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Home arrow Griffin's History arrow Debate on Foregin Missions-Chapter 17
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Written by Potter/Yates   



I am glad to face so large an audience this beautiful morning. Some who thought the debate would continue only two days may be a little disappointed, but if the brethren have come away from home with that expectation, I want to say to them that we will stay here until Saturday evening.

The first point I wish to take up is this: my brother has said during this discussion that the Invisible Church is universal, embracing all the centuries, evidencing itself, of course, in the different denominations of the Christian world, and that it embraces the heathen also. But he believes in man’s responsibility. He said so when I drove him to the wall yesterday morning, and had him answer the question that I am going to read over again. He gave me that question yesterday, comparing it to a plank to be walked upon with care, saying, “Young man, be careful; consult with your brethren before you walk on that plank.” But there was another plank he was walking on yesterday, and has to walk on this morning. Now, he said: “Do you believe that in those Foreign Mission fields souls has been regenerated and born of God, and will be saved in heaven through the instrumentality of the Foreign Mission work—through those missionaries that have been there—that would have been lost if they had not gone there?” Here is what I answered him—I knew his purpose; it was this: he thought I would say, Yes; and then he would come out and say to you: “Brother Yates knows that the foreign missionaries depend upon themselves or upon man to do the work;” but I saw his purpose. If the brother means in this question that these people in the Foreign Mission field, 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. If he means that God saves some persons who are idolaters, without character, I say, No. Let me tell you, this is a Bible question. Some of the brethren were a little afraid I would not use the Bible. I will give you plenty of the Bible. I have pressed him to show me one passage in the Word where it is revealed that an individual was ever saved without some truth. I have driven him from that text in Romans, and from proof-text after proof-text, and I am here this morning to expose him on that wonderful book from which he has been quoting— Jamieson, Fausset and Brown. I have the book. I have been letting him use it for the last day or two. He felt a little offended yesterday evening when I said he perverted, or misinterpreted and misapplied, the testimony which he quoted from the Missionary Magazine, and I rather apologized to him privately. I knew I had him on some points, and when I took the book and saw that he had quoted only a part of the comment and left out the part that was against him, I must say, with all due regard, that I thought his prejudices very strong, to say the least. I put the question pointedly to him: “Who is to blame for the condition of the heathen in heathen lands who are now in religious darkness—man or God?” he said, “Man,” and still had them all saved in heaven without the Book, yet he knew 100,000 of them were devil-worshipers, and he saved every one of those devil-worshipers without the gospel or any truth. He saved them. When he came to the difficult place in Romans i. 20, he got up and said: “They were without excuse; God was revealed to them in nature; and it is my opinion that wherever God is revealed to men they will respect him. That is just my opinion now concerning the heathen lands And when I caught him up on the 21st verse, and showed that the wrath of God rested upon them because they had degraded God, changing his incorruptible glory into the form of sticks and stones, then Brother Potter said that was only my opinion from my point of view. Now, I ask him this morning, if man is to blame for being in this condition, what obligation is God under to save him, in his degraded state as a heathen, without any gospel repentance and reformation on his part as one of the elect from eternity? I ask that upon the very principle he stated last night. Again, if the heathen are unfortunate, as you claimed in your speech yesterday, how can that be consistent with the happy condition of that part of them who are elected from eternity? After asking that question I showed that there was not a father in this country who would treat his children as Brother Potter says God treats mankind. And I know from God’s revelation in his Word that he is not below weak humanity. When I brought up those men in the Foreign Mission field—converted men, consecrated to the work, and whose bones bleach on those distant shores—and showed that according to Brother Potter’s position God had deceived those men—his own children—who, my opponent confesses were good Christians—did he answer it? No, sir; he never touched a single line of my argument—not one. Then I asked the question, “ If all are to be saved as individuals from eternity, and not upon principles as a class, why is the impenitent sinner banished to the land of the lost when he is a non-elect?” But he said: “We do not believe a word in reprobation. I believe as much in personal responsibility as Mr. Yates.” He says he and I believe alike in the final perseverance of the saints. I believe in that doctrine, it is true, but it is only an opinion of my own and of my brethren; of course other Christian men who differ from us are just as good in their religion and their practice as we are. But the basis of my belief in that doctrine is radically different front that of yours. You base your belief of the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints on the absolute election of certain individuals from eternity; but I base my belief in this doctrine on the Christians union with Christ by faith. When I met Brother Potter on the doctrine that God by his sovereign choice, regardless of merit or demerit, had a right to choose a part and reject others of the same class, and he found I had his hands tied, then he said, “I believe as much in personal responsibility as Mr. Yates.” Then Brother Potter undertook to advocate both sides of the question. I saw the impression he was trying to make, and hence pressed and forced him to take and define his position. Then, by many proof-texts selected from Gods Word, as arrows drawn from a well-filled quiver, I pinned him to the wall. He said God had a right to do as be pleased. He had a right to deliver a certain part and leave another part of the same class to be damned when they were all condemned under the law. He cannot show the passage where God saves except as it is in accordance with the principles of compassionate mercy. That is no abuse of his Church—none at all. So much for his arguments. He says he will not notice the majority of my proof-texts from the Old Testament, because most of them apply to Israel as a nation Not one of my proof-texts from the Old Testament are designed to be employed in the sense he speaks of, but apply directly to individuals, as such, in their spiritual relations to God, both in this and the world to come. I will now call his attention again to Prov. i., commencing with the 24th verse. He said God gave Israel two laws—a moral and spiritual. That is a revelation to me. I do not know where he finds that. He tells us in the two covenants. I don’t see how that is, for the new covenant was embodied in the old in symbol, and the old covenant pointed to Christ, the very heart of the new covenant. These things were enjoined until the time of reformation or reshaping. In the full unveiling of the principles of the old economy by Christ in his mission to earth, and in bringing also on the foreground of revelation new principles in this grand and complete unfolding of God’s nature to mankind, a new tangible form of expression was required. Hence the old covenant and the new are virtually one and the same. The old covenant hears the same relation to the new as the flower does to the fruit. Farewell to Brother Potter’s two distinct codes of law, giving to Israel two distinct salvations—a temporal and spiritual. The temporal and spiritual salvation of Israel was inseparable. Brother Potter presents this absurd argument to try to explain Christ’s sorrow over impenitent and lost Jerusalem, because of their misspent opportunities of salvation. For Jesus would have saved them, but they would not. But my worthy opponent says the Hebrews only lost their nationality by rejecting Christ. Yes, my brother, but the same sin that destroys the character of the nation will destroy the character of the individual, for the nation is composed of individuals, and that which will destroy a man’s character and well-being in this life will destroy him in eternity. Thus you see the force of his logic. He says man can sin against God, but when he gets down there is no opportunity extended to him at all to get righted. He has to stay there. None but those whom God picks out as his elect can escape. That is the reason he opposes the Foreign Mission work. He says he teaches that man violates God’s laws, but is not predestinated to do it. Then, if he was not predestinated to sin, he was not designed to sin, was he? If he was not, and God does every thing, and fixed it from eternity, why did he allow man to get ahead of him and fall into sin? God does not take very good care of his children, does he? We believe God is just. He says that men violate the law, and every one must suffer for his own sins, or some one must suffer for him. Yes, that is so. They all go down, but God has no right to select a few of them, and upon sovereign choice save them to the neglect of the rest. Brother Potter does not believe in reprobation; but how do men get to the land of the lost? Because they were not elected. He says God is under no obligation to save anybody; he had a right to save whom he would. I have already answered that.

