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Written by Potter/Yates   



I am happy to greet you again in God’s sanctuary, to continue the discussion of the grand theme we have before us, practically narrowed down to this: Are Foreign Missions of man or of God?

If I understood my brother correctly—and if I did not I want him to say so—he said today in his speech that if I could find missionary workers who were blessed and owned of God, in the foreign field, who were not backed up by a Board, but who depended on the Lord for support, without any rich society behind them, he would own that the proposition is true.

MR. POTTER: No, that is not exactly it.  I asked you just please to name one of that kind.

MR. YATES: Well, you see that clinches the argument. How kind! He has done away with it in the first stroke. I am glad my good brother has handled it in such a good spirit, but it reminds me of the way in which a schoolboy disposes of his difficulties. Now let me read you from the Homiletic Monthly, December, I885, published by Funk & Wagnall’s, one of the grandest publishing houses on the continent Neither my opponent nor any other man dares to deny the authority of the work I hold in my hand. This work is indorsed by all leading workers and ministers, both in Europe and the United States. Hence the testimony of such a witness in a discussion like this, carries with it the greatest force. The Homiletic Monthly, page 534, speaking of the China Inland Mission, says: “Rev. J. Hudson Taylor is its founder and director. Thirty-one years ago he went to China as the first English missionary of the Chinese Evangelization Society in London. He soon cast himself on the Lord for support, for his conscience would not allow him longer to receive aid from a society that frequently ran into debt”—my brother believes in it; he will be a foreign missionary, carrying the papers away under his arm, before we get through. “In this year failing health obliged him to return to England, where he remained seven years, until his health permitted his return. While at home he aided in translating and printing the New Testament in the Ningpo dialect, and visited Churches to present the Chinese needs and claims. He urged missionary societies to enlarge the work in China, and send laborers to the inland provinces. Failing to get a satisfactory response, such was his anxiety he could neither eat nor sleep. At last, committing his burden to the Lord “—that is what I have been telling you all the time—” he resolved to undertake the work he could not get others to do. He asked of God a band of devoted disciples inspired with a passion for souls, who would cast themselves in faith entirely on God for support. In 1865 the mission was formed, and more than twenty laborers came to China the next year. Fifteen years later there were about one hundred. Some three years since Mr. Taylor and a band of missionaries, in a city six hundred miles from the sea-coast, spent an evening in prayer that God would in three years send them seventy other consecrated and competent workmen, and supply the means for their outfit and passage. It was also proposed that at the end of three years another meeting should be held of praise and thanksgiving, so confident were they that their prayers would be answered; but, as it might be impracticable for them to meet together after being so widely scattered, they decided to hold a praise-meeting then and there, which was done in accordance with i John v.  5. They convened together to pray daily for this object. The prayer has been richly answered. More than seventy have sailed for China within the time, and others are waiting to go.” Now listen to the results:

“This mission has a native membership of about 1,500,” converted to Jesus, standing up as a monument to the truth of the proposition under discussion, “and more than 180 native preachers.”

My brother has a terribly up-stream business. He has to deny that any of these souls were regenerated. He has to deny that these men were competent to judge on questions of the heart and experience. Suppose I would do that to you, my brethren; it would be an injustice to every man of you. I have too much confidence in the knowledge and ability of those consecrated people, those earnest men who are working in the foreign field, and too much love and respect for those men who have trusted in the Lord, and come out and had their sins forgiven, and are leading the new life as it is in Christ Jesus.

Brother Potter has asked me to define Foreign Missions. I am very glad he has, though I thought I had done that this morning. Well, that word mission, what does it mean? It is to perform the gospel work as committed to us by the Saviour, in accordance with its true spirit and the object it is designed to subserve. When we put the word foreign before this, we have a true definition of Foreign Missions. It means the propagation of the gospel in lands beyond the seas, with faith in the promises of God, and in obedience to the Master’s command. It is the holding forth of the word of life to the heathen, by proclaiming the good tidings to them that their Saviour has come, and lived, and died, and ascended into heaven, and has given the grand and glorious commission we quoted today, “Go preach the gospel to every creature,” and that whosoever believeth in him shall be saved.

