IX. CHURCH UNION .
This utterance of the General Synod, while made with the best intentions, fell with exceedingly painful echo on the ears of the missionaries at Amoy. Was the flock they had gathered with so much prayer and effort, and reared with such sedulous care, to be thus summarily divided and perhaps in consequence scattered? The missionaries felt persuaded that their brethren in the United States could not fully appreciate the situation or there would be no such action.
Mr. Talmage again took up his pen in behalf of his Chinese flock. If it had been dipped in his own blood his utterances could not have been more forceful-could not have palpitated with a heartier affection for his Chinese brethren's sake.
On Dec. 23, 1857, he wrote to Dr. Isaac Ferris, who, since the separation from the A.B.C.F.M. at the last Synod, had become the Corresponding Secretary for the Board of Foreign Missions of tile Reformed Church.
"So far as we can judge from the report of the proceedings of General Synod as given in the Christian Intelligencer, one of the most important considerations, perhaps altogether the most important mentioned, why the church gathered by us here should not be an integral part of the Church in America, was entirely overlooked. That consideration relates to the unity of Christ's Church. Will our Church require of us, will she desire that those here who are altogether one,-one in doctrine, one in their views of church order, and one in mutual love,-be violently separated into two denominations? We cannot believe it. Suppose the case of two churches originally distinct, by coming into contact and becoming better acquainted with each other, they find that they hold to the same doctrinal standards, and they explain them in the same manner; they have the same form of church government and their officers are chosen and set apart in the same way; they have the same order of worship and of administering the sacraments; all their customs, civil, social, and religious, are precisely alike, and they love each other dearly; should not such churches unite and form but one denomination? Yet such a supposition does not and cannot represent the circumstances of the churches gathered by us and by our Scotch brethren of the English Presbyterian Church. Our churches originally were one, and still are one, and the question is not whether those churches shall be united, but shall they be separated? Possibly the question will be asked, why were these churches allowed originally to become one? We answer, God made them so, and that without any plan or forethought on our part, and now we thank Him for His blessing that He has made them one, and that He has blessed them because they are one.
"Our position is a somewhat painful one. We desire to give offense to no one, and we do not wish to appear before the Church as disputants. We have no controversy with any one. We have neither the time nor inclination for controversy. We are 'doing a great work,' and cannot 'come down.' Yet our duty to these churches here and to the Church at home and to our Master demands of us imperatively that we state fully and frankly our views. We have the utmost confidence in our church. We have proved this by endeavoring to get our views fully known."
The subject did not come up again for discussion before the General Synod until 1863.
Meanwhile the churches grew and multiplied. The Amoy church, which in 1856 had been organized by "the setting apart of elders and deacons," was separated into two organizations in 1860, "preparatory to the calling of pastors."
Two men were chosen by the churches in 1861. In 1862 an organization was formed called the "Tai-hoey," or "Great Elders' Meeting," consisting of the missionaries of both the English Presbyterian and Reformed Churches and the delegated elders from all the organized congregations under their united oversight. The two men chosen as pastors were examined, ordained, and installed by this body.
During that year Mr. Talmage was called to stand by the "first gash life had cut in the churchyard turf" for him. His beloved wife, Mrs. Abby Woodruff Talmage, was called to her reward, leaving Mr. Talmage with four motherless little ones. He was compelled to go to the United States to secure proper care for his children. He came in time to attend the General Synod of 1863. There he advocated most earnestly the course which the brethren at Amoy had taken.
Dr. Isaac Ferris brought the subject before the Synod in these words:
"In 1857 the Synod met at Ithaca, and a most remarkable Synod it was. According to the testimony of all who were present the Spirit of God unusually manifested His gracious presence. A venerable minister on his return remarked, 'It was like heaven upon earth.' That Synod, under this extraordinary sense of the Divine presence and unction, judged that the time had arrived for the Church to take the responsibility of supporting its foreign missionary work upon itself, and, accordingly, in very proper resolutions, asked of the American Board to have the compact which had been in operation since 1832 revoked, and the Mission transferred to our Foreign Board.
