“To the Joy of the Church, and the Honour of Christ”: A Case Study of Personal Evangelism in Early Chinese Mission
Among China’s second Protestant missionary William Milne’s (1785–1822) notable contributions was that under his mentorship, hired printer Liang Fa (1789–1855) was converted to Christ and later trained to become the first ordained Chinese evangelist. In this paper Baiyu Andrew Song seeks to answer the question, “how was the gospel finally planted in China by Robert Morrison (1782– 1834) and Milne?” With a brief analysis of Milne’s famous Chinese tract, Dialogues Between Chang and Yuen (1819), Baiyu represents Milne’s personal evangelism and Liang’s conversion in the historical and theological settings.
The year 2007 marked the bicentennial of the arrival of Robert Morrison (1782–1834)—the first
Protestant missionary to China—at Macau. As part of its celebration, many Christian churches
and academic institutes, both in China and overseas, organized conferences and publications. Dis-
appointedly, in the year 2013 very few remembered and celebrated the bicentennial of the arrival
of Morrison’s close friend and missionary partner—William Milne (1785–1822)—who was China’s
second Protestant missionary, and under whom the first ordained Chinese evangelist, Liang Fa
(1789–1855), was evangelized and mentored. Though William Milne would agree with Nikolaus von Zinzendorf (1700–1760) that his mission was to “preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten,” it
is still unfortunate for the church, especially Chinese churches, to forget such a faithful witness
of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only recently has academic interest in Milne and his contribution to
Chinese church been renewed.
Prior to Morrison and Milne’s arrival, in China’s five-thousand-year history, twice have the
Christian churches in the West attempted to bring the gospel to China, but all failed. The Nestori-
ans failed by being unable to communicate the orthodox faith to their Chinese converts with providing them Scriptures translated in Chinese. The Nestorians also failed by practicing syncretism
in their missiological methods, which was to adopt Buddhist and Taoist terminology and symbols.
The Roman Catholic missionaries, on the other hand, were sent as political ambassadors, and by
their moral wickedness, they became a stumbling stone for the gospel.
Hence, the essential question to answer is: how was the gospel finally being planted in China by
the first and second Protestant missionaries, i.e. Robert Morrison and William Milne? Undoubtedly, the final author of church history is the sovereign and gracious God. Nevertheless, throughout
redemptive history, God uses human means to make his name known and glorified. This paper
particularly aims to look at William Milne’s personal evangelism of Liang Fa through analyzing
Milne’s famous Chinese tract, Dialogues Between Chang and Yuen (1819).
2. From a Swearing Shepherd Boy to God’s Ambassador
William Milne was born in April 1785 (possibly on April 26 or 27) at Braeside of Cults, in the parish
of Kennethmount, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and was baptized on April 27, 1785. Milne’s father,
William Milne, Sr., who was a farm labourer, died when Milne was six years old (1791). His mother “gave [him] the education common to others in the same condition of life.” Possibly the oldest of
his siblings, Milne had to work as a shepherd boy at a very young age. During this period of his life,
Milne learned to swear while shepherding the sheep; later he comments that “the natural depravity
of my heart began very soon to [discover] itself” and this led him into many other sins, like “lying,
swearing, and blaspheming God’s holy name.” As Milne grew up in the parish church, he memo-
rized the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647) and John Willison’s (1680–1750) Mother’s Catechism
in order for him to “be equal with [his] neighbours, and avoid the displeasure of the minister of the parish.” For Milne, “religion was very grievous.” As Milne later recorded, he once foolishly
imagined that, by the age of sixteen, he would “attain great celebrity as a vain and trifling youth.”
What happened to Milne at the age of thirteen, both physically (i.e. almost drowned while cross-
ing a river) and spiritually (i.e. fear of death), brought Milne to attend Sunday evening schools
taught by George Cowie (1749–1806). In the Sunday schools, Milne’s knowledge of the Scriptures
increased but this made him very proud.
By the age of sixteen, Milne had left his mother and moved into another house, whose own-
ers Milne described as “strangers to religion.” But during this time, Milne frequently visited the
house of a poor Christian man. In this house, Milne was first introduced to family worship, and
as Milne joined with prayers, he was taught and encouraged to pray and read pious books. Milne
From this time my enjoyment and pursuit of pleasure in the world were marred; and abeauty and excel-
lence discovered in religion, which I had never seen in any past period of my life, and which led me to
choose and follow after it as the only object deserving the chief attention of an immortal creature.
With this awakening experience, there were two books that deeply shaped Milne’s spiritual life: a
Scottish martyrological book entitled Cloud of Witnesses (1714) and Thomas Boston’s (1676–1732)
Human Nature in Its Fourfold State. As Milne was eagerly seeking the salvation of Jesus Christ, two
sermons moved Milne forward to conversion: Thomas Boston’s published sermon, “The Soul’s
Espousals to Christ” (2 Cor 11:2), and George Cowie’s sermon on Revelation 22:21. Milne was then
led to reason:
If pardon and salvation were offered, ‘without money and without price,’ to those who had killed the
Prince of Life, and thereby committed the greatest possible crime; then, surely that grace which could
triumph over all their guilt, and so richly abound where sins of the highest aggravation once abounded,
may be extended to me—pardon my sins, and renew my nature—heal and save my soul. By these two
things I was led to discover a glory and suitableness in the Gospel—as displaying the lustre of the divine
perfections, and as preserving the honours of the divine law, while at the same time it conferred eternal
life on the guilty sinner believing in Jesus. This discovery captivated my heart, and made me willing to
devote myself, soul and body, to God for ever.
By having such “earnest desire of devoting [himself] to God,” Milne was encouraged to make a
personal confession. This conversion experience was accompanied with radical changes in his
lifestyle. In Robert Morrison’s words, Milne had a “very ardent impetuous determined mind; yet
softened by mildness of manner,” and after Milne’s conversion, “it retained its natural ardor and
impetuosity, but [was] directed to new and very different objects from what it previously was.”
Soon after Milne’s conversion, he felt it necessary to leave the Church of Scotland, as he disliked
the shallow sermons preached by the minister. Because of opposition from his relatives, Milne
stayed in his old church for two years before moving to George Cowie’s Congregational church in
Huntly, where he became a member one year later.
Milne’s missionary interest was deepened as he read Jonathan Edwards’ (1703–1758) missionary
biography of David Brainerd (1718–1747) and the stories of missionaries that were published in
magazines like the Evangelical Magazine. Milne later explained his missionary calling in his or-
dination service and stated that when he read the missionary stories, he “felt deeply concerned for
the coming of Christ’s kingdom among the nations.” With many prayers for the confirmation of
his missionary calling, Milne sent in his application to the London Missionary Society (LMS) in
about 1809. While waiting for the committee’s response, Milne devoted himself to prayer and read-
ing books like the LMS published Transactions of the Missionary Society, and Andrew Fuller’s Life
of the Rev. Samuel Pearce. A month later, the Aberdeen committee called Milne for an interview.
Being moved by Milne’s servant-heart, the committee accepted Milne’s application and supported
him to receive missionary training from the Edwardsean theologian and educator, David Bogue (1750–1825) at Gosport. It was from Bogue that both Robert Morrison and William Milne learned
that “the sole business of a missionary is to promote the religion of Jesus,” which is the same task as
that of a local minister of the gospel.