I will now go to the Book. Acts x. 34, 35: “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth, I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” Stop, Peter, you belong to Brother Potter’s Church; you must not preach that. Brother Potter belongs to the apostolic succession. Peter, do not preach that. Brother Potter would not take Brother Peter into his Church. “God is no respecter of persons.” But Brother Potter says he is, and no one has a right to deny it. His convictions are squarely against Peter’s convictions. “But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” But, then, Brother Potter says you cannot work any; no, sir; God does it all. When I showed yesterday that Jesus was the antitype of man, and that as a perfect man he represented the human race in the highest possibilities of development, and was also the highest revelation of God to man, Brother Potter did not notice it. I showed that man was created in the image of God, and defaced that image by sin, but did not efface it, and hence God in the fullness of time spoke to us through his Son. Man, being created in the image of God, is a spiritual being, and his faculties stand right over against every perfection of God. He is so constituted that his faculties are suited to respond to every message of truth. But Brother Potter says a part of mankind are not thus constituted because God did not elect them from eternity. Man became disabled by his own transgressions. He did it, says Brother Potter, like a man in a business transaction; he sold himself for nought; he bankrupted himself; he once had plenty, but forfeited it. I want to know whether Brother Potter really means that we are to hold a boy responsible for all his ancestors did through the centuries past? Do you believe that? It is not in the Book. All these evils have come upon men; it is true, through the effects of sin. They have been inherited and transmitted down the centuries. But God has made a wonderful provision in the atonement for salvation from sin. This salvation is presented freely to all, and those that believe are saved, and those rejecting it reject the light. But my opponent gives us an illustration—he says I am a little too smart for one man, and not smart enough for two. Perhaps you can fix me out, my brother, for the second man this morning. He says he is not personal at all. He can say all he pleases. I enjoy it. Really, I have not enjoyed myself so well for a long time as in the last few days.

Now as to the penitentiary convict. He says, “Has not the governor a right to pardon whom he pleases?” You are well informed, my brother! You understand the commonwealths of your country, and the construction of your government! Has the governor a perfect right to pardon any one, and reject the rest? No, sir; he has no such right in any civilized country upon the earth. I defy him to show it. Why has he not? The governor is the head of a commonwealth, and the good of society is in his hands. Let me give you an example: Prof. Webster killed a man in Massachusetts, several years ago. He burned the body of his victim in a furnace. He was arrested and put into jail, tried, convicted, and condemned to be executed on a certain day. Now, the authorities could not set him free; the officers could not. But Brother Potter says the governor could pardon him. Prof. Webster’s wife, with her little children, went and pleaded with the governor of Massachusetts, and the neighbors and citizens went. The wife got down at the governor’s feet, and pleaded with him but he said, “Madam, I would be glad to do this to favor you; but the crime is so aggravated, and, owing to my position, with the interests of the commonwealth of Massachusetts placed in my hands, and the good of its citizens, I cannot pardon him.” What do you think of that, Brother Potter? No, sir, he had not the right to do that. He is under obligations to the State that he represents. What are the conditions on which convicts are released in any case? It must be shown that the circumstances were aggravated that induced the man to commit the crime, or that he did not have either the ability or the opportunities that the average man has in life to learn the evil nature and the fearful consequences of the crime for which he was sentenced. Citizens of the community in which the crime was committed, and those who prosecuted him, with the jurors who tried him, must sign and present a petition to the governor, praying his clemency and the pardon of the convict therein mentioned, on the grounds before named, and with the additional declaration that they are convinced that the crime was an extreme exception of his life, and that if liberated they believe he will walk worthily as a citizen of the commonwealth, and in keeping with its general interest. Upon these conditions, and these only, has the governor of any well-ordered government under Christian civilization, authority to release a penitentiary convict. Just so with God in his dealings with man. The welfare of the Divine government demands that adequate grounds must exist before God grants pardon to the sinner. There must be that on the part of the sinner which will fit him to become a worthy subject of the spiritual commonwealth. God in his goodness has revealed to man the conditions of pardon. These are repentance toward God on the sinner’s part for his course in sin, and a voluntary acceptance of God’s offer of salvation in Christ Jesus. So much for your prison illustration, my brother.

