Strong, A.H. – A Tour of the Missions

A Tour of the Missions

Observations and Conclusions


President Emeritus of the Rochester Theological Seminary

Author of “Systematic Theology,” “Philosophy and Religion,” “Christ in Creation,” “Miscellanies,” “Chapel-Talks,” “Lectures on the Books of the New Testament,” “The Great Poets and Their Theology,” “American Poets and Their Theology”

Philadelphia The Griffith and Rowland Press Boston Chicago St. Louis New York Los Angeles Toronto Winnipeg MCMXVIII

Copyright, 1918, by Guy C. Lamson, Secretary Published March, 1918


The forty years of my presidency and teaching in the Rochester Theological Seminary have been rewarded by the knowledge that more than a hundred of my pupils have become missionaries in heathen lands. For many years these former students have been urging me to visit them. Until recently seminary sessions and literary work have prevented acceptance of their invitations. When I laid down my official duties, two alternatives presented themselves: I could sit down and read through the new Encyclopædia Britannica, or I could go round the world. A friend suggested that I might combine these schemes. The publishers provide a felt-lined trunk to hold the encyclopædia: I could read it, and circumnavigate the globe at the same time. This proposition, however, had an air of cumbrousness. I concluded to take my wife as my encyclopædia instead of the books, and this seemed the more rational since she had, seven or eight years before, made the same tour of the missions which I had in mind. To her therefore a large part of the information in the following pages is due, for in all my journey she was my guide, philosopher, and friend.

Our tour would not have covered so much ground nor have been so crowded with incidents of interest, if it had not been for the foresight and assistance of the Reverend Louis Agassiz Gould. He was a student in our seminary forty years ago, and after his graduation he became a missionary to China. Though his work abroad lasted only a decade, his interest in missions has never ceased, and he is an authority with regard to their history and their methods. I was fortunate in securing him as my courier, secretary, and typewriter, and his companionship enlivened our table intercourse and our social life. But he was bound that we should see all that there was to be seen. Without my knowledge he wrote ahead to all the missions which we were to visit, and the result was almost as if a delegation with brass band met us at every station. We were sight-seeing all day, and traveling in sleeping-cars all night. Though I had notified the public that I could preach no more sermons and make no more addresses, I was summoned before nearly every church, school, and college that we visited, and fifty or sixty extemporized talks were extorted from me, most of them interpreted to the audience by a pastor or teacher. My letters to home friends were often written on the platforms of railway stations while we were waiting for our trains, and after six months of these exhausting labors I still survived.

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These preliminary remarks are intended to prepare the reader for a final statement, namely, that the papers which follow were written with no thought of publication. They were simply a record of travel, set down each week, for the information of relatives and friends. I have been urged to give them a wider circulation by putting them into print. In doing this I have added some reflections which, for substance, were also written at intervals on my journey, and these, with sundry emendations and omissions, I have called my “Conclusions.” I submit both “Observations” and “Conclusions” to the judgment of my readers, in hope that my “Tour of the Missions” may lead other and more competent observers to appreciate the wonderful attractions and the immeasurable needs of Oriental lands.

I cannot close this personal foreword without expressing to my former students and the many friends who so hospitably entertained us on our journey, my undying sense of their great kindness, and my hope that between the lines of my descriptions of what I saw they will discover my earnest desire to serve the cause of Christ and his truth, even though my impressions may at times result from my own short-sightedness and ignorance. Only what I have can I give.

Augustus H. Strong.

Rochester, August 3, 1917.



An ocean truly pacific brings us to a rainy Japan 3
The novel and the picturesque mingle in our first views of Yokohama 3
Visit to the palace of a Japanese millionaire 4
A museum of Japanese art and a unique entertainment 4
Our host, an orthodox Shinto and Buddhist 5
Conference of missionaries and their native helpers 5
The pastor of the Tokyo church invites us to his home 5
Reception at the Women’s College of Japan, and an address there 5
A distinguished company of educators at dinner 6

We give a dinner to Rochester men and their wives 7
A good specimen of missionary hilarity and fellowship 7
The temple of Kamakura and its great bronze Buddha 7
The temple of Hachiman, the god of war 8
Supplemented by the temple of Kwannon, the goddess of mercy 8
Japan enriched by manufacture of munitions 8
A native Christian church and pastor at Kanagawa 9
Immorality, the curse of Japan, shows its need of Christianity 10
Wonders of its Inland Sea, and great gifts of its people 10