And he wants to know if Paul belonged to a Missionary Board. He wants me to show him a passage where Foreign Missions are named. Well, when my brother shows me the name, Regular Baptist Church in God’s Word, I will show him the words Foreign Missions, and I will show it in the very next verse. Then further, right over in the next chapter, if you will show me the office of clerk and treasurer of the Church, right following that you will find Foreign Mission Board. I want to say further, I do not give this as an argument in support of the proposition, but as a retort in answer to the absurd argument of my opponent, in which he inferred that in order to prove that the Foreign Mission work is taught in the New Testament, the  name must be found there. No, I have only to show that the principles of the Foreign Mission work are taught in the gospel.

My friends, did you notice that my brother did not touch one of the features of identity that I mentioned this morning? I want to repeat it. The Foreign Mission work is identical with the gospel work. They are one in object, as I showed you; and I went on to show that the principles and motives that actuated the Foreign Mission work actuated the gospel work. I want to call your attention to a little passage in Acts xxvi.18, which I read you this morning, about what Paul was sent to the Gentiles for. It was “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” It was to open the eyes of the blind, to deliver the Gentiles from the power of Satan.

Well, about this Church Board. My brother knows just as well as I do that the Boards are only representative bodies of the Church; that every denomination controls its own interest. And just here I will say, too, if my opponent will, find the Baptist Association in the Bible, or his Committees, I will show him the Board. Do you find the Baptist Association in the Bible, Brother Potter? You say it is scriptural, that it is in the Book. It is not there according to your interpretation of it. I say it is all right for you to have your Associations. I believe in that. I am only showing the absurdity of your position in demanding that the name shall be in the Book. Further than that, these Boards are controlled by the Church. They are commissioned by the denominations which they represent to look after this matter; to have charge of the whole field, and supply its needs. My brother, according to his argument, would never have progressed any. He would be wearing today the untanned hide, as worn by his barbarian fathers many centuries ago.

He makes a play on the word “send.” Now he said, if I understood him right, and I want, him to correct me if I did not, that his brethren were really Foreign Mission men. (To Mr. Potter): How many missionaries have you? Suppose all had pursued your course, (pointing to the map), these stations would not have dotted Africa, Oceania, Japan, and all the heathen world, as shown on this map. You strike at us in regard to being unscriptural. Why, my brother, the Presbyterians and Episcopalians gave you your Bible. You would not have had it otherwise, for they translated it from the Greek and the Hebrew. So the work would be rather slim, wouldn’t it, if your plan, my brother, had been carried out?

But he said his brethren were Foreign Mission men. He did not like that name, anti-mission. I don’t blame him; I would not either, for that is rather an uncouth name. He said the commission was to “go,” not send; and every preacher should go. What a wonderful interpretation that was about ministers being the only ones that were sent! He forgot what Paul said in his letter to the Philippians, fourth chapter and third verse, Help those women which labored with me in the gospel,” and how Aquila and Priscilla expounded unto Apollos the way of God more perfectly. A woman as a preacher! He does not believe in the women preaching. He said if I could show that the disciples on any occasion were sent out to the work, it would prove that the New Testament teaches that the Foreign Mission work of today is authorized in the Scriptures. In proof that the New Testament does teach this, let me call your attention again to that chapter he flees from, Acts xiii. i—8: “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”

They sent them away, my brother; they sent them away. We can see, then, that they were sent away by the Church, filled with the Holy Spirit. Now, there is some Bible for you. Still I must follow him up. I was a little diverted, I must confess, at his idea of conversion. I hope he will stand to that. He said nobody would deny that there were good results coming from the Foreign Mission work. Why do you fight it then, my brother? Why don’t you go into it? You have not a man in the field, and I do not suppose you have spent a dollar in it—not one.

