The Missionary Magazine. Boston: March 1868, page 68
[Note: Pinyin used in this Internet edition.]
A Baptist's First Visit to the Russian Mission

My next visit was to the Russian Church of the Dormition[1], which is situated in the northeast[2] corner of the Tartar city. Connected with the church, are school-buildings, in which was a flourishing school for Chinese children; the residence of the archimandrite; and nicely laid out grounds, the whole being surrounded with a wall. I sent in my card, and a note of introduction that Dr. Martin had kindly given me, to the archimandrite, who received me cordially, seated me in Chinese style on a dais at the upper end of his large reception room, and ordered confectionary and wine. In conversing with him, as also with the Romish priests, not being acquainted with each other's languages we were obliged to use the Chinese language as a medium of communication. The archimandrite has translated and printed the whole New Testament in Chinese.[3]

He has followed very much the Presbyterian version, but uses the ecclesiastical terms of the Romanists.[4] For instance he uses "Tian Zhu"[5] Lord of Heaven, the Romish term for God, and "Si" to wash, the Romish term for baptism. He is quite inconsistent in using this latter term, since being of the Greek Church he of course immerses, while the Chinese term "Si,"[6] used by all Pedobaptists in China, means simply to wash with a little water. Though his translation is a poor one, still the Greek priest have done much better than the Romish priests, for they have never, that I can learn, given either the New or Old Testament to the Chinese. He presented me with a copy. He took me into his study to look at his library, which is very large, also to see his church. Numerous pictures adorned the walls, and behind the altar in the sacristy, I was shown the various paraphernalia of the worship of the Greek Church. A sickening sight![7] He informed me that there were 300 natives in Beijing connected with his church. The Russians have had a permanent establishment in Beijing, consisting of an ambassador, clergymen, physician, mathematician or astronomer, and eight or ten young Russians learning the Manchu and Chinese languages, since about 1728. They have not until more recently sought to proselyte the natives to their faith, which accounts for the small number of their converts. The class of young men, ministers. &c., live in another part of the city, where they also have another church. There is now a class of Chinese youth being instructed in the Russian language, at the expense of the Chinese government.

I next visited the great Lama Monastery, which is near the Russian church,…

Rev. M.J. Knowlton,
Ningpo, China

End notes by Mitrophan Chin

[1] Original text used the Latin term "Assumption" in reference to this church, whereas the proper Orthodox term is "Dormition" which literally means "falling asleep" in reference to the Virgin's death prior to her bodily assumption.
[2] Original text incorrectly state "northwest corner of the Tartar city"
[3] The New Testament was translated and published in Chinese in summer of 1864 by Archimandrite Guri (Karpov), the head of the 14th Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Beijing. In 1865 Archimandrite Pallady (Kafarov) took over as head of the Mission.
[4] The Presbyterian version being referred to was the first Chinese Protestant translation of the New Testament by Robert Morrison first published in 1813, which was later revised by his son John R. Morrison et al and published in 1837. When translating proper names, Archimandrite Gury followed neither the Catholics nor Protestants, where he adhered literally to the Slavonic pronunciation, including the transliteration for Jesus Christ. For more details on Archim. Gury's translation process, refer to the article "Orthodox Translations of the New Testament in Chinese" by P. Ivanov
[5] As most Protestants have distance away from the use of the term "Tian Zhu (天主)" in reference to God, it became almost exclusively a Roman Catholic term and also became part of the term 'Tianzhujiao (天主教)' in reference to the Roman Catholic Church itself. To avoid being confused with Roman Catholicism, the Orthodox Church at the turn of the 20th century have also adopted the alternative ancient Chinese classical term "Shangdi (上帝)" in reference to God.
[6] The term 'xili (洗礼)' with its linguistic meaning of "washing rite" is an allusion to the sacramental nature of baptism as a "cleansing of sin", or as the priestly prayer used during the Orthodox baptism phrase it: "Wash away the defilement of my body and the stain of my soul." Most Protestants denies the sacramental nature of Baptism but still borrowed this term 'xili' with their understanding of baptism being only an ordinance. The term has been adopted by various religious groups to be inclusive of the various modes of church initiation including baptism by immersion. On the other hand, the Baptists, who advocated the biblical form of baptism as exclusively immersion, have adopted the Chinese term 'jin (浸)', which literally means immersion. This word has been incorporated in their Chinese translation of the term 'jinli (浸礼)' for baptism and for the term 'Jinxinhui (浸信会)' in referring to the Baptist church. Modern Chinese Orthodox translators have also began to use this term 'jinli' to be linguistically faithful to the Orthodox practice by immersion of the Greek term for baptism.
[7] This negative emotional reaction of the Baptist visitor is typical of the Protestant iconoclastic position. For a biblical appreciation of the patristic theological position on the use of icons, refer to St. John of Damascene on Holy Images