Hongkong, wonderful for situation and for trade 15
Swatow, and our arrival there 15
Chinese customs, and English collection of them 16
The mission compound of Swatow, one of our noblest 16
Dr. William Ashmore, and his organizing work 17
William Ashmore, his son, and his Bible translations 17
A great Sunday service in a native New Testament church 18

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The far-reaching influence of this mission, manned by many Rochester graduates 18
Our expedition to Chao-yang, to see the heart of China 18
Triumphal entry into that city of three hundred thousand inhabitants 19
Impressed by the vastness of its heathen population 20
Mr. Groesbeck, the only minister to its needs 21
An address to the students of his school 21
A great procession conducts us to our steamer at Swatow 21
Shall we be saved if we do not give the gospel to the heathen? 22

A Yellow Sea, and white garments 25
American enterprise has transformed Manila 25
Filipinos not yet ready for complete self-government 26
Visit to Admiral Dewey’s landing-place, and also to Fort McKinley 26
The interdenominational theological seminary and its influence 26
Printed and spoken English is superseding native dialects 27
Singapore, one of the world’s greatest ports of entry 27
British propose to hold it, in spite of native unrest 27
Heterogeneous population makes English the only language for its schools 28
Germans stir up a conspiracy, but it is nipped in the bud 28
British steamer to Penang, an old but safe method of conveyance 28
Kuala Lumpur, the capital of the Malay Confederated States 29
Penang furnishes us with a great Chinese funeral 29
Its immense preparation and cost show worship of ancestors 29
Mourners in white, with bands of hired wailers 31
Glorification of man, but no confession of sin or recognition of Christ 32


Burma, the land of pagodas 35
The Shwe Dagon of Rangoon is the greatest of these 35
Its immense extent and splendor 35
The religion of Burma is Buddhism, a religion of “merit,” so called 36
Pagoda-building in Burma, coeval with cathedral-building in Europe 36
The desolation in which many pagodas stand shows God’s judgment on Buddhism 36
Burma is consecrated by the work of Adoniram Judson, and his sufferings 37
Our visit to Aungbinle, and prayer on the site of Judson’s prison 37
Met and entertained by missionaries, our former pupils 37

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Fruitful Burma and its Buddhism attracts famine-stricken India with its Hinduism 38
Baptist missions in Burma antedate and excel both Romanist and Anglican 40
Far outstripping these in the number and influence of converts 40
The work of our collegiate and other schools is most encouraging 41
The Baptist College at Rangoon and the theological seminaries at Insein 42
The lieutenant governor invites us to meet Lord Chelmsford, viceroy of India, at afternoon-tea 44
A royal reception, with great conglomerate of races 44
A demonstration of loyalty to the British Crown 45
The dinner of our Rochester men at the house of Rev. Mr. Singiser, including representatives of the Mission Press and the Baptist College 45
Our final reception at Dr. D. W. A. Smith’s, on Mrs. Smith’s birthday 46


Mandalay, in Burma, the type of Buddhism; Gauhati, in Assam, the type of Hinduism 49
Visits to Maulmain and Bassein, in Burma, preceded both these 49
King Thebaw’s palace, at Mandalay, a fortress built wholly of wood 50
The Hill of Mandalay and its pagoda, four pagodas in one 50
We ascend eight hundred steps by taking extemporized sedan-chairs 51
Four successive platforms and four images of Buddha 51
Waxwork figures at the top depict the vanity of life 52

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The Kuthodaw in the plain below seen from this height 52
Four hundred and fifty pagodas in one, each with its Buddha and his law engraved on stone 52
The descent from Mandalay Hill more hazardous than the ascent 53
Buddhism compared with the religion of Christ 53
Gauhati, the capital of Assam, has also its temple on a hill 54
This temple illustrates Hinduism as Mandalay illustrates Buddhism 54
Its immoral cult claims to have an immoral origin in the wife of the god Siva 54
Its priestesses a source of corruption to the British college and the whole country 55
Vain attempts to interpret Hindu myth and worship symbolically 55
The need of Christian teaching as to sin and atonement 56


