In November, 1864, Mr. Talmage married Miss Mary E. Van Deventer, and forthwith proceeded to China, where he arrived early in 1865.
In 1867, Rutgers College, New Jersey, recognized Mr. Talmage’s successful and scholarly labors in China for a period of full twenty years, by giving him the degree of Doctor of Divinity.
Prince Kung, at Sir Rutherford Alcock’s parting interview with him in 1869, said: “Yes, we have had a great many discussions, but we know that you have always endeavored to do justice, and if you could only relieve us of missionaries and opium, there need be no more trouble in China.”
He spoke the mind of the officials, literati, and the great masses of the people. Heathenism is incarnate selfishness. How can a Chinese understand that men will turn their backs on the ancestral home, travel ten thousand miles with no other object but to do his countrymen good? The natural Chinaman cannot receive it. He suspects us. And he has enough to pillow his suspicion on. Let him turn the points of the compass. He sees the great North-land in the hands of Russia. He sees the Spaniard tyrannizing over the Philippine Islanders. He sees Holland dominating the East Indies. He sees India’s millions at the feet of the British lion. “What are these benevolent-looking barbarians tramping up and down the country for? Why are they establishing churches and schools and hospitals? They are trying to buy our hearts by their feigned kindness, and hand us over to some Western monarch ere long.” So reasons our unsophisticated Chinese. He is heartily satisfied with his own religion or utterly indifferent to any religion. He has no ear for any new doctrine except as a curiosity, to give momentary amusement, and then to be thrown to the ground like a child’s toy.
The missionary appears on the scene in dead earnest. “Agitation is our profession.” We are among those “who are trying to turn the world upside down.”
The Spirit of God touches and dissolves the apathy, melts the ice, breaks the stone, and we see men alive unto God; “old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” What a change in the recipient of God’s grace.
A change, too, takes place in him who resists. Icy apathy becomes burning, bitter hatred. The whole enginery of iniquity is set in motion to sweep off this strange foreign propaganda. Malicious placards are posted before every yamen and temple. Basest stories are retailed. “The barbarians dig out men’s eyes and cut out men’s hearts to make medicine of them.” The thirst for revenge is engendered, until, like an unleashed tiger, the mob springs upon the missionary’s home, and returns not till its thirst has been slaked with the blood of the righteous. That is the dark shadow hanging over missionary life in nearly every part of the Chinese Empire.