Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/35

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EARLY MISSIONS

Although the breviary of the Malabar Church and the Syrian Canon both record that St. Thomas preached the Gospel to the Chinese, and although Arnobius, the Christian apologist (A.D. 300) writes of the Christian deeds done in India and among the Seres (Chinese), the first certain date concerning early missions in China is connected with the work of the Nestorian Church. It is now generally accepted that the Nestorians made their entry into China as early as A.D. 505, and records exist stating that Nestorian monks brought the eggs of the silkworm from China to Constantinople in A.D. 551. The discovery, at Sian Fu in A.D. 1625, of the Nestorian tablet, places the question of Nestorian Missions in China beyond all doubt. This tablet, which was erected in A.D. 781, tells of the arrival of Nestorian missionaries at Sian Fu, the then capital of China, as early as A.D. 635, and gives some brief account of their work and teaching.

Although these early missionaries preached the Gospel and translated the Scriptures, of which translation, however, there is now no trace, their work was not of an abiding character. Partly through subsequent persecution on the part of the Chinese Government, partly through the rise of Mohammedanism and the power of the Arabs, who cut off their connection with the west, and probably because their Gospel was not a full Gospel, their work did not abide the test of time and the strain of adverse conditions. Nevertheless, traces of their work are to be found through many centuries.

In A.D. 845 the Emperor Wu Tsung, when condemning

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