Hong Kong Ecclesial Intelligence 1867-1878



Hong Kong.- One, J. Lilley, writing from this place for himself and brethren,
on the 27th July last, says "In this far-off heathen land, I and a brother
of mine by chance saw your Twelve Lectures, and they were the means of our
being led to search the scriptures. I am glad to say that the way that was
so dark before, has now become light. We had often before wondered whether
so many millions in the land of China were doomed to suffer the everlasting
pains of hell. But when we came to search the scriptures, to see whether
things in your lectures were so, we saw at a glance that they would perish
without law. We have a hard fight among those who believe that the soul is
immortal. We have sent for your Lectures. I suppose they can be had from any
book store. The one I have is only borrowed. We hope we may be able to press
on. There is no liberty here. There are missionaries, and a few Chinese
people profess to be Christians, but we may truly say that gross darkness


Hong Kong.- We have received two letters, dated respectively Jan. 8 and 15,
from brethren E. Lilley and B. Hart, who reside in this remote dependency of
the British Crown. They are as yet the only two Christadelphians in that
place, and brother Lilley says 'I think there is not another place in the
world like this-so barren, so hard to bring anyone to the truth as it is in
Jesus." Details of the difficulties they have here to encounter, and the
absurd arguments which they have to meet, are given in the letters; but from
some of the facts given, there seems ground for hope that the manful battle
our two brethren are fighting (alone though they are, so far as human
companionship is concerned), will not be without good results. We can offer
some little consolation to them, perhaps, by the statement of this fact,
that the opposition they encounter is precisely the same opposition that the
upholders of the one faith have to encounter in all parts of the world. They
wish to be remembered in the prayers of the faithful.

Hong-Kong.- Brother Lilley, writing January 4th, says that he and brother
Hart continue their exertions for the truth, without much result as yet.
Brother Hart had a long discussion with the clergyman of the place, who, it
seems, in his younger days went to the same school as brother Hart. The
clergyman entrenched himself behind his linguistic acquirements, and railed.
Brother Hart has lent him Twelve Lectures, The Defence, and the Discussion.
Brother Lilley says there are four or five theoretically persuaded of the
truth, but delay obedience on the plea that there is plenty of time. They
also-some of them-advocate union with orthodox denominations, and declare
the Christadelphians to be the most bigoted sect they ever met with. In a
sense, their declaration is true. "How," exclaim they, "can so few be right
and all the others wrong?" The answer to this is the one which brother
Lilley says he gives to such a question: "It is not the question how it is
so, but is it so?"

Hong Kong.- Brother Hart is alone. He mourns the loss of brother Lilley, who
has preliminarily undergone the second death, in departing from the faith.
Colenso's speculations have furnished the fatal dart. The "simple" are in
danger from such writings. Those who understand the matter-who, having their
senses exercised by reason of use, are able to discern good and evil (Heb.
5:14, )-are able to detect the logical flaws which are hid in the flowers of
polished writing, and rendered invisible to those who look on the surface.
The latter class are led captive to their destruction. Their only safety
lies in shutting their ears to the counsels of the ungodly. Even a wise man
has more important work than to read all that ingenious men may write
against the Bible. If a man is to wade through all error before he decides
for the truth, he will never live long enough to come to a decision. The
wise plan is to act on positive evidence, and leave negations to take care
of themselves. The "Noes" will take their right place by and bye when you
have settled the "Yesses." There is positive evidence that Christ rose;
there is positive evidence that God spoke to Israel. The state of the Jews
and the world contains evidence of both. The literature of mankind contains
evidence. There are admitted facts which can only be accounted for on the
principle that God is at the bottom of Jewish history. Let a man look these
in the face. Why should it disconcert him that difficulties and plausible
arguments can be produced on the other side? There is no proposition that
cannot be controverted. There is never a case in a court but what can be
presented in two lights to a jury. There is no question but has two sides to
it so far as argument is concerned, but is there therefore no true side to a
question?-no right version of a case? On the contrary, the very existence of
controversy shows there is the right thing somewhere, for this is the cause
of the battle. But the right is obscured to shallow minds by objections and
difficulties. Looking only at these, and without power to grasp the positive
evidences in the case, they are overwhelmed and destroyed. This has been the
case with brother Hart's companion. He is to be pitied. Let his case give
point to the exhortation of Solomon: "Cease my son to hear the instruction
which causeth to err from the words of knowledge."-(Pro. 19:27.)

