ayr —Irvine—Cambuslang—Kilsyth—Moulin—Glenlyon—Arran, and Skye.


1. We have cause to lament—few willing—little appearance of a day of power;—but cause also for joy and thankfulness—we live under the Pentecost times—we have had the gospel fully preached— and the Spirit has been sending you a few drops to excite a desire for more of his power.

2. Sinners! will not ye come to Jesus?—accept of his righteousness—submit to his blessed power—why not?—what have you worth comparing with his love? &c.—come, come, come!

3. Christians! are you desiring a day of power?—some of you stand in God’s way—ye do not want a day of power—it would make you live more holily—expose you to more reproach, • &c.—oh, shame! shame!—sinners perishing—Jesus despised, and yet you remain unconcerned. Pray, pray, pray—secretly, unitedly, fervently, with faith and importunity—“The Lord’s hand is not shortened that,” &c.

Examples of the power of prayer—Shotts, Cambuslang, Kilsyth— time short—soon prayers at an end—removed from the footstool— power will come—but not by us—we shall be ashamed to meet our Lord! to look sinners in the face at judgment! &c.


(See page 185.)


The following additional extracts from the Report will show the character of the testimonies to the depth, the extent, and permanent effects of the movement, which the queries of the Committee elicited:—

“As to the extent of this work of God,” wrote the Rev. R. M‘Cheyne, “I believe it is impossible to speak decidedly. The parish is situated in the suburb of a city containing 60,000 inhabitants. The work extended to individuals residing in all quarters of the town, and belonging to all ranks and denominations of the people. Many hundreds under deep concern for their souls have come, from first to last, to converse with the ministers; so that I am deeply persuaded the number of those who have received saving benefit is greater than any one will know till the judgment-day. . . .

“It is not easy for a minister, in a field like this, to keep an exact account of all the cases of awakening and conversion that occur; and there are many of which he may never hear. I have always tried to mark down the circumstances of each awakened soul that applied to me, and the number of these, from first to last, has been very great. During the autumn of 1839 not fewer than from 600 to 700 came to converse with the ministers about their souls; and there were many more equally concerned, who never came forward in this way. I know many who appear to have been converted, and yet have never come to me in private; and I am, every now and then, meeting with cases of which I never before heard. Indeed, eternity alone can reveal the true number of the Lord’s hidden ones among us. . . .

“During the progress of this work of God, not only have many individuals been savingly converted, but important effects have also been produced upon the people generally. ... It seems now to be allowed, even by the most ungodly, that there is such a thing as conversion. Men cannot any longer deny it. The Sabbath is now observed with greater reverence than it used to be; and there seems to be far more of a solemn awe upon the minds of men than formerly. I feel that I can now stop sinners in the midst of their open sin and wickedness, and command the irreverent attention, in a way that I could not have done before. The private meetings for prayer have spread a sweet influence over the place. There is far more solemnity in the house of God; and it is a different thing to preach to the people now from what once it was. Any minister of spiritual feeling can discern that there are many praying people in the congregation. When I came first here, I found it impossible to establish Sabbath-schools on the local system; while, very lately, there were instituted with ease, nineteen such schools, that are well taught and well attended. . . .

“During the autumn of 1839 the meetings were in general dismissed at ten o’clock; although, in several instances, the state of the congregation seemed to be such as to demand that the ministers should remain still longer with them, that they might counsel and pray with the awakened. I have myself, once or twice, seen the service in the house of God continue till about midnight. On these occasions the emotion during the preaching of the word was so great, that after the blessing had been pronounced at the usual hour, the greater part of the people remained in their seats, or occupied the passages, so that it was impossible to leave them. In consequence of this a few words more were spoken suited to the state of awakened souls; singing and prayer filled up the rest of the time. In this way the meeting was prolonged by the very necessity of the case. On such occasions I have often longed that all the ministers in Scotland were present, that they might learn more deeply what the true end of our ministry is. I have never seen nor heard of anything indecorous at such meetings; and on all such occasions, the feelings that filled my soul were those of the most solemn awe, the deepest compassion for afflicted souls, and an unutterable sense of the hardness of my own heart. I do entirely and solemnly approve of such meetings, because I believe them to be in accordance with the word of God, to be pervaded by the Spirit of Christ, and to be oft-times the birth-places of precious never-dying souls. It is my earnest prayer that we may yet see greater things than these in all parts of Scotland.” . . .

The movement in Perth was of rather more recent date, and therefore not so fully tested by time; but its results, so far as they had yet appeared, were equally satisfactory. “I had abundant opportunity,” says the Rev. John Milne, “of becoming intimately acquainted with Mr. Burns, as he lived and laboured with me constantly for between three and four months. I never knew any one who so fully and unfalteringly obeyed the apostolic precept, ‘Meditate upon these things, give thyself wholly to them.’ I was struck with his close walk with God, his much and earnest prayer, his habitual seriousness, the solemnizing effect which his presence seemed to have wherever he went, and his almost unvaried success in leading those with whom he conversed to anxious, practical, heart-searching concern about their state in God’s sight. In public, his ministrations were chiefly of an awakening nature, addressed to the unconverted. . . .

“In compliance with the language of the query, I have spoken of the chief human instrument; but I am persuaded, both from what I saw and felt at the time, and from what I have since known of the permanent and blessed results, that a greater than man was among us; ‘Not by power, nor by might, but by my Spirit.’ I never witnessed before, nor have I since, such manifest tokens of God’s gracious presence as were vouchsafed us during several of the first months of last year. I can only say in the words of Jonathan Edwards, ‘ The goings of God were then seen in his sanctuary, God’s day was a delight, and his tabernacles were amiable.—Our public assemblies were then beautiful; the congregation was alive in God’s service, every one earnestly intent on the public worship, every hearer eager to drink in the words of the minister as they came from his mouth. ’ What he also mentions of the much weeping and deep concern manifested under the preaching of the word, is also true in regard to the meetings here. . . .

“I had only been settled here a few weeks when the revival began, and consequently had little previous knowledge of the people. I have since, however, had intercourse with many. Some were godly persons before; but on these occasions they seem to have been literally revived and stirred up. They received enlarged and more realizing and influential views of their privileges and duties as Christians. The generality, however, were persons who had either been greatly careless of religion, or had been resting self-satisfied in a form of godliness, though destitute of its power. . . .

“Many are to this day growingly adorning the gospel of God their Saviour in all things, and gradually forming a peculiar people zealous of good works. I am acquainted with families where all or almost all the members seem to have been savingly converted.”

