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Written by Potter/Yates   

MR. POTTER’S FIFTH SPEECH.


BROTHER MODERATORS, LADIES, AND GENTLEMEN:

I want to ask Brother Yates one question, and I will ask him to write it down in my words; it is this: “Do you believe that souls have been regenerated and born of God, and will be saved in heaven, through the instrumentality of those foreign missionaries, that would have been lost had these missionaries never gone there?” Now I want you to answer that tomorrow morning, if you do not say one word about any thing else.

MR. YATES: I will attend to that for you.

MR. POTTER: I want you to say yes, or no, just as I do.

MR. YATES: You will let me answer in my own way, won’t you?

MR. POTTER: I want you to answer it. It don’t take me long to answer. I said this morning that I did not believe it, and Brother Yates has not disputed my position yet. I want him to say if he means it. I want to know the use of this mission work.

Now I want to notice a few things that he said. In the first place, he charges me with having never noticed the results of the missionary labor as an evidence of God’s blessing. I noticed the labors of others that he does not believe are of God—the Roman Catholics. I showed that they have been successful, and if we are to take the success of an enterprise in accomplishing its purpose as an evidence that God blesses it, then the Roman Catholics stand ahead of any Protestant denomination today. Because I said that, Brother Yates has charged me with classing him and the Catholics and all the Protestants together in one class. I don’t mean any thing of the kind, Brother Yates. I simply mean that we have as abundant proof of God’s hand in their work as you have. Is success on their part an evidence of God’s blessing? Brother Yates never has answered that, but comes up in his third speech today, and says I have not noticed the evidence that he has given.

The people know whether he has noticed mine or not. Brother Yates is in a fine humor, and I am glad of it. I would hate to see him spunky, because I am a little cowardly, and a little lame too, and he is a young man; but we are going to stay in a good humor. It is not hard to keep in a good humor. He says. “Your covenant with God!” Whose? That was the Cumberland Presbyterian Confession I read from. Now he comes up and asks about my covenant with God. Why, Brother Yates, are you going to give your Confession up to me? I expect I will have to take. it, and fight for it.

MR. YATES: You may have the old one.

MR. POTTER: Brother Yates does not explain to us the question I asked him in my speech before this. Brother Yates says wise men change. Of course he is among the wise. I want to know of him if the Cumberland Church was founded upon the truth in the start, and if it is founded upon the truth today. That is what I want to know. Brother Yates, you may note that down. I want an answer to that question. I stated that I thought, under the circumstances, I would not unite with the Cumberland Church yet. I want them to get done changing first; because, if I were to join them on the Cumberland Confession now, they might change, and then they might leave me.

MR. YATES: You might change with it.

MR. POTTER: I am not smart enough to change that often. Then he asks the question: Where did Jesus Christ establish the Regular Baptist Church? I want to state, relative to that matter, this: Brother Yates seems to have a kind of antipathy against the Regular Baptist Church.

MR. YATES: No, we have nothing against them.

MR. POTTER: We will see. As circumstances show, he seems to have a kind of antipathy toward us. He frequently refers to us, and wants to know where we will find our name in the Bible. Of course he knows his name is not there either. Now I want to say this: On Monday, after the close of our Association in the town of Owensville, I received a letter by the hands of Elder James H. Oliphant, challenging me to affirm that our Church was the only authorized Church in the Scriptures. Somebody must have wanted to debate. I was accused of virtually saying that in this pulpit, on Friday night of the Association. I do not remember saying any thing about that. A few days after, at Fort Branch, I met Brother Yates, and we had a talk. Some person present wanted to know what we were going to discuss, and he said, “The whole grounds.”

That is considerable to debate; infant baptism, Church polity, the communion, and the covenant, we would have to debate now, since the Cumberland Church is revised, and a great many other things. Not long after he wanted to debate the whole grounds he came out with his challenge on Foreign Missions, though I had not heard a Regular Baptist mention it in years that I know of. Why is this? I want to know. My judgment is that there is a kind of jealousy against the Regular Baptists in this community. The thought has been, among some, “We want to fight the Regular Baptists, but we want to know what to fight about. If we fight them on the communion question, or on the infant baptism question, or on the sprinkling and pouring question, other denominations will be divided, for some are against us; but on the Foreign Mission question “—I judge that from the circumstances—“the rest of the world will unite with us on that; we will challenge them on that.” If do not say that is so. I was giving that as my opinion. Circumstances have driven me to that conclusion; and that is my humble opinion. That is the reason that the Foreign Mission question was the subject of the challenge, the subject under discussion here. I have not challenged anybody for a debate—am not under any necessity to show where Jesus Christ established the Baptist Church. Has not my brother claimed that the work of the Foreign Missions is authorized by the Scriptures? and by such a challenge has he not obligated himself to prove it by the Scriptures? If he has, am I under any obligation to prove every thing else, when I have made no challenge? He obligates himself to prove that the work of Foreign Missions is authorized by the Scriptures. I showed him that the Foreign Missions were inaugurated in the seventeenth century. We do not court the sympathy of anybody. Regular Baptists never did do that unless they were cowards. We have some cowards among us; but as a general rule we have none. We ask no favors, as far as that is concerned. And I repeat it—I do not believe it, that all these Foreign Missionary operations have ever been, or ever will be, the means of regenerating a soul, and saving him in heaven, who would not have been saved without it. And that is what I want to debate with Brother Yates about. Let us come to the work. I have come to it. Now let Brother Yates come to it as squarely as I have done.

