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Written by Potter/Yates   

MR. YATES’ TENTH SPEECH.


MODERATORS, LADIES, AND GENTLEMEN:

I am glad to come before you again upon this momentous theme: “Is the Foreign Mission work authorized in the Scripture, and blessed and owned of God?” I affirm with all my heart that it is, and believe I have given eleven unanswerable arguments in support of the affirmative of this proposition. I have shown, from the teaching of God’s Word, from the Churches and the great moral enterprises that have been born of the Foreign Mission spirit, and from the fruits of the Foreign Mission field, that this work is of God. My worthy opponent is trying to make capital by claiming that I did not answer his question Wednesday morning in regard to the work of the missionaries in the salvation of the heathen. His question was put in such a form as to make his meaning very indefinite. It appeared to mc that it might be interpreted to mean one of two things: First, Would the gospel have been carried to the heathen, and as successfully propagated among them, if the present system of Foreign Mission work had not come into existence? or, Second, Would as many of the heathen have been saved without the gospel as with it? I answered his question directly, according to both, of these interpretations. I answered him thus that my words might not be misconstrued, or my position misunderstood. The report will show that I answered his question directly, in the manner before named, and that the answer was the same in substance as the direct answer I am going to give him now. I have learned from his speech this morning, more definitely what his design was. If his design is to know whether my position is that there would be fewer heathen saved if the gospel was not sent to them, I say: Yes. Those people would not be saved unless the gospel was sent to them, and preached to them. They would not be saved without the Foreign Mission work, I answer this question from the Word. i Corinthians vi. 9: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” Here Paul speaks of their condition before he went to Corinth, and he says that was their condition. “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Also in i Corinthians ii. 1-3.    Now we will see how this was brought about. We see what was the ordained means of God in this matter: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God”—he declared the testimony of God, he says—“for I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your, faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” Also i Corinthians i. 21: “For after that in the Wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Now, if that was true in the days of the apostles; it certainly is true today. If that was true in the gospel work of the first century, it is equally true today in the Foreign Mission work. Paul says they were saved through his preaching. He declared that they were begotten through the gospel. He claims them as his children. In all his writings to this very church he represents the laborers for Christ as co-laborers with God. We are laborers together with him. Jesus says, “Go preach the gospel to every creature,” and “Lo, I am with YOU alway, even unto the end of the world.” Going, teaching and preaching, with loving confidence in God, with loyalty in carrying out that grand commission of the Head of the Church, in bearing the news of salvation to the lost and dying world, is Christ’s mission. This is our part in his service, and the results are his.

I will now go to Acts xxvi. 17, 18, and call the attention of my brother to that text: “Delivering thee from the people and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, 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 which is in me.” I think you understand my position in this discussion—that the heathen are lost and perishing without the Word. I never have made the impression intentionally that any individual will be saved in the heathen world without character, or without living up to the best light he has, doing the things contained in the law, as spoken of in the second chapter of Romans.

My brother has asked what will become of them who do not know the gospel. I answer, that is with God. God tells us to go and preach and teach, and he will be with us; and he that believeth the gospel taught shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned. He tells us that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. I have asked Brother Potter to give a proof-text if he dare, in God’s Word, from Genesis to Revelation, that even remotely implies that God saves through, his Spirit, without truth as a means. I challenge him to point out but one such text, from the first chapter of Genesis to the last of Revelation. Now, he read a quotation to you here, and I asked him if he really meant, in that reading to us about the martyrs, that that occurred before the Reformation. He said part of it did. You know that my brother was leaving an impression that these martyrs were Baptists; that those who died the terrible deaths described here, of which he read to you from this old book, “Buck’s Theological Dictionary,” on page 439, were Baptists. But they were Lutherans and Presbyterians—Foreign Mission men—all of them, I might say, or nearly so; but that does not matter. He claims that, as these were Baptists, therefore they have the identity. How could they have it, only in their belief in Church succession? That is all. The Protestants were killed. What for? This man tells us. I will read a little from the same book, beginning before that which Brother Potter read, on page 438: “Numerous were the persecutions of different sects from Constantine’s time to the Reformation; but when the famous Martin Luther arose and opposed the errors and ambitions of the Church of Rome, and the sentiments of this good man began to spread”—that was the mission work, and in opposing the corruptions of Papal Rome it caused this terrible persecution—“the pope and his clergy joined all their forces to hinder their progress.” That was a mission spirit my brother; these martyrs are on our side. “A general council of clergy was called, the famous Council of Trent,” etc. I read this, although it does not properly belong to the discussion, to show you that if he means that those persecutions were against the Regular Baptists alone, he is mistaken—that is all. The Regular Baptists, as a denomination, had no existence at that time. I have no charge to bring against my good Baptist brethren. All this man says in this old dictionary is in favor of the very principles I am talking about this afternoon—that is, the mission principles. It advocates the cause of this blessed Christ, and the giving of the pure, unadulterated gospel to the world, making the light to shine on the hearts of men.