To the same effect and equally emphatic were the testimonies of the Rev. Mr. Gray of Perth, Mr. Bonar of Collace, Mr. M‘Donald, Blairgowrie, Mr. Cumming of Dunbamey, Mr. Paton of Ancrum, and other ministers of equal worth and high standing in the Church, who, while recognizing the occurrence of incidental errors of human infirmity, united in bearing solemn witness to the solidity, preciousness, and enduring benefit of the sacred work itself.

The following valuable letter addressed to myself in the present year by the Rev. David Brown, D.D., Professor of Theology in the Free Church College, Aberdeen, on the retrospect of an entire generation, enables us still further to trace the history, by connecting the present with the past:—

“Aberdeen, October iSt/i, 1869.—My dear Dr. Burns,—As my place of residence, during the remarkable religious movement which took place here in connection with your honoured and beloved brother’s ministrations was at some distance from Aberdeen, I am not able to speak from personal knowledge either of its characteristics at the time, or of its permanent fruits. But being put in possession of nearly all that went on from week to week by friends on the spot, I considered myself nearly as well able to estimate its true character as those who were in the midst of it, the more especially as I was cognizant of the movements at Kilsyth and Perth, so very similar to that at Aberdeen, had studied the history of similar movements in former times, and took a lively interest in the subject. Thus furnished, I had no difficulty in recognizing in this movement the hand of God, touching the hearts of multitudes at once with a sense of sin and danger, with anxiety for salvation, and with wonder and delight as the way of escape from the wrath to come was laid open to them, turning many from darkness to light, from wretchedness to peace and joy in believing, and from sin to holiness in heart and life; and, what was even more manifest, giving to many real Christians a quickening, an enlargement, and a vigour unknown before.

“As to the permanent fruits of this work, from all I can learn it seems to have much resembled that of all similar movements. In other words, all that was mere religious excitement in it gradually disappeared, and what was only apparent conversion ended, in the case of some, unhappily, in others in mere outward improvement. But to be more explicit, (1) The minister in whose church Mr. Burns most laboured, Mr. Mitchell of Holburn, tells me that of about eighty young persons admitted by him at that time to the privileges of the Church, he can say with good confidence that one-half turned out decidedly well, and that of the other half, those who disappointed him did so for the most part in consequence of their ‘yoking themselves unequally with unbelievers,’ or marrying persons who had no sympathy with spiritual things. (2) Two of the elders of the late Mr. Parker of Bonaccord tell me that Mr. P., who was of all men the furthest from religious enthusiasm, was induced to ask Mr. B. to officiate in his church from a strong impression that the Lord was remarkably with that young preacher; that when asked to put a stop to his proceedings, he went to judge for himself, and, as the result, refused to do so; and one of them said that when one of the ministers of the Presbyteiy, during the examination in this business, threw out some contemptuous insinuation against Mr. B,, Mr. Parker exclaimed that he ‘ wondered that even a dog would wag his tongue at such a man.’ The gentleman from whom I had this, I may add, taught a class of those who had got good under Mr. Burns, and another was taught by another of the gentlemen with whom I have spoken on this subject within the last few days, who bears the same testimony to the solidity of the work, testifying in particular how anxious Mr. B. was that the converts should be gathered and systematically instructed in Bible truth. Both these gentlemen are acting elders in our churches, and men of sober judgment. (3) I conclude with extracts from letters written to me by two of those I consulted a few days ago on this subject. The first is from one of the two just referred to:—‘It is consistent with my knowledge that the fruit of the Rev. W. C. Burns’ labours in this quarter is still to be seen, and it always cheered the hearts of those who used to hear his living voice, and were blessed through him, to read the accounts given from time to time of his work in China. ’ The other is more full. , It is from one who taught a similar class or classes to that of the other two gentlemen, and has himself done much Christian work here and elsewhere:—‘Agreeably to your request, I give my testimony to the permanency of the revival work begun under the ministry of the Rev. William Bums in Aberdeen nearly thirty years ago. Along with some others I had classes of young women, held in our own houses weekly, mine continuing for about three years with fluctuations. The classes were composed of those who professed to have been awakened at that time. They are now much scattered: but I have been privileged to attend the death-beds of some of them, and their end was peace—one indeed was triumphant. There are several whom I knew for years, some of them under very severe trials, which they bore with Christian meekness and resignation. Others went back to the world, and I have lost sight of them. I believe the great day alone will bring to light the fruits of his manifold and devoted labours in this quarter. The intelligence of his death brought sadness and sorrow to many a heart here.’—David Brown.”


(See page 5x3.)


(To the Editor of the “Times.")

Sir,—In your leading articles on the Yang-chow troubles, published in December last, there are many serious errors, both as to principles and facts, fitted to do much injury to the cause of missions. Will you kindly allow me to point out these mistakes, and to indicate the correct principles of the question?

We are told to amalgamate Christian truth with the worship of ancestors and the whole body of Confucian doctrine, the advice being supported by such sentences as the following:—“ In the sacred record we find that the first preachers of our faith . . . appealed to every belief and every feeling, not as false and hateful, to be condemned and destroyed, but as the foundation on which their own better teaching was to be raised, and with which it did in fact fuse itself.” Now, as far as the beliefs and practices of the Chinese agree with those which are Christian, we heartily accept them, as, for instance, the greater part of the Confucian ethics. Wherever they present a half truth or an aspiration towards the truth (like the Athenian altar to the Unknown God), we gladly embrace the opportunity to develop the fulness of Christian doctrine, e.g. the ancient classical allusions to Shang-ti, the supreme lord of all. And where, in things indifferent, their customs vary from those recorded in Holy Scripture or customaiy among ourselves, we make no attempt to produce uniformity.

But when we meet with doctrines and customs distinctly opposed to the instructions and commands of God’s most holy word, we can make no compromise. And the worship of ancestors is just one of those institutions with which compromise is impossible. The early Jesuit missionaries indeed permitted it to their converts, but as soon as the facts of the case were understood at Rome, it was solemnly condemned by the authority of the pope, at the risk of destroying that flourishing mission, supported by the favour of the great emperor Kang-hi, who warmly espoused the cause of the Jesuits. And if any church on earth could have accepted ancestral worship, it would have been the Church of Rome, with her prayers for the dead, and prayers to the dead. Surely it cannot be supposed that Protestant churches and Protestant missionaries have blindly followed the decision of the pope; and yet with the most perfect unanimity they have all agreed with the view taken by the Church of Rome. For the worship of ancestors is in fact as thoroughly idolatrous as any idolatry, ancient or modern, classical or barbarian. It equally falls under the sweeping denunciation of that fundamental command given at first by God through Moses, and repeated by Christ himself:— “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” With idolatry of any kind the apostles never permitted their better teaching to fuse itself. Paul, as he stood among the idols of Greece, on the hill of Mars, having plainly and solemnly rebuked all idolatry, added these words: “The times of this ignorance God winked at, but now he commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” So also at Lystra, he rent his clothes and ran in among the people saying, “Sirs, why do ye these things? We preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God.”

