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Home arrow Griffin's History arrow Debate on Foregin Missions-Chapter 15
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Written by Potter/Yates   



You see the situation in which my brother is placed. If I did not meet another word of his denials, you see what is his condition right now. He said no man can teach that the Lord has to do it all, and yet that man is responsible. If I had nothing else to say, he has ended it right here. I want to know if we do not have to teach the gospel? In Matthew, Jesus commanded them to teach the gospel to all nations—to preach it. My brother, if what you say is so, I want to know, since you are so ready to ask questions, what is the use of teaching and preaching? What good will it do? The Lord alone does all in man’s salvation. If that is so there is no use for you to preach in this country. Why do you ever teach in this country if it is not necessary to teach the gospel? Listen: “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Jesus speaks of giving them his word. “To as many as received him”—can they receive him?—“to as many as received him, to them gave he lower to become the sons of God.” They can receive him, can’t they? Let me give you another passage. O what a profound theologian he is! He says I am a little too smart for one man, and not quite smart enough for two. I knew you were in trouble, my brother; but you will think I am three before Saturday. I am going to go down and stay with my brother after this debate is over. I am getting in love with him.

He says I did not answer his question. It is a pity I cannot please my brother. He compares me to a negro. I did not know I was getting so black in the face. When I left home I did not look so, but sitting in the shadow here, he thinks I am black. He thinks Brother Yates is a pretty nice fellow, though. Well, I am glad I can do something. He says I make an eloquent speech. I am ordained; I cannot help it, my brother; God has fixed it so, and you have to meet those eloquent speeches.

Now, as to the heathen: he loves them, doesn’t he? He says it is a splendid thing to give them the Bible. What Fine logic! He says it is a good thing to send the Bible to the heathen, and confesses that the people did not give ten cents on the dollar for missions. But just look at what has been done. Look at that map—at its mission stations there! He thinks so little of the Protestants that he would not take the statistics of the map. That map is Colton’s. It is from one of the most responsible publishing houses in the United States. In this country and in Europe it is probably indorsed by one hundred and fifty of these Boards my brother hates so badly. When William Carey landed at Serampore, in 1792, there was not a missionary there. There were a half dozen men behind him in Europe, as I told you in the outset. And I told you how the people of Scotland shut their churches against Whitefield and Wesley— those men of God, whose hearts glowed with the burning missionary zeal and spirit. What about it today, my brother? Look on that map, will you? There are hundreds and thousands of miles represented there. You see the world is large, and there are mission stations girding round the world, and those people who live there are all transformed by the glorious gospel. Has my brother dared tell you, my friends, that man can transform his own character? He is defeated by his own speech. What did that wonderful work for the heathen? If God did it, he is with those men by his guiding hand. Why does not my brother talk about this map? Why, here, from Oceania, girdling clear around the globe, we see these stations of light. In 1798 all this was darkness (pointing to Oceania on the map) for 5,000 miles from south to north, and now it is gleaming in light.

He tells you that I will not take the Missionary Baptists as witnesses. Where did he learn that? Some of the grandest men upon this continent belong to the Missionary Baptist Church. What I am objecting to is his perversion of the meaning of the Baptist author he has been quoting, and his picking out those quibbles, instead of coming here as a Christian man and showing the good things they have done, and what the leading men have said.

He says I have not answered the question. I will answer it for him again. The question is, “Do you believe that in those Foreign Mission fields souls have been regenerated and born of God, and will be saved in heaven through the instrumentality of the Foreign Mission work, who would have been lost had those missionaries never gone there?” My answer is, if the brother means in this question that those people in the Foreign Mission fields who were once heathen, but are now saved Christians, would have been saved without God’s ordained agency, and the means employed in the Divine economy in carrying out the plan of salvation, I say no—that is what I said before. If he means that God saves some persons who are idolaters without character, I say no. He says if the people would take the Bible and believe it, and do what it says to do, all the necessary work would be accomplished. Is all the work accomplished that is necessary? I want him to answer that. Why is any work necessary, if I am predestinated and am God’s elect? Those people that are God’s elect are his children, and are guided by him, as I said yesterday. I showed you that if your theory is true, God is lower than any human father. No natural father would trifle with his children, and have them die on those foreign fields for nothing. He says those missionaries are good men and women. Now, he turns around in his last speech and says they are dishonest. Which time am I to believe him? He says that he is almost led to believe that they are hypocrites. What a consistent speaker!