Hong-Kong.- Brother Hart desires his love to all the brethren. He has lost
his situation for speaking the truth, but has confidence that he will be
enabled to make out otherwise. A local Directory has maliciously advertised
him as anti-Christou adelphoi. He has written the compiler for correction,
but can elicit no response. He has written to the China Mail, but the Editor
refuses his letter insertion. So must we resign ourselves to contempt and
injustice at present. A change will come, to the consternation of those who
afflict the Christ in any shape.


Hong Kong.-Brother Hart is still alone, but doing his utmost to give a
testimony for the truth. He finds there is some one secretly helping him to
circulate Christadelphian publications. He does not know who it is, but
hopes it is one who is awakening to the power of the truth; while fearing at
the same time it may be one of the class who "preach Christ of contention."
He has been attacked through the Daily Press by one signing himself "an
Immortal." He has also been attacked by the "Rev." Dr. Tegg, who went to his
employers, but none of these things move him. The Chinese massacre has
unhinged affairs somewhat, and the news of the war in Europe has produced
great excitement, and filled brother Hart with joyful expectation of the
Lord's coming. He desires his love to all the brethren.

Hong Kong.-Brother Hart continues his testimony for the truth, in spite of
many discouragements. He lectures every Sunday in the Christadelphian
Synagogue, West Point, Hong Kong. A few come to hear, but none as yet give
signs of obedience. There are several bitter adversaries. Through their
influence, he was debarred from a lucrative appointment which he was on the
point of receiving. Through a change in the firm in which he is employed, he
expects again to be out of a situation, and to have to close the Synagogue.
He wearies for society in the truth, and desires to be remembered to all the
brethren. He ardently desires the Lord's coming, and eagerly watches the
progress of events on the Continent. Sometime ago, a letter, signed "An
Immortal," appeared in one of the Hong Kong papers, stating that the writer
had been "accosted by a missionary of the Christadelphian ecclesia, and
presented with a tract," denying the immortality of the soul. The letter
proceeds to argue the question a little, and says as there are a number of
the Christadelphian persuasion in Hong Kong, he would have them ponder thus
and so. Brother Hart replied, but his letter did not appear. He wrote again,
with similar result. He then wrote a third time, delivering his soul in
words of solemn warning.


Boston. (Mass.)-Brother Hodgkinson, writing January 27th, says: "When you
wrote to me last September, enclosing a letter received from one Charles
Jones, asking for ecclesial information as to Boston, I was at Bristol, R.
I., but despatched the letter to one of the household, who called upon him
and pointed to 176, Tremont Street, where we make our stand for the truth as
in Jesus. He attended regularly, and was soon accompanied by his wife. They
are both English, and formerly Baptists, and to-day were immersed into the
name, great and good enough to cover all our shortcomings. Ex-brother Lilley
of Hong Kong, first introduced the truth to him, giving him an Elpis Israel,
Feb., 1869. Since then in China, California, and Sandwich Islands, Jones had
the truth gnawing at his conscience. Attracted by the pearl, and not
satisfied with the paste diamond, he has sold and bought the pearl won, and
both he and wife now rejoice with the sons of Deity. This is the fifth
immersion this year. We will not boast, but rather liken the ecclesia unto a
rich merchant, who, anxious to add to his store, yet was more desirous still
of not losing what he possessed. We are looking for a grain of mustard seed
to drop from heaven to the eastern horizon, and, having taken root, give us
speedy lodgment in its branches."


Hong Kong.-Brother Hart writes: "It is some time since the Christadelphian
contained any intelligence from China. The reason of course I have told you
before, long, long ago; and the same reason stands good now. It is a barren
soil, and like casting seed amongst rocks, or pearls before swine. Religion
of any kind is no part of the craving of any person who comes out here to
sojourn. Their sighs are for pleasures, theatre and other amusements, and
lament that the colony cannot provide more. Local newspapers teem with
complaints on this score; and when a troupe of penny theatricals arrive,
whole columns are devoted to its praise; or when a new minister arrives, the
same columns are open in praise of his teachings. No so with teachers of the
truth. The columns are open to run it down, but never to defend it. However,
I trust better days are in store, and that I may yet have some intelligence
worthy of insertion in our organ of communication, that brethren may see
that in this uttermost part of the earth, the light shineth. My love to the
brethren in all parts, requesting their prayers."

