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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Gutzlaff, Karl Friedrich August,

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missionary to China, was born at Stettin, in Pomerania, in 1802, and attracted attention at an early age by his zeal in study, and by the promise of activity which his youth afforded. The way was open for him to posts of usefulness at home, but having resolved to devote himself to missionary labor in foreign parts, he volunteered to go to the Dutch settlements in the East, under the auspices of the Netherlands Missionary Society. Before proceeding thither he came to England, where he met Dr. Morrison, the eminent Chinese scholar and missionary, and received a strong bias towards China as his ultimate field of labor. In 1823 he proceeded to Singapore, and it is said that before he had been there two years he was able to converse fluently in five Eastern languages, and to read and write as many more. In August, 1828, in company with Mr. Toulrain, Gutzlaff went to Siam, where he remained more than a year. In 1881 he went to China. Between 1831 and 1834 he made three voyages along the coast, and published an account of his observations. From 1834 to the time of his death he held office under the British government as interpreter and secretary to the minister. An attempt to land in Japan (1837) was unsuccessful. In 1844 he established, conjointly with the American missionary Roberts, two Chinese, and others, a society for the propagation of the Gospel in China, which in 1860 had forty preachers. In 1849 he revisited Europe, and, by his personal exertions, gave a new impulse to missionary effort for China. He returned to China in 1850, and died at Victoria on the 9th of August, 1851.

His way of life has been described as follows: The whole of the early morning was devoted to the religious instruction of successive classes of Chinese who came to his house. From ten till four he was occupied with government duties. After a very brief interval he went out for the rest of the evening, preaching in public places, or teaching from house to house. He also, from time to time, made excursions to different places, accompanied by native teachers. All this toil was voluntary and unremunerated, for, except when he first went out to the East, he was not connected with any missionary society. A few friends in New York and London sent occasionally, we believe, some contributions for purchasing books and medicines, but the work was mainly carried on at his own cost. lie was a man of generous, self-denying spirit, in zeal for every good work untiring, and in labor indefatigable. He early inured himself to hardships, and in his devotedness to his work of spreading Christian truth he was regardless of privations and dangers. His medical skill and great learning often opened a way for him where few Europeans could. have gained access, and wherever he was known he was beloved by the natives. They used to say sometimes that he must be a descendant of some Chinese family who had emigrated to the isles of the Western. Ocean. Whatever may be the permanent results of Gutzlaff's labors in the East, it is certain that his efforts for the cause of religion, and of Christian civilization in China, deserve to be held in the grateful remembrance of the Church. He translated the New Testament into the language of the Middle Kingdom. He made himself thoroughly acquainted with the social life of the Chinese, and even introduced himself among their numerous secret societies, concerning the most important of which, the Triad, he wrote a memoir, published in the Journ. of the Lond. Asiatic Society (1849). lie never lost an opportunity of disseminating Christianity among the Chinese. Of his visit to China he gave a description in the Journal of the London Geographical Society, vol. 9:1849. The English gave his name to an island situated some seventeen miles from the mouth of the Yang-tse-Kiang. He wrote, besides the above-mentioned papers, Observations on the Kingdom of Siam (in the Journal of the London Geographical Society, vol. 8:1848): Journal of three Voyages along the Coast of China, with Notices of Siam, Corea, and the Loo-Choo Islands (Lond. 1833): Sketch of Chinese History, ancient and modern (Lond. 1834, 2 vols. 8vo): China opened, or display of the Topography, Literature, Religion, and Jurisprudence of the Chinese Empire (Lond. 1838, 2 vols. 8vo): The Life of Tad Kwang, the late Emperor of China (London, 1852, 8vo): Hist. of the Chinese Empire (2 vols. 8vo), which was also published in German, etc. See Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, 22:922; Methodist Quarterly Review, Jan. 1852; American Quart. Review, vol. xvii; (Quart. Roy. (Loud. li, 458); Allibone, Dictionary of Authors i, 751.


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Gutzlaff, Karl Friedrich August,'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/g/gutzlaff-karl-friedrich-august.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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