He runs to the eighth and ninth chapters of Romans as a shelter and defense of his doctrinal position. I will, for his comfort, give that letter some attention. Did you hear me demand of him yesterday to define election? He would not do it. I dare him to do it today. He has said fifty times during this discussion that Christ came to save his elect. I defy him to show one single passage, from Genesis to Revelation, where the Bible says Christ came to save his elect. Where the word “elect” occurs it always has reference to his believing people prophetically, or those who have accepted the gospel call, and are living in obedience to its requirements. Christ came into the world to reveal God. God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world unto himself. O what a theologian my brother is! I want to tell him a little about that word elect. I want to turn to this eighth chapter of Romans, beginning at the twenty-eighth verse, and examine it for him: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Now, what is implied? All things work together for evil to those who do not love God. Then, the universe is a unity; man belongs to this universe; he is the apex of it. He is the golden link that connects the great empire of creation with God. He is created in the image of God, and when he transgresses a moral laws when he rejects God, and refuses to follow God’s guidance in this life, he turns himself round about, and reverses his nature, and brings the universe against him. A little further: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might he the first-born among many brethren.” Did God know any thing about the devil? That is pressing a good deal on his foreknowledge. Did he know any thing about the fallen angels? If omniscience saves a man, I want to know why the devil was not saved. If my brother would remember when this Epistle was written, and the state of the church to whom it was written, he would never attempt again to give such an interpretation to the eighth chapter of Romans as he has given. The first question to be asked, in order properly to interpret this chapter is, what gave rise to this letter? To whom was it written? What were the circumstances surrounding the writer and the people to whom it was addressed? Now let us see. We learn in Acts that there were many Jews at Rome. He was writing to the Hebrews in this part of the letter. What was the great temptation of the Hebrew converts to Christianly at that time? What was hardest for them to understand? It was the Messiahship of Christ. Over this they had their sorest temptations and greatest struggles. It was at this point they were the most vulnerable, and were the hardest pressed by their unbelieving Hebrew brethren. In the eighth and ninth chapters of Romans Paul assures these Christian Hebrews that Jesus of Nazareth, who died upon the Roman cross, was the real Messiah—the God-sent Saviour of the world. He seeks to impress them with the fact that Christ was in the mind of God as a Lamb slain before the beginning of the world— that he was set apart as such in the very constitution of the universe. He showed that the sacrificial principle of compassionate love runs through the universe entire, and constitutes the central force of the great ruling power by which it is governed, and that Christ in his nature embodied this sacrificial principle in its highest and greatest degree, and in his life and death gave it its full and perfect expression. Because God’ has ordained, in the very nature of the divine economy, that this sacrificial principle must be complied with by every responsible individual of the human family in. order to obtain eternal salvation with all of its blessings, and because Jesus, in the offering, of himself on the cross as a sacrifice for sin, complied with every phase of this sacrificial principle, both toward God and man, therefore, one accepting Christ as his Saviour, and yielding his nature to be conformed to his image through life, would be complying with this sacrificial principle through Christ; and hence would be saved, justified and glorified of God. Now, says St. Paul, as you Christians at Rome have accepted Jesus as the Saviour of your souls, and yielded your lives to his service, you are therefore God’s accepted or chosen ones. You are justified and glorified of God. You are his elect. As I have said, the Messiahship of Christ, and not election, is the theme of this chapter, and also the ninth. Election is only brought in incidentally. But as my opponent bases all his objections to the Foreign Mission work upon what he claims to be the Bible doctrine of election, I will proceed to give a brief biblical exposition of this doctrine, and to do this understandingly we must first get at the primary meaning of the word elect, which occurs in Romans viii. 33. It is from the Greek word eklektos.

I do not want to bring any more books here than I have already, but if my brother denies my explanation of the original meaning and usage of this word “elect,” I will bring Greek authors here and show that its classical usage, before it was selected by the Holy Spirit to be employed in the Scriptures, sustains my explanation. The word “elect,” of the 33rd verse, in the Greek is eklekion, and should be translated “chosen ones.”’ It is from the word eklekios, which is derived from the verb eklego, which is defined by Liddell and Scott “to be chosen out.” Eklektikos, choosing, picking out, selecting; eklektos, picked, chosen, or culled out, selected. (This is the word for the elect of the New Testament). This same lexicographer says this word eklektos was employed to describe the eclectics, philosophers who selected such doctrines as pleased them in every school, who did not originate any new school or system of philosophy, but selected the facts and principles from the different stems of philosophy that existed, and put them in a system they called true. That was choosing, wasn’t it? Those philosophers were selectors or cullers of the principles and facts that, they believed were genuine and real, from those that were not. It was the peculiar character that these philosophers conceived these professed facts and principles to possess that led them to select them: So the primary meaning and usage of this word “elect” reveals God’s procedure in choosing his people to be the selecting of those who possess a godlike character. If you notice, men in sin differ in character, but Christians belong to one class. They are molded after one model. Hence God selects those that possess that character, and saves them. This class are the elect of God—those who are conformed to the image of Christ. Young and Grove’s definition of the word is substantially the same as that given by Liddell and Scott. We do not inherit character. My brother cannot give character to me. Man must act in compliance with God’s conditions, and that is based upon choice between right and wrong, good and bad. That word “character” means to cut or carve. Now, substitute the meaning of the word “elect” for the word itself in these verses, and that will furnish us with the true key of interpretation that will unlock the doctrine the apostle designed to present in this chapter to the Church at Rome. It will also furnish us with the true key for the interpretation of all other passages of Scripture in which the word occurs. The Greek for “he foreknew,” in the 29th verse, is proegno, from the verb proginosko, which is defined by the great linguist; Young, in his Hebrew and Greek Concordance to mean, “to begin to know first, or beforehand.” “He also predestinated,” in the Greek, is kai pro-orise. Pro-orise is from the verb pro-orizo, which is defined also by the same Greek lexicographer to mean “to mark off first, or beforehand; to see from afar.” With these definitions also agree those of the Greek lexicographers, Liddel and Scott, and Grove, and in fact every other linguist or lexicographer of note. The word “predestinate,” as we have before said, is from pro-orizo, which means to mark out like a plan. “And whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” That is, the plan of redemption was no afterthought of God when man had fallen and brought woe and ruin upon himself and his posterity. So we see God clearly marked out in his mind the plan of salvation before ever the creative fiat went forth that called the universe into existence. That is, in the very origin and constitution of things it occupied the central and pre-eminently important place in the divine economy.

