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Written by Potter/Yates   

MR. YATES’ SEVENTH SPEECH.


MODERATORS, LADIES, AND GENTLEMEN:

I appear before you again on this great question:

“Resolved, That the gospel work carried on by the different denominations of the Protestant world in heathen lands or foreign countries, known as the Foreign Mission work, is authorized in the Bible, and blessed and owned of God.”

I gave proof to you that the heathen are saved through the gospel, or at least that they are not saved without truth made known to them in some way. I have asked my brother to give one passage of Scripture that supports his position. He runs to the Missionary Baptist brethren, and quotes from the Minutes of the Philadelphia Association. They have been of great service to him in this discussion. I will give him plenty of that book before we get through. He compliments me. He says I am an eloquent speaker. I do not know how many times he has said, “He has given us an eloquent speech.” Well, it is some consolation to know that he appreciates my discourses that much. He said that if I would take his advice I would not be here. I suppose that is so; but he is going to stay until Saturday night, and we are neighbors, and I want to stay with him.

He says I do not believe that the Foreign Mission work is blessed and owned of God, that “Brother Yates does not understand his own proposition, and wants the Moderators to define it;” and that for that reason he gave me that question to answer, so that the words “blessed and owned of God” in the proposition might be explained. How kind and thoughtful! Now, in my first speech I showed clearly just what was before us, and he dare not deny it. It is there upon record. Now he says I do not understand it. Do you know why he quibbled around as he did when I was driving him? When he got up that evening at the close of the first day’s discussion, he knew that he had nothing whatever to say on the negative of the proposition, and could only fill up his time by quibbling over the measures and means of the Foreign Mission work. He well knew that the Foreign Mission work itself is what we are here to discuss—whether its authority and fruits are biblical. That the Foreign Mission work is authorized in the Scriptures, and that the fruits it brings forth are gospel fruits, I have proved from abundant testimony, and that, too, of the most conclusive character; but my opponent has not attempted to meet it.

To fill up his time he went on to tell about an Irishman that shot at a deer. He wanted to get up another laugh, you see. I enjoyed it with him, and he really did not like it because I joined with him in the laugh; but I may be mistaken in that. He said the Irishman saw a deer. That was wonderful, was it not? That was against Foreign Missions. The Irishman raised up, and shot and killed a calf. The trouble with that man was that he was elected to kill the calf, and he thought it was a deer, and shot and killed a calf—that is all. My brother feels he is elected to fight the Foreign Mission cause, but it is like that Irishman shooting at the deer. My brother, just get the scales off your eyes, and you will always see the proper animal. Of course that was to the point, that Foreign Mission work is not owned and blessed of God. That is to the point. But he says he does not believe there have been any conversions in the foreign field through the instrumentality of the mission workers. I know he claims God does it all. I want to put a direct question to him here, and I want him to answer it. I want to ask him this question: Does he believe that he has ever been instrumental in the hands of God in bringing souls to Jesus? Do you believe any minister, or any laborer, has been instrumental in the regenerations of any person? To get out of your tight place you said you believed all the means were good in God’s ordained plan; but you leave out the means when you get in a tight place about the heathen lands. I, too, believe the means are good. But this is not a question between my brother and myself in regard to the measures and means used in carrying on that work, but whether there were converts there—whether the results of this Foreign Mission work that he has been talking about are fixed facts, and indicate the pointing of the Divine Finger that is guiding and blessing the workers.

But he tells us there is no such thing as a man being instrumental in saving souls. God does that. Well, I want to talk a little about that. i Corinthians iv. 15. Now I will see what Paul says about it: “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” Philemon i. 10: “I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds.” i Peter i. i, 2: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” You see the mercy he has been speaking about employed there. There is the Spirit, and the Word, and the Blood. You remember I quoted John xvii. 17: “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” “Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” Again, i Corinthians iii. 6—9: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” This corresponds to the argument I gave concerning the seed, which he failed to meet, and which he has never dared name again. I want you to try that, my brother. I showed that God gives the sunlight, the seed, and the rain, and man prepares the ground. Man controls his attitude toward the word, to understand and receive it. “So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are-God’s building” That is the idea; you are laborers together with God.

Acts xxvi. 16—18. Take that down, and I want you to explain it for us. “But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee: delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes.”—he went there for that, did he not?— “and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” And yet Brother Potter tells us not to teach them at all. He first quoted a passage saying we should teach him, and then quoted a passage claiming they are not to be taught, saying that the Lord would teach every one; every man shall not teach his neighbor. He knew that was a picture of the grand results after the gospel had conquered the world.