It is a mere caricature to represent us as teaching the Chinese “that their ancestors, if they exist at all, are not worth worshipping, and had best be forgottenfor of course we throw no doubt on the continued existence of the spirits of their ancestors, but simply teach that, by the command of God, their worship is prohibited. And instead of saying that they had best be forgotten, we tell them that it is right to keep their tables of genealogy, and to preserve the memory of their ancestors, recompensing the benefits received from them by showing kindness to those who are descended from the same common stock, and reflecting honour upon them by the lustre of good and noble actions.

In religion also, so far is ancestral worship from being the “foundation,” that it is only one of several independent systems which are strangely blended together in the present eclectic religion of the Chinese; and of these other systems, one, the Buddhist system, the very highest excellence and holiness consists in perpetual celibacy and the entire abnegation, both of all ancestral worship and of all the relationship of life—and this system of Buddhism is as widespread as Confucianism itself. It should also be remembered that the vast Mahomedan population, amounting to many millions scattered over the northern, central, and western provinces, is entirely free from ancestral worship—the precepts of the Koran condemning such idolatrous rites as strongly as do the teachings of the Bible. And yet very many Mahommedans rise to high rank and office in the empire.

But the proof that the Chinese have no such fanatical hatred against those who oppose ancestral worship—a proof most clear and conclusive—is to be found in the very history of these Yang-chow troubles. If the conspirators among the Chinese literati had merely charged the missionaries with disputing the infallibility of Confucius, and arguing against ancestral worship, they might have issued placards for centuries without being able to excite the people to violence: it was necessary to invent horrible stories of scooping out eyes, and bewitching people, poisoning men and boiling babies &c., in order to produce the desired excitement. Precisely the same took place in the case of Formosa. The ill-affected among the literati found it quite impossible to incite the people to violence by charging us with heretical tendencies against Confucius and the ancestors; it was necessary to invent stories even more horrible than those circulated at Yang-chow; as,Tor instance, that the medical missionary rifled the graves of the bodies of the dead, and that he had poisoned a hundred persons, and hung up their dead bodies to be preserved on the walls of his hospital. About eight years ago my own life was in imminent danger at a town some thirty miles from this; but in order to raise a mob against me, it was necessary to invent the story that I had beaten a boy to death ! And some years ago, when violent riots took place in Fuh-chow, the means of rousing the people was the circulation of reports (similar to those circulated against the early Christians of the Roman empire), that lascivious orgies took place in the chapels at the meetings of the converts.

Without such calumnious reports there could be no danger of riots on account of our arguments against ancestral worship and the other errors of the Confucian system. But we and our converts are entitled to protection, not only from the violence caused by such reports, but from the very circulation of these vile calumnies themselves.

Protection against brutal violence is what we ask, and all that we wish. It is most unfair to write as if any one desired “ to carry on a crusade of fire and sword against superstition and false philosophy, to preach the gospel from the cannon’s mouth, and force conviction down with the point of the bayonet;” what we ask is only protection in the exercise of our treaty rights, which, antecedently to treaty, are such as ought to be enjoyed by every missionary and every British subject. .

But it seems as if even this protection is to be denied us, for two reasons: (i) as detrimental to the interests of British policy, and (2) as inconsistent with the character of missionary enterprise.

Is it then true that missionary work is calculated to involve our government in war, or in something like war? It only appears to be so, while in reality the attacks on missionaries are merely the symptoms of the dislike to foreign intercourse in general. Even in Consul Medhurst’s negotiations with Tseng-Kwo-fan, there were several matters relating to trade (especially the illegal transit dues on foreign goods), which were discussed and adjusted at the same time with the Yang-chow troubles. And in the case of Formosa, so much did the non-missionary part of the grievance outweigh the missionary part, that when the assistance of a naval force was first called in (namely, on the visit of Lord Charles Scott to Tai-wan-foo), the missionary matters were not included in the negotiations at all; it being supposed that when the questions relating to trade and the position of the consul should have been satisfactorily adjusted, the mandarins would be easily led to do justice in the missionary case.

The fact is, that the presence of numerous missionaries in China is an influence on the side of peace and harmony. They are extensively known fo be labouring for the good of the people; they submit patiently to petty annoyances and insults, which in the case of other foreigners would lead to quarrels and riots: they are generally acquainted with the language and customs of the people; and, as I myself in the course of the fourteen years I have spent in this country, have often experienced, can go and come safely where there would be much danger to other foreigners. There is no place in China where a better spirit prevails between Chinese and foreigners than at Peking itself, where, besides official personages and those connected with them, the foreign community may be said to consist of missionaries. I speak, of course, only of Protestant missionaries; for the intolerable pretensions and overbearing manner of the Roman Catholics have led both the government and the people to feel very differently towards them, and to distinguish them very sharply from Protestants. It must be the R. C. missionaries to whom you refer, when you say, “Both in China and Japan the missionaries of our faith have always contributed largely to their own failure, by their imprudent conduct and extravagant pretensions.” For the only Protestant missionaries who are, or have been in Japan, are Americans, who have most carefully avoided all occasion of collision with the Japanese; and, with the exception of the case of Mr. Taylor’s party, now under discussion, no opponent of missions (and there are many such in the foreign communities in this country) has ever found anything which could give even a plausible pretext for charging the Protestant missionaries with imprudent conduct and extravagant pretensions towards the Chinese.

Last year a copy was obtained of a most important state paper, written by the great Tseng-Kwo-fan, who is supposed to be the most powerful of all the Chinese mandarins, namely, a secret memorial to the emperor, giving his advice on the approaching revision of the treaty. In that document, while he advised that the making of railways, and several other foreign proposals with regard to trade, should be resisted to the very utmost, he counselled the toleration of missionaries, even in the interior of the empire.

Manifestly it is not missionary enterprise of which the Chinese are afraid, except so far as they confound it with other operations of foreigners. The real causes of dislike, suspicion, fear, and hatred, so far as such feelings exist, spring from a strange compound of bad political economy, and ignorant prejudice against foreign institutions, mingled with the rankling feeling of some real wrongs, and with singular superstitious terrors excited, not by the teaching of missionaries, but by the existing circumstances and avowed plans of commercial enterprise.

