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Home arrow Griffin's History arrow Debate on Foregin Missions-Chapter 20
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Written by Potter/Yates   



I am truly glad Brother Darby put in an appearance, for it seems that he has considerable influence over Brother Yates. I do not have much. He has answered the question. Now we understand what the issue is. I do not like to see a debater cowardly about his position. Brother Yates admitted this morning he was afraid of it, and that I had a catch in it. Now he tells us that by the labors of these Foreign Mission workers souls are saved in heaven that would not have been saved without them. Now we understand it. This is what he means. That is what mission operations are for. Now the people understand it, and so do I. I objected very materially to not knowing what the missionary labors were for when we had to discuss it. We have it now. Now, as Brother Yates says there will be souls saved by their labor that would not have been saved without it, let him prove it. I have nothing to say. It is his place to prove it. Now he has something to do, and we can go on debating. Until he proves that they are the means and instruments of converting, regenerating, and eternally saving souls that would not have been saved without them, his proposition falls. Now we have something to do. Now you understand the position. When I read the challenge when it first came out, I did not intend to pay any attention to it myself, but Brother Hume thought it ought to he met, and we felt like it was made at us, because we said it was of man, and not of God. We thought Brother Yates felt he could defend it, and for the sake of truth, he says, and in honor of the blessed Saviour, he made the challenge. Now, Brother Yates, prove it. Prove your proposition. The best authority he can bring is Scripture. There is not a man in the house but would be satisfied with one text that says so. And we will all join the missionaries when he introduces the text. The text must say, or imply, that here is a soul saved that would not have been saved had it not been for Foreign Missions. That is what it must say. Now, we might have had this all over with by this time if Brother Darby had been here. However, he claims he has introduced a few. I will notice some of them. He says I never do notice his proof-texts. 1 Cor. VI. 9-12:

“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.”

Now, we do not have to go to heathen lands to find all these kinds of people; remember that. Now, of course the Bible is plain. We know the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. None of us doubt that. Now let us see: “And such were some of you.” Brother Yates stops, and says “when?” Why, before I came to preach to you. I want to know his authority, for the Apostle Paul never said any such thing. Brother Yates’ interpretation of that is, that they were unclean, unrighteous, unfit for the kingdom of God, prior to Paul’s visit to them, and his visit was the means of their change. I want him to prove it. It is his own text. That is his own language. Let us see what the text does say, then. No person here claims that the unrighteous shall be saved. There are idolaters in this country, where the gospel is, as well as where it is not. Covetousness is idolatry, the Bible says. I do not want to hit any Church-member here, or any denomination. But I am afraid we need not go outside the Church to find them—the covetous. Let us see what the text says, now: “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, hut ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Now, Paul says nothing about preaching being the cause of that in his text, not a word. “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” Now, if that text proves Foreign Missions, and those souls that have been saved there that would not have been without them, what might not one prove by the Bible? For, to prove any thing by a witness, the witness must say something about the question to be proved. Now, if that is the best you have—and I presume it is among the best—it is easily met. Again, i Cor. 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.” I will read a little farther. We want to know what the context is: “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” Remember, we preach Christ to them, and it is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks, “but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” Now, if the preaching is a calling, I want Brother Yates to explain it to us, as this is in connection with his own text. The difference between the Jews and the Greeks, Paul says, is that to some it is a stumbling block and to some it is foolishness. Now, if all are called, if they are all called alike, there must be a distinct call there. Every person must see from the reading of the text that there is a call there distinct from, and in addition to, the proclamation of the gospel, because the gospel is preached to all alike. If they do not all receive it, it is not the power of God to them alike. Some of them were called, and unto them was the gospel the power of God. Now, so far as calling was concerned, this call was necessary to qualify all the people to be benefited by this gospel when it is preached. My judgment is that salvation, as spoken of in that text has, no allusion to the salvation from eternal death. And to prove that, I refer to the following—Philippians ii. 12,13: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling: for it is God which Worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Now, there is a salvation for the saints to work out. Saints, if they are really saints, never apostatize and sink down to perdition. If they are regenerated and saved, heaven is theirs. Yet there is a salvation for us to work out, and if Brother Yates can tell what that salvation is, he has the salvation right here in his own text. He then turns to Acts xxvi. 17, 18: “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 that is in me.” I want to notice this text just a minute in connection with Paul as a missionary. On yesterday evening Paul was introduced here by Mr. Dobbins, author of “Error’s Chains,” a missionary, and a missionary of the modern type. Now, I have already noticed the modern missionary on the first day of this discussion, and told what kind of a missionary Paul was, and that he began on a small scale, that he had no Christian constituency to receive him where he went. He had no wealthy missionary organization at his back to support him; that all he had was the Lord’s commission and the guidance of the Spirit. And Brother Yates has had a great deal to say about my remarking that he took a missionary trip to Arabia. Now, let us notice that text. Galatians i. 15— 17: “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.” He went to Arabia. What for? Now, from the text itself, without any other text, what is the inference? God had called him to preach among the heathen. What is the conclusion? What does every person gather from that text from the apostle’s own language in that text, without the assistance of any other? What could have been his object in going to Arabia? Brother Yates noticed some Commentaries to prove that he went to meditate. The Lord did not call him to meditate. The Lord called him to preach, and without any hesitancy he went to Arabia, and returned to Damascus. What is the inference there only that he went there to preach? The Lord sent him. Another word on the subject of Paul: Brother Yates said the missionaries, many of them, believed as earnestly in God’s call to the work of the ministry as my brethren or I do. I have never questioned that at all. He has accused me of calling them self-deceived or hypocrites. Is it possible a man cannot be in error, and honest? If that is so, how am I to understand the case of Brother Yates and myself? How are we all to understand Brother Yates in this case? I attribute no dishonesty to men unless their works and affairs expose their dishonesty. I believe there are good men among the missionaries. Brother Yates himself says he believes there are good Christians among the Catholics, but he does not think they are right. I believe there are too, and I believe there are many that do not belong to any Christian denomination; and I believe there are many that will be saved among the heathen that the missionaries never saw, and never will in this world, That is what I believe. I do not question any man’s honesty. Now, on the text, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” (Acts xxvi. 18). Let us notice that a moment, and admit even Brother Yates’ interpretation of that text, that the apostle himself was sent by the Lord to open their blinded eyes, in the sense of regenerating, and in the sense of quickening them into divine life, in the sense of turning them from the power of darkness unto God. Admit that, and it fails to prove that this was absolutely necessary to their regeneration. Admit the whole thing, and it fails to prove that this was absolutely essential to the remission of their sins.