Again, he says I say I know nothing about the missionaries. He says he is afraid that is so. I said I know nothing about the missionaries, only what they say themselves. The Bible says nothing about them, how else am I to know? My witnesses are your missionaries—your brethren. Where was I to go to learn about the missionaries, unless to their own schools? They published their periodicals and books. If I pay my money for them, have I not a right to read and quote them? How else am I to tell about the missionaries? It may be my weakness, but I have seen nothing in any text of Scripture that he has quoted about Foreign Missions.

One more question, upon which the whole thing hangs. He undertakes to argue the doctrine of election, and run into the consequences of it, and talks about responsibility. The Cumberland Presbyterians used to teach that man, by his fallen estate of sin, has wholly lost all ability to do any good works accompanying salvation. That is what we teach yet. He wants to know who is criminal, then, if man cannot do any thing, but God can, and won’t? Who is to blame? He asks in what country the gospel cannot be preached? And if it cannot be preached in every country, and is not preached, who is criminal? The missionaries say, the heathen themselves. They say the heathen are to be damned because the missionaries do not get there with the gospel. He says we can do it. Every country is open to it at this time. And now he wants to know who is criminal if we do not take it? The Missionary Union says the heathen are to blame, and they must go to hell if they do not get it there. That is the reason I object to his doctrine. I object to the whole thing.

Now I shall pay no more attention to that. I know all about these results as evidence. If Brother Yates believes that those missionaries, by their labors and efforts, will be the means of saving a solitary soul that would not be saved without them, let him say so; and if he says so it will fall upon him to prove it. Remember, you shoulder a heavy load whenever you say it, and if I were you I don’t believe I would say it unless I had studied it. Study it thoroughly, and advise with your brethren. You are young. Try the strength of your plank, and see if it will bear you up before you walk out on it very far.

However, he says the gospel was preached in Britain and Germany in the second century. Well, that is immaterial to me. It may be that some historian was mistaken. Perhaps it was the one I quoted. If it was in the second century it was at least thirteen or fourteen hundred years before Foreign Missions were commenced; so my point stands as good as ever.

On the subject of Abraham and his seed—what does that mean? What does God’s promise amount to when he said, “In thee and thy seed shall all the kindreds of earth be blessed?” I call attention to that covenant; that is a covenant that God made. He swore to that covenant by his own holiness, and he promised Abraham that “In thee and thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.” The last quotation I made in my other speech was, “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs of the promise.” So God did fulfill the promise after awhile, by bringing them in and adopting them into the family of God. As far as means are concerned, I want to say, every thing necessary to the accomplishing of that work was in Jesus Christ, treasured up in him before the foundation of the world. God knew just what would be necessary in that great work, and he declared the end from the beginning, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” Romans iv. 13—16: “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might he sure to all the seed;”—where is the seed? All over the earth, in every tongue and kindred under heaven, not only those living today, but all that ever have lived, or ever will live, from Abraham to the end of time—” not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all.” Now I shall quote a few passages of Scripture to prove that God will fulfill that promise. I do not say he can do it. I say he will do it, and does do it, intends to do it; and I want you to notice these passages. Rev. v. 9:

“And they sung a new song, saying. Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.”

