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 Xiuquan Rereads the Tracts   1843




Xiuquan rereads the tracts of Liang Fa

Twilight of a Nation  太平天國 

Hong Kong TV series 1988


One day, in the year 1843, it happened that a relative of  Xiuquan, cousin Li Jingfang (李敬芳), in examining the contents of his book-case, fell upon the Christian tracts, entitled "Good words for exhorting the age." On inquiring respecting their character, he was told by his kinsman that they were strange books, which he had read years ago, but without deriving from them much information, or instruction. The curiosity of Li, however, being excited, he requested permission to take the books home and read them. He was allowed to do so , and after perusal, he returned them, saying that they seemed to him very extraordinary productions, and very different from Chinese writings.

This induced  Xiuquan to give the tracts a second perusal. He began reading them attentively - and, as he read, much which before was unintelligible now revealed its meaning. Suddenly, it occurred to him, like a light flashing into a dark place, that there was a correspondence between these books and the visions of his illness. The former were a key and explanation of the latter. They mutually confirmed each other. The "venerable old man" whom he had beheld sitting on the throne was God, the heavenly Father, and the man of " middle age," who had instructed and aided him in exterminating the demons, was Jesus, the Savior of the world. Hong immediately began to identify with Jesus, who had begun his teachings at age thirty, Hong's present age. With this dream, and his new text as his guide, Hong Xiuquan determines that Jesus is actually his elder brother, and identifies himself as God's second son, "God's Chinese Son.


These demons were the idols worshiped by his countrymen ; and the brothers and sisters, whom he had been directed to spare, were the worshipers themselves. This confirmation of the reality of his visions filled the heart of  Xiuquan with joy. His imagination being excited to the highest pitch, he saw the idols of the land already cast down from their shrines, as the demons had been hurled from earth into hell. Straightway, he removed the tablet of Confucius from his school-room, and persuaded his fellow-student, Li, who had caught a portion of his enthusiasm, to throw away his idols.

Then, learning from the Christian books the necessity of baptism to salvation, they took a bowl, and poured water, each upon his own head, saying, " Purification from all sin — putting off the old — regeneration." This act performed,  Xiuquan gave vent to his new emotions by the composition of the following lines on repentance : " When our transgressions high as heaven rise, How well to trust in Jesus' full atonement ! We follow not the demons ; we obey The holy precepts — worshiping alone One God, and thus we cultivate our hearts. The heavenly glories open to our view, And every being ought to seek thereafter. I much deplore the miseries of hell. O turn ye to the fruits of true repentance  . Let not your hearts be led by worldly customs."


Makes a Sword


His first efforts at gaining proselytes were made among his most intimate friends. more convinced than ever that his son was as great a favorite with the heavenly powers as with himself, embraced the new doctrine, and was baptized, with all his household. He immediately converted two other relatives, Hong Rengan 洪仁玕 ( 1822 - 1864 ) and Feng Yunshan 馮雲山 (1822-1852) . He then expressed his mission to Hong Rengan, " . . . I have received the immediate command from God in his presence; the will of Heaven rests with me." In 1844 Hong and his two cousins remove the venerated Confucian tablets from the schools where they teach and are fired from their positions. Hong Rengan is forbidden by his father and elder brother to join Hong Xiuquan, Feng Yunshan, and two of Feng's relatives when they leave Guanlubu in April 1844, to spread the word according to this new member of God's family.  


Xiuquan was encouraged in interpreting those passages in the Old Testament which speak of God's chosen race, as meaning the Chinese, and of the promised possession of the heavenly kingdom as referring to the empire to be reserved for himself and his followers. To prepare himself and his friend, Li, therefore, for playing the parts of a Moses and a Joshua, he ordered two swords to be made of the weight of nine pounds English, each ; three and a half feet in length ; and to be inscribed with characters signifying, " Demon-Exterminating Sword"  (斬妖劍) . Li  later drifts away from Hongs group.  Two other relatives, Hong Rengan and Feng Yunshan were also converted.






  The Visions of

Hong Xiuquan