On July 16, 1812, Milne was ordained at John Griffin’s (1769–1834) church at Portsea, Portsmouth. On August 4, 1812, William Milne married Rachel Cowie (1783–1819) at St. Leonard’s, Shoreditch, by
the curate Robert Crosby (1769–1837).
A month later, on September 4, 1812, William and Rachel Milne sailed from Portsmouth for the
Cape of Good Hope (today’s Cape Town, South Africa). On July 4, 1813, William and Rachel Milne
arrived at Macao and were “most cordially welcomed by” Robert and Mary Morton Morrison
(1791–1821). On that night, Morrison prayed, expressing his deep longings, “Thus far (blessed
be the great Disposer of events) the door has been opened. O that the Lord’s servant [referring to
Milne] may be spared in health, may soon acquire the language of the heathen, and be a faithful
missionary of Jesus Christ.”
Early in the morning on July 9, 1813, a sergeant from the Portuguese Governor, Bernardo Aleixo
de Lemos e Faria (1754–1826), came to Morrison with the command that Milne “must leave in
eight days.” Though Morrison was friendly to the Governor, “the Governor’s position was clear,
and ‘unanswerable.’” The Governor’s coldness was influenced by the Roman Catholic bishop and
clergy, “who were alarmed at the arrival of a Protestant missionary, to whom they could show no
indulgence, notwithstanding, at the same time a great number of their own body were hospitably
entertained, and even kindly fostered in the heart of England.” Meanwhile, Morrison asked if the
East India Company (EIC) would hire Milne, which had hired Morrison, but the EIC refused to hire
Milne permanently. Morrison was disappointed by the EIC, since he felt “betrayed by friends in
the English community.” Morrison then sent Milne to Canton for the winter. On July 20, leaving a
pregnant Rachel with Mary Morrison at Macao, Milne “went in a small boat to Canton, where [he]
remained the ensuing season; enjoying that hospitality among the heathen, which had been denied
in a Christian colony.” Christopher Hancock concludes that this event “set them [Morrison and
Milne] in good stead for the future,” as Milne would become “a close friend,” “intellectual peer,”
and “constant help” to Morrison.
Life for Milne in Canton was not easy since Milne had to hide himself in a factory at the port,
which cost him “500 Spanish dollars for the season,” as the Chinese government was very cautious
about foreigners. While he was in Canton, Milne followed Morrison’s principles in learning Chinese. Within six months, Milne’s Chinese had improved dramatically, yet Milne still described
the language study as “a work for men with bodies of brass, lungs of steel, heads of oak, hands of
spring-steel, eyes of eagles, hearts of apostles, memories of angels, and lives of Methuselah! Still I
make a little progress.”
As early as September 1814, both the Portuguese colonial government and Chinese government
made resolutions to the disadvantage of Protestant missionaries. Seeing their situation change for
the worse, both Morrison and Milne agreed to establish a missionary station outside of Macao and
Canton, where Protestants would be welcomed both by the officials and within Chinese settlements.
They found Malacca to be the best place for such a station, since at the time Malacca was a British
colony, governed by the friendly Scottish-born Major-General William Farquhar (1774–1839). On April 17, 1815, William and the again-pregnant Rachel Milne sailed to Malacca with their young
daughter Amelia. Liang Fa also went with the Milnes as a printer. On April 22, Rachel gave birth
to twin boys at sea, named William Charles and Robert George. The Milne family arrived at Ma-
lacca, on the Malay Peninsula, on May 21, 1815, and was once again warmly welcomed by Farquhar.
Soon after the Milnes arrived and settled at Malacca, Morrison laid out some significant prin-
ciples for Milne’s mission at Malacca in a letter on July 15, 1815. First, “their vision is to expand the
scope of the Mission in keeping with the ‘conversion of the Chinese, and of all who speak their language.’” For Morrison and Milne, they understood that their primary missionary task was to reach the Chinese; they were not to be sidetracked by establishing a station outside of China. Second,
“their vision is to establish a headquarters for the work,” which they wanted to be “a head-quarters at
which to meet and consult, from which to commission persons to go forth on every hand,—a home
to which to retire in case of sickness or declining years.” In other words, the station at Malacca
was a temporary harbor from the persecutions. Third, “their vision [was] to set up a school ‘for the
instruction of Native and European youth; for the reception and initiation of young missionaries from Europe.’” The Anglo-Chinese College opened in 1818.
According to these three principles, Milne took charge of the missionary station at Malacca. So scholar Ching Su summarized the various works for which Milne busied himself at Malacca:
Purchase land and establish mission houses;
Oral labors—preaching and teaching;
Education, specifically being the principal of the Anglo-Chinese College;
Writing and editing;
Establishing the Ultra-Ganges Mission in 1818.
In addition to these six labours, Milne also devoted time to discipling and mentoring his printer
Liang Fa, leading him from being a heathen to a believer, and from a new convert to a solid gospel
apologist and evangelist.
3. “Before I Came Hither, I Knew Not God; Now I Desire To Serve Him.”
Liang Fa, or Leang Kung-Fa, was born in 1789, in Gulao village, Sanzhou (“three islands”) town,
Gaoming (“lofty clearness”) county, Zhaoqing Fu, about seventy miles
from Canton, in Guangdong province. Like Morrison and Milne, Liang’s “origins were humble
but his achievements remarkable.” Liang’s parents were poor, yet they sent him to a village school
at the age of eleven. During his four years of school, Liang “committed to memory the Four Books,
the Five Classics, and the Sacred Edict, [which] the two former sets bring the ancient Confucian
classics and the last a series of moral maxims written by the second emperor” of the Qing dynas-
ty. In 1804, Liang left his village for Canton where he “found work with a maker of Chinese brush
pens, but very soon left this occupation and apprenticed himself to an engraver of wooden printing
blocks.” In 1810, Liang was called home on account of the death of his mother and soon returned
to Canton and was employed at a printing house around the Thirteen Factories. In September,
Morrison was looking to publish his translation of the book of Acts, and Liang was hired to carve
its wooden printing blocks. It is because of Liang’s steadiness and excellent skills in carving that he
soon gained Morrison’s trust and continued being employed in Morrison’s Chinese translation of
the New Testament during 1811 and 1812.
In April 1815, when Milne sailed to Malacca, Liang was with him, “to assist in printing Chinese
books.”Shortly after arriving in Malacca, Liang “fell into deep despair over his years of gambling
and intemperance in Canton,” and Liang “saw his anxiety in spiritual terms.” In a sense, like his mentor Milne, Liang was raised in a religious culture. Though he had participated in Buddhist Pure
Land rites, which are commonly practiced by the Chinese focusing on AmitaÌ„bha Buddha, Liang
had later “regarded religious matters with careless indifference.” For Liang, at Malacca, there were
many uncertainties, as to whether to stay far away from home and whom he would marry. Accord-
ing to Chinese traditions, Liang went to the local temple of the Overseas Chinese community in
Malacca on the first and fifteenth day of every month to burn incense and “to implore Kuan-yin’s
compassionate intercessions for protection, blessing, and eventual entrance into AmitaÌ„bha’s West-
ern Paradise.” One conversation with a Chinese Buddhist monk made Liang start to detest Buddhism, as the monk advised him to “accumulate sufficient merit to outweigh his misdeeds,” which
is obtained through “joining the sangha (by which he could remit the sins of himself and his entire
family), donating money for temple repair . . . , and the daily recitation of sutras.” For Liang, the
monk was carrying on a business, rather than helping him to save his soul.