Calcutta, the largest city of India, so named from Kali, goddess-wife of Siva, the Destroyer 59
The temple of Kali, its priestesses and its worship, an infamous illustration of Hinduism 59
The temple of the Jains represents Hinduism somewhat reformed 60
The real glory of Calcutta is its relation to modern missions 60
The work of William Carey, and his college and tomb at Serampore 60
Our ride northward to Darjeeling, and our view of the Himalayas 61
A temple of Tibetan Buddhists on our mount of observation 61
Benares, the Mecca and Jerusalem of the Hindus 62
A hotbed of superstition and devotion 62
Its Golden Temple, its bathing ghats and burning ghats on the sacred Ganges 62
Our voyage of inspection in the early morning 63
Thousands bathing and drinking in the same muddy stream 63
Smallpox and plague in western lands traced back to this putrid river 64
Some of the temples have toppled over, being built on sand instead of rock 64

On Mohammedan ground, and the scene of the great mutiny 67
Elements of truth in the Moslem faith make missions more difficult 67
The defense of Lucknow, one of, the most heroic and thrilling in history 67
The only flag in the British Empire that never comes down at night 68
English missions and education are guaranties of permanent British rule in India 69
The Isabella Thoburn College, under Methodist control 69
We see the “mango trick” under favorable circumstances 70
Agra, and the Taj Mahal, a wonder of the world, seen both at sunrise and at sunset 70

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The Pearl Mosque and the Jasmine Tower, surrounded and protected by the Fort 71
A flowering out of art, like that of cathedral-building in England 72
Moslem architects “designed like Titans, and finished like jewelers” 72
Delhi, the capital of India before the reign of Akbar 72
The British respect ancient tradition by transferring their central government from Calcutta to Delhi 73
The progress of India under British rule in the last fifty years 73
Indian unrest due in part to English mistakes in educational policy 74
The Friday prayer service in the great mosque of Delhi 75

The native states of India distinguished from the presidencies and the provinces 79
Their self-government a reward of loyalty in the mutiny 79
The rajas influenced by Western thought 79
Jaipur, the capital of a native state, called “The Pink City” 80
“A rose-red city, half as old as Time” 81
The maharaja’s town-palace and astronomical observatory 81
A visit to Amber, the original metropolis, and his summer residence 81
An elephant ride up the hill while hanging over the precipice 82
The road to Mt. Abu, a wonderful piece of engineering 84
We reach Dilwarra, the greatest temple of the Jains 84
Their reformed Buddhism recognizes Buddha as only one of many incarnations 85
The temple is almost a miracle of art, and illustrates the genius of the East 85
Ahmedabad, a uniquely prosperous manufacturing and commercial city 86
Factories needed by India more than farms 86
Missions need employment for converts, to save them from famine 86


Bombay, second in population in the Indian Empire 91
Hindus outnumber Moslems and Parsees 91
The Caves of Elephanta, excavated in honor of Siva, god of reproduction as well as of destruction 91
His temple a cathedral, hewn inside of a mountain 92
The lingam, or phallus, gigantic, carved out of stone, in the innermost shrine 93
Its worship a deification of man’s baser instincts 93
The Towers of Silence represent Parseeism 93
The dead are exposed in them to be devoured by vultures 93
Construction of the towers and details of the process 93
Compared with Christian burial in hope of resurrection 94
Kedgaon, a happy contrast and relief 94
The center of the work of Pundita Ramabai 94
The story of her life a romantic and thrilling one 94
The pitiable condition of child-widows in India touches her heart 95
In a time of famine, she furnishes a refuge for two thousand four hundred of them 95
The wonders of her plant, in schools, hospital, printing office, factory, and farm 96
A great scholar of the Brahman caste, she is recognized as the most influential woman in India 96
Madras, the third largest Indian city, gives us our first tropical heat 97
A center of mission work for the Telugus and their tribal conversion 97
New Year’s Day reception at Lord Pentland’s, the governor of the Madras Presidency 98
Followed by a reception from the Rochester men, my former pupils 99


Madras, next to Calcutta and Bombay in thrift and importance 103
Baptists have done most for the Telugus, as Congregationalists most for the Tamils 103
Statistics of our mission are most encouraging 103
Self-government, self-support, self-propagation, require time 104
Conference at the house of Doctor Ferguson brings together men from four separate fields 104
The theological seminary at Ramapatnam, in charge of Doctor Heinrichs 105
Our reception by teachers and students, and value of their work 105
Ongole and the work of Doctor Baker, the successor of Doctor Clough 107
Laying the corner-stone of gateway to the new hospital 107

Country tour into the heart of Telugu-land, and open-air preaching to the natives 107
Vellumpilly, where 2,222 were baptized, and Sunset Hill, where Doctor Jewett prayed 109
Kavali, and the work of Mr. Bawden for a hereditary criminal class 110
Industrial education side by side with moral and religious 110
Nellore, our first permanent station in South India 111
Its high school, under Rev. L. C. Smith; its hospital, and its nurses’ training-school 112
Mr. Rutherford, successor to Dr. David Downie, and Mr. Smith–all of them Rochester men 112


