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Home arrow Griffin's History arrow Debate on Foregin Missions-Chapter 14
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Written by Potter/Yates   



Again we have been listening to another interesting speech. I will congratulate Brother Yates, even if he does not want me to. He holds out very well, talks loud and with a great deal of zeal and energy, and we can, I presume, all hear him all over the house, almost every thing he says.

I want to notice some of the things he has said. In the first place, I want to ask the question that I propounded to Brother Yates yesterday evening. It is unanswered yet. What are we to think that modern missionism is for? What are we to think from what he tells us is the object of the Foreign Mission work? Is it to save souls that would be lost without it? That is what I want him to answer the question for. Is it to save souls and take them to heaven that will sink clown to hell without it? We want to know what it is doing, what its object is. Now, it would only take one little monosyllable. of either two or three letters, to answer that question so that we could all understand it, and he must answer it, or else we will all be in ignorance, so far as his speech is concerned, as to what the object of the Foreign Mission work is. The question I put to him is this: Does he believe that out among those heathen, where the foreign missionaries are at work, that they have been the means, or the instrumentalities, in the regeneration and salvation of souls that would have been lost without them? Do you know what he believes on that question? You may guess, but he will not tell you. He has not done it. He says if I mean by that question so and so, why then he says no. No matter what I mean, I want him to tell us whether there are people saved through the instrumentality of these foreign missionaries that would not have been saved without them. That is the question I want him to answer. I say, No. The people know where I stand on it. I do not believe a solitary convert has ever been made by them that would not have been saved without them. Everybody can understand me. Why cannot he come up and talk that way? Brother Yates has not heard the last of that question yet. These people will go away wanting to know his position on that. He tells us the Foreign Missions are a good thing; says they are authorized in the Scriptures; he says they are of God; he thinks it terrible for me not to admit they are of God, when he cannot tell us what they are for— refuses to tell us what they are for. He talks about civilization. I told you at the start; so far as the influence of the Bible and education are concerned. I believe they are good things. My position is that the Bible is a blessing, and its influence is a blessing everywhere. I believe that it is. And so far as this Foreign Mission work is concerned, an institution that was gotten tip in the seventeenth century, after the gospel had been preached for seventeen hundred years, nearly, one generation passing away after another into eternity all the time—is this new institution of modern date essential to the eternal destiny of man? Brother Yates has not said, and if be does not say he will hear from that again. He has not told us whether it is or not. We want to know what it is for. We want to know what it is doing. We want to know what the missionaries themselves claim for it. He stands here indorsed by two different denominations to represent them. Now you see how lie does it. He is in the affirmative. It is not necessary for me to affirm any thing in this discussion, so far as that is concerned. It is my place to see whether he preserves his position or not. You are to be the judges as to whether he does or not. He told us yesterday evening he had quoted our statistics from a Baptist almanac. He says today that he quoted from Uncle Sam.

MR. YATES: No, you misunderstand me. I quoted it from the Baptist missionaries’ paper, and compared it with the statistics of Uncle Sam, and they are the same.

MR. POTTER: So it is a missionary production at last. He says the Missionary Baptists are not very reliable. I referred him to the fact yesterday, that Benedict and other historians held us to be in as ugly a position as it is possible for him to do. He was not only a historian, but he assumed the position of a prophet. However, he turned out to be a false prophet; for he stated in his history that before his stereotype plates were scattered abroad over this country the Hard-Shell Baptists would be among the things that are past. That prediction has been made for years and years. My judgment is that as we are not all dead yet, it is no fault of theirs. It is not their fault that we are still here.

Perhaps Brother Yates will be willing to answer a question or two. However, I will put them. From the days of Jesus Christ until the inauguration of Foreign Mission Societies, according to the best accounts that Brother Yates has given us, was nearly seventeen hundred years. Heathen nations were dying all that time. What became of them? What became of the people where they had no Bible—no gospel? I would like for Brother Yates to tell us about that. We want him to tell us in a manner that we will understand, so that the people will not have to conjecture or infer, so we will know just exactly what he believes about it.

On the money question I want to say this: he admitted himself, this morning, that money was essential to the carrying on of the work. I have no objection to money being used properly. I have no objection to it at all. Men have a right to use their own money as they please. It is their own. But he says it is the Lord’s money—that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Of course if it is, he has a right to make such a disposition as he pleases of it. I have no objection to proper use of money; but I do oppose the idea that the eternal salvation of millions of souls depends upon my will to contribute the money to carry the gospel to them. It makes the salvation of one man depend upon another, and then sends the heathen to hell because Christians here who are blessed with the Bible will not do their duty in contributing money. I object to that.