Meanwhile, William Milne had finished his 71-page tract, “Life of Christ” (),
which was a booklet that “notices the creation, providence, sin and misery of man.” Liang was
hired to carve the blocks for printing this tract. Later, before Liang’s baptism, he told Milne that,
while he was labouring on the carving, the text brought to him some new ideas about Christianity.Liang then began to read Morrison’s New Testament, attend Milne’s preaching, and seek Milne’s
help on certain difficult biblical passages. P. Richard Bohr states “Christianity’s greatest attraction
for him [Liang] was the notion of filiality and moral seriousness emerging from the concept of
In the summer of 1816, Milne wrote in his journal that Liang “professed his determination to take
up his cross and follow Christ.” After private conversations, testing his faith and prayers, William
Milne baptized Liang Fa on November 3, 1816. Milne recorded in his journal that “the service was
performed privately, in a room of the Mission-house. Care had been taken, by private conversation, instruction, and prayer, to prepare him for this sacred ordination.”Milne found clear spiritual
change in Liang’s life as “he was formerly stiff and obstinate, and occasionally troublesome,” but
now “there has been scarcely any thing of this kind to complain of.” As Milne found no reasons
to delay baptism, he posed five questions to Liang at his baptism:
Question 1: Have you truly turned from idols, to worship and serve the living and true God, the
creator of heaven and earth, and all things?
Answer: This is my heart’s desire.
Question 2: Do you now feel that you are a sinful creature, totally unable to save yourself?
Answer: I know it.
Question 3: Do you really, from your heart, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and Saviour of the world; and do you trust in him alone for salvation?
Answer: This is my heart’s desire.
Question 4: Do you expect any worldly advantage, profit, or gain whatever, by your becoming a Christian?
Answer: None: I receive baptism because it is my duty.
Question 5: Do you resolve from this day till the day of your death, to live in obedience to all the commandments and ordinances of God; and in justice and righteousness of life before him?
Answer: This is my determination; but I fear my strength is not equal to it.
Milne later wrote in his journal, “since his [Liang’s] baptism, some private means have been used
to increase his knowledge; to impress his heart more deeply, and to strengthen his faith.” Milne
began his discipleship and mentorship with Liang. Under Milne’s supervision and editing, Li-
ang wrote a 37-page tract, “Miscellaneous Exhortations,” which contains “a
preface concerning God as the Creator, and object of worship, to which the Ten Commandments
are attached,” along with some New Testament passages, and “three hymns and prayers.” Under Morrison’s approval, 200 copies of Liang’s tract were printed so that he could distribute them to his
relatives and neighbours.
In 1819, Liang went back to his home village and married a woman whose maiden name was Lai.
While at home, this “new-born” Liang was burdened with his friends’ sin, especially their idolatry,
and decided to share his tract with them. Possibly, some printer secretly reported him to the police, and both his tracts and blocks were destroyed. Liang was put in prison. As soon as Morrison re-
ceived this news, he tried to ask the Thirteen Factory traders to help obtain Liang’s release, and as a
result, Liang received “thirty blows with the bamboo, and had seventy dollars extorted from him,”
with the charge of having been overseas. Liang was then released. Later, after Liang’s release, his
wife was converted and baptized by him.
In the spring of 1820, Liang went back to Malacca to study and work with Milne, until Milne’s
death in 1822. On November 20, 1823, Liang’s son was baptized by Morrison, and named Liang Jinde. Liang now was employed by the LMS as a native teacher. In 1827, Liang was ordained by
Morrison as China’s first evangelist. For many years, Liang “continued zealously to compose, print
and distribute Christian books among his countrymen in the province of Guangdong, frequently
attending at the literary examinations for that purpose, as well in the district cities as in the pro-
vincial capital.”Though Milne was not able to witness Liang’s contribution to the early Protestant
mission in China, especially in places where Morrison and Milne were not able to visit, God listened
to Milne’s prayer that Liang would “be faithful unto death; and as he is the first fruits of this branch
of the Mission, may an abundant harvest follow, to the joy of the church, and the honour of Christ.” On April 12, 1855, Liang died at home at the age of sixty-seven. By this time, due to the labour of
Morrison, Milne, and other missionaries who had laboured, the seed of the Gospel was deeply plant-
ed in China. For Liang Fa, he also left a pious legacy to both the Chinese church and his family.
4. But Only God Who Gives the Growth
As Edwardsean missionaries, Morrison and Milne understood the core task of their mission was
to make disciples of Jesus Christ among the Chinese, and as a result, they sought opportunities to
evangelize both large groups of people and individuals such as Cai Gao (or Tsae a-ko, who was the first Chinese Protestant convert, baptized on July 16, 1814 by Robert Morrison), Cai’s two brothers,
and Liang Fa, whom Morrison and Milne hired for the printing press. By faithful presentation of
the gospel in both their words and life examples, Morrison and Milne eagerly hoped that God might
let them see the fruits of Chinese conversion, which is the work of the Holy Spirit.
From this brief biographical sketch, it is clear that Liang Fa became a seeker of Christian faith
under Morrison’s influence and through his own labor in making the New Testament blocks; this
was soon after he arrived in Malacca with Milne.After rejecting Buddhism, Liang “began to re-
cite the prayers” and sat under Milne’s sermons. McNeur records Liang’s testimony of his journey
toward the recognition of his sin and of his need of Jesus the Saviour:
. . . I heard the missionary [William Milne] preach the doctrine of atonement through Jesus,and at my
leisure I examined the Scriptures ... Then I thought ‘These are good books, exhorting men to depart from
iniquity. Moreover the doctrines are attested by the miracles of Jesus, therefore the book must certainly
be true.’ I then listened to the expounding of the Scriptures, and on the Sabbath read the Bible more at-
tentively, requesting the missionary [Milne] to explain it to me. I asked what was meant by Jesus making
atonement for sin. The missionary [Milne] told me that Jesus was the Son of God sent into the world to
suffer for the sins of men in order that all who believe in Him might obtain salvation. Feeling myself to
be a sinner I asked how I was to obtain pardon. Themissionary [Milne] said ‘If you believe in Jesus Christ
[he] will receive you as His adopted son, and in the world to come bestow on you everlasting life.’ ... On
returning to my room I thought with myself ‘I am a great sinner, and if I do not depend on the merits of
Christ how can God forgive me?’ I then determined to become a disciple of Jesus and requested baptism.