Now, I will tell you, I objected to this theory a day or two ago, on this ground, and I introduce the argument now in connection with my answer to this text.

I objected to it on the ground that it pretended to be going about teaching people to know the Lord. I quoted from the Minutes of the Philadelphia Association a Circular Letter of 1806, giving their principles on the rise of modern mission work. They said: “And they shall teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, until all shall know the Lord.” Now the Bible says they shall not; and that is the difference between the missionaries and God’s Word. The missionaries say they shall, and God’s Word says they shall not. I say, then, the argument has not been answered; that there was not a syllable in God’s Word, anywhere in the New Testament, to any man, from Jesus Christ nor any of his apostles; authorizing men to go about teaching sinners to know the Lord; not one word. Now I challenge any man to find it. Brother Yates said I got up and said there was no authority to teach them about the Lord. I said no such thing. There may be many things in which we are required to teach, and it is our duty to teach.

The people are getting to understand me, whether Brother Yates does or not. There is just one particular thing I deny man’s ability to do, and that is to teach men to know the Lord. There is just one particular thing I deny man’s ability to teach, and that is to know the Lord. There is just one lesson that he is unable to teach his fellow man, and that is to know the Lord. Now, I want the people to understand the thing that neither brother Yates nor any other man can do—none of them can do it. The reason I say that is, there is no authority for any such work. God’s ministers are not clothed with any such authority. The Saviour said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,” but he did not say, teach them to know the Lord. He said, Go preach the gospel to every creature,” but he did not tell them to teach men to know the Lord. Aquila and Priscilla taught the way of the Lord more perfectly. They taught the way of the Lord, but did not teach Apollos to know the Lord. He already knew him, and they could only teach him the way of the Lord more perfectly. That is what teaching is for. That is all the way man, as a teacher, can teach his fellow man. Man must, in the first place, have the capacity to learn, and in order that he can receive instruction to know the Lord more perfectly, he must be qualified for that. And how that is done I will quote from Hebrews viii. 8—11, where the Apostle Paul quotes the Prophet Jeremiah xxxi. 31 “For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” That is the way it is done; and the missionaries say they shall teach. That is the difference. Now, if Brother Yates introduces this text as one of his proof-texts, to show the necessity of the ministry to teach a man to know the Lord, and the absolute necessity of such an agency as that, I deny his interpretation of it. The gospel is the power of God to them that are called, both Jews and Greeks. Until we hear from him further about the meaning of that text, and what he intends it for, we shall leave it for the present.

