Early in the summer of 1879 I heard from the native assistant, Leng, of a case of supposed “possession,” in which he had failed to afford relief. This failure he attributed to want of faith. At my request he gave me an account of the case, which, in his own words, is as follows:
“This spring when I was at Tse-kia chwang, in the district of Shiu-kwang, I was giving the Christians there an account of the case of Mr. Kwo at Hing-kia, when an enquirer present said: ‘We have a similar case here.’ It was that of a woman, also named Kwo. She was thirty-two years of age, and had suffered from this infliction eight years. It happened that at the time of my visit the woman was suffering more than usual. Her husband, in the hope that the demon would not disturb his wife in the house of a Christian, had brought her to the home of his brother-in-law, Mr. Sen, who had lately professed Christianity. On my arrival they said to me: ‘She is here, on the opposite side of the court,’ and they begged me to cast out the spirit; as they had tried every method they knew of without effect. Then without waiting for my assent, they brought the woman into the room where I was. I said: *I have no power to do anything of myself. We must ask God to help us.’ While we knelt in prayer the woman was lying on the k’ang [the earthen bed of North China], apparently unconscious. When the prayer was finished she was sitting up, her eyes closed, with a fluttering motion of the eyelids, her countenance like one weeping, and the fingers of both hands tightly clenched. She would allow no one to straighten her closed fingers. I then, hardly expecting an answer, as the woman had hitherto been speechless, said to the demon: ‘Have you no fear of God. Why do you come here to affiict this woman?’ To this I received instantly the following reply:
‘Tien-fu Yia-su puh kwan an.
Wo tsai che-li tsih pa nian,
Ni iao nien wo, nan shang nan,
Pi iao keh wo pa-shin ngan.’
‘God and Christ will not interfere. I have been here seven or eight years; and I claim this as my resting-place. You cannot get rid of me.’
She continued for some time uttering a succession of rhymes similar to the above, without the slightest pause; the purport of them all being: ‘I want a resting-place, and I’ll not leave this one.’ The utterances were so rapid that the verse given above was the only one I could remember perfectly. I can recall another line: ‘You are men, but I am shien,’ (i. e. one of the genii). After repeating these verses, evidently extemporized for the occasion, a person present dragged her back to her apartments—the demon not having been exorcised.
Mr. Leng revisited this regon in the month of August. His further, and more satisfactory experiences in connection with this case, I also give in his own words:
“I was attending service one Sunday at a village called Wu-kia-miao-ts, two miles from Tse-kia chwang, and Mr. Sen from the latter village was present. Noticing in Mr. Sen’s hand a paper parcel I enquired what it contained, and was told that it contained cinnabar. This is a medicine which is much used for the purpose of expelling evil spirits. Mr. Sen said he had procured it to administer to the possessed woman, Mrs. Kwo, who was suffering from her malady very severely. I then spoke to the Christians present as follows: ‘We are worshipers of the true God. We ought not to use the world’s methods for exorcising demons, but rather appeal to God only. The reason why we did pot succeed before was our want of faith. This is our sin.’ I went on to tell them how willing God is to answer prayer, referring to my own experience in the famine region, when, reduced almost to starvation, I prayed to God for help, and was heard and rescued. I asked those present if they would join me in prayer for Mrs. Kwo, and they all did so. After this I set out for Tse-kia chwang in company with two other Christians.
“While this was transpiring at Wu-kia-miao-ts the Christians at Tse-kia chwang were attempting to hold their customary Sunday service; but Mrs. Kwo (or the demon possessing her) was determined to prevent it. She raved wildly, and springing upon the table threw the Bibles and hymn-books on the floor. The wife of a younger Mr. Sen, who was a Christian, then became similarly affected; and the two women were raving together. They were heard saying to each other: ‘Those three men are coming here, and have got as far as the stream.’ Someone asked: ‘Who are coming?’ The woman replied with great emphasis: ‘One of them is that man Leng.’ As I was not expected to visit that place until a few days later, a daughter of the family said: ‘He will not be here today.’ To which the demon replied: ‘If he does not come here today, then I am no shien [demon]. They are now crossing the stream, and will reach here when the sun is about so high,’ and she pointed to the west. No one could have known, in the ordinary way, that we were coming, as our visit was not thought of until just before starting. Moreover the two men who went with me were from different villages, at a considerable distance in opposite directions, and had had no previous intention of accompanying me. When we arrived at the village a large company were assembled at Mr. Sen’s house, attracted by the disturbance, and curious to see the result of it. After a time I went into the north building where the two raving women were sitting together on the k’ang. I addressed the demon possessing them as follows: ‘Do you not know that the members of this family are believers in the true God, and that this is a place used for his worship? You are not only disturbing the peace of this house, but you are fighting against God. If you do not leave, we will immediately call upon God to drive you out.’ The younger of the two women then said to the other: ‘Let us go-let us go!’ The other drew back on the k’ang angrily saying: “I’ll not go! I’ll stay and be the death of this woman!’ I then said with great vehemence: ‘You evil, malignant spirit! You have not the power of life and death; and you cannot intimidate us by your vain threats. We will now call upon God to drive you out.’ So the Christians all nelt to pray. The bystanders say that during the prayer the two possessed persons, awakening as if from sleep, looked about, and seeing us kneeling, quietly got down from the k’ang and knelt beside us. When we rose from prayer we saw the women still kneeling; and soon after Mrs. Kwo arose and came forward greeting us naturally and politely, evidently quite restored.” Here ends Mr. Leng’s narrative.
I myself visited the place in the month of October in company with Rev. J. A. Leyenberger, at which time Mrs. Kwo asked for baptism. As she gave evidence of sincerity and faith in Christ, she was baptized, together with thirteen others. As far as I know she has had no return of her malady.
The statements of Mr. Leng, as given above, were confirmed by minute examinations of all the parties concerned, and their testimony was clear and consistent. No one in the village or neighborhood doubts the truth of the story; nor do they regard it as anything specially strange or remarkable.
Mrs. Kwo is highly esteemed in her neighborhood, and has, since her baptism, been regarded by all who know her as an intelligent and consistent Christian. She is a woman of pleasing manners, and a retiring disposition, apparently in good health, and there is nothing unnatural or peculiar in her appearance. For nearly two years after her baptism, threatened returns ofher old malady gave her and her friends no little anxiety. She says that she was frequently conscious of the presence of the evil spirit seeking to gain his former control over her, and was almost powerless to resist the unseen influence which she felt threatening her. At such times she at once fell on her knees and appealed to Christ for help, which she never failed to receive. She says that these returns of the demon became less and less frequent and persistent, and after a time ceased altogether. Mrs. Kwo has never in her normal condition shown any aptitude for improvising verses; and I presume could not now compose a single stanza.