Though there is no recorded report of the conversations between Milne and Liang on questions
Liang had about God, Scripture, sin, and salvation, it is certain that Milne spent time answering
Liang’s questions concerning the gospel truth with patience, and walked with Liang along his way
as he sought his Saviour. Liang was baptized by Milne in 1816. Three years later, in 1819 at Malacca,
Milne wrote and published Dialogues Between Chang and Yuen, a novelistic and
catechistic tract based on the conversations of a Chang, who is a Christian, and a Yuen, Chang’s
heathen neighbor. Milne summarized these dialogues between these two friends:
1. Questions proposed by Yuen concerning Christian principles and character; the being of God. 2. Evan-
gelical repentance. 3. Character of Christ, and faith in him. 4. Good men seek their chief happiness
in heaven; annihilation of the soul considered. 5. Chang relates his first acquaintance with the New Testament. 6. Yuen having retired, is struck with horror at his own neglect of the true God; visits Chang
and finds him with his family at prayer; the resurrection of the dead. 7. Nature and qualities of the raised
bodies; doubts and objections. 8. Yuen on visiting Chang in the evening, finds him in his closet, which
leads to a discussion on the object, and kinds of prayer; worshipping the dead, &c. 9. The awful judgment
to come; a midnight prayer under the Woo-tung tree. 10. Yuen objects to Chang’s last night’s prayer, be
cause he confessed himself to be a sinner; 11. Yuen deeply impressed with the ideas of eternity of sin,
spends a whole night in his garden, bewailing his miserable condition. 12. Chang explains to him the
method of salvation by Jesus Christ; the felicity of heaven; and misery of hell.
Historically, Milne’s Dialogues constituted the first missionary novel in common Chinese, and be-
came the most famous and best-selling Christian tract in China. The work received a wide arrange
of reading, since it was not only famous among the Chinese, but also was translated and sold in
Korea, where it had significant influence upon the church.
Although Milne’s Dialogues had been reprinted and revised various times after its first publica-
tion, until recently there have been few academic studies done on the tract. Most of these studies
are conducted from a literary perspective. In other words, scholars are interested in the literary value of the tract. By neglecting Milne’s and the tract’s historical and theological context, they assume
that this tract is completely fictional, and that by choosing to use this kind of genre, Milne aimed at
attracting Chinese readers. Comparing Milne’s Dialogues with Liang’s personal testimony concerning his conversion, it is not hard to notice the similarities between them. In many cases, Liang was in
a similar situation to Yuan, as both of them were interested in Christianity, burdened with sin, and
were counseled by Christian friends (especially compare Dialogues chapter ten: Yuen’s reflection
on sin). Thus it is clear that Milne’s Dialogues is not completely fictional; it rather communicates the method of personal evangelism, Milne used in leading Liang to Christ. Milne’s Dialogues is
evangelistic in its nature.
On the basis of the conversations of Pan Chang and Cao Yuen, three evangelistic
characteristics can be observed that are possibly applied by Milne in conversing with Liang. First,
there is clear communication of the gospel in conversation. In Dialogues chapter one, after a very
brief introduction of the setting, Milne wrote about Chang’s explanation of the uniqueness of
Christians in their ways of worshipping the one true and only God (lit., “true and
only supreme ruler” ), and acknowledgement of one’s depraved nature which leads to one’s eager
desire for redemption. For Chang, it is clear that “there is but
one only living and true God,” who is the Creator, the origin of all things (lit., “origin of everything in heaven and on earth”). The attributes of God are his sovereignty, omniscience, mercy, righteousness, holiness, and grace. In
nature, the true living God is one God in three persons (lit., “the supreme
ruler is only one, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons”), namely the Father (lit., “Holy Father”), Son (lit., “Holy Son”) and Holy Spirit (lit., “Holy Spirit”). These
three persons are not three gods, but one God. The second person of the triune God is called Jesus,
which is a “foreign” name that means “save.” This name was given to the Son of God since he came into the world to save people. Chang clearly points out that Jesus and God are one in nature and
Godhead (or “wholeness;” ), and share in the same divine attributes (
, lit., “he is most holy and sovereign”).
Concerning humanity, Chang points out in the conversations, that people are morally depraved,
which means, that man’s heart is evil and, what is worse, men do not know their iniquities. Chang further tells Yuen that “all have sinned against God,” and that the destiny for sinners is to
suffer the eternal punishment of hell. Chang points out that “repentance is the path to the Truth,”
and for those who believe in Jesus, God is gracious, and their sins are forgiven. Chang further explains in chapter two that it is only through the atonement of Jesus, that sins can be forgiven; Jesus’
atonement is penal and substitutionary ( lit., “[he] suffered as a substitute for many;”
lit., “in order to redeem man from sin;” lit., “[he] willingly takes the place
of my suffering”). Chang clearly teaches Yuen that conversion is the work of God, the Holy Spirit
in particular. Overall, for Milne, it is essential to communicate the gospel faithfully to people,
regardless of whether it is contradictory to their worldviews or not.
Second, Chang witnessed to Yuen by a Christian example, which means Chang’s lifestyle was
coherent with his faith. Though Milne chose the catechistical genre in writing this tract, Dialogues
is not a catechism, since the gospel was not simply communicated verbally in the conversations
of Chang and Yuen; the gospel is also witnessed by the way Chang lives both in public and in pri-
vate. In public, Chang has an excellent reputation, since “everyone knows he is a good and honest
person,” and is known to “do good daily.” Chang also
comments on the change that follows his conversion, he no longer does things that do not please
God, for instance, idolatry, drunkenness, adultery, lying, and fraudulence. When approaching
people, Chang was not only “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks ... for a
reason for the hope that is in [him]” (1 Pet 3:15), he also does it “with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet
3:16), as is demonstrated by his humble tone of expression, and several special words which were used repeatedly, such as junjia (, lit., “honoured sir,” which is a very respectable way to address
“you” in classical Chinese) and qigan (, lit., “you flatter me”).
In private, Chang devotes himself to pursuing growth in God. In chapter four, Chang shares
some things that affected him from his reading of Scripture.In chapter twelve, toward the end of
the tract, Chang introduced Yuen to reading the New Testament, and held a small Bible study with Yuen on John 3:15. Chang is also a man of prayer. Through his personal devotion and public prayers
(Chang leads a prayer with Yuen in chapter eight), Chang sets up a model for Yuen. Another practice
that influenced Yuen was Chang’s family worship (chapters five and seven). This second evangelistic
characteristic of the Dialogues reflects Milne’s understanding of how to witness to unbelievers, that
is to live the message he wanted others to believe, and to approach people in love.
Third, in Chang’s conversation with Yuen, whenever he comes to apologetic matters, Chang uses
a presuppositionalistic method. Though the term “presuppositionalism” was not yet used during
Milne’s time, in the dialogues between Chang and Yuen, it is clear that Milne understood and
applied what is today called presuppositionalism in apologetic practices. First, Milne understood
that no one is neutral, since everyone is committed to a worldview. In Dialogues, Milne clearly
distinguished the Christian worldview from heathen worldviews. For those who follow Jesus, they
worship the one true living God, but for the world, they worship “manmade useless idols” (lit., “made by man’s labour, useless and disabled idol”). It is also because of
this unique theocentric worldview that Chang cannot tolerate the idea of making heaven—a crea-
ture—equally to be called God, who is the Creator. Even though Milne borrowed some heathen
terms to make the message understandable to the Chinese, his core message of the gospel has never
been affected, changed, or watered down.