He says he wants me to answer a great many things. He says there was no Foreign Mission Board in the days of Jesus, and that there was none until the seventeenth century. Didn’t I give him proof that there was a Foreign Mission Board in 1556? Didn’t I show that the primitive Church itself was a Foreign Mission Society? Didn’t I show that it sent Paul and Barnabas to the mission field? Brother Potter could not meet these facts, but he tried to slip out of his position by saying Paul went on a missionary trip to Arabia. He did not give one proof-text on that. He said that if missionaries were like Paul, he would believe in the Foreign Mission work; and when I showed him that Paul received wages he tried to slip out of it by saying Paul was the pastor of a church. He says that Foreign Missions cannot be found in the Bible, and that I virtually gave up the question by admitting that the name of Foreign Missions could not be found in the Bible, and by asking him where the name Regular Baptist could be found. But I want to say to my brother that the principles of Foreign Missions are there, and that is just the same.

I asked him about church clerks, and he fled from that, and also from the communion. I asked him about these things, but he says I ought not to have mentioned them—that in doing so I was not sustaining the proposition. It was a bad thing for him, I know, because he was arguing that the apostles did not represent the Church. That does away with his communion. He might just as well put his books in his pocket. I gave him that question on the community of goods and he has not named it. I wish my brother would take that up.

He says that Christians do not give ten per cent of their incomes to the mission work today. How much does he give for missions? He says it does good to send abroad the Bible—that schools and churches do good—and he speaks as though he sympathized with the suffering heathen in their degraded condition. He admits that the condition of the heathen is unfortunate. Then, if he believes what he argues, why does he not work for it? and why do not his brethren who sustain him in the argument help in this great work? What would have been done in the work had it depended upon him and his brethren? He talks about millions perishing, and says we ought not to build fine churches here if we believe they are perishing. Paul says they are degraded, and they have no excuse, and the wrath of God rests upon them; but my brother says that is not so.

He goes on to say that there was no Foreign Mission Society up to the sixteenth century. I proved to you (turning to Potter), and you dare not deny, that these Mission Boards are wielded by the Church just as your Association is wielded by your churches. When you appoint a committee it is the instrument of the church, and the church operates through it. You know that. The trouble with my brother is he is trying to fill up time.

He tells us he believes the Bible, and will stick to the Bible, and says to me that he wants me to show where Christ has made known to any man that he should go out and teach men to know the Lord. Priscilla and Aquila taught the way of the Lord. What is it to teach the way of the Lord more thoroughly but to teach people to know the Lord? Then, they are to take the gospel, the good news, the good tidings. What are the tidings? A Saviour is born that shall be a joy to all nations; and you tell me that is not teaching about the Lord? You had better look up your Book, my brother.

He says that Hebrews, eighth chapter, eleventh verse, has no reference to the time when the world shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord—the time when every man shall not teach his neighbor. But he says teaching does not do any good. Does he know that? Every man shall teach his neighbor. How is man going to be taught something he does not know? Does God put the meaning of that Book into a man without the use of the Book?

I want to look a little at my brother’s conclusions. He is in such sympathy with the heathen! He says he is nearly led to believe that the Foreign Mission advocates are hypocritical, since they are building fine churches while the heathen are all perishing. Who perishes? Now, if they are elected from eternity they cannot help themselves. You have owned that they have violated the law. You said you believed just as much as I did that a man is responsible for his acts, and will have to suffer the penalty. I want to know, if a man is capable of violating the law, if he is not capable of keeping it? If my children make mistakes and do wrong, I want to know if I am not willing to use the means of bringing them back? Will I not give them a chance? But he says God has a right to do as he pleases. He does not show that. He alluded to the children I spoke of as an illustration; but he did not fix it up by any means. Suppose that at the day of judgment, when the sheep and the goats are standing there, as the Book describes, one man comes up and is condemned, and Jesus says: “Depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels;” but the man says, “Lord, I was not elected from eternity; I was a non-elect; you elected my neighbor, instead of me; I was born under the dispensation of Christ, but there was my neighbor to whom the Spirit came, but it did not come to me; now, Lord, what am I to go to hell for?”—What is such a man accountable for? The gospel was brought to him, but he was not elected. But among the heathen they are all saved, I suppose; all elected, even all the idolaters, and the degraded; and my brother thinks he is willing to stay over there at home, and let them go up into heaven. Who, according to Brother Potter’s doctrine, are to be saved? Those that had the light but could not receive it? Those of us who are elected will be saved, but those who are not are just driven into everlasting darkness.

