Cambridge Seven Valiant

The Cambridge Seven

The Cambridge Seven were seven students from Cambridge University, who in 1885, gave up all wealth and privilege to become missionaries in China; the seven were: Charles Thomas Studd, Montagu Harry Proctor Beauchamp, Stanley P. Smith, Arthur T. Polhill-Turner, Dixon Edward Hoste, Cecil H. Polhill-Turner and William Wharton Cassels

Having been accepted as missionaries by Hudson Taylor of the China Inland Mission the seven were scheduled to leave for China in early February 1885. Before leaving the seven held a farewell tour to spread the message across the country — it was during this tour that someone dubbed them “The Cambridge Seven.”

For the next month, the seven toured the University campuses of England and Scotland, holding meetings for the students.Queen Victoria was pleased to receive their booklet containing The Cambridge Seven’s testimonies. The record of their departure is recorded in “The Evangelisation of the World: A Missionary Band”. It became a national bestseller. Their influence extended to America where it led to the formation of Robert Wilder’s Student Volunteer Movement.

All seven had become born-again Christians and were moved by their beliefs to go to China in 1885 to spread these beliefs and to help the local population; most remained in or connected to missionary work for the rest of their lives. They were greatly influenced by Taylor’s book “China’s Spiritual Need and Claims”. After their acceptance into the China Inland Mission, the seven toured England and Scotland, preaching and appealing to their listeners to follow their example and follow Christ. Charles Studd’s brother Kynaston helped the seven in their preparations for departure.

The conversion and example of the seven, was one of the grand gestures of 19th century missions — making them religious celebrities; as a result their story was published as “The Evangelisation of the World” and was distributed to every YMCA and YWCA throughout the British Empire and the USA.

Though their time together was brief, they helped catapult the China Inland Mission from obscurity to “almost embarrassing prominence,” and their work helped to inspire many recruits for the CIM and other mission societies. In 1885, when the Seven first arrived in China, the CIM had 163 missionaries; this had doubled by 1890 and reached some 800 by 1900 — which represented one-third of the entire Protestant missionary force.

William Cassels worked hard in the mission field to bring souls to Christ. After ten years, he returned to England in 1895 where he was consecrated as the new Bishop of a new diocese in Western China. He returned to his mission field, Western China and brought the Gospel of Jesus to dying souls. He lived in Western China until his death 1925.

Stanley Smith was sent to North China. God enabled him to master the Chinese language until he became as fluent a preacher in Chinese as he was in English. His life in China was very difficult but he worked hard until the end, preaching and teaching until he also died in China on January 31, 1931. [He had been forced to resign from C.I.M. after 20 years over a doctrinal teaching].

C.T. Studd, the best known of “The Cambridge Seven,” was sent home because of ill health in 1894. But God recovered his health and he spent six years in India as a missionary and a brief period in Britain and America. Then, in 1910, he set off for the greatest challenge of his life, to pioneer the tropics of Africa. He had a strong, absolute attitude before God’s word and some people did not like him. He had to endure poverty and much suffering for the sake of evangelizing the native African people. But he loved Jesus and the native African people and labored to the end, as a Bible teacher and shepherd. When he died in the Belgium Congo in 1931, over one thousand native Africans saw him to his grave.

Arthur Polhill-Turner was a faithful Gospel worker. He was ordained as a minister in 1888 and moved to the densely populated countryside to reach as many people as he could with the Gospel message. He was in China throughout the uprisings against foreigners at the turn of the century and did not leave until 1928, when he retired and returned to England. He died in 1935.

Cecil Polhill-Turner, stayed in the same province with the others for awhile before moving steadily northwest, in the direction of Tibet. During a violent riot, Polhill-Turner and his wife were nearly killed in 1892 but after God restored his health, he returned to the border near Tibet to bring the Gospel to the lost souls there. In 1900, his health failed again, he was sent home to England and he was forbidden to return to China. But his heart was still in China and throughout the rest of his life, he made seven prolonged missionary visits. He died in England in 1938.

Montague Beauchamp loved the hard evangelistic journeys. Once, accompanied by Hudson Taylor, he went “about a thousand miles in intense heat, walking through market towns and villages, living in Chinese inns and preaching the gospel to crowds day by day.” He also co-worked with Cassels and was a source of blessing to the native Chinese people. In 1900, he was evacuated because of the uprisings but returned again to China in 1902. He returned to England in 1911 and served as a chaplain with the British Army. His son became a second-generation missionary in China and in 1935, although he was much older than his Cambridge days, he went back to China as physically strong and untiring as ever. He died at his son’s mission station in 1939.

Dixon Hoste lived the longest of “The Cambridge Seven.” Hoste was a faithful man of prayer and in 1903, he succeeded Hudson Taylor as the Director of the China Inland Mission. For thirty years, he led the Mission, which made great advances, reaching many with the Gospel until he retired in 1935. But he remained in China until 1945, when he was interned by the Japanese. He died in London, in May 1946, the last of “The Cambridge Seven” to die.

An excerpt from:
Report on “The Cambridge Seven” by Anthony B. Wong.  Used with permission. 

By giving up their wealth and privilege, “The Cambridge Seven” revealed God’s power through their lives of fellowship, lives of prayer, and lives of devotion to their first love Jesus Christ. Their beautiful lives were a blessing to the whole world.

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