Milne also understood that divine revelation is the foundation of all knowledge. In Dialogues
chapter two, when explaining the meaning of faith, Chang points out that “God issued the Holy
Book, expressing to us the understanding of our sins, knowing our unrighteousness, sincerely
have faith in Jesus in order to be saved, that we do not rely on ourselves ... but on Jesus alone...” By
such understanding, Chang used both general revelation (for instance, Chang used a bird as an
illustration to explain the difference between spirit and body in chapter three, and used the stars to explain God’s work of creation in chapter four) and special revelation (quoting from the Scripture,
and leading Yuen to read the Scripture) to help Yuen to establish a worldview, for which the “primary ontological axiom is the one living God, and [the] primary epistemological axiom is divine
Furthermore, it is clear that Chang converses with Yuen with the conviction that all people are
without excuse for their rebellion against God, since all people know God by means of general
revelation. Chang points out from the beginning that all have sinned in failing to worship the only
true one and living God. Though Yuen warns Chang that people might not be pleased with what
he is saying about sin, Chang maintains his conviction. This conviction of total depravity is hard for
Yuen to understand, since he thought Chang was righteous for living a moral life. However, Chang
replies, “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). This
conviction asserts what is proven in Milne’s Dialogues demonstrates that a heathen worldview is
not and cannot be self-consistent.
In conclusion, through this brief study of the evangelistic characteristics of Milne’s Dialogues
Between Chang and Yuen, it can be seen that Milne understood the importance of conversion. Milne
followed the Pauline example in evangelism, that is “going out in love, as Christ’s agent in the world,
to teach sinners the truth of the gospel with a view to converting and saving them.” Such evange-
lism acknowledges the sovereignty of God, which according to David Bogue, implies missionaries
are honored to be God’s “instruments for conveying the knowledge of salvation to those miserable
nations, which are sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death.”
When William Milne died on June 2, 1822, at the age of 37, he had labored for the sake of the gospel
among the Chinese people for about eight years. In these eight years, Milne only baptized two converts, Liang Fa (on November 3, 1816), and a Malay woman called Johanna (on July 1, 1821).
Compared to later missionaries, such as J. Hudson Taylor (1832–1905), Milne harvested little, Milne
understood David Bogue’s statement:
People consider missionaries going forth among the heathen as mere men, with nowisdom superior to
their own, with no strength above human, and they are greatly dispirited; but did we view a missionary
as we ought, and as he is, with Jesus his Master at his right-hand, accompanying him on the way, and the
Holy Spirit resting on him like a flame of fire, with all his powerful energies, we could not be cast down,
but maintain a cheerful hope amidst the [dark] appearances of Pagan ignorance and obstinacy, and persevere, trusting in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Such a statement vindicates the glory of the sovereign God of history, and testifies that “for those who
love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).
Certainly, God prospered Milne’s discipleship of Liang Fa, as Milne had prayed, in making the gospel
take root in China. Many scholars today are attracted to the political and cultural impact of the Taiping
Rebellion (December 1850–August 1864) led by Hong Xiuquan (1814–1864), which was influenced
and inspired by Liang Fa’s Good Words Exhorting the Age.Yet, behind Hong’s Taiping
Heavenly Kingdom there was a religious conviction, an eschatological agenda—to establish the heavenly
kingdom on earth, in replacement of the Manchurian Qing dynasty.Theologically speaking, Hong
Xiuquan and his Taiping Heavenly Kingdom movement is a form of syncretism, and therefore a heresy as
far as the Christian church is concerned. However, the Taiping Rebellion in its religious nature reflected
the fact that the Chinese intellectuals then considered Christianity to be a third philosophical option in
addition to the established Confucianism and Buddhism in imperial China. This, the Nestorians and the
Roman Catholics were not able to achieve.
Moreover, Morrison and Milne also followed the Edwardsean root they had inherited from Bogue,
and planted Chinese churches characterized by their self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagat-
ing nature, which was later coined by Henry Venn (1796–1863) and Rufus Anderson (1796–1880) as the “three-self ” formula. In the historical and social context of the Qing dynasty, with Morrison and Milne,
it is far more important to make a spiritually matured Chinese convert who would be able to deliver the
faith, than to baptize a thousand yet failed in making them disciple-makers. A gospel foundation had been
established in China, from which the later missionaries (such as Walter Henry Medhurst [1796–1857], Karl
Friedrich August GuÌˆtzlaff [1803–1851], etc.) were able to reap a vast harvest in the mission field of China.
2 Soon after Milne’s death (1822), several denominational periodicals published eulogies for this significant mis-
sionary, such as the American Baptist Magazine (“Death of Dr. Milne,” The American Baptist Magazine, and Missionary
Intelligencer 4.3 : 109.). A year later (1824), Robert Morrison simply collected Milne’s English writings, including
his journals, selected correspondences (especially with Morrison), theological writings, etc., and published them with
very little editing, entitled (Memoirs of the Rev. William Milne, D.D. Later Missionary to China and Principal of the Anglo-Chinese College; Compiled from Documents Written by the Deceased; To Which are Added Occasional Remarks [Malacca: the Mission Press, 1824]).
In 1832, The Chinese Repository published a brief sketch of Milne’s life and works as a missionary, which was the first brief biographical sketch of Milne’s life and work. ([Bridgman, Elijah Coleman,] “A Brief Sketch of the Life and
Labors of the Late Rev. William Milne, D.D.” The Chinese Repository 1.8 : 316–325). In 1840, Milne’s close friend,
Robert Philip (1791–1858), published Milne’s first biography, which is also the last biography on Milne (Life and Opinions,
[London: John Snow, 1840]).
In 1979, Brian Harrison published his Waiting for China, in which he explained that he had no interest in the
missionary’s pastoral ministry, rather, he focused simply on the history of the Anglo-Chinese College. (Waiting For
China: The Anglo-Chinese College at Malacca, 1818–1843, and Early Nineteenth-Century Missions [Hong Kong: Hong
Kong University Press, 1979]).
In the twenty-first century, there seems to be a revival of academic interest in early Protestant missionaries to
China, but such interest is only limited to Robert Morrison. Scholars like Christopher Hancock (Robert Morrison and
the Birth of Chinese Protestantism [New York: T&T Clark, 2008]), Christopher Daily (“From Gosport to Canton: A New
Approach to Robert Morrison and the Beginnings of Protestant Missions in China” [PhD diss., University of London,
2010]; Robert Morrison and the Protestant for China [Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2013]), and Ching Su
(“The Printing Press of the London Missionary Society Among the Chinese” [PhD diss., University of London, 1996]; Su,
Open Up, China! [Hong Kong: Christian Study Centre on Chinese Religion and Culture, 2005]) have devoted works to
Morrison. As part of their study on Morrison, each of these three scholars also included brief studies of Milne in their
works. Not long ago, a academic work devoted to William Milne had been produced by this author on Milne’s contribu-
tion to Chinese church through his mentorship of Liang Fa (Baiyu Andrew Song, “Training Labourers For His Harvest:
A Historical Study of William Milne’s Mentorship of Liang Fa,” [Magister Thesis, Toronto Baptist Seminary, 2014]).
3 Based on Morrison’s Memoirs, Su Ching argues that Milne was born in the parish of “Henethmont,” instead
of Kennethmont (See, Su, Ching, Open Up, China! Studies on Robert Morrison and His Circle
, Ching Feng Series 14 [Hong Kong: Christian Study Centre on Chinese Religion and Culture, 2005], 130, n.
2). Though the name “Henethmont” was used in Morrison’s Memoirs (2), according to Milne’s first biographer, Robert
Philip, Milne was born in the parish of Kennethmont, where Philip himself grew up (Life and Opinions, 1, 5, 42, 65, 116).
