Page:Tseng Kuo Fan and the Taiping Rebellion.djvu/59

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41
ORGANISATION OF GOD-WORSHIPPERS

appear that there were phenomena similar to those recorded in the account of the early Christian church, when many men and women spoke as if they were inspired by the Holy Ghost. Many possessions of this kind were recorded among these Kwangsi congregations, trances in which messages—sometimes unintelligible, but generally in doggerel verse—were delivered through those who had received the possessions. Hung, on his arrival, inspected the records of the various alleged utterances and judged some to be divine and others of demon origin—those of Yang and Hsiao falling into the first group and representing actual messages of the heavenly Father and the celestial elder brother, Jesus.[1] He does not give us any clew as to who were apparently trying to gain the leadership, but whoever they were, the acceptance of Yang and Hsiao as the mouthpieces for God the Father and Jesus the Savior quieted the opposition, and gave the control of the movement into the hands of these men. But they were not able to go forward without the presence of a head, and that must be Hung, the original source of the movement, on the strength of whose story most of the propaganda had probably been carried on.

One matter is fairly clear from these accounts; that some struggle for leadership had been going on among these congregations, serious enough to involve the whole future of Hung himself; and that temporarily this struggle had been brought to an end. Another point is also clear. Though the actual organisation of the Taiping government did not take place until nearly three years later, the delivery of Fêng from Kweip'ing, possibly from prison, was so important a matter as to verge on the miraculous. The probable explanation, in the light of the passages implying several pitched battles, is that the rescue was effected by force against the officials and their

  1. Hamberg, pp. 45 f.