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[Letter from Young John Allen to George Gilman Smith, Jr.]
June 26 1880
My dear George,
Your long and unusually interesting letter of April 2d came to hand by our [unclear] last mail, but I was too under [unclear] to reply by return str [unclear] , hence I avail of the present opportunity. to [deleted] My last letter to you was a short one but rather than delay I thought [deleted] did [added] the best I could. The fact is I have been overworking now for sometime. Dr. Wilson has laid me under heavy contribution for a new book he purposes to issue on our Foreign Missions and I have been travailing lustily on the Introduction which he assigned me. That is now finished and fills 50 pages - this size - but I still have some part of the history of our China Mission to do.View image of page
I have availed of the opportunity thus offered to present the strongest possible (at least to me) appeal in behalf of our Missionary work in China. I think you will be pleased with it. It discusses three propositions, which however I must refer you to the Book itself to see. I shall send it off by next mail and I [deleted] hope he will have the Book ready [unclear] for the Conferences next Fall & Winter.
I am glad to have your counter views amend the papers at Nashville. Perhaps you are right. You are nearer the field of operations than I am and know better what is needed and the style hereof than I can claim to do.
When I saw you last in your own dear home and family at Milledgeville I could but mast
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last [unclear] . As well expect the 99 unbroken links of a chain cable to save [unclear] a grip when the hundreth has given way. I teach my converts that they must be perfect -- that nothing less than perfection can save them -- but that as in themselves they cannot be so, they must of necessity be made perfect in Christ and stay so by keeping hid [unclear] in him -- which of course requires that they separate themselves from the world and give no half hearted service to God & the Church.
You must not however think from the above that there is no compassion and sympathy for the struggling soul among the Chinese. Their difficulties are certainly very great, but when they make up their minds the grace of God is always sufficient. I allow no trifling.View image of page
The probationary system with [unclear] us is a positive necessity and that [deleted] is [added] un [deleted] extended, as to time, according to circumstances. A man is required to get his full consent to the faith and cut loose from his old ways before he can be received. He must cast himself upon the promises of God -- rest [unclear] in them -- and never [unclear] nod in his devotions. You must know that this living character is necessary to overcome in the first place the natural ineptness [unclear] of Chinese character and keep them from resting [gap 1 word strikethrough] in the mere outward performances of religion. Chinese or heathen worship is simply a physical performance, the exhibition of an outward form entirely destitute [unclear] of Spirit or virtue. We have to eradicate such views and entirely substitute deadness with life.View image of page
It is a question in my mind whether too great haste to make converts in the past has not greatly hindered the progress of the Gospel. Numbers not character and quality have too often been accepted as the test of success. The struggle to get into the Church is now very keen in my own work at Trinity - but though I have some 57 names on my list I keep them out
till they can come in without asking any compromise. I tell them I have no power to abate
the law of Christ. I am sent to preach and teach the Gospel, and to keep the law not to modify or mend it to suit them. I tell them plainly that all the abominations and departures of Roman Catholicism which they see had their origin chiefly in temporizing
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the Gospel to suit the converts to that church.
What would you do with this case? -- one now before me in my own church seeking baptism at our next Quarterly meeting -- to wit = A man with his wife, two children and his mother -- 5 in all demand baptism. To the Gospel they give consent and seem to be earnest in their application. Yet the man says he cannot keep but half the Sunday. He is a clerk in a shop whose proprietor is a Roman Catholic. His wife is a maker and seller of mock paper money used in the worship of idols. This they are willing to surrender as incompatible with their profession
. The whole thing turns as you see upon ability to observe the Sabbath. Now what would you do? But I will not wait for your answer. To
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yield [unclear] the point would destroy my whole Church -- root and branch -- for there is hardly a single member or probationer in it that could not and perhaps would not plead a similar necessity. The truth is the foundation of the Church must be laid here amid some temporary sacrifices -- and until the Sabbath becomes more extensively recognized it cannot but be that our converts must suffer more or less. But [deleted] But in the meantime [added] the willingness to commit themselves to God and His providence must be insisted on as a proper test of their fidelity. It may seem hard but there is absolutely no help for it. Faith alone makes it possible and when there is not that faith we have good reason to suspect the foundation of our hope for
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the future of the Gospel in China.
The Pope could grant a dispensation in such or a similar case -- but have I or any other foreign Missionary such power? Or are we at liberty to use any discretion whatever in the matter.
I titt [unclear] you with grief and shame that there is rottenness ever [unclear] to stench among converts that I could name at Shanghai and all because of laxity of administration. I could sometimes almost wish that we had all our first works here to do over from the very beginning. That every church were scraped [unclear] clean and had to begin without a single adherent, provided there should be no more haste -- no more premature admission to the Church -- no more [gap 1 word illegible], compromizing, etc etc as in the past.View image of page
But see what a long scrawl I am writing on this subject. Perhaps it will bore you -- mayhap interest you as something new in this line of things. Many are called but few are chosen. That is the language of Heaven. We cannot reverse it. "Whatsoever ye bind on Earth shall be bound in heaven." What is equal to this responsibility? It is no small matter to be a Missionary. With fear and trembling we open and shut the door of the Church. More and more I feel the need of the Holy Ghost in me and upon the Church. He alone can build us up -- an impregnable power in the midst of this multitudinous paganism and enable us to withstand the assaults of evil. Pray for us dear George -- for me particularly that wisdom may be given to me for it
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the fearless discharge of all my duty, and that having done all I may be able to stand.
I was rejoiced to hear of your great work. Such revivals -- even though they be on the [gap 2 word illeible] the world -- refresh me too -- and the mention of them to our native Christians has a most happy effect.
I am glad to have good news from the brethern McLain & Loeher. They will be welcome here and find a large field open to their efforts. My daughter has accepted work under the [gap 1 letter strikethrough] p [added] arent Board and is now setting about helping me in right good earnest.
I haven't time for more. Shall expect you to reply promptly. Love to your dear wife & family.
Ever Yours Affectionatly,Young J. Allen