I have something here I want to show you. He thinks that I miss the figures when I quote a book. I have a chart here, published by the missionaries themselves, that gives the statistics of all religions. It says there are 160,000,000 Protestants, 85,000,000 Greeks, 195,000,000 of Roman Catholics, 8,000,000 of Jews, 172,000,000 of Mohammedans, 856,000,000 of heathen. Those different religions are designated by different colors on the lower part of the chart. This brightest orange color here, represents the Protestant Christians; this blue represents the Greeks; the green represents the Mohammedans; the black represents the heathen—all this black space; this purple represents the Jews. Now there is the proportion, according to the missionary showing. It is all Protestantism compared with all other religions in the world. It is checked off in squares, and each one of these squares represents one million of people. The white square in the center, that you see there, represents the amount of Protestant converts under missionary work. That shows you how much they have done in evangelizing the world. Here is a statement above it that the heathen are dying at the rate of one hundred thousand a day. Missionaries themselves say that. Brother Yates can have that to look at.

MR. YATES: I do not want it.

MR. POTTER: Now the missionaries say that the heathen are dying at the rate of one hundred thousand per day. And this chart says the Christians are contributing money to save them at the rate of one-tenth of a cent per day. Now just imagine—one hundred thousand souls sinking down into endless hell every day that you and I live, and Christians who believe that their eternal destiny depends upon sending the gospel to them are giving one-tenth of a cent per day to save them. That is missionary evidence itself. What do you think of that? That is what the missionaries say. Do you not think that instead of building fine churches and great, magnificent temples in our cities and towns, that we had better spend the money in sending missionaries to the heathen? Do you not think that, instead of preaching here at home on a salary of twenty thousand dollars a year, we had better send a part of that money to the heathen if that doctrine is true? Missionaries say it is.

Let us judge the sincerity of our modern missionary advocates by their works. The Bible says, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” They come to us with a pitiful story of the destruction of one hundred thousand souls per day, while they live, like the rich man of old, on sumptuous fare every day. My judgment is that I question sometimes their sincerity in their doctrine. Who would not, if he thought what earthly possessions he had would save a few heathen souls, that would otherwise be damned if they did not get it— who would not part with them? Is there a Christian brother or sister here if von believe that your contribution to the missionary fund would be the means of saving some poor soul from eternal hell, who would not be willing to work awhile for twenty-five cents a day, and live upon bread and water, for the salvation of such a soul as that? Yet the most extravagant religious people we have in this country are those that teach us that millions of souls are sinking down into hell for want of the gospel. That is the reason I want Brother Yates to answer my question. I want him to tell us. These people want to know whether the eternal salvation of the heathen depends upon it or not. We all want to know, and, as I said this morning, I am not going to join the missionaries until I do know. I want to know what kind of work they want me to do. Brother Yates refuses to tell us. His brethren, and all these missionary friends here, so far as his speech is concerned, do not know whether this missionary labor is essential to the salvation of the heathen or not. They cannot tell. However, we will give him time. We will give him the opportunity. Perhaps he will tell us. If he tells us that it is essential to the salvation of the heathen, then we tell him that there is an essential that Jesus Christ did not provide, until he shows us in the Scriptures that he did provide it. If he does, he will have to go farther back than during the seventeenth century. Revelation was closed nearly seventeen hundred years anterior to the origin of foreign-missionary societies. Now, I will tell you what I believe, and Brother Yates can note it down if he wants to, and everybody else. I believe that the Bible teaches us all we ought to know, all we ought to do, and all that we ought to believe, religiously. I believe that if all Christians everywhere would limit their knowledge, their faith, and their works to that Book, wherever they are, all the good results that God intended to accomplish by them would be accomplished. That is where I stand. If that is not so, what is the Bible worth? If we get out of that, where is the limit, and who is our guide, then? Brother Yates has virtually admitted more than once that he could not find Foreign Mission in the Bible because he cannot he wants me to affirm and show Regular Baptist in the Bible. I have not pledged to do that. He has pledged himself publicly all over this country to prove that Foreign Missions were authorized by the Bible. That is the difference between us. I care nothing about the money, so far as that is concerned, only it makes the salvation of eight hundred and fifty-six million of people depend upon our liberality in giving that money. It makes the salvation of man depend upon the action and liberality of another. That is the reason I mentioned the money; and I may say more about the money relative to this matter before we are through. Brother Yates guessed it when he said he expected I loved money. I do. I do love money. I do love it just a little too well to give it to the Foreign Mission cause until I know what it is for, and that would be my advice to every one else. If Brother Yates can convince me that the Foreign Mission work is necessary to the salvation of the heathen, I will give to it. But he will not even tell us what he thinks about it, much less prove what it is. Because I asked him a question relative to the proposition, he claimed a right this morning to put two or three questions to me. He represents me this evening—however, I corrected him—as saying that sin is a misfortune. He must listen a little better than that. I claim that sin is an evil, sin is a crime. Sin is not a misfortune, and man is to blame for every thing wrong he does. Brother Yates accuses me of running from one thing to another on the subject of responsibility. I challenge him to show where I have ever denied the responsibility of man. If I have not, when did I run from it? Why is such an accusation as that put upon me? He represented me as denying the responsibility of man and the obligation of man. That does not make it true. I believe that man is responsible for his acts. But he says if a man sold himself for nought, he need not have done that. That is just what I say. He says if a man is in jail in Princeton, he need not have been there. That is just what I say. He says if a man is a sinner, he has violated a law; he has become a sinner himself. That is just what I say. He says that the man is guilty. That is just what I say. He says that he is to blame for that guilt and nobody else. That is just what I say. Hence he is answerable to God for the law that he has violated, for that guilt, and if God does inflict the penalty of that law upon him, God is not to blame, but the sinner is. Hence the salvation of the sinner is an exhibition of God’s mercy and grace to reach down to this man that is ruined and lift him up out of that state, and justify him and qualify him for heaven. That is what God’s grace is. Our works ruin us, God’s grace saves us.