Now, I want to pay a little attention to Mr. Carpenter. I rather admire Mr. Carpenter. When my brother read from this Tract the other day I thought if the whole thing read that way, that man could not be a missionary man. But there is a part of it which Brother Potter did not read. He said he did not mean to pervert it. I do not say that he does intentionally, but he picks out the little selections from this tract of Mr. Carpenter to suit his purpose, and does not read their connection. Here is something in Mr. Carpenter’s “Great Commission” that pleases me: “The principle that God is no respecter of persons necessitates this view of the commission. His gospel is for one man as truly as another, for one nation as much as another. As the Word says, ‘God so loved the world,’ etc.; ‘Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world’; ‘the field is the world;” ‘ye are the light of the world;’ the gospel shall be preached in all the world’” My brother denies that the word “world” represents the perishing world. But all the authorities are against him. I proved this to him this morning from his favorite Commentary, Jameson, Fausset and Brown. “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” “The field is the world.” Jesus says: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Brother Potter refers to Carpenter, speaking of the Golden Rule, and says he disagrees with him when he says that the Golden Rule, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,” applies preeminently to the preaching of the gospel in heathen lands. I am with Mr. Carpenter on that. We are reaping the blessings of Christianity in the nineteenth century. It gives us our precious homes, our grand society, our Churches with all their privileges, our tender ties in all their beautiful relations, all our sunlight in home and in government in every department of civilized life.

The gospel in the early centuries was carried by the missionaries from Rome up into the northern nations of Europe, and also into Gaul, and from Gaul into Britain. This resulted in the development of those grand men and women who came over the sea and settled in this country, and whose devotion to their principles caused the churches and school-houses to go up side ‘by side. It was the great indebtedness our Pilgrim Fathers felt to those who gave them the gospel that induced them to do so’ much in this respect for future generations and the world at large in their day. Our Anglo-Saxon forefathers were as bad as any of the idolaters in history. They offered human sacrifices. We are reaping the fruits of what the early missionaries sacrificed for them. Shall we be ungrateful? Shall we not say, “If I cannot go to carry the same good news to others, I will send the means to enable others to carry on the work?” There is one thing more I wish to notice in Brother Potter’s speech. It is what he said the missionaries teach when they claim that those who were scattered from Jerusalem by persecution, and went everywhere preaching the Word, did missionary work. The idea of those men not obeying the commission, he says, is a slander against the apostles. I say that the commission was given by a perfect being, the Lord Jesus. If the apostles were perfect, and comprehended the commission in its full import as embracing the Gentiles as well as the Jews, then why did the disciples of Christ, in the commencement of the gospel work, preach to the Jews only up to the time of the revival at Antioch? Why did Peter need that vision on the house-top at Joppa to induce him to go and preach the gospel to Cornelius, the Roman centurion? If he was without national prejudices, and ready cheerfully to obey the gospel commission in its full extent, why did evidence have to be given him, from both the human and divine side, that it was the Lord’s will for him to preach the gospel to this Gentile? The fact is, that this ‘incident, taken in connection with the strife between, Paul and Barnabas about John Mark accompanying them on their mission tour, and also Paul’s rebuke to Peter, when, on a certain occasion, the latter rather sided with the Christian Hebrews in pressing Jewish usages on the Gentile converts, and thereby trammeling their liberties, prove beyond doubt that the apostles, as men, were defective, and influenced by their national prejudices. They were comparatively slow in learning the beneficence and the universal extent of the gospel message.