"It was at that meeting that a memorial of our brethren at Amoy on the subject of organization, very ably drawn, and presenting fully their views and reasonings, was read and deliberated on. Their work had been wonderfully blessed, and the whole Church was called to thanksgiving, and the time seemed at hand to realize the expectations of years. The brethren asked advice, and the Synod adopted the carefully-drawn report of a committee of which the President was chairman, advising the organization of a Classis at as early a day as was practicable. Our brethren at Amoy were not satisfied with this advice, and considered the subject as not having had a sufficient hearing.
"In the progress of their work they have deemed it proper to form a different organization from what the Synod advised, and which was in harmony with the constant aim of our Church on the subject. The Board of Foreign Missions, when the matter came before them, could only kindly protest and urge upon the brethren the action of the Synod of 1857. Not having ecclesiastical power, they could only argue and advise. They would have it remembered that all has been done in the kindest spirit. They have differed in judgment from the Mission, but not a ripple of unkind feeling has arisen.
"The question now before the Synod is, whether this body will recede from the whole policy of the Church and its action in 1857 or reaffirm the same. This Synod, in its action on this case, will decide for all its missions, and in all time, on what principles their missionaries shall act, and hence this becomes probably the most important question of this session. It is in the highest degree desirable that the Synod should give the subject the fullest the most patient and impartial examination, and that our brother, who represents the Amoy Mission, be fully heard."
Mr. Talmage next addressed the Synod and offered the following resolution:
"Resolved, That the Synod hear with gratitude to God of the great progress of the work of the Lord at Amoy, and in the region around, so that already we hear of six organized churches with their Consistories, and others growing up not yet organized, two native pastors who were to have been ordained on the 29th of March last, and the whole under the care of a Classis composed of the missionaries of our Church and of the English Presbyterian Church, the native pastors, and representative elders of the several churches. It calls for our hearty gratitude to the great Head of the Church that the missionaries of different Churches and different countries have been enabled, through Divine grace, to work together in such harmony. It is also gratifying to us that these churches and this Classis have been organized according to the polity of our Church, inasmuch as the Synod of the English Presbyterian Church has approved of the course of their missionaries in uniting for the organizing of a church after our order; therefore, this Synod would direct its Board of Foreign Missions to allow our missionaries to continue their present relations with the missionaries of the English Presbyterian Church, so long as the present harmony shall continue, and no departure shall be made from the doctrines and essential policy of our Church, or until the Synod shall otherwise direct."
There were speeches for and against, by distinguished men in the Church. Dr. T. W. Chambers, President of the Synod, made the concluding address, as follows:
"If there be any one here who has a deep and tender sympathy with our brother Talmage and his senior missionary colleague , I claim to be the man.
"Mr. Doty was my first room-mate at college thirty-one years ago, and ever since we have been fast friends. As to the other, his parents-themselves among the most eminent and devoted Christians ever known-were long members of the church in New Jersey, of which I was formerly in charge. For several years I was his pastor. I signed the testimonials of character required by the American Board before they commissioned him. I pronounced the farewell address when he left this country in 1850. I have watched with intense interest his entire career since, and no one welcomed him more warmly when he returned last year, bearing in his face and form the scars which time and toil had wrought upon his constitution. It is needless to say, then, that I love him dearly for his own sake, for his parents' sake, for his numerous friends' sake, but, more than all, for that Master's sake whom he has so successfully served. Nor is there anything within reason which I would not have the Church do for him. He shall have our money, our sympathy, our prayers, our confidence-the largest liberty in shaping the operations of the Mission he belongs to.