The people of the sea-board are offended at the extensive use of foreign ships and steamers, and the consequent decay of the junk trade. The provincial mandarins and their satellites are sorely annoyed at the foreign inspectorate of customs, because it makes it impossible for them to absorb (as they used to do) almost the whole of the duties, before they could find their way to the imperial treasury, the very cause which makes the central, government highly pleased with that excellent institution; and they are excited by rumours of some extension of the inspectorate, whether by the opening of new ports, or by its application to other departments of revenue.

A general feeling of irritation is caused by the opium trade, graphically described as ruinous to the health, the morals, and the material prosperity of the people; by the coolie traffic, which, though now duly regulated by British and American law, has left bitter memories, and is still more or less carried on under some other flags; by report that foreigners mean to possess themselves of the empire; by the supercilious treatment of the Chinese by many foreigners (but not by the missionaries), treating them as an inferior race, often to the extent of hard blows; by the drunkenness and licentiousness of sailors, and not a few others; by the introduction of foreign teachers, artificers, and machines into several government schools and arsenals; and, perhaps, worst of all, by the disturbance, actual and possible, present and future, of the all-important Fung-shuy, or geomantic principle of good fortune throughout the empire.

This last principle I despair of making intelligible to your readers in anything like its due proportions; suffice it to say, that the good fortune of all the living (including their health, wealth, prosperity, and their very life) depends on the auspicious position of their houses, and of the graves which are scattered over the whole surface of their country—their position, I say, in reference to eminences, such as other houses, rocks, trees, and mountains, and especially in reference to the continuity of mountains, ridges, and declivities, by which the auspicious influences are conducted from the summits to the happily situated houses and graves. This good fortune is grievously disturbed and deteriorated by the building of large warehouses, or dwelling-houses of more than one story, and by the construction of roads, and, it is firmly believed, will be utterly destroyed, if the projected mines, railways, and telegraphs should ever be actually realized.

In relation to such matter not only are the labours of missionaries perfectly harmless, but the dissemination of truth by their means is the most effectual mode of dispelling error, superstition, and prejudice, and of opening the way to true civilization.

But it is objected that the protection of missionaries is inconsistent with the character of their work, and with the example of the apostles. Of course no exact parallel can be found in the New Testament, for the simple reason, that neither then, nor for more than two centuries later, was there any Christian state to protect missionaries, or to extend its influence against persecution. But there is clear apostolic authority for this principle, that it is right to ask legal protection in the preaching of the gospel against unlawful violence. Witness the answers sent by Paul to the magistrates of Philippi— “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned, being Romans, and now do they thrust us out privately? Nay, verily, but let them come themselves and fetch us out;” and before he would leave the city he waited till the magistrates came and besought him, and even then he first entered into the house of Lydia, and comforted the disciples; thus obtaining a certain degree of reparation for the injury done, and also (through the fears of the magistrates) some measure of security for the converts from future molestation.

Witness also his repeated claims addressed* to the chief captain and to the governor of Judea, on the ground of his Roman citizenship, for protection against the fanatical violence of the Jews. And if it be unseemly for missionaries to be protected against murderous violence by British power, it must at least have been as unseemly for Paul to preach to the crowd in the temple court, from those stairs where he stood sheltered by the broad bucklers and bristling spears of the Roman soldiery.

If a mob make a riot in a church or chapel in England they are rightly punished. And if a ruffian beat a clergyman severely in his house, or on the road, the righteous punishment is not in the least mitigated because the sufferer is a minister of the gospel. And as the Chinese government has distinctly agreed to protect both those who teach Christianity and those who profess or practise it, it is equally proper to insist on their carrying out this article, which is both a natural duty and a treaty right.

It is, indeed, very beatftiful to write about missionaries taking joyfully the spoiling of their goods, and laying down their lives (as other newspapers have said), and there are circumstances in which it is a duty to do so; but, according to apostolic example, the first duty is to use every lawful means for restraining the violence of wicked men. And I should like to hear from those who, in their snug parlours or comfortable offices, write these kind advices, in what respect that duty lies on missionaries abroad more than on clergymen or private Christians at home.

Mr. Dilke’s letter, published in your issue of 26th December, is at first sight a most formidable document, crowded as it is with quotations from official papers and principles of international law. But though a high authority on literary questions he has failed to inform himself of the real state of matters in China; and so it happens that his facts, when correct, are in general irrelevant, while those statements and principles which seem to be relevant, are for the most part vitiated by some fatal inaccuracy. For instance, he actually relies on the order in council of 1843, which has been abrogated and annulled by the order in council of 1865; and not only so, but the clause he quotes from the said abrogated order is directly contradicted by the well-known clause in the present treaty, which permits merchants furnished with passports to travel anywhere for the purposes of trade, carrying their goods along with them.

In another paragraph Mr. Dilke coolly makes the statement— “ On the side of China there is no reluctance to carry out the treaties.” If such an assertion had been made by Mr. Burlinghame some sort of apology might have been offered for it, on the principle that the holder of a brief need not be very particular about the truth of what he says on behalf of his client. Of course I cannot for a moment suppose that the writer meant to say what he knew to be incorrect; but the only other explanation I can make of a statement so notoriously and ludicrously erroneous is, that his knowledge of Chinese matters is very inadequate, with the exception of some onesided information supplied probably (as I should conjecture from the internal evidence of the letter) by some one connected with the “Chinese Embassy.”

As regards residence in the interior it is quite irrelevant to discuss the authenticity of the clause in the French convention, for that clause treats, not of residence, but of the purchase of property in the interior, a question not raised at all in the Yang-chow case.

The right of some measure of residence in the interior as claimed by Protestant missionaries rests mainly, (1) on the fact admitted even by Mr. Dilke:—“ It is indeed clear from the words of several of the treaties that the right of travelling and preaching throughout China is granted to Protestant missionaries having passports;” and (2) on the notorious fact that missionaries of the Church of Rome (especially Frenchmen) are permitted to reside in the most distant parts of the interior. Of what use is a right on paper to travel and preach in the interior if it be impossible to rent a dwelling, or hire a lodging, or take chambers at an inn? And if riots such as these at Yang-chow and Formosa be permitted to go unpunished, ill-affected mandarins, literati, and gentry can easily find means of making disturbances whenever a foreigner stirs beyond the precincts of the treaty ports. Nor would the treaty ports themselves be safe, as appears from such examples as Chin-kiang, Kew-kiang, and Tai-wan-foo.