God designed, in the very make-up of man’s nature, in the very structure of the moral and spiritual universe in which he placed him, that the principles revealed and developed in the perfect character of Christ, as manifested in his life and death, should be the ideal model to which all those who would be accepted and favored of him as his servants must mold their character and conform their lives. As the word “elect.” as employed by the Holy Spirit and in its classical usage means “picked out, culled out, chosen from, selected,” and as the word eklektos was employed to describe the eclectics, a certain class of philosophers who selected doctrines from every school of philosophy that pleased them, rejecting those that did not, this word clearly reveals who the persons are that are called in the Holy Scriptures the “elect of God.” They are those who possess a character molded after the image of Christ. These God selects from among various classes of worldly characters. Hence, as character is the basis of a responsible person’s acceptance with God, election takes place in time instead of eternity. Then God, from away back in eternity past, at the beginning had the plan of the government for his universe marked out. That plan embraced the material and spiritual universe, with Jesus the Saviour of sinners as its central and controlling object. So there are laws in the material world, and there are mental, spiritual laws.

God extends to man the ability to comply with the conditions of the physical and mental laws to which he is subject. We can also comply with the conditions of the spiritual law. We are moral agents, and through the wonderful means and direct aid which God extends to us we can conform to his will. As character is not inherited, but formed by moral choice and godly living, election must be the result of some agency on the paint of man in accepting divine aid and in co-operating with God in bringing about his own salvation. So you see it is not a selecting of a few, or the putting predestination in the phenomena of events, but in principle. I might go to Princeton a dozen different ways and maintain my manhood, or I might go a dozen different ways and violate it. It would not be my traveling to Princeton, but the way I conducted myself, that either built up or violated my manhood. Brother Potter said salvation was all treasured up in Jesus. I believe with my brother in that. All that belongs to manhood God has revealed through this mighty Christ. That is where your election is.

MODERATOR: I think it would be better to address the audience instead of Brother Potter, and use the third person instead of the second. I would make a second suggestion—that you hold a little closer to the question, as your time is half out, and show the relation of this question of election to the subject directly before us.

MR. YATES: I am very thankful for your suggestion. I have gotten into the habit of speaking directly to Brother Potter because he has so often addressed me as Brother Yates during the debate. The Moderator has been absent. I am following my notes in reply to the closing speech of yesterday evening by my worthy opponent. Having been absent two days, the Moderator does not understand what the trend of the discussion has been. I know all of this quibbling of my opponent, in filing objections to the Foreign Mission work upon his view of the doctrine of election, has been out of order, and is foreign to the subject under discussion. I appealed to the Moderators in regard to this matter on the afternoon of the first day’s discussion, in my second speech, but they gave no response; so I decided, as they permitted him to wander from the proposition, and take shelter under his doctrine of election, that I would give him enough of it. Now, as he has cried enough, I shall proceed directly to the discussion of the preposition. When I was stopped by the Moderator I was just at the point of answering a false representation made by my opponent in regard to what we claim for the Foreign Mission work. He says we claim that the heathen are saved by Foreign Missions—saved by the missionaries alone.

MR. POTTER: If he can prove that the missionaries have been instrumental in saving a soul that would not have been saved without them, I will admit it is of God. He says the Foreign Mission work is of God, and not of man. That is the issue of this discussion, if I understand his proposition. I have asked him for two days to tell us whether he believes these Foreign Mission workers were instrumental in the salvation of souls that would not have been saved without them. He has refused to give me an answer. I have not accused him during this discussion of saying they were saved by the missionary effort. He is mistaken about that.

MR. YATES: What did you say?

MR. POTTER: I did not say any thing about it. I wanted you to say.

MR. YATES: I want to notice this: he denies either saying or implying that according to our view of the Foreign Mission work the heathen are saved by the missionaries alone. Listen to his language; he says: “We hear of capturing souls for Jesus. The Scripture speaks of the Father drawing them.” There it is, just as plain as language can make it, by inference. He places the Foreign Missionaries on one side, laboring in their own strength to save the heathen, and the Bible on the opposite, teaching that God alone saves men from sin, without any agency on their part or the part of others. I have quoted his own language. Now he has come out here and flatly denied it in the presence of this great audience.

MR. POTTER: I have questioned that “capturing souls for Jesus” being a Bible expression.

MR. YATES: You were arguing on an objection you urged against the Foreign Mission work, that it was of man and not of God, “because its language was not the language of the Bible.” Your language is right here on record, and you have denied it.

Now we will turn to John vi. 44 and look at the language there, giving the comment of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown on it. He uses that as his proof-text: “No man can come to me, unless the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Here is the comment: ‘“No man’—be not either startled or stumbled at these sayings, for it needs Divine teaching to understand them, Divine drawing to submit to them—‘can come to me’ in the sense of verse 35— ‘except the Father which hath sent me’—that is, the Father is the sender of me, and to carry out the design of my commission—‘draw him’—by an internal and efficacious operation, though by all the means of rational conviction, and in a way altogether consonant to their moral nature. ‘Raise him up,’ etc.—see on verse 54. ‘Written in the prophets’—in Isaiah liv. 13; Jeremiah xxxi. 33, 34, and other similar passages may also have been in view. Our Lord thus falls back upon Scripture authority for this seemingly hard saying. ‘All taught of God’—not by external revelation merely, but by internal illumination, corresponding to the drawing of verse 45. ‘Every man therefore,’ etc.—i. e. who hath been thus efficaciously taught of him—‘cometh unto me’—with absolute certainty; yet in the sense above given of ‘drawing’ (q. v.), as no one can come to me but as divinely drawn, so no one thus drawn shall fail to come.” How is man taught of God? Through the moral convictions, in accordance with moral agency. That is his own proof-text.