"But when we come to the matter now at issue, I pause. Much as I love our brother, I love Christ more. Nor can I surrender, out of deference to our missionaries, the constitution, the policy, the interests of our Church,--all of which are involved in this matter. Nay, even their own welfare, and that of the mission they are so tenderly attached to, demand that we should deny their request. What is this request? That we should allow our brethren at Amoy, together with the English Presbyterian missionaries there, to form with the native pastors and the delegates from the native churches, an independent Classis or Presbytery, over whose proceedings this body should have no control whatever, by way of appeal, or review, or in any other form. Now, the first objection to this is, that it is flatly in the face of our constitution and order. A 'self-regulating Classis' is a thing which has never been heard of in the Dutch Church since that Church had a beginning. It is against every law, principle, canon, example, and precedent in our books. Perhaps the most marked feature of our polity is the subordination of all parts of our body, large or small, to the review and control of the whole as expressed in the decisions of its highest ecclesiastical assembly. I submit that this Synod has no right to form or to authorize any such self regulating ecclesiastical body, or to consent that any ministers of our Church should hold seats in such a body. If we do it, we transcend the most liberal construction which has ever been known to be given to the powers of General Synod. How, then, can we do this thing? Whatever our sympathies, how can we violate our own order, our fundamental principles, the polity to which we are bound by our profession, by our subscription, by every tie which can bind religious and honorable men?
"Moreover, the thing we are asked to do contravenes our missionary policy from the beginning. As far back as 1832, when we made a compact with the American Board, one essential feature of the plan was that we should have 'an ecclesiastical organization' of our own. Without this feature that plan would never have been adopted; and the apprehension that there might be some interference with this cherished principle was at least one of the reasons why the plan, after working successfully for a quarter of a century, was at length abrogated. And so when, in 1857, we instituted a missionary board of our own, this view was distinctly announced.
"It was my privilege to draw up the report on the subject which has been so often referred to. That report did not express merely my view, or that of the committee, but the view of the entire Synod. Nor from that day to this has there been heard anywhere within our bounds even a whisper of objection from minister, elder, or layman in regard to the positions then taken. It is our settled, irreversible policy. Deep down in the heart of the Church lies the conviction that our missionaries, who carry to the heathen the doctrine of Christ as we have received it, must also carry the order of Christ as we have received it. Certain unessential peculiarities may, from the force of circumstances, be left in abeyance for a time, or even permanently, but the dominant features must be retained. It is not enough to have genuine Consistories, we must have genuine Classes. And, under whatever modifications, the substantive elements of our polity must be reproduced in the mission churches established by the blessing of God upon the men and means furnished by our Zion.
"Further, Mr. President, it is to be remembered that we are acting for all time. It is not this one case that is before us. We are settling a precedent which is to last for generations. Relax your constitutions and laws for this irregularity and you open a gap through which a coach and four may be driven. Every other mission, under the least pretext, will come and claim the same or a similar modification in their case, and you cannot consistently deny them. The result will be an ecclesiastical chaos throughout our entire missionary field. Let us begin as we mean to hold out. Let us settle this question now and settle it aright. We direct our missionaries what Gospel to preach, what sacraments to administer, what internal organization to give to single churches. Let us, in the same manner and for the same reasons, say what sort of bonds shall unite these churches to each other and govern their mutual relations and common interests.
"I know we are told that the hybrid organization which now exists is every way sufficient and satisfactory; that it is the fruit of Christian love, and that to disturb it would be rending the body of Christ. Here one might ask how it came to exist at all, seeing that this Synod spoke so plainly and unambiguously in 1857. And I for one cordially concur in the remark of the Elder Schieffelin, that the brethren there 'deserve censure.' We do not censure them, nor do we propose to do so, but that they deserve it is undeniable. But the point is, how can our disapproval of the mongrel Classis mar the peace of the Amoy brethren? There is already a division among their churches. Some are supported by our funds, others by the funds of the English Presbyterians. Would it alter matters much to say, and to make it a fact, that some of those churches belong to a Classis and others to a Presbytery? Some have an American connection and others an English. But this would break Christian unity! Would it, indeed? You observed, Mr. President, the affectionate confidence, blended with reverence, with which I addressed from the chair the venerable Dr. Skinner. The reason was that we both belong to an association of ministers in New York which meets weekly for mutual fellowship, enjoyment, and edification in all things bearing on ministerial character and duties. Ecclesiastically we have no connection whatever. I never saw his Presbytery in session, and I doubt if he ever saw our Classis; yet our brotherly, Christian, and even ministerial communion is as tender, and sacred, and profitable as if we had been copresbyters for twenty years. Now, who dare say that this shall not exist at Amoy? Our brethren there can maintain precisely the same love, and confidence, and co-operation as they do now, in all respects save the one of regular, formal, ecclesiastical organization.
