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Home arrow Griffin's History arrow Debate on Foregin Missions-Chapter 22
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Written by Potter/Yates   



I want to notice Brother Yates’ proof-text first. I will say, however, to begin with, that it may be Possible that I can do the work of my own brethren and prove my position correct. We have seen here since this discussion commenced that missionary evidences disagreed. They vary a great deal in their reports about the condition of the very places he points to with the pointer on that map.

MR. YATES: Will you show that variation?

MR. POTTER: I will, tomorrow or some other time. I stated in the outset of this discussion that I was in favor of any kind of enterprise that elevates humanity education, civilization, the ennobling of man, no matter what—and I believe the Bible and Christianity are a blessing. That is not the issue between Brother Yates and myself. A great many institutions that have a tendency to elevate man in the world, the Bible says nothing about. These institutions never claimed religion in themselves at all. However, in addition to that I go farther, and say I know no Baptist of our denomination, who understands himself, that is opposed to the spread of the gospel. Now, remember that. That is not the issue. You see Brother Yates pointing up there at the map? Suppose there are as many converts as he claims there are. The thing for him to settle here is to answer the question we have been putting to him for several days: Are there any of those people converted that would not have been, or any of them entitled to heaven, that would have gone to hell without the missionaries? —Not are they raised up to a state of civilization in which they would not have been without that? It all hangs on that. He has obligated himself to prove that, and not only that, but that they have lifted up man and educated him. I am not here to deny that they have done good work. He says that without these missionaries the heathen would sink down to hell, while with them they are saved. That is what we want him to prove. Now, if he can prove that there is a solitary convert there entitled to heaven that would not have gone to heaven without those missionaries, then his proposition stands, and he need not go to missionary labors to prove that—we want the Bible.

Now, I propose to notice some of his Scripture passages relative to the Corinthian letter. He referred us to i Cor. vi. ii: “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.” He introduced an argument from that text, that the ministry of the Apostle Paul was the cause of that sanctification. He does not put the emphasis on “sanctification by the Spirit” as he does on “sanctification by the Word.” Notice, he runs off to another text to show where the Saviour prayed to the Lord, “Sanctify them through thy Word.” Here this text says they are sanctified and justified by thy Spirit, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

I call attention to Acts xviii. 6-10: “And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshiped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace “—remember, the apostle was going to leave there on account of the opposition to his preaching there—” for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.” For whose sake did the Lord request Paul to remain there and preach, according to the text? What reason did the Lord assign for telling Paul to remain there, according to that language? Give that question to any unprejudiced child of ten years of age, let him read that text, and ask him what was the reason for the Lord wanting Paul to remain at Corinth, and the answer would be, every time, For the sake of God’s people that he already had there. Notice that. Then, that explains his text. He already had them there. I know the apostle says in one place— perhaps in the same letter to the Corinthians—in speaking of what good the gospel is, he says, “unto them” that want to be saved? No. That have an opportunity of being saved? No. But it is “unto them that are saved, it is the power of God.” I will find the text. “It is the power of God unto them that are saved.” Unto some it seems to be foolishness; the gospel is hidden to all those that are lost; but unto us that are saved it is the power of God. i Cor. i. 21—24: “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. 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; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” The “called” there must be equivalent to “saved” in other texts. Already called, already saved, unto them that are called it is Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Then, the gospel does not save anybody until they are already called, already saved, in that sense. Hence there are two salvations presented there. Brother Yates has not told us what “that salvation” means in Philippians ii. If they are already saved, already saints, which they are—for he will not question it—then, as there is no such thing as final apostasy of the saints, they are as sure of heaven as there is a heaven. They never will apostatize and lose heaven. Yet they are to work out their salvation.

Then he undertakes from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, to give the comment on the new covenant, on Hebrews. After reading at considerable length, his Commentary says: “No one save the Lord can teach men to know the Lord effectually.” That is what I am arguing. That is the reason the Lord said in the new covenant. “They shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord.” You see, it is right to teach, but to teach them to know the Lord is a lesson no man is able to teach. I believe he admitted that finally.