Again, the legality of missionary residence in the interior is a matter fully admitted by the Chinese officials themselves, who surely cannot be supposed to be too favourable to our cause. And even in the Yang-chow case the viceroy has all along admitted it, and promised to secure it by indemnity and proclamation, for the points disputed with the consul (not with the missionaries) were the manner of proclamation, the amount of indemnity* and the measure of punishment which would give seciirity for the future.

The Chinese party in England themselves admit that it is right for our naval authorities to protect the persons of British subjects actually in danger. This admission is amply sufficient for our purpose; for the report of the Yang-chow outrage was rapidly and assiduously

spread through the empire; the people were everywhere exhorted to copy the glorious example of the brave men of Yang-chow, and it became manifest by many quickly accumulating proofs that, in selfdefence, for the purposes of protecting the foreigners in other parts from similar violence, and the Chinese from the reprisals which would have necessarily followed, the only effectual plan was that of insisting on the speedy and condign punishment of the Yang-chow criminals. The houses near a fire must be pulled down or blown up to prevent the spread of a conflagration; and if the owners will not consent, the most sacred rights of property must be sacrificed to the common weal.

If the matter were not so serious it would be really amusing to hear learned editors and honourable members of parliament talking about simply applying the,, principles of the rights of nations to our relations with China. Why, the first principle of the “rights of nations” is broken by the right conceded to all the treaty powers, that their subjects or citizens in China, with their property and households, are exempted from the operation of Chinese law: and that because the courts of Chinese mandarins are so full of bribery, deceit, cruelty, torture, and all manner of injustice, that no civilized country will trust the life or property of its people in their hands. The Chinese government has not only shown no repentance for the abominable treachery of Soo-chow, but loads with honours the monster who butchered in cold blood the chiefs and' troops who had surrendered on the plighted faith of a British colonel that their lives should be spared. All honour to Colonel Gordon for the righteous indignation he showed when he learned the terrible truth. All honour to the British government which in remembrance of that tragedy prohibits its subjects, under heavy penalties, from taking service in the Chinese army.

Are those persons who would subject us to the action of Chinese courts not aware that torture is used in the examination, not only of parties accused, but even of witnesses, and that persons whose conviction is desirable but difficult, are easily put out of the way by beating them to death (of course by mistake), under examination, or by starving them in prison? The foreign members even of the Chinese customs service are all under foreign protection, and not under Chinese law.

It also must be remembered that the viceroys of Chinese provinces are very slightly controlled by the supreme government. In the secret memorial of Tseng-ICwo-fan referred to above, he openlytells the emperor that if certain proposed concessions were granted to foreigners by the government, the viceroys would refuse to carry them out. So loose is the connection between the capital and the several provinces, that while we were at war with Governor Yeh at Canton, British ships of war were protecting Amoy from pirates; and at the very time when our troops were scattering the imperial forces, and marching towards Peking, we were guarding Shanghae and its neighbourhood for the emperor against the Taipings. It is this state of matters which makes it necessary at times to settle affairs even by the use of force with the local officials.

It is a pity that Mr. Dilke has dragged from the silence of the tomb the memory of the late Sir Frederick Bruce; for it is the opinion (with very few, if any exceptions) of those who really understood the condition of China, and the character of its government, that the policy inaugurated by him (the records of which Mr. Dilke quotes as the essence of wisdom and the pattern for all future diplomacy) has been the bitter source of most of our troubles and dangers. How different would have been the course of events if Lord Elgin himself had been our first resident minister at Peking! The Chinese government has, of course, “repeatedly acknowledged the binding nature of treaties, and has declared itself willing to make amends in all cases where treaty stipulations have been violated.” But they are thorough adepts in the arts of duplicity, deception, and evasion, and they have succeeded by a policy of passive resistance, masterly inactivity, and interminable delays, in rendering null and void some of the plainest stipulations of the treaty.

Sir Rutherford Alcock was at first fettered by the trammels of his predecessors’ policy, but recent events seem to have given him the fitting opportunity for striking out a new policy, and of substituting vigorous and effective measures for the unworkable delays of the past.

The fear of a collision through such measures with America or some other foreign power is as chimerical as the suspicion that they may lead to a war with China. The real way of bringing about another Chinese war is to revert to the old system of permitting the Chinese to commit with impunity every sort of violence and injustice, and then, under the pressure of such difficulties, allowing our treaty rights to fall into abeyance, or even to be abrogated. No matter what motives we may have, no matter what motives we may state, the Chinese, both government and people (while, perhaps, politely praising our justice or forbearance), will infallibly ascribe such conduct to weakness and fear, and will be encouraged to advance further in the same direction till some intolerable claim, or some tragedy of surpassing horror, becomes the occasion of a general war.

But it seems a cause of complaint that we may be liable to have “to avenge the quarrels of missionaries upon whose character, selection, operations, and discipline the British government had no check whatever.” Would the writer prefer that the British government should set up a sort of missionary establishment in China, “selecting” the men, and superintending their “character, operations, and discipline?”—or can he tell us what “check” our government has on the “character, selection, operations, and discipline” of the mercantile community, of the customs’ service, or of travellers for business, science, or pleasure? They have precisely the same check upon the one as upon the other. If doubtful whether a man be fit to be tmsted in the interior, the consul can delay issuing his passport till he has made full inquiries; and if convinced that he is utterly unfit, he can refuse to give a passport, subject, of course, to an appeal to his superiors. And if the holder of a passport should act in a decidedly improper way, the consul can deprive him of the passport, or punish him by fine or imprisonment. It may be that undesirable results may sometimes follow from the actions “of unknown men” among missionaries, but much more probably from those of men, equally unknown, belonging to other sections of the foreign community. But far more serious evils are certain to follow when men, known or unknown, who are sadly ignorant both of the circumstances of China, of the nature of missions, and of the teachings of the Bible, venture under the shield of anonymous journalism to make heavy charges, and heavier insinuations, against the whole body of Chinese missionaries, and to deliver ex cathedra decisions on the right mode of evangelizing this empire and the world. I do not refer merely to the influence, greater or less, which such articles may have at home; but copied into the local papers in China, and very probably translated into Chinese, they may encourage misguided men to commit fresh outrages, and render necessary more severe measures than before.— I remain, your obedient servant,

(Signed) Carstairs Douglas, m.a.,

A Missionary 0/ the English Presbyterian Church in China.
Amoy, 23d Februaiy, 1869.