We will now proceed to notice the objection my opponent finds to the identity of the Foreign Mission work of today with the gospel work of the New Testament. He refers to the statements of Mr. Carpenter concerning the missionary work performed by the disciples. They were scattered abroad by the persecution at Jerusalem, and went everywhere preaching the Word. He urges his objection on the ground that the doctrine taught in these statements, and indorsed by the leading advocates of missions, is that persecution sent forth these laborers to this mission work, and that this idea is in direct conflict with the teaching that the Lord sends forth his laborers in the work. We claim that the Lord sent them by overruling persecution to that end. Owing to the wonderful triumphs of the gospel in Jerusalem, the disciples had become so absorbed in the local work that they had lost sight of the general work for which they had been baptized by the Holy Ghost—“to witness unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” This was not from willful neglect on their part, but thoughtlessness, and, in part, ignorance in regard to that phase of the work. The formidable and concentrated effort of the whole body of believers drew the attention and aroused the animosity of Christ’s enemies in Jerusalem, and such was the persecution that it dispersed the disciples and forced them to flee; and as they were scattered through the land in every direction, their hearts being filled with the love of Christ for the salvation of souls, they went everywhere preaching the Word, and the Lord blessed their labors. Now, my opponent, in his interpretation of this providence of God in the propagation of the gospel, relinquishes the doctrine of the Bible and the doctrine he claims to believe, that “all things work together for good to them that love God.” The Old Testament tells us how Israel was carried away into captivity on account of their sins, and also how the Lord overruled it to the good of his people and the advancement of his cause. The difference between the dispersion of the principal disciples on this occasion and the captivity of Israel was this: Israel’s overthrow was caused by willful sin, while this trouble and dispersion came to the early Christians by reason of their imperfect comprehension of the great work entrusted to them, and because they were a little too much absorbed in the local to the neglect of the general work. As the word “mission” means to send, the labors of these fleeing disciples may be properly called mission work. Mission work means to preach and spread the gospel everywhere. So as they went in every direction, preaching and teaching the Word, they were missionaries in spreading and propagating the gospel. When Paul went beyond the seas to preach the gospel, that was not only mission work, but Foreign Mission work, for it was mission work performed in foreign lands. We do not claim that the name “Foreign Mission” can be found in the New Testament, but the principles of the Foreign Mission work are found there. This worthy opponent denies. He says these principles are not in the Bible. This is the issue between us.

I want to call your attention to some passages of Scripture to which I have already called the attention of my brother time and again. I want him to look at them and consider them. I asked him yesterday in regard to some passages of Scripture, and I want to call his attention to them again. Ezek. iii. i8, 19:

“When I say unto 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 thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.” That, my friends, is the principle of God’s divine government. Here is the responsibility on both sides pictured to you. Here is a statement of the responsibility which rests upon God’s servants and the results which will come to the finally impenitent. Then I gave him Prov. i. 24—31. I have heard nothing from this. There are also John i. 29; John iii. 14—17; and John iii. 18, 19.

Now, I have answered his question, and I have shown that the apostle called for fruits as an evidence of faith. He says that he wants to see the fruit. My brother wants to see the fruit. He wants to see the real apple. Now, look at the identity I have shown. I want to repeat that, in the first place. I took the position that there is a perfect identity in every essential feature between the Foreign Mission work and the gospel work as recorded in the New Testament. I showed the first feature of this identity to be in the object and end to be subserved. I quoted Acts xxvi. 17, 18 to prove this. In connection with the treat commission, I showed that the principle of Foreign Missions and the spirit that actuates the missionaries are the same as the principles and spirit of the first disciples. I gave passage of Scripture after passage to prove it. I went on to show that the motive-power was the same. It was compassionate love—love for Jesus and humanity. I showed that the love of Christ constrained those men in the work, and that we are restricted to God’s word—to the teaching and command of Jesus in carrying out this commission. I showed the call and preparation of the missionary workers and of the first gospel workers were the same. I showed that in every single instance where a missionary worker has proved to be a success in the foreign field, the call has been brought about by prayer. In prayer it was made known; and in some cases even the very fields were designated through prayer. To prove this, I referred to Duff and others. I referred to the birth of this last great dispensation of the Foreign Mission work, showing how it was brought about by prayer; how the Warwick Association in 1791 set apart a week in each month for prayer, and how the bugle-note of Jonathan Edwards sounded over the seas, calling for a universal concert of prayer by the Church to bring down God’s blessing upon the heathen lands and on the Church. I showed how Carey was sent forth and went to India, and I told you of his work and the results. I have given case after case, and Brother Potter has never noticed them. I showed how they prayed at Pentecost, and that the very same spirit of prayer that guided and energized the gospel work guided and energized the Foreign Mission work. I showed that the laborers in the two cases were sent forth in the same way; the Church prayed over them and sent them forth under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Is not the Church called the temple of the Spirit? I showed that those men in the foreign field were sent, after the hands of the Church, through its representatives, were laid upon them, sent out to represent the Church, just as the missionaries of the New Testament were sent out. Did I not show that? Have I not appealed to the fruits of the work, showing that the great transformation of character in those heathen lands is an evidence that the Foreign Mission work is God?