But my brother said that away back yonder in Egypt, they enjoyed this civilization, and he read us a beautiful essay about how they went over and found the Greeks, and what a wonderful civilization they produced there. I want to propose a question to him, and I will risk this discussion upon it: Is our present civilization the result of Christianity, or not? I affirm it is. Whenever my brother denies it, I put him right down by the side of Ingersoll—right there. The Egyptian civilization and the Greek and Roman civilizations are just as opposite to our civilization as their religious systems are opposite to Christianity. I am surprised that a man who has preached as long as my brother, and who has studied as he has, should take such a position before this intelligent audience  today,—comparing the Foreign Mission work to Egyptian civilization! What was the Egyptian civilization? He dares not deny what I am saying here. That civilization was like the character of the gods they served. They worshiped every thing visible in the heavens above, on the land, and in the waters. Theirs was a material civilization, a civilization of material force. What were the Greek and Roman civilizations? They put all the stress upon government, and nothing upon the individual. The Greek believed he was born superior to others, and a Roman that he was born to rule others, and that he thereby had a right to wrest the power from the hands of those who rivaled him in progress. When Jesus came in Greece and Rome there was no such thing known as home in the meaning the word has to us today. Mothers were unnatural. Children were taken care of by nurses, and men had as many wives as there were Senators in Rome. The civilization we have today, my friends, is the result of the gospel. The central idea of this Christian civilization Jesus gave to us. What was it? The dignity of man; his position in the universe, the grandeur of his origin, the greatness of his destiny. Man is created in the image of God. The brotherhood of mankind and the Fatherhood of God— that is the central idea of it. Christianity, as he quoted to you today, transformed the nature, and consequently the lives, of these cruel and savage tribes, and also won the great philosophers of the first century. It was every thing that was good out of the art of the Greek world, and out of the Greek mythology, and unified it with the grand system of the facts and principles which it unveiled and extended to mankind. In their civilization they brought their gods down, and made them in the image of men; but Christianity lifted men up, and transformed them into the image of God. I wonder if he will attempt to defend the position he took in his forenoon speech, that the civilization produced by heathen culture was equal to the civilization produced today by the principles of the gospel?

I am going to make another statement, and it is this: that we today, with all we have, are the result of the Foreign Mission work. Maybe he will deny that.
We are the result of this very missionary spirit. I will ask my brother this question: How were the Anglo-Saxons converted? He said today the apostles took the gospel to Britain. The gospel was taken to Britain from one hundred to two hundred years after the death of the apostles my brother. I want to say the Anglo-Saxons, our forefathers, were the greatest idolaters in history. They offered human sacrifices. What was it won the Scandinavian race to Christ? It was the missionary spirit. It was that spirit that was carried over the ocean by our pilgrim fathers in the Mayflower to Plymouth Rock, which caused the church and the schoolhouse to go up side by side in New England, the Attica of our great Republic. Thank God, it has also given us our true conception of womanhood and manhood. There was no such thing known as benevolent institutions until Christianity came. No such words as college and home were known. There was no such change in the character of society in the production of the civilizations of Egypt and Greece, to which my worthy opponent has referred, as that wrought by the gospel in Christianized countries, and by the Foreign Mission work in heathen lands  today, radically changing man morally and spiritually by mere culture. The position my brother has taken, in placing these heathen civilizations on a par with the civilization of Christianity, is the very doctrine he preaches against in all of his teaching in regard to man’s conduct in life. There is no changing man’s life except by the regenerating power of the Spirit of God. I want to read you, right here, the result of the mission work in the Fiji Islands, as given in The Christian, in the department called “The Armory,” of March 1884, entitled “Are Missions a Failure?”
“Let those who hesitate about giving their hearty support to missionary work read and ponder upon the following from the pen of Gordon Cumming, in writing of the islands of the South Seas:  Think of the sick buried alive  (that is what they did before the gospel was taken there); the array of widows who were deliberately strangled on the death of any great man; the living victims who were buried beside every post of a chief’s new house, and must needs stand clasping it while the earth was gradually heaped over their devoted heads, or those who were bound hand and foot and laid on the ground to act as rollers when a chief launched a new canoe, and thus doomed to a death of excruciating agony; a time when there was no security for life or property, and no man knew how quickly his own hour or doom might come, when whole villages were depopulated simply to supply their neighbors with fresh meat. Think of all this, and of the change that has been wrought, and then imagine white men who can sneer at missionary work the way they do. Now you may pass from isle to isle, certain everywhere to find the same cordial reception by kindly men and women. Every village on the eighty inhabited isles has built for itself a tidy church and a house for its teacher or native minister, for whom the village also provides food and clothing. Can you realize that there are nine hundred Wesleyan churches in Fiji, at each one of which the frequent services are crowded with devoted congregations? that the schools are well attended? and the first sound which greets your ear at dawn and the last at night is that of hymn-singing and the most fervent worship rising from each dwelling at the hour of family prayer?”