The Dravidians are the aborigines of India 117
The Aryan conquerors appropriated their gods, and Siva married Kali 117
Massiveness and vastness characterize their temples, but also Oriental imagination and invention 118
The temple at Tanjore, with its court eight hundred by four hundred feet 118
Its multitude of chapels, each with its image in stone of the lingam, or phallus 119
Its central image of a bull, the favorite animal of Siva 119
Its tower, or gopura, is the grandest in India 119

Its sculptures of gods and goddesses wonderfully realistic 119
Its appurtenances tawdry, childish, and immoral 120
Yet Tanjore was the home, and is the tomb, of Schwartz, the first English missionary to India 120
The raja’s library of Oriental manuscripts 121
Madura, the center of Dravidian worship, one hundred miles farther south 121
Temple built about two great shrines for the god Siva and his wife Minakshi 121
Five great pyramidal towers and a court eight hundred and thirty by seven hundred and thirty feet 121
The “Golden Lily Tank,” and “The Hall of a Thousand Pillars” 122

Dark alcoves and a festival night, the acme of Hindu religion 122
The palace of Tirumala and his Teppa Kulam tank, one thousand feet on each side 123
The noblest sight of Madura is its American Congregational Mission 123
Under Dr. J. X. Miller, its schools and seminaries are revolutionizing southern India 124


Ceylon not a part of India, but a Crown Colony of Britain 127
Colombo, a European city, and English the best means of communication 127
Buddhism, crowded out of India, made its way southward 127
A sacred tooth of Buddha is preserved at Kandy 127
Wesleyan Methodist College and English Baptist College at Colombo 128
The Ananda College, a theosophical institution, unfavorable to Christianity 128
A refuge in Nurwara Eliya, six thousand two hundred feet above the sea 129

Switzerland without its ruggedness, and terraces of tea-plants lining the approaches thither 129
Forests of rubber make a sea of verdure 130
The Missionary Rest-house at Kandy 131
The famous Buddhist temple, and its evening worship 131
Its library the only sign of intelligence 131
Church of the English Baptists welcomes us 132
The botanical gardens, wonderful for their variety of products 132
Anurajahpura and its ruined pagoda, a solid conical mass of brick 133
One thousand six hundred pillars of stone, the foundations of an ancient monastery 133
Cremation of a Buddhist priest, and our reception by the high priest of the remaining temple 134


Java, the jewel of the Dutch Crown, has thirty-five millions of people 139
The “culture system” makes it immensely productive 139
Mistakes of Holland in matters of government and education 140
A back-bone of volcanic mountains furnishes unsurpassed railway views 140
Endless fields of rice and sugar-cane on hillside and plain 141
A passionate people reveal themselves in their music, their shadow-dances, their use of the Malay dagger 141
The new policy of the Dutch government shown in the botanical gardens 142
More scientific and practical than those of Ceylon, they minister to all the world 142
Doctor Lovink, Dutch minister of agriculture, conducts us 143
The temple of Boro Budor, restored after ruin, the greatest wonder of Java 143
Five times as great as any English cathedral 143
Sculptures in alto-relievo that would stretch three miles 144
A picture-gallery of the life of Buddha 144
Buddhism has no personal or living God, and no atonement for sin 145
Boro Budor, slowly disintegrating, has no power to combat either Mohammedanism or Christianity 145


This essay, a summary of the book of Professor Andrews, formerly of Delhi, now associated with Sir Rabindranath Tagore 149
But with additions and conclusions of my own 149
The Renaissance in Europe needed a Reformation to supplement it, and a similar renaissance in India requires a similar reformation 150
History of religious systems in India begins with the Rig-Veda, and is followed by the Upanishads 152
Hindu incarnations are not permanent, and the Trimurti is not the Christian Trinity 153
The Krishna of the Puranas is a model of the worst forms of vice 154
Deification of God’s works fixes the distinctions of caste, and the degradation of woman 154
Christianity is needed to unite the Hindu and the Moslem 155
Signs of an approaching reformation in the weakening of class barriers and the spiritual interpretation of the old religions 156
The Brahmo-Somaj and the Arya-Samaj aim to bring Hinduism back to the standards of the Vedas 158
The Aligarh Movement among the Mohammedans, and the Aligarh College in Delhi 158
Swami Vivekananda, and his denial that men are sinners 159
The Theosophical Society and Mrs. Besant, a hindrance to missions 160
Justice Renade, in his social reform movement, sees in Christianity the one faith which can unite all races and all religions in India 160
In Christ alone India’s renaissance can become a complete reformation 161


