Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/37

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INTRODUCTION

despatched John de Monte Corvino upon what became the first settled Roman Catholic Mission in the court of Kublai Khan, the founder of the Yüen or Mongol dynasty in China. The missionary activity which existed in Europe at this time is revealed by Raymond Lull's advocation of the founding of a chair in the University of Paris for the study of the Tartar tongue, that "thus we may learn the language of the adversaries of God; and that our learned men, by preaching to them and teaching them, may by the sword of the Truth overcome their falsehood and restore to God a people as an acceptable offering, and may convert our foes and His to friends."

However much one may feel that John de Monte Corvino's teaching as a messenger of Rome may differ from the Protestant faith of to-day, there can be no question that he was in spirit a true missionary. Opposed by the Nestorians, cut off for twelve long years from any communication with Europe, he did what the Roman Catholic Church are not accustomed to do to-day, he translated the whole of the New Testament and the Psalter into the language of the Tartars among whom he dwelt, and publicly taught the law of Christ. His two extant letters are pathetic records of his labours. Grey-headed through his toils and tribulations long before his time, he yet cheerfully endured the hardships of his mission, and survived until the ripe age of seventy-eight, having been appointed Archbishop of China in 1307. It was at the time of this appointment that Clement V. sent seven assistants to help him, and after his death various successors were appointed; but the sway of the Mongol dynasty was not for long, and with its fall, and with the rise of the Ming dynasty which followed, Christianity was for a time swept out of China.

One of the grandest opportunities that the Church of Christ has ever had presented to it, and it must be remembered this was before the rise of Protestantism, is connected with the lifetime of Kublai Khan mentioned above. There are letters still extant, preserved in the