He says that the babies are all saved. That does not modify his horrible doctrine. Is it any more repulsive to damn babies than to foreordain unalterably that a certain part of the human family shall be lost? According to Brother Potter’s interpretation of the Scriptures, he shuts all the babies out of heaven. He says the elect, as spoken of in the Bible, are those alone whom Jesus died to save. We have shown that wherever election is spoken of in the Bible, in reference to eternal salvation, it always implies faith—always has reference to believers in Christ Jesus. Then if the elect represents those alone whom Jesus died to save, according to Brother Potter’s doctrine, the babies are left out; not being capable of believing, they cannot be numbered among the elect. But suppose, for the sake of argument, we admit that his theory saves the babies. Would it not be less cruel to damn a soul by reprobation in infancy than to let one of the non-elect grow up into mature years and see all of the privileges and opportunities extended in this life, and then to send that soul to hell, with a developed conscience to be filled with remorse and regret, caused by the thought that perhaps if the opportunities and privileges of salvation offered in this world had been properly improved, he might have been saved? But it is probable that the babe entering the land of the lost, with an undeveloped mind and conscience, would not suffer from remorse or regret. Having no knowledge of what it had apparently lost in this world, it would not be so pained, perhaps, by its surroundings. God damns no one save those who by their lives of willful disobedience bring condemnation upon their own souls. I wish Brother Potter would take that first chapter of Proverbs, and explain it for me.

I want to read to you again Ezekiel iii. 18, 19: “When I say to the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked ways, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.” In the words of the prophet just quoted the responsible relation the professed servant of God sustains to those who are not his servants is forcibly set forth; and especially is the state of the heathen world in sin, and the responsible relation the Christian Church sustains to their salvation, vividly pictured. The condition of the heathen world, and the relation the Christian Church sustains to them, is something like this: A number of persons, by a bad choice, board an unsafe and unseaworthy ship for a voyage. The ship is caught in a storm, crushed and torn by the angry winds and waves, and is going to pieces. On the shore in sight is a body of men organized and equipped as a life-saving company. They are in plain view of the ship’s signals of distress, and could reach and save those who are on the wrecked and sinking vessel. The members of the life-saving company are indifferent, and the ship goes down in the storm. The blood of those people in that lost vessel rests upon those men’s souls, because they did not make the effort and use the means that their profession, position, and opportunities demanded in attempting to rescue the perishing. Suppose, on the other hand, this life-saving company did all within their power, and many of the persons on the wreck were lost because they refused to accept or properly use the offered aid. In this case the life-saving company would be exonerated, and the responsibility of the results would be thrown upon those who refused the offers of salvation. So the heathen world, by a bad choice spiritually, have thrown themselves into this helpless and dying state in sin, and the Christian Church, organized and equipped, is the professed Life-saving Company of Jesus. They are in sight of the signals of distress in the heathen lands, and have the opportunities of reaching them with the blessed message of salvation, and of being instrumental in saving them. If we, as Christian Churches, fail to do our duty in this respect, many of the heathen who might have been saved will be finally and eternally lost, and their blood will rest upon us. If we do our duty, and they reject the message, we will be clear, but they will die in their sins: It is in accordance with this biblical principle that the great Foreign Mission work is prosecuted today.

Brother Potter says he objects to the Foreign Mission work because it depends upon money. He dares not stand up here today and say that the Foreign Mission work makes money a preeminently essential condition, because support is furnished the laborers on the foreign field. We make money an essential means, just as you and your brethren do. Are you not supported, my brother? Money is just as essential to the running of the work of the Regular Baptist Church as it is to the Foreign Mission work. He criticized me when I quoted, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” It is, and God holds us responsible for its use. We are responsible. What is that man in the parable of the talents put in prison for? For the improper use of his Lord’s money—because he abused the trust that was put in his hands.

I want to give you a quotation from “Error’s Chains,” by S. F. Dobbins, page 770. This book is one of the most reliable authorities on the subject of Foreign Missions. The title of the article is “The Story of the Mission Work.” “It began eighteen hundred and fifty years ago. A Christian man named Paul went among the heathen of Asia Minor and Southern Europe, among the worshipers of the gods of Greece and Rome, to tell them of Christ. He (Paul) says God called upon men everywhere to repent. He was accompanied by other Christians. They met with considerable success, though they were made to suffer for it. In later years, from Rome, that had then become the center of Christianity, other Christians went to Western Europe. From Greenland, of the arctic zone, to the West Indies of the tropics, Christianity was extended. Nation after nation gave up its idols; cruel customs were abolished, and purer life and worship was begun; but it was left for the last one hundred years to witness the development of this work to its greatest extent.”