Then he asks, “How are we to know what Brother Yates meant by being “blessed and owned of God by his answer to the question?” It was a little troublesome to him, I know. “How much would you be willing to give to the Foreign Mission work, if the hat was passed around?” says he. Well, I do not suppose he has any hats passed around in his church. All he has to do is just to say, “Brethren, do your duty,” That would end it. Now my friends, on that point, you know what I told him about the Scriptures speaking of laying up contributions for the mission work on the first day of the week. He could not deny that, and he said the Foreign Mission work was dependent on money as a condition. O how that troubles him! I wonder if he is supported. He says the Foreign Mission work could no more be run without money than a locomotive could be run on a railroad without wheels.

I will ask him another question: You are a minister of the gospel, and elected from eternity; can you run without money? What about your living and opportunity to work? What about your clothing, and support of your family? “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” God has a definite cause to be advanced, but you have to employ all the agencies and means. Why do you not take up that text I gave you in Acts, in regard to the community of goods, showing you that when those people were guided by the Holy Spirit they laid down every thing that the circumstances demanded for the needs of their brethren in the work. And it is just that way in the Foreign Mission work. Why do you not fight Paul for accepting wages? I call your attention again to your statement that Paul was not a missionary, but a pastor, at the time this was spoken. Do you receive wages?

He gave us a beautiful theological exposition. He simply made the absurd assertion that Paul was a pastor at the time he claimed to receive wages, and not a missionary, in order to get away from my proof-text. And the fact is Paul received these wages from other churches for his support as a missionary at Corinth, while he was making his second missionary journey. He can never face that. I dare him to do it.

He says, in regard to the proof-text I quoted from the Old Testament, something about two laws that God gave to the Jewish nation. As I understood him he spoke of two laws—one moral and the other spiritual. I want to call his attention to Proverbs, and see whether or not that is actually the case. Proverbs i. 24—30: “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity “—these are the Proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel, and they are for men—”but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of my counsel; they despised all my reproof.” Well, about this moral law, he says that God was pure and holy, and he gave a perfect law. He says he believes in the responsibility of man, and also believes in a predestination that fixes man’s destiny eternally, without any agency on man’s part. What a monstrous position for any minister or Church to occupy! How can he ride the two horses—absolute election from eternity, and individual responsibility—at the same time? He says God gave the moral law, and man could not keep that law; he broke it: Now he says when man broke that law God was under no obligation to save him. Brother Potter said that Moses gave this law, and that the law of grace came by Jesus Christ. Now, I want to know if Jesus did not himself declare that he came to fulfill all righteousness? and I want to know if righteousness did not refer to the ritual of the Hebrew theocracy? If that is not true, then the types and symbols of the law were not fulfilled in Christ Jesus, as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Now, what is the gentleman to do? He is in a tight place. He says God had a right, from all eternity, to do as he pleased in saving men, regardless of their merit or demerit. God is the moral governor of the universe, and he had a right to decide from eternity, when the whole human family were equally helpless and unworthy before him, whom he would save and whom he would not save. Does he not put it in that way at least? What am I to do about Adam? He lived a good way back. But Brother Potter says man violated the law, and is under it, and ought to be arrested. He preaches that men as sinners are dead today.

They are dead; they cannot do any thing; God does it all. Who is the man he speaks of, going to jail? I want to know when a man is tried and condemned according to the law of equity, if it does not imply that that man had the power to comply with the law? You do not take a baby of five years to jail for any thing it has done. He knows be cannot get out of that. He asks us how we will get them out of jail. Brother Potter says there is no authority to do it. No: if the man is a criminal, there is not. But I say, if the man us a criminal, it implies that he has the ability to choose; that God gave him this ability, and he abused it, as Paul said in Romans i. 21.

What about the Judgment? As God has revealed himself in his Word—I speak reverently—he has not the right my brother claims. Man is created in the image of God; and for God to force man, by his absolute power, to do a thing, without consulting his consent or choice personally, would he to do violence to his own image; for man us a creature bearing the Divine image. What would you think of a man if he should see two children lying on a railroad track and the train coming, and if he should go and take up one of those children and leave the other? The train runs over the one left. Some one asks. Where is the other? And the man says, Oh I just wanted to show what I could do and I left one and took the other! You would say, “You fiend!” Is God less than man? There is a difference between power and right. I have the power to be partial in the treatment of my children, but the one thus treated, though it is in capable of defining right, by its tearful eye and quivering lip would say, “I am wronged,” for the principle of equity in its very nature would resent it. Why, equity is a principle that runs through the universe, and this universe is an expression of God. What a burlesque for my worthy opponent, from his doctrinal point of view, to talk about judgment and responsibility!