Hong Kong. - Brother Hart, though unable to report the multiplication of
believers, is happy to say he has been able to once more open a meeting
room. He says the inhabitants have an opportunity for knowing the truth, as
there is a full set of Christadelphian publications in the City Hall, and a
full set at the Christadelphian Synagogue (both places free); the truth, in
addition, being expounded in the latter to as many as will stoop to listen.


Hong Kong.-Brother Hart writes (Feb. 6th): "From this barren rock there is
no news of importance beyond the fact that I have received from you a good
supply of books and pamphlets, some of which I have circulated, parcels of
which I have sent to various new arrivals in the colony, more especially to
those who rejoice in the name of Reverend and Right Reverend, accompanied
also with writing, but nothing will bring them out of their shell: it has no
more moved them than pieces of blank paper would have done, confirming
Scripture that they are dumb dogs. 
I see, therefore, no hope of getting beyond my solitude. It is some years 
now I have been alone; I have not even my wife on my side beyond a wife's

Hong Kong.-Brother Hart writes: "I had a flying visit from brother Davidson,
from India. He came here as engineer in the Indian packet steamship
Hindostan. We had but very little time together for talk, as he was short of
time in consequence of repairs to the boilers, the stay of the vessel being
short. He expects to return in her, when perhaps we will have more time
together. It, however, did my heart good to have the company of a brother
for at least a little time, having been alone for so long. You cannot
imagine the feeling of one so far away from any of the same mind.
Livingstone would be comparatively speaking at home in the interior of
Africa, compared with a Christadelphian in the midst of however numerous a
community of Englishmen or any other nationality whose mind cannot be bent
to anything like the truth . . . The Chinese Empire is an extensive country,
so is Cochin China and Siam, yet I have circulated by post bundles of
Christadelphian pamphlets to every port on their sea board, also to the
Empire of Japan, and the Philippines, and only one acknowledgement have I
received from any, and that is from a Japan paper called the Rising Sun,
dated Nagasaki, May 22nd, 1874. I last mail sent out 59 other bundles to
various ports of same amount, and await their results. Some may be tempted
to send for books."

Hong Kong.-Brother Hart writes as follows: "There is no loop-hole into which
the truth can enter, as yet, in any society in Hong Kong. The whole minds of
the public are craving after pleasure. There is a sad cry when no
theatricals are in the place, and to take their place amateurs perform; want
of pleasure seems to drive the people mad. A mania for drinking clubs has
got up lately, and these are got up by the Protestant and the Catholic
clergy and priests. There is the Royal Navy Club, got up by the Chaplain of
H.M.S. Audacious, established in a building owned by Roman Catholic priests.
The drunkenness and language used is dreadful; a lady living next door
complains bitterly. There is the Roman Catholic Club, got up by the priests,
on premises belonging to themselves. The police force have two drinking
clubs and two canteens; the Protestant clergy have organized a temperance
club for merchant seamen, but it might as well be a drinking saloon; these
same clergy organised a canteen for them in the Sailor's Home. There are
four drinking and billiard clubs for the English public, one for the Germans
and one for the Parsees. The Chinese seeing this, have established about
thirty: these have all been established about a year. For some time there
has been two English theatres, one German theatre, one Garrison theatre and
three Chinese theatres; also twenty hotels and beer shops, so that, dear
brother Roberts, with the fact also that there are nearly one thousand
Government licensed brothels, about one thousand private Chinese brothels
and over a thousand other unmentionable dens, you will see what sort of a
place Hong Kong is, and I alone in it. If Sodom and Gomorrah were worse than
this, they were bad indeed. This is a true picture of the place; society is
rotten in every direction. Ministers and their church committees all work
hard for what they term the "almighty dollar."