He asked me a question, for the answer to which I am going to turn him over to his Brother Carpenter. He wants to know if I did not know that persecution was not the means of starting the apostles out. He would like to stigmatize somebody with ignorance. As far as that is concerned, I confess it. There have been: several such insinuations. I have nothing to boast of so far as learning is concerned. Who was it that said it was persecution that drove them out? Was it myself? Am I the only one that said it? Does not Mr Carpenter say, in the Great Commission and its Fulfillment, “that they might have remained there until they died ingloriously had not God sent the besom of persecution and started them out into this work?” Does that indicate ignorance? Well, I am not the author of that language. It is one of his missionary brethren that he admires, and he says that it was persecution that drove them out. I hope I am not to blame for what missionaries say. I would hate to be accountable for every thing they say. Let us notice what he says. He says: “The set time for an aggressive movement which should only cease when universal conquest was fully accomplished. The apostles must have understood that their field of labor was coextensive with the world.” They must have understood that. Then, what is it he accuses them of doing? “Still the Church at Jerusalem dallied.” They must have understood what was their duty, Mr. Carpenter says; but they did not go. What did they do? A thousand days elapsed instead of ten. “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.” That man says it was the persecution that sent them. Brother Yates seems to differ with him. They must settle it themselves. I told you this morning that the missionaries were not all right; somebody is wrong among the missionaries, and I do not care who. I think about as much of Brother Yates as I do of Mr. Carpenter—I mean their positions, their doctrine. But I am satisfied that one or the other of them is wrong, and not only that, but I believe they are both wrong. That is I where I stand. Now, as none save the Lord can teach effectually, I want to add an argument or two why I oppose this doctrine. I object to it. I say that the Foreign Mission work is of man, and I want to tell you some reasons why I say it. We are not to make assertions in debating, taking positions boldly and publicly, without any serious reasons for such things, without having studied the matter. Let us see. One missionary writer says: “We will mention hut one missionary principle more—namely, that the means by which instrumentally the great work is to be effected is the ministration, of the Divine Word. We would not be understood as supposing that this is the only means. Whenever salvation goes forth as a lamp that burneth, it will be in answer to the prayers of Zion; as it extends, private Christians will, in their several circles, be instructors too. ‘Every man shall teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, until all shall know the Lord.’” (Minutes of the Philadelphia Association, page 428). I have the work here, and if anybody wishes to examine it they shall have the opportunity to do so. This is what they say themselves in their Circular Letter of 1806. This letter before this Association is not the production of a fanatic; it was not produced in excitement; it was the deliberation of that grand and intelligent body of Christians called the Philadelphia Association of Baptists. That letter came before their scrutiny; it was passed and adopted by that intelligent body, and they say—as giving the ground for modern missions—“they shall teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord.” That is giving grounds of missionism. That is the reason I say it is not of God. It contradicts his Word, and I do not believe that any thing that contradicts God’s Word is of God. I want Brother Yates to reconcile this assertion that the missionary makes. He says they are as good men as there are in the world. I do not doubt there are good men among the Missionary Baptists, and among all other missionary bodies. But those good men are wrong, they are teaching that the Bible is wrong by putting forth in their books and publications such assertions as I have here mentioned.