My brother runs from one thing to another. I have given him proof-text after proof-text, and he dares not touch them. Now I want him to come out and tell us, if man is responsible, how it is that God has absolutely selected, as individuals, from eternity, those who shall be saved? For those who are not selected must as necessarily and certainly be eternally lost. What equity, justice, mercy, or goodness is there in punishing a being for something he has had no agency in—something that was fixed before he was born? Our government has just as much right to arrest the negro and cruelly imprison him because he is black.

When I propounded to him the question, who was at fault for the present state of the heathen world—man or God? he answered emphatically that man was at fault. He said that sin was not a misfortune, but a crime. If Brother Potter’s view of man’s relation to God is correct, according to the principle of equity, man us not a responsible being; not having the freedom of will, he cannot sin against God, for the power of moral choice is the very basis of character.

From the fifty-second chapter of Isaiah and third verse he quotes what Isaiah says about the Hebrews selling themselves for nought, and about their being redeemed without money. He says that man bankrupts himself. Then, before he was bankrupted he had the privilege to avoid it, did he not? A man is not under obligation to bankrupt himself in buying and trading. Let us go further. He said that had reference to the redemption of the human family. Indirectly, I would say. The deliverance of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity occupies the foreground of this prophetic picture of the evangelical Prophet Isaiah. Of course it indirectly implied and prefigured the Divine method of redemption through the gospel. “For thus saith the Lord, ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.” In the meaning of the two words “sold” and “redeemed,’’ as here employed by the prophet, is a key to the true interpretation of the passage. I suppose there is but very little difference between my opponent and myself as to the meaning of the first part of this passage. The prophet in speaking of the Hebrews selling themselves, simply means that they exchanged the worship and service of Jehovah for the worship and service of the different idolatrous systems by which they were surrounded. They exchanged God’s worship for what they conceived to be gain in social, commercial and national prestige, and Isaiah says that instead of gaining by it, they had lost every thing, and hence had sold themselves for nought. So their wretched and disastrous captivity was the result of their own moral agency. It is upon the meaning of this part of the passage “Ye shall be redeemed without money” that my brother and myself so widely disagree. He says it means “that as Israel sold herself in sin for nought, that she should be redeemed without any agency on her part; that this had direct reference to the redemption of all of God’s spiritual Israel; that every saved soul was purchased by God in the price paid by Christ in his death, just like a man would pay a price in the purchase of a piece of property, and that all the Lord thus absolutely purchased would be saved.” My friends, this interpretation does violence to the primary meaning of this passage, as the deliverance of the Hebrews from the Babylonian captivity clearly demonstrates. That this passage has reference to their deliverance by Cyrus is plainly stated in the forty-fifth chapter of Isaiah and thirteenth verse. In the first verse of this chapter Cyrus is mentioned by name. In the thirteenth verse the prophet declares upon what terms Cyrus should release the Hebrew captives. He says, “He shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts.” So the manner in which Cyrus delivered the Hebrew captives furnishes a clear elucidation of the phrase, “Ye shall be redeemed without money.” Israel’s subsequent history reveals the meaning of this expression of the prophet to be this: “As ye have sold yourselves for nought—that is, as ye have become your foes’ servants without them paying any price for you—so shall they release you without demanding any price or reward.” In those days it often occurred in that part of the world that when a king, by the prowess of his armies, was not able to liberate his subjects who were held captives by his enemies, he purchased their liberty with money or its equivalent, at so much per head, according to the demand of their captors. But the prophet said this was not to be the case in the liberation of the Hebrew captives by Cyrus. They were to be liberated from their captivity, and reinstated in the position from which they had been dragged down, without any demand of price or reward. Hence the idea presented by my opponent, that the word “redeemed,” employed in this passage, means that a certain amount was paid in the scheme of redemption for the purchase of God’s elect alone, is not in this Scripture. No sir; this commercial idea of atonement is not in the Bible. If you will examine the 1st to 4th verses inclusive of the first chapter of Ezra, you will see how Cyrus redeemed the Hebrews without money. After overcoming their captors, the Chaldeans, and taking possession of the Chaldean empire, Cyrus issued an edict and had it posted up in writing, so it could be read by the populace, and proclaimed it by herald throughout his empire, so that in every part of his kingdom full permission was granted to these Jewish exiles to return to their own country if they chose to so do. At the same time he recommended those of their countrymen who might decide to remain to aid the poor and feeble who accepted the proffered “redemption,” on their way, and to contribute liberally toward the rebuilding of the temple. Now, in this redemption of the Hebrews by Cyrus we have an exact picture of the redemption wrought by Christ for a sin-cursed world. Like Cyrus in his redemption of the Jews, Christ, as the ordained and God-sent Saviour of the world, in his life and death wrought a work that removed every legal barrier that prevented the sinner’s return to God, and reinstatement in his favor. Like Cyrus in his imperial edict, Christ in his gospel, both written and proclaimed, offers redemption—that is, deliverance from the captivity and bondage of sin, and reinstatement into the communion and fellowship of God—to every sinner of the human family upon his own choice. Salvation is offered as a gift, not to be purchased by man, but to be accepted and appropriated by him individually, in order to realize its benefits and blessings. The responsibility of its acceptance or rejection is thrown upon the choice of the sinner, just as Cyrus’ proclamation threw the responsibility upon the exiled Jews of accepting or rejecting his imperial offer of redemption. This offer of temporal redemption to the Hebrew captives was much more extensive than its acceptance. So also is the offer of redemption to the human race by Christ. As a further proof of this I will read the Saviour’ s own language, as recorded in the third chapter of John, sixteenth verse: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” I will also read to you the eighteenth and nineteenth verses: “lie that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.” Now you can see the condemnation is because they rejected light. Why judge men for something they cannot do, and which God does not give them grace to do after they have fallen and are helpless? But the heathen world, Paul said, were without excuse. And you say, my brother, they are unfortunate—that is, that they were unlucky to get into their present deplorable condition.