Now let us read Matthew xxiii. 37, 38. I want to call Brother Potter’s attention to that again: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.”—I would, but ye would not—“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” Let us see what this man, Butler, says about this in his Bible Work, Vol. I, page 437: “Was ever imagery so homely invested with such grace and sublimity as this, at our Lord’s touch? And yet how exquisite the figure itself—of protection, rest, warmth, and all manner of conscious well-being, in. these defenseless, dependent, little creatures, as they creep under and feel themselves overshadowed by the capacious and kindly wing of the mother-bird. How significant all this to what Jesus is, and does, for men!

Under his great mediatorial wing would he have gathered Israel. In all the superhuman beauty of the character of Jesus, nothing is more affecting and impressive than the profound melancholy with which he foretells the future desolation of the city, which, before two days were passed, was to reek with his own blood. In fact, there was an intimate moral connection between the murder of Jesus and the doom of the Jewish city. It was the characteristic disposition of the people that now morally disqualified them from knowing the things which belonged to their peace, which forty years afterward committed them in their deadly, ruinous struggle with the masters of the world. Christianity alone could have subdued or mitigated that stubborn fanaticism which drove them at length to their desperate collisions with the arms of Rome. As Christians the Jewish people might have subsided into peaceful subjects of the universal empire. They might have lived as the Christians did, with the high and inalienable consolations of faith and hope under the heaviest oppressions, and calmly awaited the time when their holier and more beneficent ambition might be gratified by the submission of their rulers to the religious dominion founded by Christ and his apostles. They would have slowly won that victory by the patient heroism of martyrdom, and the steady perseverance in the dissemination of their faith, which it was madness to hope that they could ever obtain by force of arms.”

This led Jesus to weep, as he looked upon the city on the Sabbath evening immediately preceding his crucifixion, and this caused his exclamations to be broken with sobs. My brother has told us that God’s elect are all saved from eternity, and that man can do nothing; and yet Jesus wept over obstinate Jerusalem: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how can I pass through that gate to enter your streets? I have offered you salvation; you have rejected me: how can I go through that gate? I am a patriot as well a Saviour; I know in passing that gate your cup will be full. It was not Jesus’ fault, my brother, not a word of it, sir. God extends the opportunities and privileges. We would not have the power if God did not give us the Word and the Spirit, but he extends these, and thus makes us responsible. There are two forces which bear upon us— one is the evil, the other the good. Satan tempts both directly and indirectly, with tangible objects. Have we not proofs of that? It is said he put the lying words into the hearts of Ananias and Sapphira; and the Spirit of God through the Word, and independent of the Word, and yet associated with the Word, operates upon man’s heart, and counterbalances the force of both the direct and indirect temptations of the Evil One, and thereby enables men to exercise the power of choice, to decide between the right and the wrong. That makes man responsible; so, my friends, there are great obligations resting upon us.

I now advance in the line of my argument, in support of the affirmative of the proposition. That the Protestant Foreign Mission work is authorized in the Scriptures is evidenced in the fact of its absolute conformity with the universal principle of the brotherhood of mankind, as taught in the Bible. Man is created in the image of Jesus; that image is defaced by sin. I am so bound by the ties of humanity that I may die arid pass away, but my word and my influence live. Infidels are today sending their books and their papers into every open port of the world. Now, I ask my brother, since the devil is at that work misleading those heathen, does it not look reasonable that God will also be at work moving us to send them the Bible? Now, remember the things I have spoken concerning the propagation of infidelity in heathen lands are occurring in China, India, Japan, and the Islands of the Sea. Even the apostles of Ingersoll and Herbert Spencer are scattering their books among those people—among the same people that are learning about the Lord—among the Japanese students of the Government school in Japan. There are even infidel professors in that school. And those foreign missionaries, in the strength of the Lord, are grappling with them over these questions. They are achieving all the grand success that has been pictured to you. Go preach it. Not that any of us expect to save souls by the Word alone, but by thus moving with God and for God.

I want to ask my brother here this question, since he says we never saw any one saved by the gospel. What does Paul mean, when he says, “It is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth”? God’s word gives life if God’s Spirit accompanies it. It is God’s grand instrumentality. Jesus is the burden of his own message, and in his word he is revealed. Then, are not the fruits of the Foreign Mission work enough to convince us that God is in it? What evidence has my brother that God was in the work of Christianity during the centuries that are passed, except in the fruits of the work? What evidence has Brother Potter that God is with him in his work, only in the fruits of his labors? If I have time I will read a quotation right here from a speech by a heathen convert to Christianity, a Brahman of India. It is found on page 10 of the Report of the Evangelical Alliance of the great Protestant world, held in 1873, in New York.

My brother says that he does not believe people are saved among the heathen by missionaries going there. Then, those that are saved would have been saved if there had been no Bible sent there. I do not believe a word of it.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 September 2006 )
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