"But I will not detain the Synod longer. I would not have left the chair to speak, but for the overwhelming importance of the subject. It is painful to deny the eager and earnest wishes of our missionary brethren, but I believe we are doing them a real kindness by this course. Union churches here have always in the end worked disunion, confusion, and every evil work. There is no reason to believe that the result would be at all different abroad. A division would necessarily come at some period, and the longer it was delayed, the more trying and sorrowful it would be. I am opposed, therefore, to the substitute offered by Brother Chapman, and also to that of Brother Talmage, and trust that the original resolutions, with the report, will be adopted. That report contains not a single harsh or unpleasant word. It treats the whole case with the greatest delicacy as well as thoroughness, but it reaffirms the action of 1857 in a way not to be mistaken. And that is the ground on which the Church will take its stand. Whatever time, indulgence, or forbearance can be allowed to our brethren, will cheerfully be granted. Only let them set their faces in the direction of a distinct organization, classical as well as consistorial, and we shall be satisfied. Only let them recognize the principle and the details shall be left to themselves, under the leadings of God's gracious providence."
The report of the Committee on Foreign Missions, E. S. Porter, D.D., chairman, was adopted. Part of it reads as follows:
"The missionaries there have endeared their names to the whole Christian world, and especially to that household of faith of which they are loved and honored members."
.... "No words at our command can tell what fond and flaming sympathies have overleaped broad oceans, and bound them and us together.
"'Words, like nature, half reveal, And half conceal the soul within.'
.... "Your committee are unable to see how it will be possible to carry the sympathies and the liberalities of the Church with an increasing tide of love and sacrifice in support of our missionary work, if it once be admitted as a precedent, or established as a rule, that our missionaries may be allowed to form abroad whatever combinations they may choose, and aid in creating ecclesiastical authorities, which supersede the authorities which commissioned them and now sustain them."
"The committee are not prepared to recommend that any violent and coercive resolutions should be adopted for the purpose of constraining our brethren in Amoy to a course of procedure which would rudely sunder the brotherly ties that unite them with the missionaries of the English Presbyterian Church. But a Christian discretion will enable them, on the receipt of the decision of the present Synod, in this matter now under consideration, to take such initial steps as are necessary to the speedy formation of a Classis.
"Much must be left to their discretion, prudence and judgment. But of the wish and expectation of this Synod to have their action conform as soon as may be to the resolutions of 1857, your committee think the brethren at Amoy should be distinctly informed. They therefore offer the following:
"'I. Resolved, That the General Synod, having adopted and tested its plan of conducting foreign missions, can see no reason for abolishing it; but, on the contrary, believe it to be adapted to the promotion of the best interests of foreign missionary churches, and of the denomination supporting them.
"'II. That the Board of Foreign Missions be, and hereby is, instructed to send to our missionaries at Amoy a copy or copies of this report, as containing the well-considered deliverance of the Synod respecting their present relations and future duty.
"'III. That the Secretary of the Foreign Board be, and hereby is, directed to send to the Rev. Dr. Hamilton, of London, Convener of the Presbyterian Committee, a copy of this report, with a copy of the action of 1857, and that he inform him by letter of the wishes and expectations of the Synod respecting the ecclesiastical relations which this body desires its churches in Amoy to sustain to it.'"