So we will turn to Isaiah lvi. 7, 8, a passage that he quoted yesterday to prove that God saves without consulting the choice or agency of the one saved: “Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people. The Lord God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, besides those that are gathered unto him.” Reading those verses together in this way, it does look as if God did it all but Brother Potter did not read the verse next to it—the 6th: “Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant.” There came in the human agency in connection with it. It was those who joined themselves to the Lord to serve him, those who took hold upon his covenant. It was this class he would bring to his holy mountain. Not those whom God joined to himself and forced to take hold of his covenant, but those who joined themselves to God, and who of themselves took hold of his covenant.

John x, 29. I will notice these proof-texts, not that they directly hear on the proposition at all. The Moderators will pardon me in this, because we have not been held to the question. It does not matter whether God does all the work, or whether man is an agent with him. The only question before us is this: Is the Foreign Mission work, in the principle and spirit of it, and in its fruits, authorized in the Bible. Here are the fruits where he speaks of predestination. Those sheep are elected, and there is no need of sending foreign missionaries to them. Says Brother Potter: The Lord will gather them in his own good time.

John x.—I quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, the Commentary he has been quoting from for two or three days: “‘My Father which gave them me, is greater than all’—with whom no adverse power can contend. It is a general expression of an admitted truth, and what follows shows for what purpose it was uttered. ‘And none is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.’—The impossibility of true believers being lost in the midst of all the temptations which they may encounter, does not consist in their fidelity and decision, but is founded upon the power of God. Here the doctrine of predestination is presented in its sublime and sacred aspect. There is a predestination of the holy, which is taught from one end of the Scriptures to the other.” Now, Brother Potter read that far; but here is the other part of it: “Not indeed of such a nature that an ‘irresistible grace,’ compels the opposing will of man —of course not—but so that that will of man which receives and loves the commands of God is produced only by God’s grace.” There comes in moral agency with divine sovereignty in salvation, which you positively deny; and yet you try to make this congregation believe that these commentators agree with you.

Now we will turn to John i. 29, on that word world. I will use the same Commentary: “The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of .the world.” In arguing on this, Brother Potter said that the phrase, “taketh away the sin of the world,” does not mean the human race, but the people who should be saved. The Commentary says: “‘Of the world—not of Israel only, for whom the typical victims were exclusively offered. Wherever there shall live a sinner throughout the wide. world, sinking under that burden too heavy for him to bear, he shall find in this ‘Lamb of God’ a shoulder equal to the weight. The right note was struck at the first—balm, doubtless to Christ’s own spirit; nor was ever after, or ever will be, a more glorious utterance.” Wherever there is a sinner this sufficient Saviour is ready to deliver him.

I turn now to John iii. 14—16, quoting from the same Commentary—Jamieson, Fausset and Brown: “As the serpent was God’s ordinance for the cure of every bitten Israelite, so is Christ for the salvation of every perishing sinner; the one, however, a purely arbitrary ordinance, the other divinely adapted to man’s complicated maladies. In both cases the efficacy is the same. As one simple look at the serpent, however distant and however weak, brought an instantaneous cure, even so real faith in the Lord Jesus, however tremulous, however distant, be it but real faith, brings certain and instant healing to the perishing soul. In a word, the consequences of disobedience are the same in both. Doubtless many bitten Israelites, galling as their case was, would reason rather than obey; would speculate on the absurdity of expecting the bite of a living serpent to be cured by looking at a piece of dead metal in the shape of one—speculate thus until they died. Alas, is not salvation by a crucified Redeemer subjected to a like treatment? Has the offense of the cross yet ceased ‘For God so loved the world,’ etc.—The picture embraces several distinct compartments—the world, in its wide sense, ready to perish, the immense love of God to that perishing world, measurable only and conceivable only by the gift which it drew forth from him; the gift itself. He ‘so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,’ or, in the language of Paul, ‘spared not his own Son’ (Romans viii. 32), or in that addressed to Abraham when ready to offer Isaac on the altar, ‘withheld not his son, his only son whom he loved.’ The fruit of this stupendous gift is not only deliverance from impending perdition, but the bestowal of everlasting life; and the blessing is received by believing on the Son. How would Nicodemus’ narrow Judaism become invisible in the blaze of this Sun of righteousness, seen rising on the world with healing in his wings.”

Here is what the commentary says about the 18th verse, which I quoted yesterday: “‘Condemned already’—Rejecting the one way of deliverance from that condemnation which God gave his Son to remove, and so willfully remaining condemned.” Rejecting our deliverance—that is what is done on the part of impenitent man. Now, I have answered already as to what is the object of Foreign Missions. It is to take the gospel to the heathen, to teach and to preach it to them. This is taught in the commission—Matthew xxviii. Mark xvi. i; Acts xxvi. 17, 18—to which attention has been called through all this discussion. Its great object, the end it is designed to subserve, is there proclaimed. The plan for breaking the power of Satan and leading the heathen into light, to obtain the forgiveness of sins, is also pointed out.

The same number of souls will be saved, whether they are preached to or not, my brother says. That is not the Bible doctrine; it is antagonistic to it. The question has been asked, Is this new institution essential to the eternal salvation of the heathen? I have already shown that this is not a new institution. I have shown that the primitive Church was a missionary society. I have shown that the very basal idea of the New Testament is the missionary principle. The gospel is based upon it. I have shown that the Boards are under the control of the churches. I have shown that the very same principles that are embraced in the Foreign Mission work, and actuate it and its motive-power, are identical with those of the gospel work of the New Testament. I have shown that the call of the workers, their preparation and sending to the foreign field, are identical with the call, preparation, and sending forth of the gospel workers of the primitive Church to the Foreign Mission field among the heathen Gentiles. I have shown that the language of the Foreign Mission work and that of the New Testament are the same.