Hong Kong.-Brother Hart writes: "I believe I made the remark before to you
that notwithstanding the great circulation I try to give Christadelphian
publications in China around, and the exposition of the truth on every
opportunity, nothing, so far as I know, comes of it. Strange to say, there
is some one else in China, whom I cannot find out, who is also circulating
Christadelphian tracts. I am inclined to think he is the one who has
corresponded with the China Mail in reference to "Russia and
Constantinople," reproduced in the Christadelphian for April. It is strange
he cannot find me out nor I him; whoever he may be, he must have got some
from me, for I have sent to every one up and down the coast: to Japan,
Philippine Islands, Cochin China, Malaya and Borneo, Singapore, and even to
India, where I thought the truth was established. No fruit have I reaped, no
jewel to decorate my crown."-[Do not despair. A stray copy of the Lectures
at Calcutta was the means of enlightening a captain who came home and gave
them to a Congregationalist minister, who also became enlightened, gave up
his congregation, and took to preaching the truth in another place, with the
result of bringing several already to a knowledge of the truth. God must
have a purpose to accomplish, as yet unseen, or He would not have planted a
brother Hart with so lavish a hand to diffuse the truth's literature in Hong

Hong-Kong.-Brother Hart writes that he has had illness at home for several
months, both in himself and family. "My wife," he says, "never got better.
It pleased the Almighty to take her from me, It may be for some wise purpose
which I cannot see. I trust and pray Almighty God it may, for His dear Son's
sake, our Elder Brother. My wife died of chronic enteritis, on the 21st
ultimo, having suffered dreadfully for some months. My principal object in
writing is to call your attention to an editorial review of your work,
Prophecy and the Eastern Question, in the China Mail, of the 6th instant
(October), thinking you might wish to answer it. I thank God that there is
one good feature in the affair, namely, that your book has been taken notice
of at all, for doubtless it will, perhaps, set some out in the East here to
enquire more after these things, and cause those in whose hands these works
are to read them, whereas they have been laid aside till now. I trust to
God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that my late troubles will bring future
and exceeding great joy."
(To brother Hart: Do not give yourself any trouble on the subject of sending
money. You do not owe anything, and as for assisting the cause of the truth,
we could not accept it of those to whom the giving would be a burden. You
will have the sympathy of all earnest brethren in the great trouble that has
befallen you. There is this comfort to fall back upon. If we discover at the
last that the sorrows that overtake us now are necessary to make us
acceptable to the Lord at His coming, then our heaviest troubles are our
greatest blessings. God holds the reins. He doth not willingly afflict. Let
us commit our souls to Him in well doing. Our whole probation is "but for a


Bro. Hart, of Hong Kong.- Bro. Rees, of Cardiff, visiting Hong Kong, found
bro. Hart in want. He had lost his situation, was out of employment, and had
just buried his wife and child. Is it surprising he was cast down? The
Editor will gladly take charge of what aid any of the brethren may desire to
contribute to his need. It has but to be added, that in the day of his
opportunity brother Hart was freehanded in his spendings for the truth, and
in his contributions for the relief of the poor. He is without a companion
in the midst of Hong Kong barbarism.

Hong Kong.-Poor brother Hart has fallen asleep. The information comes from
the Post Office authorites who give that explanation of the return of a
letter sent from the office of the Christadelphian. The case is peculiarly
touching. Recently, bro. Hart had seen "great and sore trouble." He lost
first child, then his wife, then his situation, then his health and now his
life. He was reduced to extremities, and a number of the brethren
contributed to his relief in response to an appeal through the
Christadelphian. The money never reached him. It came back in the letter
above referred to, which reached Hong Kong a few weeks after his death.
Brother Hart had waited for the kingdom of God for a number of years. His
waiting was no passive attitude, as the readers of the Christadelphian may
have observed from time to time, though the principal evidence of it has not
appeared in the Christadelphian. His contributions to the poor they do not
know. The amount of money he spent and labour he put forth on behalf of the
truth, in a variety of ways, was something astounding, especially for a
single individual standing all alone in the midst of a great spiritual
wilderness like Hong Kong, in which he was not permitted to see a single
fruit of his work. We cannot think of any brother who has exceeded him in
this respect. And now the testimony and the waiting and the struggle are
over, and brother Hart sleeps. It is a case to weep over; yet our tears
assuage when we realise that the death-state is the twinkle of an eye to the
dead, and that brother Hart has closed his eyes to find that his probation
is compassionately terminated before that of others, and the Son of God
arrived for his consolation and great joy. God grant us a speedy re-union in
the glorious presence of Him before whom every tear will dry.

Reproduced with permission from The Christadelphian : Volume 4-16. c2001,(electronic ed.). Logos Library System. Christadelphian Magazine & Publishing Association: Birmingham, UK