In the report of the Foreign Committee of the English Presbyterian Church for 1863, the following language is used in reference to the Union Chinese Church of Amoy:
"We are hopeful, however, that on further consideration our brethren in America may allow their missionaries in China to continue the present arrangement, at least until such time as it is found that actual difficulties arise in the way of carrying it out. 'Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unify,' and there are few brethren towards whom we feel closer affinity than the members of that Church, which was represented of old by Gomarus and Witsius, by Voet and Marck, and Bernard de Moore, and whose Synod of Dort preceded in time and pioneered in doctrine our own Westminster Assembly. Like them, we love that Presbyterianism and that Calvinism which we hold in common, and we wish to carry them wherever we go; but we fear that it would not be doing justice to either, and that it might compromise that name which is above every other, if, on the shores of China, we were to unfurl a separate standard. We would, therefore, not only respectfully recommend to the Synod to allow its missionaries to unite presbyterially as well as practically with the brethren of the Reformed Dutch Church; but we would express the earnest hope that the Synod of the sister Church in America may find itself at liberty to extend to its missionaries a similar freedom."
These sentiments were unanimously adopted by the Synod of the English Presbyterian Church.
The cause which Mr. Talmage was advocating was too near his heart, and his convictions were too strong to permit silence. He prepared a pamphlet, setting forth more clearly the position of the Mission at Amoy, as well as answering objections made to it. A few quotations read:
"In reference to it, i.e., the report of the Committee on Foreign Missions, we would make three remarks: It seems rather a cavalier answer to the fraternal wish of the Synod of the English Presbyterian Church, as expressed in their action. The action of Synod is made to rest on the fact that Synod had 'tested' this 'plan of conducting foreign missions.' If this be so, and the plan had been found by experiment unobjectionable, the argument is not without force. But how and where has this test been applied and found so satisfactory? Our Church has three Missions among the heathen-one in India, one in China, and one in Japan. Has it been tested in Japan? No. They have not yet a single native church. Has it been tested in China? If so, the missionaries were not aware of it. The test applied there has been of an opposite character and has been wonderfully successful. The test has only been applied in India, and has only begun to be applied even there. There, as yet, there is but one native pastor. Their Classis is more American than Indian. We must wait until they have a native Classis before the test can be pronounced at all satisfactory. No consideration is had for the feelings, wishes or opinions of the native churches. The inalienable rights of the native churches, their relation to each other, their absolute unity-things of the utmost consequence-are not at all regarded, are entirely ignored."
In reply to the advantages claimed to flow from the plan advocated by General Synod, Mr. Talmage says:
"1. The most important advantage is, or is supposed to be, that there will thus be higher courts of jurisdiction to which appeals may be made, and by which orthodoxy and good order may be the better secured to the Church at Amoy.
"Such advantages, if they can be thus secured, we would by no means underrate. There sometimes are cases of appeal for which we need the highest court practicable-the collective wisdom of the Church, so far as it can be obtained; and the preservation of orthodoxy and good order is of the first importance. Now, let us see whether the plan proposed will secure these advantages. Let us suppose that one of the brethren feels himself aggrieved by the decision of the Classis of Amoy and appeals to the Particular Synod of Albany, and thence to General Synod. He will not be denied the right to such appeal. But, in order that the appeal may be properly prosecuted and disposed of, the appellant and the representative of Classis should be present in these higher courts. Can this be secured? Is the waste of time, of a year or more, nothing? And where shall the thousands of dollars of necessary expense come from? Now, suppose this appellant to be a Chinese brother. He, also, has rights; but how, on this plan, can he possibly obtain them? Suppose that the money be raised for him and he is permitted to stand on the floor of Synod. He cannot speak, read, or write a word of English. Not a member of Synod can speak, read, or write a word of his language, except it be the brother prosecuting him. I ask, is it possible for him thus to obtain justice? But, waiving all these disadvantages, the only point on which there is the least probability that an appeal of a Chinese brother would come up before the higher courts, are points on which these higher courts would not be qualified to decide. They would doubtless grow out of the peculiar customs and laws of the Chinese, points on which the missionary, after he has been on the ground a dozen years, often feels unwilling to decide, and takes the opinion of the native elders in preference to his own. Is it right to impose a yoke like this on that little Church which God is gathering, by your instrumentality, in that far-off land of China? But it is said that these cases of appeal will very rarely or never happen. Be it so; then this supposed advantage will seldom or never occur, and, if it should occur, it would prove a disadvantage."