Additional communications from Mr. Douglas and Mr. Swanson reached my hand just as the first edition of this work had left the press. They seem to me, however, so valuable that I gladly avail myself of the opportunity of a fresh impression to insert here as much of them as is compatible with the limits of a brief appendix. Mr. Douglas devotes the chief part of his letter to the correction of certain “mistakes and mis-statements, some made by opponents, some by over-zealous or ill-informed friends.” In case I may myself in the foregoing pages have used expressions, or quoted words used by others, fitted in any measure to encourage such errors, I am very glad to be able in this way to provide the corrective. Mr. Douglas first notices the very prevalent impression,

“(1) That he was gloomy. He was indeed often reserved towards strangers; and his faithful rebukes of sin might tend to create an impression that his mind was gloomy. But in fact he was genial and hearty. Especially among his friends this warm and happy character of his mind was very conspicuous. Though he usually liked to live alone (especially in a room connected with some chapel or hospital), so as to be fully master of his own time, yet he was fond of having some missionary as a companion in going about the country: and he delighted to spend his evenings with missionaries and their families, or with any like-minded friend. He had a keen sense of the ludicrous, and was fond of a hearty laugh, which was often the effect of his conversation when he unbent his mind among his intimate friends. Jokes upon words he did not relish: the form of the ludicrous which was most congenial to him was what may be in general styled the humorous, as, for instance, anecdotes about remarkable adventures or strange mistakes, examples of unexpected skill in escaping from a dilemma or a difficulty, and singular traits of national peculiarities or personal character. I recollect one occasion, when ... on board the Challenger, while reading aloud the speech of Tertullus before Felix, he burst into a fit of laughter, and having recovered his composure explained that it appeared irresistibly ludicrous as being so like what a Chinaman would say in similar circumstances. He had a wonderful fund of varied anecdotes, both of the graver and the lighter sort, connected with his wide-spread evangelistic labours in so many lands, which gave a great charm to his society. In him also was well exemplified that text, ‘Is any merry? let him sing psalms.’ He was extremely fond of sacred music, and delighted in singing psalms and hymns, both alone and with others, both in English and Chinese. His acquaintance with music was a great help to him in his mission work, as well as a means of keeping up his cheerful, joyous spirit.

“(2) That he was careless of his comfort: e.g., such absurd stories as his being ready to leave England for China with a carpet-bag; that he went about in China without a change of dress, ‘ready with only scrip and staff,’ as I see in a recent Dublin tract. The fact is that he was exceedingly careful of his health, and for that reason, of his comfort, both in regard to clothing and food and general care of himself. Of clothing he had always an abundant supply suited to the different states of weather. . . . When I began to go with him into the country, I was struck with the large quantity both of bedding and body-clothes which he carried wdth him (more than I have seen other missionaries use), for we must carry our bedding as well as our changes of dress. His explanation to me was that he always made himself comfortable wherever he went, just as if he were at home. He was also very particular about having his dress thoroughly clean and well arranged. In summer he was so careful in airing his clothes that it was a frequent proviso in appointing a meeting to consult on any matter, ‘if it be not a north wind,’ as that is the best wind for airing clothes. . . .

“As to food (both its material and its preparation) he was very particular. While in Amoy and its neighbourhood he used to eat heartily, especially of pork. I suspect that his spare diet at Nieu-chwang must have been the result of a general feeling of weakness and want of appetite. I recollect hearing that before his last illness he was observed to complain of being exhausted even by the walk (about a mile) from his lodging to the foreign settlement there. But whatever was the cause of the spare diet at Nieu-chwang, the quantity of his food while at Amoy was much about the same as that of his brethren.

“When at all out of sorts he was very careful of himself, and he used to recommend similar care to others. He used often to blame me for not taking what he considered sufficient rest in the hot weather.

“(3) That he was generally engaged in pioneering work, a mistake into which even Mr. Johnston has fallen.1 The fact is that he was usually assisting other missionaries in work already begun. A phrase very frequently on his lips was, ‘Do not let any one be sent out to co-operate with me: I co-operate with others.’ I am not certain of the exact character of his work during the three years before he first came to Amoy. Certainly about half that time he was residing in Hong-Kong and in Canton, and during most of the remainder was co-operating, I think, with the German missionaries. The only periods of any length after that time that can be properly called ‘pioneering’ are his first stay at Swatow (somewhat over two years), and the few months of his residence at Nieu-chwang. But in the Swatow region he had been preceded by the German missionary Lechler; indeed one special reason of his going there was to carry on the work of Mr. Lechler, which had been for some time suspended, and soon after going there he found one of Lechler’s converts, a man of very decided character. In his later visits to Swatow, as well as at Amoy, Fuh-chow, Shanghai, and Peking, almost his whole work was co-operating with the missionaries previously settled there, usually in stations already begun or a place where a spirit of inquiry had been already excited.

“(4) That he was a Baptist. This report has been industriously spread in some quarters, being founded on the facts that he never administered baptism, and that on some occasions he worked along with Baptists. I need hardly remind you that he firmly held the scriptural authority of infant baptism, and also of sprinkling, whether as applied to children or adults; and that his sole reason for never baptizing was the desire of so avoiding anything like a pastoral relationship. Again, his occasional co-operation with Baptists merely arose from the catholic spirit in which he could co-operate with Christians of any evangelical denomination, along with the circumstance that on one or two occasions the persons who happened to be most thrown in his way were Baptists. By the same style of reasoning it would be easy to prove him an Independent, a Methodist, a Lutheran, or even an Episcopalian, or all of them at once.

“(5) That he approved of the mode of action of the Plymouth Brethren or of the ‘ China Inland Mission. ’ I need hardly say—as it is so abundantly manifest—that he had no sympathy with the doctrines and church order (or rather the want of definite doctrine and utter absence of church order) which characterize the Plymouth Brethren. . . .

“In regard to his own mode of action, he did not set himself up as a pattern to be copied in these respects. On the contrary, he was accustomed to defend his mode of action, not as a rule to be followed by others, but as a course suited to the special character of his own. mind.

“He used to speak of himself as one of those supernumeraries or light-armed soldiers of whom a small proportion may be attached to the regular troops. . . .

“As regards the so-called ‘Inland Mission/ his previous acquaintance with Mr. Taylor, and his catholic manner of ‘hoping all things/ led him indeed in a private letter (published apparently without any authority) to express his hope that good might come of that movement; but in that very letter he stated very distinctly his disbelief of the practicability (under existing circumstances) of establishing missionaries permanently at such vast distances in the interior as ‘all the provinces where there is yet no missionary.’