Su argues for Morrison’s spelling, since he said that “Henethmont” appeared in Milne’s application to LMS, but Su did
not cite the reference of this application. This writer argues that it was in the parish of Kennethmont that Milne was
born. Morrison’s “Milne’s Account of Himself” was originally published as a tract, entitled The Ordination Services of
the Rev[erend] William Milne and the Rev[erend] George Thom; Missionaries to the East 1812 (Aberdeen: D. Chalmers,
1813). In the preface of this document, its editor explained that this is a record of Milne’s ordination service, which means
this document was not in a written form where Milne gave his account of himself, rather this document was steno-
graphically reported. This writer argues, that since the letters “K” and “H” are very similar, it is possible for both the
reporter and editors to make a mistake in confusing “K” with an “H.” Historically, according to Scotland Places (http://
www.scotlandsplaces.gov.uk/), there is no parish named “Henethmont” in Scotland. Geographically, Kennethmont is
few miles away from Huntly, where Milne attended church. Therefore, it is certain that Milne was born in the parish of
Kennethmount, Aberdeenshire. Robert Morrison, Memoirs of the Rev[erend] William Milne, D.D. Late Missionary to
China, and Principal of the Anglo-Chinese College (Malacca: Mission Press, 1824); Robert Philip, Life and Opinions of
the Rev[erend] William Milne, D.D., Missionary to China (London: John Snow, 1840);
According to the discovery of a file entitled as “O.P.R. Births 212/0000100227 Kennethmont” in the Old Parish
Registers from ScotlandsPeople (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk),William Milne was born to William Milne, Sr.
in Braeside of Cults, and was baptized at the parish church on April 27, 1785. The entire entry is “April 27—Milne, Wil-
liam in Braeside of Cults had a son baptized, named William—3 [shillings].” H. Withngton, Old Parochial Regs. County
Aberdeen Par. Kennethmount, vol 212/1, New Register House Edinburgh (Edinburgh: Genealogical Society, 1978), text-
fiche, 12, 02C186. In a journal entry dated on April 27, 1820, Milne wrote, “This is, so far as I have learnt, my birth day.”
Morrison, Memoirs, 84.
4 Morrison, Memoirs, 2.
5 Morrison, Memoirs, 2; Philip, Life and Opinions, 7.
6 Morrison, Memoirs, 2; Philip, Life and Opinions, 7. The full title of John Willison’s catechism is The Mother’s
Catechism for the Young Child; or a Preparatory Help for the Young and Ignorant (Edinburgh: Thomas Lumisden and
John Robertson, 1747).
7 Philip, Life and Opinions, 7.
8 Morrison, Memoirs, 3; Philip, Life and Opinions, 8.
9 Morrison, Memoirs, 5.
10 Robert Philip in Life and Opinions states that he was not able to identify which family Milne stayed at the time and referred to here. Philip, Life and Opinions, 12.
11 Robert Philip records that when at the poor man’s place, Milne always went “the sheep-cote, because he would
have been disturbed in the barn, by his fellow-servants; and he carried a turf with him to kneel upon, because the floor
was foul as well as damp,” and prayed. It started there that Milne became a man of prayer. Philip, Life and Opinions, 13.
12 Morrison, Memoirs, 5; Philip, Life and Opinions, 13.
13 Milne in his account, named Thomas Boston’s sermon as “The Believer’s Espousals to Christ,” which should be “The Soul’s Espousals to Christ,” according to Samuel M‘Millan’s Complete Works of Thomas Boston. Philip, Life
and Opinions, 16; Morrison, Memoirs, 8. Samuel M‘Millian, ed., Complete Works of the Late Rev[erend] Thomas Boston,
Ettrick (1853; repr., Wheaton, IL: Richard Owen Roberts, 1980), 4:22–31.
14 Philip, Life and Opinions, 16–17.
15 Philip, Life and Opinions, 17.
16 Morrison, Memoirs, iii.
17 Philip, Life and Opinions, 33.
18 See Morrison, Memoirs, 14; Philip, Life and Opinions, 36. Though in the text, the spelling is “Samuel Pierce,” it is a spelling mistake of “Samuel Pearce,” (1766–1799) the Baptist minister of Cannon Street Baptist Church, Birmingham.
19 Andrew F. Walls, “Missions and Historical Memory: Jonathan Edwards and David Brainerd,” in Jonathan
Edwards at Home and Abroad: Historical Memories, Cultural Movements, Global Horizons, eds. David W. Kling and
Douglas A. Sweeney (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2003), 251.
20 David Bogue, Objections Against a Mission to the Heathen, Stated and Considered; A Sermon, Preached at
Tottenham Court Chapel, Before the Founders of the Missionary Society, 24 Sep[tember] 1795 (Cambridge: Hilliard and
Metcalf, 1811), 11.
21 At the service, John Hunt of Chelmsford, one of the directors of the LMS, offered opening prayer and Scrip-
ture reading. David Bogue made the introductory discourse. John Griffin asked four questions concerning Milne’s
conversion, missionary calling, missionary strategy, and theology. After answering these questions, Bogue offered an
ordination prayer, which was followed by a sermon preached by James Bennet (1774–1862) from Jeremiah 49:14, entitled, “An Ambassador is Sent to the Heathen.” William Scamp (1774–1860) concluded the service with a prayer.
The entire ordination service was recorded and published under the title, The Ordination Services of the Rev[er-end] William Milne and the Rev. George Thom; Missionaries to the East 1812 (Aberdeen: D. Chalmers, 1813). Morrison in
his Memoir only kept the questions and answers on Milne’s account. Morrison, Memoirs, 1–28.
22 William Milne, A Retrospect of the First Ten Year of the Protestant Mission to China (Malacca: Anglo-Chinese
College, 1820), 103. After his theological training under David Bogue, Robert Morrison was ordained in the Scots Church
on Swallow Street in London on January 8, 1807. Sailed from England, Morrison had to seek the American Counsel’s
protection in New York, and sailed again on May 12, 1807. After 113-day’s voyage, Morrison arrived Macao on September 4, 1807. Three days later, Morrison was expelled by the Roman Catholic authorities, and was forced to sail to Canton.
Due to Morrison’s unique linguistic gift and knowledge of Chinese, Morrison was hired by the East India Company as
a translator and later served as a linguistic and cultural assistant to Lord Amherst (1819) and Lord Napier (1834), when
they visited the Qing Emperors in Beijing. At the early stage of Morrison’s mission in China, the LMS directors worried
if Morrison would damage the mission due to a cultural clash with the indigenous people. As a result, the LMS directors
only viewed Morrison’s mission as “a preliminary endeavor” and “instructed him to make no attempt to preach the
Gospel openly” (Suzanne W. Barnett, “Silent Evangelism: Presbyterians and the Mission Press in China, 1807–1860,”
Journal of Presbyterian History 49.4 : 288). Rather, the directors instructed Morrison to devote his time to studying
the Chinese language and translating the Bible and Christian literature to help future missionaries.
23 Eliza Morrison, Memoirs of the Life and Labours of Robert Morrison, D.D. (London: Longman, 1839), 1:365. As
early as April 29, 1807, Morrison wrote to the LMS directors requesting sending another missionary to China. Though the LMS accepted Morrison’s request, it took six years for the LMS to send William and Rachel Cowie Milne to China
(Hancock, Robert Morrison and the Birth of Chinese Protestantism, 88–90).