In regard to keeping the Church pure in doctrine:
"Sure I am that the Church in China cannot be kept pure by legislation on this, the opposite side of the globe. But we expect Christ to reign over and the Holy Spirit to be given to the Churches, and the proper ecclesiastical bodies formed of them in China, as well as in this land. Why not? Such are the promises of God. The way to secure these things is by prayer and the preaching of the pure Gospel, not by legislation. Let the Church be careful in her selection of missionaries. Send only such as she has confidence in-men of God, sound in faith, apt to teach-and then trust them, or recall them. Don't attempt to control them contrary to their judgment. Strange if this, which is so much insisted on as the policy of our Church, be right, that she cannot get a single man, of all she sends out to China, to think so. Can it be that the missionary work is so subversive of right reason, or of correct judgment, or of conscientiousness, that all become perverted by engaging in it?
"2. Another supposed advantage is the effect it will have in enlisting the sympathies of the Church in behalf of the Mission at Amoy. Our people do not first ask whether it be building ourselves up, before they sympathize with a benevolent object. We believe the contrary is the exact truth. It requires a liberal policy to call forth liberal views and actions. As regards the enlisting of men, look at the facts. Every man who has gone out from among you to engage in this missionary work begs of you not to adopt a narrow policy. So in regard to obtaining of funds. Usually the men who are most liberal in giving are most liberal in feeling.
.... "However powerful the motive addressed to the desire to build up our own Church, there are motives infinitely more powerful. Such are the motives to be depended upon in endeavoring to elevate the standard of liberality among our people. If our people have not yet learned, they should be taught to engage in the work of evangelizing the world, not for the sake of our Church in America, but for the sake of Christ and His Church, and when the Church thus built up is like our own they should be fully satisfied. We believe they will be satisfied with this.
"Now let us consider the real or supposed evils of carrying out the decision of Synod.
"1. It will not be for the credit of our Church. She now has a name, with other Churches, for putting forth efforts to evangelize the world. Shall she mar this good name and acquire one for sectarianism, by putting forth efforts to extend herself, not her doctrines and order-they are not sectarian, and her missionaries esteem them as highly as do their brethren at home-but herself, even at the cost of dividing churches which the grace of God has made one? The decision of the last Synod may not be the result of sectarianism among the people of our Church. We do not think it is. But it will be difficult to convince our Presbyterian brethren and others that it is not so. By way of illustration I will suppose a case. A. is engaged in a very excellent work. B. comes to him, and the following dialogue ensues:
"B. 'Friend A., I am glad to see you engaged in so excellent a work. I also have concluded to engage in it. I should be glad to work with you. You know the proverbs, 'Union is strength,' and 'Two are better than one.'
"A. 'Yes, yes, friend B., I know these proverbs and believe them as thoroughly as you do. But I have a few peculiarities about my way of working. They are not many, and they are not essential, but I think they are very useful, and wish to work according to them. Therefore, I prefer working alone.'
"B. 'Yes, friend A., we all have our peculiarities, and, if they be not carried too far, they may all be made useful. I have been making inquiries about yours, and I am glad to find they are not nearly so many, or so different from mine, as you suppose, and as I once supposed. The fact is, I rather like some of them, and though I may not esteem them all as highly as you do, still I am willing to conform to them; for I am fully persuaded that, in work of this kind, two working together can do vastly more than two working separately, and the work will be much better done. Besides this, the social intercourse will be delightful.'
"A. 'I appreciate, friend B., your politeness, and am well aware that all you say about the greater efficiency and excellence of united work and the delights of social intercourse is perfectly true. But--but--well, I prefer to work alone.'
