Then there is a second danger climbing in fast on the heels of this, that is already being plainly felt. These peoples may turn away from a Christianity that seems powerless to them.
As they come to know better the simple principles of our faith they may see that we are not true to it. Our Master bade us go everywhere and tell all men of Him, and tell them most and best by the way we live. But we haven't done it. The Church of the past nineteen centuries, taken as a whole, hasn't done it. The Church to-day, taken as a whole, isn't doing it.
How many times have the missionaries been obliged to listen to the question, which is a reproach rather than a question, |Why didn't you come before? My father lived and died in distress, seeking for this light you bring us now. Why didn't your father come and tell my father?| If they find that our faith hasn't gripped us enough to master our lives they will naturally doubt if, after all, there is any more real practical power in it than in their own heathen beliefs.
It seems better in theory, but it seems to lose its ideals in the stiff test of practice. They would be wrong in thinking that, of course. But what conclusion more natural to the crowd that never thinks deep. When all the difficulties and hardships come in the way of their acceptance of Christ, and the easiest way is not to, how easy to throw the whole thing aside.
The story is told of a Chinaman in this country who applied for a position as house-servant in a family which belonged to a fashionable church. He was asked:
|Do you drink whiskey?|
|No, I Clistian man.|
|Do you play cards?|
|No, I Clistian man.|
He was engaged, and proved to be a capable servant. By and by the lady gave a bridge-party, with wine accompaniments. The Chinaman did his part acceptably, but the next morning he appeared before his mistress.
|I want quit,| he said.
|Why? What is the matter?|
|I Clistian man. I told you so before; no heathen; no workee for 'Melican heathen.|
These heathen brothers of ours are not fools. They are a keen lot. They judge our religion by us who profess it, as we do with them and theirs. There may come a wide-spread practical disbelief, or lack of belief, that there is any practical power in Christ to change a man's life, and really control his actions. And it will be a perfectly logical conclusion from what they find in us Christian nations as a whole.