Now, I want to call your attention to just one thing more concerning those martyrs. He says he loves Carpenter. I do not love him very well, but I am going to use him. Brother Yates said (and of course we know it is true, because he said so, though he did not offer to prove it; he asks us to take his word; Brother Yates is pretty well known here, and I would hate to dispute his word, but he may as well say his proposition is true, in the same way) “The people I read about this morning were the product of the missionary labors, and were Lutherans, Presbyterians, and not Baptists.” I said this morning it did not matter what they were. I said there were a variety of denominations among them. I do not claim they were all Baptists. But he does claim they were Lutherans and Presbyterians. What was Wycliffe, what was John Huss, what was Jerome, what was Rogers, and Hooper, and Ridley, and Latimer, and Philpot, who were burned in England, at Smithfield? What were they? Lutherans and Presbyterians? Mr. Yates says the product of missionism. I will tell you why I introduce this history. I was talking about the martyrs during those forty or fifty generations that Mr. Carpenter speaks of. Now Brother Yates wants to tell us that these were the fruits of missionism, and were Lutherans and Presbyterians. Let us see from the reading itself. I will begin a little further back in the article I read this morning from Buck’s Theological Dictionary: “Persecutions of Christians by those of the same name. Numerous were the persecutions of different sects, from Constantine to the Reformation, and when the famous Martin Luther rose, and opposed the errors and ambition of the Church of Rome, and the sentiments of this good man began to spread, the pope and clergy joined all their forces to hinder their progress. A general council of the clergy was called. This was the famous Council of Trent, which was held for nearly eighteen successive years, for the purpose of establishing Popery in greater splendor, and preventing the Reformation. The authors of the Reformation were anathematized, excommunicated, and the life of Luther was often in danger, though at last he died on a bed of peace.” This was after the beginning of Luther’s labors. Luther must have been quite a preacher just before his reformation, or before it was effected, to have had over a hundred thousand converts in France, and some in Holland, and those Low Countries. I ask the question on the ground that. Mr. Carpenter has said that the Church slept for nearly fifteen hundred years. Under whose ministry were all those martyrs gathered up? Under whose ministry was it done? Was it under the ministry of Luther and Calvin, the very ones I mentioned this morning? Now, I want to notice Mr. Carpenter a little further. Brother Yates does not tell you I read Carpenter wrong, but he says I left out spine. Of course I did not undertake to read through the whole book. Did he tell you I read any thing that was not there? Did he tell you I left a part of a sentence out, or skipped a word where I did read? No, sir. Well, then, if I did not, have I done him any injustice—if I finished every sentence, but let him say his full piece on the topic on which I quoted him? Let us see if I did him any injustice. Now, let us see what was the example of the Apostolic Church. I say it is a slander upon the apostles, the way this man talks. And Brother Yates says he admires him. Brother Yates, what do you admire? He says: “The set time for an aggressive movement, which should only cease when the universal conquest was fully accomplished. The apostles must have understood that their field of labor was coextensive with the world. Still the Church at Jerusalem dallied. A thousand days elapsed instead of ten.” This man says, at the farthest, they were not to remain at Jerusalem but a few days, and if the commission was given at a certain time, ten days was their time to stay there. He says, instead of ten days, a thousand days elapsed. That is the charge he makes upon the apostles of Jesus Christ. Brother Yates admires him. “They might have lingered on until they died ingloriously, had not God sent the besom of persecution to sweep them forth into the wide world, which was perishing for lack of the knowledge which they alone could give.” What made them go forth? Was it the missionary spirit? Was it their love for the heathen, according to that? Was it their love for perishing souls, according to that? Brother Yates himself says that is what makes missionaries work. What does Mr. Carpenter say makes them work? He says persecution makes them work; that “if it had not opened their eyes, they might have lingered on at Jerusalem until, they died ingloriously, had not God sent the besom of persecution to sweep them forth into the wide world, which was perishing for lack of the knowledge which they alone could give.” That is a modern, missionary talking about the apostles.


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