Now, suppose I had admitted all that my brother says and claims about election. Suppose I admit it for the sake of the argument. Would that touch the question under consideration? There are many of the Protestant denominations which believe just as strongly in the special call as he does, and yet this belief inspires them to labor in the Foreign Mission work, and leave the results in God’s hands. You see, even if I were to admit his doctrine of election—that would not affect the case. It does not matter whether God does it all, or man is a co-operator in the work. The question is; is mission work authorized in the Bible? By the activity of the primitive Church the gospel was carried into Corinth, and into Ephesus, and Philippi, and Thessalonica, and all these regions. Now, if that was the movement of the Spirit of the living God, why should it be changed? I will ask if it is not as necessary today to go and preach the gospel to every creature as it was then?

I this morning showed that the great spiritual prosperity with which the Churches engaged in the Foreign Mission work are blessed proves that God owns and blesses this work. When I referred to my Baptist brethren, my brother seemed to think that I was misrepresenting them. I want to quote now from Peel’s Popular Educator, a good work on the statistics of the different religious denominations; and these statistics are taken from the census of the United States of 1880: “Anti-mission Baptists, 40,000.” I got the other statistics I gave on the subject from the Baptist Missionary Magazine. Now, I only brought this up for the sake of the argument, to show that where Churches do not possess the Foreign Mission spirit, it limits them in their usefulness, and decreases their vital power and growth. The book I quoted from this morning, in regard to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, gave the statistics for 1869. We number now about 125,000, but we have been existing as a distinct denomination for only about seventy-five years. But this brother’s Church, he says, has been existing since the days of the apostles, and has 40,000. Now, my friends, I want you to look at the matter. We claim that in the seventy-five years we have not done our whole duty. It is true that we, as a Church, attempted to plant a mission in Africa just before our recent war. The war came on before our mission was firmly established, and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church being mostly in the South, the work had to be relinquished. When, through the working of Divine Providence, in 1872, the way was seen to be open for the propagation of the gospel in Japan, the attention of our Church was turned in that direction. In 1877 we planted our present mission in the city of Osaka, the population of which is about 370,000. Although our mission is young, the work is meeting with marked success. Four missionaries have been sent out by the Mission Board of the General Assembly—viz., the Rev. A. D. Hail and the Rev. J. B. Hail, and their wives. The Woman’s Missionary Board of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church has also sent out four ladies to labor as missionaries in Japan. Our Woman’s Missionary Board was organized in Dr. Darby’s church, Evansville, Ind., in May, 1880. They sent out their first two missionaries in September 1881.

As I have intimated, these missionaries have already been instrumental in leading many souls to Christ. We have established in Japan an Orphanage and a Training-School, as well as a church. The ladies of the Woman’s Missionary Society have succeeded in raising sufficient funds to purchase the grounds and erect the building for the Orphanage and Training School. I am informed that the building is in process of erection. The continual call of our missionaries over there is for more laborers to aid in the work. The demands for gospel instruction are greater than they can meet. They are continually thronged with starving souls, hungering for the salvation revealed by the loving Christ. Mrs. Drennan, the lady who is at the head of our Training School, says: “One of the most interesting features of our school now is the fine spiritual feeling and growth in grace among the girls. Every one of our girls over ten years old, except one of that age who came in a short time since, has been happily converted.” Our two male missionaries, the Rev. A. D. Hail, and his brother, the Rev. J. B. Hail, make regular preaching and teaching tours to inland districts. On nearly every trip, converts from heathenism to Christ, from sin to holiness, anxiously await their coming, to be examined upon their religious experience, in view of being received into the communion of the Church.