24 Morrison, Memoirs of the Life and Labours of Robert Morrison, 1:365.
25 Hancock, Robert Morrison and the Birth of Chinese Protestantism, 94. According to Morrison, under his negotiation the Governor would decide to “extend the eight days to eighteen,” is different than Edwin Stevens’ account that
Milne had to leave in “24 hours.” Morrison, Memoirs of the Life and Labours of Robert Morrison, 1:366; Edwin Stevens, “A Brief Sketch of the Life and Labors of the Late Rev[erend] William Milne, D.D.,” Chinese Repository 1 (Dec 1832): 319.
26 Anonymous, “Memoir of the Late Rev[erend] William Milne, D.D., Missionary to the Chinese,” Evangelical Magazine and Missionary Chronicle (April 1823): 137–138.
27 The EIC offered to hire Milne for only two seasons as assistant to Morrison to complete the English-Chinese dictionary. To this offer, both Morrison and Milne refused.
28 Hancock, Robert Morrison and the Birth of Chinese Protestantism, 95.
29 On October 14, 1813, Rachel delivered their first child, a daughter, named Amelia. At this time, William was able to have a brief trip back to Macao to visit his Rachel and Amelia. Amelia was not baptized until January 23, 1814.
Milne, Retrospect, 105, 107.
30 Hancock, Robert Morrison and the Birth of Chinese Protestantism, 96, 93.
31 Milne, Retrospect, 107. William Milne described Canton as “like the New Jerusalem only in one thing; that strangers are not permitted to enter. I have once peeped in at the gate; and I hope yet to enter. A few days ago, I went to
the top of a little hill to view this land, ... My thoughts were ‘O that God would give this land to the churches, that we, their Messengers, might walk through the length and breadth of it, to publish the glory of His salvation! ... I think them
[Chinese] exceedingly corrupted in their morals. They are a civilized and industrious people; but their land is full of
idols!” Philip, Life and Opinions, 111.
32 Philip, Life and Opinions, 137.
33 The Roman Catholic clergy at Macao complained about Morrison and Milne’s activities and about the tracts they handed to the Portuguese. On the other hand, the Chinese government ordered “no natives to serve foreigners, but
winks at it. The practice goes on till the government wishes to annoy and dismiss the resident foreigners, when the law
is then enforced.” Morrison, Memoirs of the Life and Labours of Robert Morrison, 1:410. Some scholars, like Jean-Pierre
Charbonnier, recently argue that the Roman Catholic clergy were peaceful towards the Protestant missionaries, and
say that it was the Protestants who refused to cooperate with them. This is contrary to the facts at Macao, since Mor-
rison and Milne thought the Catholics were “peaceable people,” and it was the Catholic clergy who complained about
jealousy. Compare Jean-Pierre Charbonnier, Christians in China: A.D. 600 to 2000, trans. M. N. L. Couve de Murville
(San Francisco: Ignatius, 2007), 350–364; with Milne, Retrospect, 128, and Alain Peyrefitte, Immobile Empire (1992; repr.
New York, NY: Vintage Books, 2013), xxiii–xxiv.
34 William Charles Milne (April 22, 1815–May 16, 1863) was ordained on July 19, 1837, and appointed by the LMS to
Canton as a missionary. William Charles later became assistant Chinese secretary to the legation at Beijing. He married
Frances-Williamina, daughter of Rev. Dr. Joseph Beaumont (1794–1855), on August 27, 1846. William Charles died on
May 15, 1863 of apoplexy, and he was buried at the Russian cemetery, outside of the North gate of Beijing. Robert George
Milne (April 22, 1815–November 20, 1882), studied and graduated from Marischal College, Aberdeen University with
his twin brother William Charles. Robert George married Catherine Bradley (1816–1860). On April 14, 1841, Robert
George was ordained in Providence Chapel, Whitehaven, Cumberland, and became a Congregationalist minister first
at Tintwistle, Chester, and later at Southport, Lancaster.
35 Hancock, Robert Morrison and the Birth of Chinese Protestantism, 113.
36 Hancock, Robert Morrison and the Birth of Chinese Protestantism, 113.
37 Hancock, Robert Morrison and the Birth of Chinese Protestantism, 113.
38 Su, Open Up, China!, 144–168.
39 A schedule of Milne’s “oral labours” is recorded in both Morrison’s Memoir and Milne’s Retrospect. Milne would preach in three languages, English, Chinese, and Malay. On regular Sundays: preach in Chinese at 7 am; in En-
glish at 10 am (as the minister of Dutch Reformed Church, Malacca); catechizing in Chinese at 12 pm; catechizing in
English at 7 pm; and catechizing in Malay at 8:30 pm. On weekdays, Milne would have a 10 to 15 minute worship service
at the mission house. Every morning or afternoon, Milne would teach his children. Every Tuesday night, Milne would
have a prayer meeting with Liang Fa. Every Wednesday and Friday night, Milne would teach A-Kang and Meen-Ko.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 4 pm, Milne would read the Scripture with Liang Fa. Every Thursday afternoon
around five, Milne would catechize one or two youth in English, and that night around eight, Milne would preach at
Ta-Peh-Kung Temple to around fifty people in Chinese. Every Saturday or Wednesday afternoon, Milne would catechize
women. Morrison, Memoir, 89–90; Milne, Retrospect, 144–145.
40 Milne’s major contribution to the printed media are, (1) the first Chinese Bible, translated by Morrison
and Milne; (2) Gospel tracts; (3) the first Chinese magazine, Chinese Monthly Magazine (August
5, 1815–January 1821); (4) English magazine, Indo-Chinese Gleaner (1815–1822); (5) and other publications, including
41 During his seven-year ministry at Malacca, Milne wrote seventeen tracts, among which “Dialogues Between
Chang and Yuan ” (1819) was the most influential. It was revised and well-read in China until 1949. Milne
also translated David Bogue’s commentary on Ephesians, and several Chinese classics in English. Until his death, Milne
was the chief editor of the English magazine Indo-Chinese Gleaner.
42 Philip, Life and Opinions, 225–226.
43 Li Zhigang, History of Early Christian Missionary in China (Taiwain: Commercial Press, 1985), 175, n. 17; George Hunter McNeur, China’s First Preacher Liang A-Fa 1789–1855 (Shanghai: Kwang Hsueh
Publishing House, [1934?]), 7.
44 Hancock, Robert Morrison and the Birth of Chinese Protestantism, 93.
45 McNeur, China’s First Preacher Liang A-Fa, 11–12.
46 McNeur, China’s First Preacher Liang A-Fa, 14.
47 Li, History of Early Christian Missionary in China, 175, n. 17.
48 Alexander Wylie, Memorials of Protestant Missionaries to the Chinese (Shanghai: American Presbyterian Mission Press, 1867), 21.
49 P. Richard Bohr, “Liang Fa’s Quest for Moral Power,” in Christianity in China: Early Protestant Missionary
Writings, eds. Suzanne Wilson Barnett and John King Pairbank (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985), 37.