My brother says there is no such thing positively stated or implied in the Word of God as “capturing souls for Jesus.” What about the expression, “the kingdom of God?” Does not this expression imply an empire, with its organized armies to defend and advance its interests? Does it not picture Christians as soldiers laboring with and for Jesus in capturing their fellow-men from the thralldom of Satan? What about the wonderful battle described in Revelation between Michael, the leader of the heavenly armies, and Satan, the leader of the evil forces? What about the kingdoms of the world becoming kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ? I have shown further, from many unquestionable testimonies, that the opening of the ports of the world and the marvelous reception of the gospel. by the heathen are unmistakable evidences that the Foreign Mission work is in the trend of Divine providence. I have shown that the transformation of character in these countries, in the uplifting of those degraded people, in the transformation of society is an evidence beyond a doubt that God is in the missionary work, blessing and owning it. I have shown also that the fruits of the Foreign Mission work are evidence that God is in it, and blessing and guiding it. I have shown further—and my opponent has not denied it—that the gospel is the very heart of the power and greatness of the civilization of Europe and America; that these Christian nations, in all their greatness, are the result of Protestantism; and as Protestantism is the result of the Foreign Mission spirit, therefore our civilization, which he acknowledges has been produced by the gospel, is the result of Foreign Missions. And I have shown that the missionary spirit was the result of the revival of the Church life. I have shown that every Church which has embraced these principles has grown and increased in life. I have also shown that the Home and Foreign Mission work are twin children of this missionary spirit.

Now, I want to read you from a Baptist work. My brother has read you a great deal from the Baptist Missionary Magazine, and I thought I also would read something from it. The line of argument I have presented during this discussion, as just rehearsed, has never been touched; and before I read the quotation from the magazine referred to I want to call your attention to the fact that my brother affirmed, on the first day of this discussion, that if such a missionary as Paul could he shown, who supported himself and went out to labor for the salvation of the heathen at God’s call, without being sent by the Mission Boards, that he would indorse such a missionary. I showed that Paul’s sending and Paul’s spirit were identical with our missionary spirit, and I showed that the Church sent him and Barnabas. To get out of this difficulty he said Paul went on a missionary tour from Damascus to Arabia, and next morning I asked him what he preached on, and he has never told me. I showed that Paul went there, as it was supposed by the very best of scholars, to meditate. But this is mere conjecture. We have no positive information from the Bible as to the object of his journey to Arabia. Brother Potter says he went there on a missionary tour; but the New Testament says nothing about what he went there for. He said Jones was a good Baptist historian. I told him that Jones was a dishonest historian, and that if he used him in the discussion here as a witness, I would expose him. I showed that he had been exposed as a falsifier by various authors and critical scholars; but Brother Potter quoted from him to prove that missionaries went up into Northern Europe without money, and suffered there, and produced great results. Jones’ in his writing, and my worthy opponent in his reading, left the-impression that those missionaries were Baptists.

Jones was exposed as a perverter of historical facts for sectarian interests, by Rice in the Campbell and Rice debate, and my brother has that book. He speaks of the Foreign Mission work being new; but I have shown that the Church has always carried on her work in accordance with the circumstances and surroundings of the time in which the work has been done. Though the principles that have guided and actuated the Church in the work of the world’s evangelization have ever been the same, yet the methods and means employed in every century of the past were not, the same. Methods are suited to the time and the circumstances of the work. Then I showed that there were organized Mission Boards as far back as 1556. My opponent undertook to prove that the Foreign Mission work of today is not owned and blessed of God, by drawing a disparaging contrast between the results of Foreign Mission work and the triumphs of the gospel laborers of the first century. My brother would make us believe that the results of the last century of the work of Foreign Missions are insignificant when compared with the fruits of the labors of the first century of gospel work. But this is an overdrawn picture. The fact is, all things taken into consideration, the last century of the Foreign Mission work, in genuine gospel prosperity and fruitfulness, will compare favorably with the gospel work of the first century. But this objection, urged by him, does not touch the question under discussion. We are not called on to decide whether the Foreign Mission work of today, in its success, does or does not equal the gospel work of the first century, but whether there is any gospel fruit found as a result of the labors of the missionaries in the foreign field; and we have shown from unimpeachable testimony that there is such blessed fruit in great abundance.

I will now quote from the Baptist Missionary magazine, of July 1879, from a paper published in that number entitled “The New Missionary Epoch.” This paper was read by the Rev. I. N. Murdock, D.D., Corresponding Secretary of the Missionary Baptist Union, before that august body, at its great annual national gathering at Saratoga, N. Y., May 28, 1879. My purpose in making this quotation is to call attention to the indications of Divine providence in the preparation of the way of access to the heathen lands, and in their wonderful readiness to receive the gospel. Our Missionary Baptist brethren are not surpassed by any de nomination engaged in the Foreign Mission work either in piety, intelligence; or well-directed effort. Among the most intellectual, thorough, and consecrated sons of this Church is the Rev. J. N. Murdock, whose words I now quote:

“The triumphs of the Roman arms, and the diffusion of literature and art, of old prepared the way of the Lord, and made straight in the desert a highway for our God. The military roads of Rome were trodden by the messengers of the Prince of Peace, and the best culture of the ancient world became subsidiary to the spread of the gospel of salvation. And so in these latter days; war and revolution, diplomacy and commerce, discovery and invention, have contributed to open the way for the heralds of salvation, and to facilitate their labors among the pagan nations. The traffic and the conquests of Christian powers have only led to the diffusion of the true riches and the establishment of the liberty wherewith Christ makes men free. In this way the Divine power has been accomplishing the Divine promise, ‘Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain shall be made low; the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it.’ It ought to increase our faith in the God of missions, and multiply our exertions, to consider briefly what the Lord has done and is doing toward bringing the pagan world to the knowledge of the true God, and of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. The progress of Christianity, like the succession of the seasons, has always been marked by sudden changes from waste and barrenness to renewal and growth. The Lord turns again the captivity of his people, like the streams of the south, and it is said among the heathen, The Lord has done great things for them. And, without question, the present generation has witnessed changes affecting the religious condition of mankind which have had no parallel since the first Christian ages.