Here is what John saw in heaven —a multitude singing a song and praising God. What was that song? “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” So no one is left out. Let us not pick out a large majority of our race as universally dying for the want of teaching on that subject. Brother Yates does not understand the commission if that doctrine be true. He does not understand what it is for. The gospel is not an offer of salvation to any one, and never was. It is not an offer of salvation. It is not a proposition of salvation. If he thinks it is, let him show the texts that say so. The gospel is simply the publication of salvation, the announcement of it, the advertisement of it, telling where it is, and how it is, and what characters shall be saved. That is what the gospel is. It is not a proposition of salvation. God did not come into the world, in the person of Jesus Christ, and offer to save the race. That is a mistake. He did not come into the world, in the person of Jesus Christ, to propose salvation to everybody. That is a mistake. He did not come into the world, in the person of Jesus Christ, to give everybody a chance to be saved. That is a mistake. He did not. He came to save; and as he did come to save, this gospel advertises that redemption of Jesus Christ, and instead of offering salvation to the people, it simply preaches Jesus as the Saviour, and publishes the character and evidences of that salvation, and of the gracious state. Now we will read Revelations vii. 9—14. Notice, this Scripture is to prove that the promise to Abraham is to be fulfilled. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number,”—how many? A great multitude which no man could number. Why, the missionaries are numbering their converts in all their statistical reports. Brother Yates has before us here a map, as an exhibition of the great work of the missionaries. On this map we have the number of Protestant Christian converts all over the world. There will be more people saved than that. We can number a great deal larger number than that. We could number many more people than those. Yet John saw a great multitude which no man can number. No man can number them. Well, what did they do? I want you all to think about that. When Brother Yates, with all his assistance, gets their numbers together, and computes them all, and gets the number all made up, and tells us what the number is, then we have a salvation told of in this Book that reaches still further, for John says no man can number them. Rev. vii. 9—14: “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshiped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, what are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said unto me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Here is a multitude that are to he saved. I do not know how many there are. Brother Yates admits himself he does not know what God will do, or any thing of the kind. I know what his Word says he will do. Let us not ignore his Word. He does not intend to allow the promise to Abraham to be made void. He intends to save a people out of every kindred, tongue, and nation. While we do not know just how he will do it, it is evident that he will do it, because his Word says so. Let us remember that. While we have never been enabled to get into the secret of God and find out his hidden mysteries, let us remember what an ancient writer says: That secret things belong to God, and revealed things belong to us. Let us discuss revealed things, and not secret things. It is revealed in his Word that a great many shall be saved, so many that no man can number them, and they shall be from every kindred, tongue, nation, and people. Just the same as the promise to Abraham—that in him and his seed should be blest all nations, and kindreds, and peoples of the world. Now, I want to quote another text upon the same subject to prove that God will fulfill this promise. Matthew xxv. 31—34: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” I argue from that text that all nations are to be together before the Saviour; and no one nation, according to the wording of that text, will universally be set on either side. And they will be divided as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. “Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” He does not say this kingdom was prepared for some one else, and they would not have it. No, it was prepared for you. Was he mistaken? Did his infinite wisdom know? Would it be the very same people that Jesus said it would be? Who are to be invited into that kingdom? Those for whom it was prepared, according to the language of Jesus: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” They are going to be, Jesus says, from all nations. Again, I will quote Matthew xxiv. 30, 31:

“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” His elect, they belong to Christ. Where are they? All over the world. He is going to gather them from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Suppose he were to come today. We do not know when it will be. Whenever he does come it will be true that the promise to Abraham will be fulfilled. It is true, let him come when he may, that he is going to gather his elect from everywhere.

Has he his elect everywhere? Yes. A great many missionaries think his elect are scattered upon the mountains of sin and error, and are liable to perish unless the missionaries get there and convert them; but Jesus will not have it that way, because he says when he comes he is going to gather them from the four winds, and from one end of heaven to the other. Now let me say—and I expect this is about the substance of what Brother Thomas stated—that I have no fear that the Lord will not carry out his purpose in the salvation of his people without my assistance. I am not afraid of that. I am not uneasy about that. God is going to do that. He calls upon me to do my duty, and tells me what it is. He never called upon me to carry salvation or eternal life to anybody, that I know of. If he said so in the commission, I do not remember it. Did he say, Go ye into all the world, and carry eternal life? Did he say, Go ye into all the world, and carry the Saviour? Did he say, Go ye into all the world, and carry the Spirit? Did he say, Go ye into all the world, and carry the God of heaven? What is the God of heaven? He fills the immensity of space. The earth is his footstool, heaven is his throne. As the sun shines in the valleys and upon the mountains, both at the same time, so God is everywhere. He does not have to move about from one location to another, like a crow or a swallow. Nothing of that kind. And by his Spirit he can, and I will say he will, and does, quicken the benighted soul of the heathen and prepare him for heaven and glory. If that is not true, what mean all the Scriptures I have quoted here to you?

Now, I want to make an argument upon the sheep. John x. 14—16 is the language of Jesus: “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” Now notice, he says “other sheep I have.” Hence when he speaks of the sheep, he does not mean his people among the Jews exclusively, but he speaks of those among the Gentiles—among the heathen. He says, I have them, they are mine, I must bring them—that is what I am here for, that is my mission in the world, and I must bring them. According to the covenant, I am under obligation to bring them; they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold. Isaiah lvi. 8: “The Lord God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, besides those that are gathered unto him.” It is evident from these passages that the Lord has sheep among the heathen. See what he says about his sheep being everywhere. John x. 27—29:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” That is what Jesus said concerning his sheep, at the same time claiming that he had sheep among the heathen To prove the orthodoxy of my position, I now notice the Commentary of Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, which I have here with me. On the words, “Other sheep I have, not of this fold, them also I must bring,” they say he means the perishing Gentiles, “or his sheep in the love of his heart and the purpose of his grace to bring them in due time.” On the words “they shall hear my voice,” they say, “this is not the language of mere foresight that they would believe, but the expression of a purpose to draw them to himself by an inward and efficacious call which would infallibly issue in their spontaneous accession to him.” That is what these commentators say. They are not Baptists. I accept that idea, and I understand the Saviour to be teaching that.

 

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