MR. POTTER: I did not say that. I said sin was not a misfortune, but it was a crime.

MR. YATES: But you said the condition of the heathen was unfortunate.

MR. POTTER: No, sir.

MR. YATES: So much the worse. And God is going to save them in their sin and idolatry; and yet it is said that no idolater can pass through the gates of heaven. You and the Lord for it. And he brings up the Roman Catholics. He said that the Roman Catholics led in this Foreign Mission work. Now, I want to ask my brother this one question—I want to ask him if this was not the meaning of what he read from the Missionary Baptist Magazine—that in the very opening of any place for possible Christian work the Catholics had their workers there first? Does not my brother know that the Catholic Foreign Mission work is just as opposite to our work as it is opposite to him? They do not teach the Bible to the people. They teach that the priests have all the power, and Brother Potter teaches that God does all in saving man, and man cannot do any thing. We take the middle ground between my worthy opponent and the Catholics—that the provisions of redemption and the offers of salvation to man is God’s part, and its acceptance or rejection is man’s. Now, he told us that the Foreign Mission work was originated by the mother of harlots—the Roman Catholics. If he was debating against me on the Church question he would declare that every Pedo-Baptist came from the Roman Catholics. And he goes on to argue, that being true, the Foreign Mission work is of man, and not of God. This objection of my worthy opponent proves too much for him. It could be urged from his doctrinal point of view with just as much force against Protestantism entire. He claims that his Church has a clear, unbroken historical line of succession back to the very days of the apostles, and that therefore they did not come out of the Catholics, for they never belonged to them. Hence he looks upon all Churches which came into existence through reformations out of Catholicism as being originated by the Catholics, and therefore of man, and not of God. This makes the Protestant world—with all of its grand institutions, and the great blessings with which it has blessed mankind ever since its existence, as manifest in its great spiritual fruitfulness in the character and lives of men—of man, and not of God. The objection he urges against the Foreign Mission work to prove that it is of man, and not of God, strikes with equal force against the Bible itself. It was practically brought into existence by the Protestant Church translating it from the dead languages into the English tongue; and its smooth and beautiful English gave it a world-wide circulation. Hence, as the English Bible is a work of Protestantism, so also is the Foreign Mission work; and if the Foreign Mission work is of man, and not of God, because it is of the Catholics, as viewed by my opponent, so also is Protestantism and our English Bible. How absurd this objection! The Foreign Mission work was not originated by the Catholics, but by the Holy Spirit. Its birth, nature, and mission are Divine. He dared me to say that any of the Catholic missions or missionaries are of God. Brother Potter is very severe upon the Catholics all at once. When he read this morning about their glorious mission work in the early centuries he tried to claim all their missionaries as Regular Baptists, and their mission work as the work of Regular Baptist ministers. But I brought unanswerable proof from the very best authorities that they were not Baptists, but what my brother would call Catholics, in their incipiency as a denomination. He gave them up at once, and fled from his position. I want to say this: that the Church of God consists of those who have obeyed the gospel call and accepted Jesus as their Saviour. I believe there are some men saved in every denomination, Catholics included. I am against their ritual, but there is such a thing as their having a mission work, and he knows I believe that it is a mission work advancing a nominal or ritualistic Christianity. Well, he said here today that this Protestant mission work is a ritualistic Christianity, that there is no spirit of Christianity in it, that these men and women arc not earnest, consecrated, God-fearing men and women. This he implied today in speaking-of the Foreign Mission work in Europe. Dare he say that the converts in those fields that we have been talking about are not biblical converts? He went on to say, “Just look how many heathen there are! we do not know the real figures.” And yet he says he is well informed, and is opposed to the work. But let me go farther: When is he going to conquer the world with his forty thousand Regular Baptists? I forgot to bring that book down. I got that account of Uncle Sam—from the United States statistics. Your forty thousand will soon conquer the millions, will they not? We have one hundred and five million of Protestants in sympathy with, and laboring for, this great work. Thousands have gone to the foreign field. Through the Spirit of God has human agency been engaged and guided in the work; and fields of operations have been opened and indicated by special providences, and thus pointed out by the finger of God.