Miss Orr, the first missionary accepted by the Woman’s Board, makes many missionary tours alone into the interior for scores of miles. The Lord is opening to her many doors of usefulness in this work. Many educated men of the Japanese, among them officers of the government, come to inquire of her about the religion of the Bible. Buddhist priests are seeking the Christian religion for their children, because they think it teaches a purer morality. Miss Julia Leavitt, of Bloomfield, Ind., one of the first two missionaries sent out by our Woman’s Mission Board, is having excellent success in teaching the gospel to the Japanese women in their homes, and also in our chapel in the city of Osaka. In a letter to the Secretary of the Woman’s Board of Missions, after describing her efforts, by the help of the Lord, to get the gospel truths into the heart of an inquiring, earnest, educated Japanese lady, and her joy at beholding the change wrought in the woman’s soul by the Spirit of God, as reflected in her countenance, she says: “Now, my dear friends, it is for some one to answer the questions of inquiring minds like these, and to awake in those still dead in sin a thirst for the truth, that we ask again and again, Is there no one coming to help us? We need workers filled with the Spirit, and ready to follow humbly the Master, who loved not his own life. O may the Lord call such as he will, and send them to this harvest field.” This Miss Leavitt is an only child of a widowed mother. One year after this young lady went to Japan, while in the train on my way to Synod, I had a very satisfactory conversation with the mother concerning the history of Miss Leavitt’s Christian experience, and her call to the foreign field. She said her daughter professed to find peace in Jesus when quite a child, and that she had lived a consistent Christian life up to the time of her departure, and that she had received a good, fair, common-school education, and had started out to teach school, seeking to help support he; widowed mother. Her mother said she noticed her daughter had been thoughtful for several weeks, and seemed to be growing in devotion. She did not ask her the cause, but at last the daughter said: “Mother, I have noticed in the papers the call which is ringing over the sea from the Sunrise Empire. They say they want more workers, and I am thinking about going.” And she answered: “Daughter, put off that matter. Weigh it and pray over it. How will I get along without you? What would your poor, widowed, mother do?” She said: “If the Lord is in it, it will be all right.” That is true. I believe that doctrine with all my heart. What was the result? That girl prayed, and consulted over the matter both with her friends and her Lord, and became deeply convinced that it was her duty to go. At Evansville, in 1881, she and her associate, Miss Orr, had the hands of ordination placed upon their heads by Dr. Bell, the president of the General Assembly’s Board of Missions, as the representative of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. That was an hour long to be remembered, on account of the outpouring of God’s Spirit. Prayers went up from many hearts for them, and for God’s blessing on their efforts in the work. As the Christian friends of that great congregation took them by the hand to bid them farewell they heard uttered many times, “May God bless you!” from many earnest and tender hearts. This girl writes back thus to her mother: “Mother, I cannot be lonely, though you are nearer to me than you have ever been. I love Indiana, but I love the Japanese, and delight to tell the love of Jesus to these people. My hands are full, my heart is full.”

Now, my friends, we see in the case of this young lady a clear demonstration of the call of God to the work of the foreign field, and she is only a sample of the rest of our earnest workers there, and of all missionary laborers who have consulted the Lord, in regard to their work on the foreign field, through the Holy Spirit by prayer. Thank the Lord for so wonderfully guiding and blessing our missionary laborers in propagating the gospel among the Japanese, in connection with the numerous missionaries of the different Christian denominations. My worthy opponent, in his attempt to show that Foreign Missions are a failure, spoke disparagingly of the mission work in Japan. My brother made light of 9,971 converts in Japan, yet he knows that the missionaries were not permitted to preach publicly until 1872. That is a good work. In 1878 there were 60,000 professed converts in the heathen lands brought in to Jesus. Did I say “brought in”? I will say “drawn.” I will use Brother Potter’s word; that is good—drawn by the blessed Spirit of God, through the Word, to Jesus, and saved from their sins, washed and cleansed in the blood of the Lamb. As to the success of the Foreign Mission work, I will quote from the pen of the Rev. William M. Taylor, the editor of the Christian at Work. A more competent, earnest witness could not be adduced, or one whose opinion has more weight. In the Christian at Work, in November, 1878, he says:

“Notwithstanding the splendid achievements of missions, the poor skeptic, with closed eyes and shut ears against the truth, still propounds his silly inquiry as to what valuable results have been accomplished. But in the clear light of today, scattered abroad ‘by lightning presses, his foolish sneer and silly insinuation have no longer power to disquiet timid minds or mislead any. The world, as well as the Church, has learned to estimate the self-sacrifice and labors of the missionary at something like their true value. Take but a single item:

Since the beginning of modern missions the Bible has been translated into two hundred and fourteen languages, spoken by 850,000,000 of human beings, and distributed at the rate of nearly twelve every minute. All this has been done by missionaries. Nearly fifty of the languages referred to never had a written form until the missionaries created it; and through these written forms access may now be had to all the learning of the world. As against an increase of eight and a half per cent in Hindoo population, and five per cent. in Mohammedan, the present increase of the Christian population throughout the world equals sixty-six per cent.

There has never been a time in the history of missions when they were in such a prosperous condition as now. The Church has reason to rejoice as she looks out over her great mission fields. The good seed sown in the past is everywhere ripening into precious fruit. The labors and sufferings of missionaries during the past century, aided by the prayers of God’s people everywhere, laid the foundation for the grand work now going on, and which is so full of glorious promise for the future. Not only are the tribes of India renouncing idolatry and uniting themselves with us; not only is Japan rapidly embracing the truths of Christianity, almost realizing the ‘birth of a nation in a day;’ but the fields of mission work everywhere are being stimulated through these triumphs to more vigorous zeal and enlarged liberality in their own home mission fields.”

 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 September 2006 )
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