And yet, my brother says there is nothing in it. Is this human progression? It is a progression, as these South Sea Islanders show—who were barbarians, brutes, and cannibals; but the gospel in a few brief months has wrought this mighty change, by which it is proved that these men in Christ are new creatures, and that “old things are passed away, and behold all things are become new.”

A little touch on Japan. My brother told us when the missionaries went to Japan they found them an educated people. I will say to him that Japan got that wonderful school system he talks about since 1864, and that she took it from the school system of the United Slates. I will quote from the Homiletic Monthly for 1884, page 639, in order to show how the ports of Japan were opened, and how our Republic, in 1853, led the way:

“Our Republic leads the way. In 1853 Commodore Perry sails into the Bay of Yeddo, spreads the star-spangled banner over the capstan and the open Bible upon the flag, and, without firing a gun or shedding a drop of blood, peaceably opens the ports of Japan to the world.”

My opponent tells us there are only ten thousand native Christians in Japan. He is mistaken: but that is a great many to be saved. One soul is worth more than ten thousand such worlds as this. He admits that. He says we have no way to know about the mission-work in this wonderful Japan. We have no way to know; yet we get good reports from this country. I want to read you from Christlieb on Foreign Missions, who is a Professor of Bonn University: “In 1859 and 1860 Japan was first entered by Protestant missionaries from America.” (It has not been very long. has it? I will venture that during this time they have had more additions than my brother has had in his whole denomination). “There was one ordained missionary of the Protestant Episcopal Church, three of the Presbyterian Board, and three of the Reformed Church of America. The work began with instruction in government and private, school-work, however; permission to give systematic religious teaching was not at that time granted; nor from 1859 to 1872 was the preaching of the gospel permitted in public., but only privately in houses. Still, from the schools the Christian leaven began to work. Then the Scottish and American Bible Societies began to send out agents. Chinese texts and tracts speedily found a wide circulation, large chests of them being sold within a few days.”

Now, I wish you to see what has been done since the work began in 1872. During that year a week of prayer was held by missionaries of that country. They only had ten members, as well as I remember up to that time; but they had a week of prayer, and two or three Japanese students attended it, and they began to pray; and, as the sea captain said, they drew the very heart out of them as they prayed. The ministers had read to them about Pentecost, what power God had given to believers; and they prayed and prayed, and God heard and answered their prayers in the marvelous conversion of their countrymen. And now that grand empire of the rising sun is being lifted by the power of God up into the sweet presence of Jesus. Ten thousand, my brother—a grand work in so short time in those heathen islands, meeting those deep-rooted prejudices and old religious beliefs of centuries’ growth. So much for Japan.

My brother took me to task on Cumberland Presbyterianism. I did not know but that the brethren had preferred charges against me. Here is our Confession of Faith of 1883, revised, my brother. That one you had looked pretty old. I will read you what it says in reference to the three classes saved without the gospel—page 34, section 54: “All infants dying in infancy, and all persons who have never had the faculty of reason, are regenerated and saved.”

I believe the heathen have the faculty of reason. About the heathen, he said I just scooped them right off, piled them into hell by the wholesale; and I seemed to see myself just running behind them and tumbling them over a precipice into the land of the lost. Now, suppose I talk about a town being degraded, I do not mean by that that every man, woman, and child in that town is degraded, but the great majority are. I have never taught in my life that every man, woman, and child in heathen lands will be lost. O no. Those that live up to the best light they have will be saved. But no idolater can be saved. My brother cannot deny that. God has to be first. I will read Romans i. 20 in proof of this: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” And in the 21st verse: “Because that, when they knew God they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Paul goes on in that same chapter and speaks of the wrath of God resting upon them. Also in the next chapter he speaks of their being a law unto themselves; Romans 2:12-14  “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves.” Now, you can see at once that those people that were degraded and bowed down were lost by the bulk. One more quotation from Romans. I will read from Romans x., commencing at the 14th verse: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” Now, I want to know if the apostle was not writing about taking the gospel to the very heathen world we are talking about at this time. “And how shall they preach except they be sent?” Sent, my brother; there comes the sending out again. “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!” How beautiful it is! and whosoever believes upon the Lord shall be saved; there is the point; and he cannot call unless he knows what to call to.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 19 September 2006 )
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