Some critics deny Jesus’ authorship of the “Great Commission” 165
We must examine “the historical method,” so called 165
As often employed, it is inductive but not deductive, horizontal but not vertical 166
Deduction from God’s existence normally insures acceptance of Christ 168
Deduction from Christ’s existence normally insures acceptance of Scripture 169
Scripture is the voice and revelation of the eternal Christ 169
The exclusively inductive process is not truly historical 170
Both Paul and Peter gained their theology by deduction 171
Since experience of sin and of Christ is knowledge, it is material for science 173
The eternal Christ guarantees to us the unity of Scripture 174
Also the sufficiency of Scripture 175
Also the authority of Scripture 176
The “historical method,” as ordinarily employed, proceeds and ends without Christ 177
It therefore treats Scripture as a man-made book, and denies its unity, sufficiency, and authority 177
It sees in the Bible not an organism, pulsating with divine life, but only a congeries of earth-born fragments 177


The “historical method” finds in Psalm 110 only human authorship 181
And contradicts Christ himself by denying the reference in the psalm to him 182
A document can have more than one author, shown in art as well as literature 183
Predictions of Christ in the Old Testament convinced unbelieving Jews 184
The “historical method” finds no prediction of Christ in Isaiah, and so contradicts John 184
Effect of this method upon the interpretation of the New Testament 185
It gives us no assurance of Christ’s deity, and ignores Old Testament proofs that he is Prophet, Priest, and King 185
Value of the “historical method” when not exclusively inductive 186
Effect of this method, as often employed, upon systematic theology 187
If Scripture has no unity, no systematic theology is possible 187
Unitarian acknowledgment that its schools have no theology at all 189
Effect of this method upon our theological seminaries to send out disseminators of doubts 189
Effect of this method upon the churches of our denomination to destroy all reason for their existence 191
Effect of this method upon missions to supersede evangelism by education and to lose all dynamic both abroad and at home 193
This method was “made in Germany,” and must be opposed as we oppose arbitrary force in government 195
The remedy is a spiritual coming of Christ in the hearts of his people 197


Is man’s religious nature only a capacity for religion? 201
The will is never passive, the candle is always burning 201
Moslem and Hindu alike show both good and bad elements in their worship 201
Here and there are seekers after God, and such are saved through Christ, though they have not yet heard his name 202
First chapter of Romans gives us the best philosophy of heathenism 203
Heathenism, the result of an abnormal and downward evolution 204
The eternal Christ conducts an evolution of the wheat, side by side with Satan’s evolution of the tares 204
All the good in heathen systems is the work of Christ, and we may utilize their grains of truth 205
Illustrated in Hindu incarnations and Moslem faith in God’s unity and personality 205
Christ alone is our Peace, and he alone can unite the warring elements of humanity 206
A moral as well as a doctrinal theology is needed in heathendom 208
But external reforms without regeneration can never bring in the kingdom of God 209
The history of missions proves that heart must precede intellect, motive must accompany example 210
The love of Christ who died for us is the only constraining power 210
Only his deity and atonement furnish the dynamic of missions 211


Missionary work results in a healthy growth of the worker 215
The successful missionary must be an all-round man 215
He secures a training beyond that of any university course 216
That training is spiritual as well as intellectual 216
It tends to make him doctrinally sound as to Christ’s deity and atonement 217
Or convinces him that he has no proper place on a mission field 218
A valuable lesson for our societies and churches at home 218
New Testament polity, as well as doctrine, is tested by missions 219
Our mission churches are becoming models of self-support, self-government, and self-propagation 219
The physical environment of the missionary needs to be cared for 219
The large house, many servants, and an automobile, are great and almost necessary helps 220
All these can be obtained cheaply, and should be provided 220
Other denominations furnish better equipment than ours 220
Yet the days of missionary hardship are well-nigh past 221
Missionary trials are mainly social and spiritual; and there are enough of these 221
But faithful work, in spite of hope deferred, will be rewarded at last 222

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In this 18 chapter book by Strong (Baptist) he gives us a diary of his missions trip in 1918 throughout the eastern Asian countries.

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Date:June 19, 2017