Now, it is in this guilty and condemned state that we find ourselves. Brother Yates thinks that if God does come, and by a chance chooses some out of this guilty race and saves them, and punishes others for their sins, he is just like a man who sees two children on a railroad track, and seeing a train coming, jerks one of them off, but leaves the other there. In that wisdom is he not a logician? Why, I believe I will indulge in another little anecdote, and he need not apply it to Foreign Missions if he does not want to. One time there was a lawsuit going on, and there was one witness whose honesty was called in question—not that Brother Yates’ honesty is questioned—and so they called in another witness, a colored man, to impeach his oath. When he was put on the stand he was asked this question: “Do you know this witness?” “Yes, sah.” “What kind of a man is he?” “Well, sah, ples yer honnah, he is kind of obstrobalous.” “What do you mean by that?” “I mean this, sah—he knows jest a little too much for one niggah, but not quite enough for two.”

I have been thinking, from what we have been hearing in this discussion, that that was Brother Yates’ affliction—he knows almost too much for one preacher, but not enough for two. I cannot give a quotation but he is in advance of it, and says it is wrong, unreliable, dishonest, or something of that kind. This is his own missionary witness; he has found it out. I leave this audience to judge as to whether the Missionary Baptists are competent witnesses in this case. To whom do they belong? Are they on the missionary side in this discussion, or on my side? He calls the Missionary Baptists my brethren, but he does not seem to want to admit they are honest. They have a Foreign Mission Board; they send out missionaries; they belong to the Protestant world; so, he says, they are as much of God as his missionaries are, and if not, as I asked him this morning, I want him to tell us why not. That is what I want you to notice. And they are the men who said, not I, that it is a very remarkable circumstance that in modern missions Papal Rome has led the way. That is not my say-so. It was one of Brother Yates’ men that said that; not only that: in speaking of that matter he refers to my quotation from Hebrews, where the apostle says: “They shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord.” And he says that I know that means the time after the gospel has conquered the world. Well, I did not know that, and I do not know it yet. We have Brother Yates’ word for it. I am not quite as smart as he thought I was. If he is smart enough to know that, I want him to tell us how he found it out—that this new covenant had allusion to the time after the gospel had conquered the world instead of now in this dispensation.

Another thought: How did his missionary brother understand it when he said, “Thou shall teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, until all shall know the Lord?” Did he understand that the thing spoken of in the quotation in Hebrews was not to take place until after the gospel had conquered the world? No, sir; he does not believe that was true at all. That was the way he understood it, and I am afraid that is the way brother Yates understood it, from his conduct. Let me tell him there is not a single syllable of authority in the gospel to any minister, from Jesus Christ, to tell him to teach men to know the Lord. If any man claims to be teaching men to know the Lord, I want him to show me his authority for it. The commission does not say any thing about teaching men to know the Lord. Aquila and Priscilla taught the way of the Lord more perfectly to Apollos, but they did not teach him to know the Lord. The New Testament says, “Thou shalt not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, to know the Lord for all shall know him, from the least unto the greatest,” and it has never contradicted it, and as it says that, and not one syllable of authority to any man to go about teaching sinners to know the Lord, I want to know why that does not look like it belongs to the new dispensation—the new covenant. I would as soon a brother would say he could impart eternal life as to say he could teach men to know the Lord. John xvii. 3, Jesus says, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” Then that is “life eternal, that they might know thee,” or else Jesus Christ has made a mistake. Show me a man who is destitute of eternal life, and I will show you a man who does not know the Lord here, without going to heathen lands to find him. i John iv. 7-8, refers to the same point: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love. Have we not that kind of people in Owensville? Have you not people in Owensville who do not love God? -If you have, John says they do not know him. If they -do love him, they are born of him. Hence it is equivalent to saying, if they know him they are born of him. There are just as many people born of God as there are that love him; there are just as many that love him as there are that know him, in the sense of that text. Hence I would just as soon a man would say he was going about regenerating men as to say he was teaching them to know God. And that is giving the doctrine of the New Testament and the new covenant, when it says: “Thou shalt not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord.” I would not send a missionary to heathen lands to give the heathen eternal life, because I do not believe they can do it; if they can, they had better go at it here. There is plenty of room to work here yet. I would not spend much money to send a man to do a job of work that did not believe he could do. But somebody says, I think a man can teach one to know the Lord. We are not taking “I think.” I want him to understand that the Bible is the book we are to be governed by.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 September 2006 )
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