‘He has often given expression to his decided opinion that the standard of the qualifications of missionaries ought not to be lowered, as wThat the Chinese field specially needs is not merely men who can preach a little simple truth, but men fully furnished with the gifts and learning, as well as the piety and zeal, necessary for wisely watching over the infant churches and native assistants, and for the great work of teaching and training the future ministry of China. Over and over he decidedly refused offers of that very kind of undereducated labourers which the ‘Inland Mission’ so largely employs.

It is a common mistake in determining the views of any historical person to use passages from all parts of his writings, and incidents from all periods of his life, as of equal value, regardless of the law of change and progression which acts on all human minds. To the influence of this law Mr. Burns was no exception. It may be well to indicate a few examples.

“(1) As to Residence at the Ports.

“In his earlier letters there is often found a tendency to depreciate work at the treaty ports, and a desire that missionaries should mainly reside or travel about in the interior. But afterwards, as he found the difficulties of obtaining healthy residences in the interior, and as the climate began to tell on his own constitution, originally so very strong, and as the importance appeared of having strong churches at these centres of ever-increasing influence, his views were gradually modified; and while he still urged a greater amount of country work than had been usual in other missions, he was more alive to the need of having comfortable healthy residences at the treaty ports, as points from which to act on the interior. Of this no stronger proof could be desired than the fact that when he left Peking it was not to go to any of the great cities in the interior, but to settle ’at the port of Nieu-chwang, a place of comparatively small population, which derives its chief importance from being the treaty port of Manchuria.

“(2) As to Colloquial Hymns.

“During the year (1858-9) that we were together at Amoy, he strenuously opposed the attempt to make more colloquial hymns than the thirteen then in use (made by the Rev. W. Young, now in Australia), and urged in opposition the claims of hymns in the literary style, especially of the ‘Sin-si hap-swan,’ a collection in the literary style which he had made some years before. But very rapidly he not only changed these views, but set himself vigorously to make hymns in the colloquials of Swatow, Fuh-chow, Peking, and of Amoy itself. The hymns in the literary style are no longer used at public worship in the chapels here; and in the collection of sixty colloquial hymns used by the Presbyterian Church here (under the care of the American mission and our own) there are five hymns almost exactly as they came from his hand, and five others which are about half by him, and there is about tl*e same proportion in the hymn-book of the L. M. S. At Swatow, Fuh-chow, and Peking also many of his colloquial hymns continue to be used in the several missions.

“(3) In regard to the Chinese Dress,

“Though he adopted it in 1855, and continued to use it till his death, he had for many years regarded it with indifference. Even before I went home (1862) he often told me that he had not found the benefit from it which he had expected, that he did not find it the means of making him more useful, and that he would not advise any one to adopt it. He considered it much less safe than the foreign dress: for instance, once when sailing with me to Anhai in the Gospel Boat, a pirate junk came in sight; I was below at the time, but Mr. Burns called me on deck, that the pirates seeing my foreign dress might be deterred from attacking us. He also often showed a feeling of distress when the Chinese called out, as they did constantly, ‘ Look at that foreigner pretending to be a Chinaman!’ And in the years that elapsed since I last saw his face, this feeling of indifference deepened into something like dislike: for I have gathered from quite a number of witnesses in Amoy, Peking, and Nieu-chwang, that he often said that if he had known as much when he adopted the dress as he had learned by painful experience, he would not have adopted it; indeed, that he would have changed again to the foreign dress had it not been that he had got accustomed to it, and wished to avoid the expense and trouble of the change from one style of dress to another so different.”

In a subsequent letter Mr. Douglas sends me the following deeply touching document, the last lines ever traced by the dying missionary’s hand, and bearing date about a month after his parting message to his mother.

“It is very touching,” writes Mr. Douglas, “to copy out again these minute details about his friends, especially his Chinese friends, and that wonderful composing of his own epitaph when face to face with death: so calm and collected and peaceful; and those last strokes which he ever traced with the pen, his own old well-known hand, yet strangely altered, irregular and trembling from extreme weakness—‘Wm. C. Burns,’ on that 25th February when all his intercourse with old friends, even by pen and paper, came to an end:”—

“For Rev. Carstairs Douglas, Amoy.

“I got a severe chill at the end of the year, which has resulted in a low fever, preventing me from getting refreshing sleep, and so bringing down my strength. In case I should be taken away, I take my pen to say that Dr. Watson will send down my boxes to your address when he meets with a suitable vessel. The key of the overland trunks I shall inclose in this (there is a spare one), and in one of them the keys of the other boxes will be found. The Chinese clothes can be given to old acquaintances, among whom do not forget Tan-tai.1 The Dr. ’s watch can be restored to him; my own watch can go home with the overland trunks when there is an opportunity. There is some new flannel and a few pairs of new socks which are at your disposal. Of four coloured silk handkerchiefs please give two to my friend Mr. A. Stronach. I would wish all my packets of letters (which Mr. Swanson took out of my chest of drawers, and put along with books, &c., in a box—you must remember it) to be put in one of the overlands, and sent home along with such as are at present in the boxes. I suppose it will be best to prepare a grave-stone at Amoy, and send it up well packed. For the inscription I would suggest, ‘To the memory of the Rev. Wm. C. Burns, A.M., missionary to the Chinese from the Presbyterian Church in England. Born at Dun, Scotland, April 1st, 1815. Arrived in China, November, 1847. Died at Nieu-chwang . . . 1868, aged 53.

“I have more than 300 taels at the British consulate, and when all local expenses are paid, Dr. Watson will remit what remains to your addrfess to pay for the grave-stone, my subscription for Pechuia, &c. As to my present state of feeling, I may refer to the words of Paul, Phil. i. 23, &c. &c.

“Port of Nieu-chwang, Jan. 22d, 1868.”

[Thus far in his own hand: what follows is written by dictation.]

“P. S. Of my Chinese articles the following I should like sent home to my relatives in my overland trunks:—1st, A new port-wine coloured camlet ‘ma-kwa.’2 2d, A long gown of blue merino (or some such fabric), clean, though not new. 3d, A woven silk or floss sash. 4th, A Chinese leather-covered pillow.3 5th, A new Chinese pouch (for tying round the abdomen). 6th, A pair of ivory chop-sticks. A feather fan.