50 Bohr, “Liang Fa’s Quest for Moral Power,” 37. Pure Land Buddhism was first appeared in India, and was brought
to China as early as 147 BC by a Kushan monk Lokaksema. Based on the doctrine of bodhisattva, Pure Land Bud-
dhist teaching focus on AmitaÌ„bha Buddha, whose region locates in the western direction and offers respite from kar-
51 Bohr, “Liang Fa’s Quest for Moral Power,” 37–38.
52 Bohr, “Liang Fa’s Quest for Moral Power,” 38.
54 Philip, Life and Opinions, 225.
55 Bohr, “Liang Fa’s Quest for Moral Power,” 39.
56 Philip, Life and Opinions, 224.
57 Philip, Life and Opinions, 224.
58 Philip, Life and Opinions, 225.
59 Philip, Life and Opinions, 226–227; also see McNeur, China’s First Preacher Liang A-Fa, 28–29.
60 Philip, Life and Opinions, 227.
63 Wylie, Memorials, 21–22.
64 Philip, Life and Opinions, 227.
65 McNeur, China’s First Preacher Liang A-Fa, 117–123.
66 This section has first appeared as the part of the third chapter of my thesis, “Training Labourers for His Harvest,” 57–65.
Philip, Life and Opinions, 111.
McNeur, China’s First Preacher Liang A-fa, 23; Li, History of Early Christian Missionary in China, 175, n. 17; Bohr, “Liang Fa’s Quest for Moral Power,” 36–40.
McNeur, China’s First Preacher Liang A-fa, 24.
McNeur, China’s First Preacher Liang A-fa, 24–25.
Milne, Retrospect, 281–282.
Sung-Deuk Oak noticed the influence of Milne’s Dialogues in the conversion of Kil Sonju (1869–1935), “one of the first seven Presbyterian ministers ordained in 1907.” Sung-Deuk Oak, The Making of Korean Christianity: Protestant
Encounters With Korean Religions, 1876–1915 (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2013), 246–250, 251–252, 283–284. Also
see Soon-Bang Oh, “The Spread and Translation of Chinese Christian Novels in the 1890s’ Korea,” Dong Hwa Journal
of Humanities 9 (2006): 215–250.
Most studies are on an introductory level without deep analytical and theological study. See Patrick Hanan,
Chinese Fiction of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2004),
58–61; Song Lihua, Chinese Missionary Novel Studies (Shanghai: Ancient Books Publishing, 2010),
60–77; Song Lihua, “The Morden Development of Chinese Missionary Novels and Chinese Literature
,” Literary Criticism 1 (2011): 57–62; and Song Lihua, “The Spread and Influence
of the First Chinese Missionary Novel: Studies on William Milne’s Dialogues Between Chang and Yuen
—,” Institute of Literature, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences,
http://www.literature.org.cn/Article.aspx?id=8730 (accessed on February 13, 2014). For a more detailed theological study
see Daniel H. Bays, “Christian Tracts: The Two Friends,” in Christianity in China: Early Protestant Missionary Writings,
eds. Suzanne Wilson Barnett and John King Fairbank (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985), 19–34.
William Milne, Dialogues Between Chang and Yuen , rev. William Charles Milne (Hong Kong:
Anglo-Chinese College, 1851), 5, 7.
Westminster Assembly of Divines, “The Westminster Confession of Faith, 1647,” in The Creeds of Christendom
With a History and Critical Notes, ed. Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1983), 3:606. In answering Yuen’s question
concerning the difference between God and heaven (which is a term substitute for “God” in common Chinese idiom.
For instance, [lit., “son of heaven”] is the title used to emperor, which refers the emperor’s divine right), Chang explains with an illustration of the difference between a table and a craftsman, and points out that “heaven is created,
but God is the Creator ().” Milne, Dialogues, 6.
Noticing the use of Chinese adjective “” (“most”) in describing God’s attributes, which makes the trans-
lation literally be: God is sovereign, most wise, most merciful, most righteous, most holy, and most gracious. Milne,
It was not easy for early missionaries to translate theological terms into Chinese. The choice of the word “
” for the word Godhead is wise, since the word literally means “a whole set, wholeness,” thus the unity of the three
persons in the Godhead is communicated. The word “” is a word of measurement (it expresses a quantity), and is
used particularly in reference to humans, and the word is rightfully chosen to communicate the meaning of “being,” or “substantive reality.”
Concerning the translation of the name “Holy Spirit,” Milne did not follow the Nestorian and Roman Catholic translation, which translated literarily means, “original/abstruse wind,” or “pure wind.” Rather, Milne used the word
“.” When “” is used as a noun, there are multiple possible meanings in classical Chinese, which are (1) deity, (2)
spirit, mind, or vigor, and (3) look or expression. The use, which refers to the Holy Spirit, then carries a meaning of a
combination of “deity” and “spirit and mind.” Milne, Dialogues, 10. On the translation of theological terms in Chinese
Bible versions see Toshikazu S. Foley, Biblical Translation in Chinese and Greek: Verbal Aspect in Theory and Practice (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2009), 5–34.
78 Milne, Dialogues, 10.
85 Milne, Dialogues, 6, 15, 17, 42.
89 Milne, Dialogues, 56–57.
93 Carl F. H. Henry, Toward a Recovery of Christian Belief: The Rutherford Lectures (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1990), 49.
95 Milne, Dialogues, 45–46.
96 J. I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2008), 56.
98 From May 24, 1822, Milne’s body became weaker and weaker. Though “during his last illness he seldom spoke,” Milne expressed his wish that, “if his illness should end in death, that his body should be opened.” On June 2, 1822, Milne
died, and as his body was opened. His colleague found his lungs, “on the right side, adhered to the ribs; they had lost
their natural colour, and were covered with small swellings.” At four o’clock the same day, Milne’s body was carried
from the Anglo-Chinese College to the Dutch cemetery of “St. Anthony on the side of St. Paul’s Hill.” Milne was buried
with his Rachel and two pre-deceased children, David and Sarah. The funeral was held at the Dutch Reformed Church
with numerous attendees, and “there were also hundreds of natives, both Chinese and Malay, as spectators.” Philip, Life and Opinions, 110–111; Brian Harrison, Waiting for China: The Anglo-Chinese College at Malacca, 1818–1843, and Early
Nineteenth-Century Missions (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1979), 66.
99 Bogue, Objections, 15.
the communist revolution (Mao Zedong, Collected Writings of Chairman Mao: Politics and Tactics, ed. Shawn Conners
[El Pasco, TX: EL Paso Norte, 2009], 116–117, 125–126, 152.). Other contemporary political and cultural studies of the
Taiping Rebellion see Jonathan D. Spence, God’s Chinese Son: The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan (New York, NY: W. W. Norton, 1996); Stephen R. Platt, Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story
of the Taiping Civil War (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012); and Philip A. Kuhn, Rebellion and Its Enemies in Late
Imperial China; Militarization and Social Structure, 1796–1864 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970).
101 On the religious root of Taiping Rebellion see John Foster, “The Christian Origins of the Taiping Rebellion,”
International Review of Mission 40.158 (1951): 156–167; P. Richard Bohr, “The Heavenly Kingdom in China: Religion
and the Taiping Revolution, 1837–1853,” Fides et Historia 17.2 (1985): 38–52; E. M. Wheeler, “Were the Taipings ‘Chinese
Hussites’?,” Communio Vitatorum 7.2 (1964): 223–224; Rudolf G. Wagner, Reenacting the Heavenly Vision: The Role of
Religion in the Taiping Rebellion (Berkley, CA: University of California, Institute of East Asian Studies, 1982).
Missions 53.212: 393–407.