Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/304

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From the settlement of the Yli-man-tse troubles of 1898 to the Boxer rising in 1900 — a period of nearly two years — the work in Szechwan enjoyed a time of peace and quiet, which was brought to an abrupt end in the summer of 1900, when all missionaries of all societies were compelled to flee to the coast.

V. Popular Period (1901-1907). — West China suffered very little from the Boxer Movement of 1900. On the return of the missionaries to their respective stations during the early part of 1901 they found in many places, especially in the western parts of Szechwan, what is now known as the Mass Movement in full swing. This movement may be traced back as far as 1895, when it really began, subsequent to the settlement of the riots which occurred at that time. This movement steadily grew till it was crushed by the Yli-man-tse Rebellion, but immediately after the settlement of those troubles it revived with fresh vigour and strength. During that time, however, it was almost entirely confined to the Roman Catholic Church. But after the Boxer settlement, the Mass Movement not only revived amongst the Roman Catholics, but also took hold of the Protestant Church as well.

This movement was most perplexing, even to experienced missionaries. Deputations were constantly arriving from the surrounding districts with offers from the gentry and leading men to open Gospel halls, preaching stations, or schools, free of cost to the missionary societies. Long lists were presented with the names of those who were anxious to become "adherents" of the Church or "learners" of the truth. This movement appealed in different ways to different missionaries and missionary societies. Some of the more optimistic welcomed it as an answer to the prayers of past years and the plenteous sowing of the last decades. Others, who were not quite so enthusiastic, looked askance on the movement, and generally discouraged the establishment of stations under such conditions. Notwithstanding, all were of the opinion that this was an excellent opportunity to present the Gospel to the people, and every