“7th, The long fur gown may perhaps suit yourself as a winter house-gown. The fur ma-kwa may be given to the native pastor of the Hok-tai church.3 To Tau-lo, the pastor of the Sin-koe-a native church,4 may be given a blue gown of heavy and excellent silk, along with a pair of Chinese leggings of flowered blue silk, and not wadded. The cloth ma-kwa with silk lining may be given to Tan-tai.5 Four or five good gowns I would wish sent down to Swatow to be distributed to A-kee and Ivilin of our mission, and A-sun and I-u of the American mission. For A-kee6 may be selected a blue silk gown of inferior quality to that given to Tau-lo, also a full length camlet ma-kwa which I have worn a good deal. Then you must still find gowns for such men as I-ju,7 Liong-lo,8 Bu-liet.9 Other articles you can distribute north and south10 among the most worthy assistants and members, not forgetting my old friend Nui9 at Pechuia. In making your distribution please consult with your brethren Messrs. Cowie and Macgregor.

“I already have asked you to give two silk coloured handkerchiefs to Mr. A. Stronach. Of the three remaining white ones please take for yourself, and ask Mr. Cowie and Mr. Macgregor each to accept a coloured one.

“Mr. Sandeman’s Geneva watch which I left in Mr. Swanson’s hands, I should wish returned to his mother (Mrs. Sandeman) or sister.

“The knife, fork, and most, if not all, of the spoons in the leather case which you gave me belong, I believe, to Mr. Swanson, and should be returned to him.

“The chest of drawers and cane-bottomed couch I leave for the use of the mission: the members can arrange at any time who has the most need of them. There are three volumes of Morrison’s Dictionary, the gift to me of the Rev. Mr. Keedy of London, which have been lent to Mr. Johnson of the-Amer. Bapt. Mission, Swatow, for a number of years. He should be requested to give a receipt for the same, and promise in case of his leaving China, or prospective decease, to return these to our mission at Swatow.—25th February, 1868.

[Signed with his own hand.] “Wm. C. Burns.”

Mr. Swanson has written an important paper on the general history of the Amoy mission of which I cannot now avail myself, but which I hope will appear in another form. The following glimpse, however, of my brother’s last visit to Amoy is so bright and life-like that I gladly insert it here:—

“In 1862 he came here from Fuh-chow. He arrived in the spring of that year, and remained in Amoy till August of the year following, when he left for Peking. Mr. Douglas left Amoy for a furlough home in June of 1862. It was during this last visit that I learned to know, love, and value Mr. Bums: and I can never think of that time without recalling our companying together, and without thanking God for permitting me to know him as I then did. Although he refused to take any part with me in the examination of inquirers, the administration of ordinances, and the general business of the mission, yet his labours and his advice were most valuable. He visited the stations regularly, and preached every Sabbath-day. I can recall how heartily and zealously he threw himself into the breach to help the persecuted brethren at Khi-boey; and I am certain that it was his wisdom and tact that were mainly instrumental in bringing matters to a happy conclusion in that region.

"At that time our American brethren and we jointly had a station ( at Chang-chow. The native church there had long been forced to meet in a small, confined house, quite unfit for a chapel in such an immense city as Chang-chow. They succeeded in getting a large and commodious house suited for a chapel. We expected some disturbance at its opening, and our expectations were not unfounded. There was some trouble. Mr. Burns went up soon after the opening, stayed in the chapel for two weeks or so, and then Dr. Carnegie and I joined him there. The doctor soon became most popular, and patients came crowding in. Mr. Burns, myself, and the native evangelists had some excellent opportunities for preaching, and I remember yet how delighted he seemed to be to see us all as busy as we could be with this work.

"During this time Mr. Bums also made several visits to our then most northerly station, Anhai. We frequently went there as well as to the other stations together. On these journeys he has again and again given me accounts of his life and labours in Scotland, England, and Canada. We often sat up till far on in the morning—I, a most eager listener to the deeply interesting details of his labours.

“While we were in Amoy together we saw each other twice daily. He lived in a room in the Amoy Medical Missionary Hospital, and there I went to see him daily at II o’clock in the forenoon, he coming to see me about 5 o’clock in the evening. He had always some very nicely boiled rice and a delicate little pork-chop for me, and used to force me to eat. Oftentimes I used to feel weary and oppressed with a number of things connected with such a scattered and extensive field of labour as that of our mission. I can yet recal his loving, kindly manner, how he used to pat me on the shoulder, lead me to the side of the room where stood a large bamboo couch, and kneel down and pray. These prayers I shall never forget. I was young and inexperiericed then, and felt keenly the weight of responsibility that was on me, but he always had a kind word to encourage me. I can remember well one such day when I felt more than usually troubled on account of some mission matters, when he clapped me on the back and told me to keep my mind easy, for if I were pastor of a church at home, and had some troublesome elders or cantankerous deacons, it would be worse for me than even such trials as I had in Amoy.

“But I cannot omit one thing so bright, so profitable to us during that brief season. He spent most of his evenings in the houses of his brother missionaries, and in our house he was naturally more frequently than in any other. He was one of the most genial, cheerful men I ever met, but he took great care as to when, how, and where he unbent himself. The presence of any one with whom he had not full sympathy immediately made him quiet, and I have seen him sit long in such circumstances without uttering a single word.

“His short expositions at family worship were always remarkable and most deeply interesting. Mrs. Swanson and he were great friends, and seemed always to understand one another. I remember yet his great anxiety about her at one time when she was rather indisposed.

“He left me for Peking in August, 1863. I saw him on board ship, and very soon after our getting on board the ship left the inner harbour. Next day I saw she was still at anchor off Amoy. I went out to see him, and stayed two hours with him. We prayed together, and I turned to leave. He sent his love to my wife, and I think I hear him yet saying, ‘The Lord bless her and Willy’ (my little boy) ‘and yourself.’ I saw him no more, and shall not see him again till, I trust, we meet above.”

Long months ago, with anxious heart and sore,
We prayed for him, whom our dim fancy’s sight
Saw, faintly labouring, ’mid the harvests white, 
On Sinim’s distant shore; .
For selfishly we grudged that one who bore
So well the fiercest onset of the fight,
And used so well the arms of heavenly might,
Should give the conflict o’er.
But even while, with blind, weak love we pray’d
Thus for the toil-worn, bowed, and weary one,
' The Master, more compassionate, had said—
“Rest now, thou soldier, rest! Servant, well done!
“Let others hold thy plough, and wield thy blade,
“And wrestle for the crown which thou hast won.”
July 8, 1868. W. B.

Lines by an unknown hand, which appeared in the public prints immediately after the tidings of Mr. Bums’ death reached Scotland.


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