There have been grander triumphs, and more has been achieved for Jesus—there have been more converts—in the first century of this wonderful epoch of the Foreign Mission work than you could possibly show from the history of the first century of the Christian Church. And yet you tell us we have no evidence that God is guiding and blessing the work. He told us that our civilization is the result of Christianity. Now, sir, you cannot prove you did not come out of the Catholics yourself. I know you talk about the Waldenses, but touch them while I am here, and tell me these Waldenses did not come from the Catholics

If your views of what constitutes the gospel Church and work are correct—viz., that every thing which comes out of the Catholics, even though in reformation, is of man, and not of God—you end the authority of the Protestant ministry as a whole. It also does away with our civilization as a result of Christianity. These Protestant Churches have been the great agents in building up and developing the grand lines of our civilization—viz., they have built a majority of the colleges and a large proportion of the hospitals, and have done much to lift womanhood from a degraded state up into her proper sphere. Through their influence homes have been made where there were none, hovels of crime and wretchedness have been transformed into pure and happy homes, like unto our home on high. Society has been regenerated, the pagan world itself is being uplifted from its benighted, degraded, and imbruted condition, and changed into the glorious character of the Christian religion. Art has been given new life and beauty, the institutions of systematic beneficence have been greatly enlarged and wonderfully increased in numbers. All the leading nations of the Christian civilization of to-day are Protestant nations. Go to your Catholic civilization, and contrast it with Protestant civilization. All the lines of commerce, and all sciences, and, as I have said, all the colleges, all legal jurisprudence—in fact, every thing that goes to make up civilization, has been brought out by this great Protestant line of work.

I wish to make a quotation from “Butler’s Bible Work” on the New Testament, which comprises selections of gems from three hundred of the most scholarly men of Europe and of the United States, some of whose opinions are contained in this book. I wish to make this quotation in support of an argument I produced today—that Protestantism itself was born of the mission spirit, and that the home work and the work on the foreign fields are twin children, born from this spirit of the Church. The following is from Vol. II., page 825, of Butler’s Bible Work: “The European nations are now the most enlightened, powerful, and highly civilized portion of the globe. And what has civilized them? The gospel of Jesus Christ. By what instrumentality were they converted to Christ? By the preaching of the cross, by missions to the heathen. They were once all heathen of the darkest, fiercest, and most vindictive character. When Christianity first encountered them they were as ignorant, as barbarous, as much without hope and without God in the world as any of the pagan tribes and nations to which the gospel is now sent. But during the long progress of ages the gospel was preached, and Scriptures were translated, the generations were taught and trained, and the foundations of the Church were laid; a native ministry was raised up, and the mighty change was wrought. For centuries all Europe was a missionary field, and at last the whole country was converted from idolatry to Christ. The rude Goth, the roving Vandal, the treacherous Frank, the warlike Norman, the daring Saxon, the ferocious Hun, the sturdy German, the impetuous Celt, the hardy Scot, the fur-clad Scandinavian, became Christian. Let it never be forgotten that all the nations of modern Europe were evangelized and civilized by Christianity. This was its second great missionary triumph, not less decisive and important than the first. This is the work which it was doing through all the middle ages. And though its power was greatly impaired by the corruption and despotism of the Papacy, yet its progress was onward and upward; and it prepared the material out of which sprang the memorable reformation of the sixteenth century. And now behold the result of missions to the heathen: Christian Europe and Christian America, two continents conquered and given to Christ. Shall we, then, whose own ancestors were once savage idolaters doubt the power of the gospel to convert the heathen and to win its final and universal victory?”

 

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