"2. It will injure the efficiency of the Church at Amoy. Besides the objection furnished by the increase of denominations, which the heathen will thus, as readily as the irreligious in this country, be able to urge against Christianity, it will deprive the churches of the benefit of the united wisdom and strength of the whole of them for self-cultivation and for Christian enterprise, and will introduce a spirit of jealous rivalry among them. We know it is said that there need be no such result, and that the native churches may remain just as united in spirit after the organization of two denominations as before. Such a sentiment takes for granted, either that ecclesiastical organization has in fact no efficiency, or that the Chinese churches have arrived at a far higher state of sanctification than the churches have attained to in this land. Do not different denominations exhibit jealous rivalry in this land? Is Chinese human nature different from American?
"In consequence of such division the native Churches will not be so able to support the Gospel among themselves. Look at the condition of our Western towns in this respect. Why strive to entail like evils on our missionary churches? ....
"But may not the Church change or improve her decisions? Here is one of the good things we hope to see come out of this mistake of the Church. Jesus rules, and He is ordering all things for the welfare of His Church and the advancement of His cause. Sometimes, the better to accomplish this end, He permits the Church to make mistakes. When we failed in former days to get our views made public, it gave us no anxiety, for we believed the doctrine that Jesus reigns. So we now feel, notwithstanding this mistake. The Master will overrule it for good. We do not certainly know how, but we can imagine one way. By means of this mistake the matter may be brought before our Church, and before other Churches, more clearly than it would otherwise have been for many years to come, and in consequence of this we expect, in due time, that our Church, instead of coming up merely to the standard of liberality for which we have been contending, will rise far above anything we have asked for or even imagined, and other Churches will also raise their standard higher. Hereafter we expect to contend for still higher principles. This is the doctrine. Let all the branches of the great Presbyterian family in the same region in any heathen country, which are sound in the faith, organize themselves, if convenient, into one organic whole, allowing liberty to the different parts in things non-essential. Let those who adopt Dutch customs, as at Amoy, continue, if they see fit, their peculiarities, and those who adopt other Presbyterian customs, as at Ningpo and other places, continue their peculiarities, and yet all unite as one Church. This subject does not relate simply to the interests of the Church at Amoy. It relates to the interests of all the missionary work of all the churches of the Presbyterian order in all parts of the world. Oh, that our Church might take the lead in this catholicity of spirit, instead of falling back in the opposite direction-that no one may take her crown! But if she do not, then we trust some other of the sacramental hosts will take the lead and receive, too, the honor, for it is for the glory of the great Captain of our salvation and for the interests of His kingdom. We need the united strength of all these branches of Zion for the great work which the Master has set before us in calling on us to evangelize the world. In expecting to obtain this union, will it be said that we are looking for a chimera? It ought to be so, ought it not? Then it is no chimera. It may take time for the Churches to come up to this standard, but within a few years we have seen tendencies to union among different branches of the Presbyterian family in Australia. In Canada, in our own country, and in England and Scotland. In many places these tendencies are stronger now than they have ever before been since the days of the Reformation.
"True, human nature is still compassed with infirmities even in the Church of Christ. But the day of the world's regeneration is approaching, and as it approaches nearer to us, doubtless the different branches of the Presbyterian family will approach still nearer to each other. God hasten the time, and keep us also from doing anything to retard, but everything to help it forward, and to His name be the praise forever. Amen."
So strong was the feeling of the entire Amoy Mission, that in September, 1863, the following communication was sent to the Board of Foreign Missions:
"Dear Brethren: We received from you on the 22d ultimo the action taken by the General Synod at its recent session at Newburgh with regard to the proposed organization of a Classis at Amoy. Did we view this step in the light in which Synod appears to have regarded it, we should need in this communication to do no more than signify our intention to carry out promptly the requirements of Synod; but we regret to say that such is not the case, and that Synod, in requiring this of us, has asked us to do that which we cannot perform. We feel that Synod must have mistaken our position on this question. It is not that we regard the proposed action as merely inexpedient and unwise; if this were all, we would gladly carry out the commands of Synod, transferring to it the responsibility which it offers to assume. But the light in which we regard it admits of no transfer of responsibility. It is not a matter of judgment only, but also of conscience.
