Dr. Talmage was not perfect. He was essentially a humble man, and he would be the first to tell us that of every sinner saved by grace, he was the most unworthy. And when he said it, he felt it. And he had not the very most distant idea how great a man he was. Sometimes one fears that this very modesty pushed to an extreme prevented others who did not know his life and his work from accurately gauging his real work. Better perhaps, he would say, that it should be so; better to think of the work than of the workers. To hold up Christ and to be hidden behind Him is the highest privilege of those engaged in the service of this King. And this, his uniform bearing, made him all the greater.
It would be useless speculation to lay down here what should be the special qualifications of a missionary to the Chinese. The better way is to find them in the concrete, so far as you can do so in an individual, and set Him forth as an example for others. The friend of whom we write would deprecate this, but it is the only way in which we can see him as he was and account for the singularly prominent place he occupied amongst us.
I do not need to say here that he was a man of faith and prayer, earnest and zealous for the spread of Christ’s Kingdom; in the face of difficulties and dangers, of disappointments and failures, maintaining an unwavering faith that the Kingdom must come and would yet rule over all.
He had both an intense love for his work and enthusiasm in carrying it on. He came with a definite message to the people to whom the Master had sent him. There was no apologizing for it, no watering it down, no uncertain sound about it with him. Christ and Christ alone can meet the wants and woes of humanity,—Chinese or American or British. He had no doubt about it whatever; and hereby some of us learned that if we had not this message it would have been far better for us to have stayed at home. And this feature marked him all over his course. You felt as you listened to his pleadings that sin and salvation were terms brimful of meaning to him. He had traveled this road, and all his pleadings seemed to be summed up in the one yearning cry, “Come with us and we will do thee good.” “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” And he would have gone to the end, “of whom I am chief.”
Then he had a great love for the people. He made himself acquainted with the family and social conditions of the people. He had not come to Americanize but to Christianize the Chinese. And for this he equipped himself. I never saw him so happy as when he was surrounded by them. He was then in his real element, answering their questions, solving their difficulties, opening up to them the Scriptures, and meeting them wherever he thought they needed to be met. And go to his study when you liked, you