Now I want to read you a selection from the Homiletic Monthly, 1884, page 702, in regard to the evidences we have in the foreign field that God owns and blesses the Foreign Mission work—that it is under the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit:

“The Divine hand has been conspicuous in the missionary work in the direct transformation of character, both individual and national. The fiercest, hardest, rudest of heathen have been subdued, softened, refined by the gospel. Africaner, that monster of cruelty, who would kill an innocent man to make a drinking-cup of his skull and a drum-head of his skin, was, at the touch of that gospel, turned from a lion into a lamb. Guergis, the ferocious Koord, who would have killed his own daughter as she prayed for him, was struck by it into penitence as bitter as Peter’s, and as potent. He laid aside gun and dagger for Testament and hymnbook, and made the mountains echo with the story of his great sins and great Saviour, shouting with dying breath, ‘Free grace!’ Even Fidelia Fiske could scarcely believe she saw the miracle of such a conversion. San Quala, the Karen, was by the same gospel changed into an apostolic worker. He aided the missionaries in the translating of the Word, guided them for fifteen years through the jungles, then himself began to preach and plant churches; within three years gathering nearly twenty-five hundred converts into more than thirty congregations, and refusing a tempting government position, rather than mix up God’ work with secular labor, though his poverty forces him to leave his lovely wife in loneliness.”

A few words in regard to the transformation of society. Character is the basis of society. The character of a society is the result of the character of the individuals composing it. So also is national character determined by the character of the people composing the nation. Hence individual character is the basis of society and government, and this must be transformed by the gospel, if the character of society and government be of the highest and best type. The following is quoted from the same author:

“The story of the gospel in the South Seas should be written in starlight. John Williams, the black smith’s boy, and the apostle of Polynesia, found idolatry of the most degraded type and savages of the lowest grade, yet his progress was one rapid career of conquest. Churches and schools grew, he knew not how. A lawless people adopted a code of laws and trial by jury. Printing presses scatter their leaves like the tree of life, and even a Missionary Society is formed with King Pomare as its president, and twenty five hundred dollars as its first year’s contribution. Within a year after he landed at Saratoga, the whole Heney group, with a population of 7,000, have thrown away their idols, and a church-building is going up 600 feet long. He turns to the Samoa group, and shortly has the whole people, 60,000 in Christian schools.”

And yet my brother tells us we have no evidences that God blesses and owns the Foreign Mission work. And there are nine hundred churches in the Fiji Islands. How are we to know whether Christianity is being blessed here or not, except by the fruits? In the character of these individual men, in these homes and these communities, are the fruits that furnish the unanswerable proofs that the Foreign Mission work is blessed and owned of God. This is the proof I am presenting to my brother today. I continue the article:

“The tale of Fiji is not less wonderful. These cannibals built the very huts of their chiefs upon the bodies of living human beings buried alive, and they launched their canoes upon living bodies as rollers. They slew infants and strangled widows. Human language has no terms to describe the abasement of these people or their atrocious customs. Such deeds of darkness should be written in blood and recorded in hell. The Fijians are now a Christian people. In 1835 missionary labor began among them; seven years later the island of Ono had not one heathen left on it, and became the center of gospel light to the whole group. Today every village has its churches and its Christian homes and schools. And there are nine hundred churches on these islands.”

So it is with the New Hebrides. It was written as Dr. Geddie’s epitaph that “when he came to Anietyum there were no Christians, and when he left there were no heathen.” These are but a few representative cases. I will read further:

Madagascar was so hopeless a field that the French governor of the island of Bourbon told the pioneer missionaries that they might as well try to convert cattle as the Malagasy. Yet the gospel barely got foothold there when it took such root that twenty-five years of fire and blood failed to force out or blot out its impression. And now a Christian church stands on the court-grounds, and on the coronation table lie together the laws of the realm and the Bible, the latter as the higher law of Madagascar, that ‘crown of the London Missionary Society.’”

This word of God is full of this Foreign Mission proof—of testimony that Foreign Missions are in character and spirit the outgrowth of the New Testament. This work of saving the heathen is inspired by the same truth that lived when the gods were driven from the heathen temples in Rome, when the great Roman and Greek mythology Went down, and the priesthood and orders went down because the nations that supported this great idolatrous system were subdued. But Christianity survived all this wreck and ruin in the social, political, and religious world. It was, and is, the child of the skies. It was heaven-horn and Heaven-sent, and through all these centuries of wasting it has lived; and this is the very same evangel—it is the very same work. God’s servants are now carrying on the work, just as the great apostles and the workers of the first century did. The call from heathen lands is stronger and greater than the call Paul had when he went over from Troas on the Aegean Sea to Philippi in Macedonia and planted the first mission work in Europe. That was a Foreign Mission work when that Church was planted at Philippi, and out of that has grown our great civilization of today. We owe all this to that servant of God who, as an instrument in the hands of God, heeded the vision and went over the sea and gave to Europe the gospel of salvation.

I want to read one more quotation that I started to read yesterday evening. I was going to read in regard to one of the leading native ministers from India. He met with the great Evangelical Alliance in New York in 1873. He was one of the leading men who sat on the platform with the celebrated ministers of Europe and the United States. I have his brief address here and I wish to read it to you. He offered his brief talk about what was spoken of as an impossibility—viz., the breaking up of the system of heathen caste. He showed how the gospel was breaking caste in India and transforming homes. He himself was a monument of that gospel. No man there had a sweeter Christian spirit than this Brahman of India; no man could talk more eloquently for Jesus; no man had a better knowledge of the Bible or more devotion to the Saviour than this wonderful Brahman, who had been transformed by the power of the gospel of the Son of God. This converted high-caste Brahinan, Narayan Sheshadri, of Bombay, India, and a missionary of the Free Church of Scotland, said “that his appearance at the conference gave the lie to the assertion sometimes made that the missionary enterprise had been a failure. India had indeed been dead, but her resurrection was, now taking place, and he hoped that it would soon be felt through the whole length and breadth of the land. He had come to the conference with the greatest expectations, not merely because he believed in the power of sympathy, but because he believed in the eternal verities of the Bible. His countrymen were unfortunately divided by caste—originally four, there were now some four hundred castes—but he hoped to see them eventually united, and this would be effected by carrying out the objects that the Evangelical Alliance had in view. He had been told before leaving home that he would find castes in Christian lands, but on his return he should tell his countrymen that the differences among Christians were slight, and their unity was substantial—that they were one in the grand, essential, eternal truths of salvation. If we could all go forth from these meetings determined to present Christ to the world, the effect would be so great that neither skeptics nor heathen could resist it.” (Evangelical Alliance, 1873 p. 10)

Now, my friends, with all this evidence before us; having 750,000 Christian communicants in the different heathen lands and 2,000,000 that are nominally Christian under Church influence—with all these wonderful results, I ask you today if we have not evidence that God has blessed and owned the Christian work in foreign lands?