"We conscientiously feel that in confirming such an organization we should be doing a positive injury and wrong to the churches of Christ established at Amoy, and that our duty to the Master and His people here forbids this. Therefore, our answer to the action of General Synod must be and is that we cannot be made the instruments of carrying out the wishes of Synod in this report; and further, if Synod is determined that such an organization must be effected, we can see no other way than to recall us and send hither men who see clearly their way to do that which to us seems wrong.
"We regret the reasons which have led us to this conclusion. We have thought it best that each member of the Mission should forward to you his individual views on this subject, rather than embody them in the present communication.
"We accordingly refer you to these separate statements which will be sent to you as soon as prepared.
"Commending you, dear brethren, to our common Lord, whose servants we all are, and praying that He will guide us into all truth, we are as ever,
"Your brethren in Christ
E. DOTY, A. OSTROM, D. RAPALJE, LEONARD W. KIP, AUG. BLAUVELT.
"AMOY, Sept. 16, 1863."
The last action taken by the General Synod was in June, 1864, and reads as follows:
"Resolved, That while the General Synod does not deem it necessary or proper to change the missionary policy defined and adopted in 1857, yet, in consideration of the peculiar circumstances of the Mission of Amoy, the brethren there are allowed to defer the formation of a Classis of Amoy until, in their judgment, such a measure is required by the wants and desires of the Churches gathered by them from among the heathen."
At the Centenary Conference on the Protestant Missions of the World, held in Exeter Hall, London, 1888, Rev. W. J. K. Taylor, D.D., for many years a most efficient member of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Reformed Church in America, read a paper on "Union and Cooperation in Foreign Missions," in which he said:
"Actual union has been happily maintained at Amoy, China, for more than a quarter of a century between the missionaries of the Reformed Church in America and those of the Presbyterian Church of England. Having labored together in the faith of the Gospel, gathering converts into the fold of Christ, and founding native churches, these brethren could not and would not spoil the unity of those infant churches by making two denominations out of one company of believers nor would they sow in that virgin soil the seeds of sectarian divisions which have long sundered the Protestant Churches in Europe and America. The result was the organization of the Tai-Hoey, or Great Council of Elders, which is neither an English Presbytery nor a Reformed Church Classis, but is like them both. It is not an appendage of either of these foreign Churches, but is a genuine independent Chinese Christian Church holding the standards and governed by the polity of the twin-sister Churches that sent them the Gospel by their own messengers. The missionaries retain their relations with their own home Churches and act under commissions of their own Church Board of Missions. They are not settled pastors, but are more like the Apostolic Evangelists of New Testament times,--preachers, teachers, founders of Churches, educators of the native ministry, and superintendents of the general work of evangelization.
"This Tai-Hoey is a child of God, which was 'born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.' It is believed to be the first ecclesiastical organization for actual union and co-operation in mission lands by the representatives of churches holding the Reformed faith and Presbyterial polity. Its history has already been long enough to give the greatest value to its experience."
For seven years, by tongue and pen, Mr. Talmage advocated the establishment of an independent Chinese Union Church of the Presbyterian order. Even then the Reformed Church was not fully persuaded and did not give her hearty assent. The resolution of 1864 was only tentative. It was a plea for toleration. This was not strange. It was one of the earliest efforts, if not the earliest, for church union and separate autonomy on heathen soil. It was a new departure. But the battle was really won. The question was never broached again. The strongest opponents then are the warmest friends of union and autonomy now. Thirty years of happiest experience, of hearty endorsement by native pastors and foreign missionaries are sufficient testimony to the wisdom of the steps then taken.
In November, 1864, Mr. Talmage married Miss Mary E. Van Deventer, and forthwith proceeded to China, where he arrived early in 1865.
In 1867, Rutgers College, New Jersey, recognized Mr. Talmage's successful and scholarly labors in China for a period of full twenty years, by giving him the degree of Doctor of Divinity.