I now advance again in my affirmative line of argument: That Foreign Missions are owned and blessed of God is evidenced in the blessings realized by the different denominations which engage in the work. The Apostle Paul said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” In Proverbs we have this language: “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.” In these scriptures we have the expression of the great law of beneficent ministration which rum through the universe. It is the law of life, health, and growth in every department of creation. This great principle proclaims that no creature or part of the urn-verse is created for itself alone, but for the interest of the whole to which it belongs. The flow of the cur rent of life in both the material and spiritual realms is controlled by the principle of beneficent activity, in receiving and imparting in accordance with the relation sustained. For the flowers on the banks of the brook, in the field, in the woodland, or in the skillfully cultivated garden to grow and bloom, and be tinted with all the beautiful and variegated colors of the botanic world; or for the trees to put forth leaves and grow and bring forth fruit, they must comply with that law of beneficent ministration, by giving out along the lines they sustain in the natural economy to which they belong in proportion to the nutriment they draw from the earth and air to meet their demands. The selfish pool that refuses to enter into this beneficent ministration becomes stagnant and at last dries up, losing its place of existence because it fails to give out as it receives. That sluggish stream that zigzags around here and there in the immediate locality of its source, refusing to enter into the great circulatory system that refreshes the thirsty land and helps to give fertility to entire globe, will yield but small blessings. It may spread out over the country forming ponds, but if these furnish moisture for the growth of some trees and flowers, the miasma they generate will counterbalance all the benefits they produce. It is different with the little stream that gushes from the base of the mountain and leaps away in its full energy and strength, with laughter and song, through the fields and woodlands, around the hills and through the valleys, hastening onward to the sea, giving out its waters according to the full measure of its ability. The grateful flowers adorn its banks and give it their sweet fragrance; the trees grow on either side and lock their giant arms over it to protect it from the hot and wasting beams of the summer sun; the birds from the boughs of the trees sing to it their sweetest lays; men adorn its banks with beautiful homes and well-tilled farms; the incense which it sends up to the sun in the form of vapor, is kissed by the king of day and turned into the cloud that sends back a shower of blessings upon it. This beneficent principle that thus operates in the material world operates the same way in the moral and spiritual.

The inflow of the spiritual life of the Church of Christ, which is the heart of its power, growth, and prosperity, is in proportion to its beneficent activity for the welfare of mankind in general. And just in proportion as a Church fails in this will it lose its vitality, and its growth and influence will be proportionately limited. This is the real measure of the Church’s vital force. The Church that lets its doctrines and creeds shut out suffering and degraded humanity from its vision, like the selfish pond, will become stagnant and finally pass away. And the Church that looks merely on the home field, without regard to the benighted portions of the earth, will be like the stream of the marsh, and will produce as much moral miasma as spiritual flowers and fruits. But the Church that cheerfully uses all of its energy in efforts to send out the riches of the gospel committed to it to mankind in general, regardless of race, nationality, or condition, according to the measure of its ability, that streams of salvation may flow amid the arid deserts of sin, will be greatly blessed. Like the active, beneficent, pure, joyful mountain stream, which all nature joined in honoring and blessing, such a Church will be repaid a thousand-fold in every thing that contributes to real spiritual growth and prosperity. To hoard up the riches of the gospel is to have them perish and lose them, but properly to scatter and use them is to increase them in our own lands many fold. But the Church that ekes out these gospel riches locally, limits its growth and usefulness in the same proportion. We have a vivid illustration of this in the Churches which engage in the Foreign Mission work and those which oppose it. This is clearly demonstrated in the growth of the Missionary Baptist Church as compared with the denomination represented by my opponent—the Regular Baptist. According to the statistics in the census of the United States, the Church of my opponent from 1851 to 1881, thirty years, has decreased 20,000. I do not make this comparison to disparage my brother or his denomination, or through any disrespect to those who oppose me in my views on this occasion, but to illustrate a great principle in the work of evangelization. Our Regular Baptist brethren withdrew from the Missionary Baptist Church some fifty or sixty years ago upon the very question which we are discussing. As a proof that the Foreign Mission work is owned and blessed of God, as evidenced in the prosperity of the Churches which are engaged in this work, we have a monumental demonstration in the wonderful growth of the Missionary Baptist denomination. This Church is today 2,000,000 strong in the United States, while our anti-mission Baptist brethren decreased 20,000 in thirty years. During this same period the membership of the Missionary Baptist Church increased 1,200,000. Their missionaries today are found in Burmah, and Africa, and India, and in the Islands of the Sea. They are in China, in the lands of Moslem, in the dominions of the pope, in North America and South America. Ah! their camp-fires are gleaming out everywhere; their printing-presses are sending the Bible and tracts into every part of the world. How God has blessed them in every respect! Take the Methodist brethren, will you? The Methodist Church was born in the great revival near the close of the last century, which ushered in this grand missionary epoch. Look at the wonderful proportions this Church has attained to, and the great work it in doing for the Master today. Look at its strength it is millions strong today. Presbyterianism has had its growth on the verb same principle. My friends, when we come to look at the Foreign Mission work, and see the blessings it has dispensed abroad and at home, we sec that the Churches at home are just as much blessed by it as the heathen countries abroad.


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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.