Now, as a contrast between their language and the language of God, I wish to refer to Hebrews viii. 11: “And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” It seems to me that it is an easy matter for a child to tell that the missionary is not of God, when he will so unscrupulously contradict God’s Word. This is not the mere phantom of some irresponsible fanatic, but it is the language of a large, intelligent council—the Missionary Baptist Association of 1806. Another writer says: “All are to contribute to that great, unceasing volume of earnest prayer, which has only to become general and tenderly importunate to secure the salvation of the great multitude of God’s elect, who are now wandering unsaved on the mountains of sin in their own lands.” (Great Commission, page 3). Here is an assertion by a missionary that God has an elect wandering on the mountains of sin in every land, and that they are unsaved—God’s elect in an unsaved state! And in order to save a people who are already God’s elect, this missionary says it is necessary to send the gospel to them. God elected them, he intended their salvation, he predestinated it, and he sent Jesus into the world to save them; yet with all this they never will be saved, according to that missionary, unless the gospel is carried to them. Let us see what God says about that. Isaiah liv. 13: “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord.” Now, here is a positive declaration. It is true. This missionary I last quoted admits that God has a people everywhere. Well, if he has, God says, “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” What does Jesus say? “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John vi. 37). I should suppose God gave to Jesus all the elect, and he says, “all that the Father giveth me shall come to me.” As a reason for saying so, he quotes the text from the prophet that I have quoted. What is that? That they shall all be taught of God. Jesus says, “Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” Here is the argument: If all that are taught of God come to him, and all that the Father giveth him are to be taught of God, then the conclusion is that all that God gave him are to come to him. Jesus told the truth when he said “they shall all come.” It is evident they have been given, but they have not all come yet, but they shall come. If he told the truth, then they will come; then, their coming is not suspended on the contingency of the action of men. This doctrine that says they would have been lost without the labors of the missionaries is not the doctrine taught here. The doctrine taught here is positively as stated—” that they shall come, they shall be taught of God.” Now, in addition to that, I regard it as of man, and not of God, because it presumes to teach men to know the Lord. I have already noticed that. However, I wanted to state that it is God’s work, but he has never commanded, and Brother Yates has not introduced a. text yet that authorizes men to go about teaching men to know the Lord. He says himself, so far as experience is concerned—and that is what takes place in the conversion and regeneration of a soul—so far as that is concerned, the ministers cannot bring it about. Of course they cannot; nobody accuses him of believing that. The question between us is whether the ministry is an indispensable agent in bringing it about. Mr Rice said, as I have already quoted time and again in the presence of this audience, that God works by means and without means, as his infinite wisdom directs. That is Presbyterianism. Brother Rice also says that there is an influence of the Holy Spirit in the human heart, in addition to the gospel, and distinct from it without which the gospel, or the Word, would never regenerate one of Adam’s ruined sons or daughters.

I regard it as of man and not of God, because its doctrine is that God has bound himself up so in his ministers, and the doctrine that all his creatures that are deprived of the Bible are also deprived of salvation. This hangs the eternal destiny of 856,000,000 of people upon the contingency of man taking the gospel to them.

You remember I showed you yesterday, from the missionary chart published by the Baptist Missionary Union, in colors and figures, that one hundred thousand heathen are dying there every day, and underneath those figures stated that the Christians are giving one tenth of a cent per day to save them. We hear today that after death those one hundred thousand heathen are sinking down into ruin—perishing without the gospel. What did they go to hell for? Because they did not receive the gospel? Yes; and I am going to show it to you from a missionary author right here. One missionary says that, in the tract called “The True Test:” “Christian friends, we have no fires of martyrdom now to test our fidelity to Jesus Christ; but we are not left without a test. God is testing us all continually; testing the measure of our faith, of our love, of our devotedness to his Son, by the presence of eight hundred million of heathen in the world. It is a tremendous test, so real, so practical. It is no phantom, no myth, no theory, no doubtful contingency, but a great, awful fact, that we Protestant Christians, who rejoice in our rich gospel blessings, and claim to be followers of Him who gave up heavenly glory, and earthly ease, and life itself to save those heathen, are actually surrounded by eight hundred million of brothers and sisters who must perish in their sins unless they receive the gospel. This gospel they have never yet heard. This is a fact too many forget, but a fact none can deny; a fact of which we dare not pretend to be ignorant; a fact that ought to influence our whole Christian course from the moment of conversion.” Now, notice, then, these heathen sink down to hell because they do not receive the gospel. Why have they not had the gospel? If God wanted to save them, and intended to save them, has he hung the eternal destiny of the majority of our race upon the contingency of human effects and labors? When he desires to save them, has he done that? No, sir; the Bible teaches different from that, as I quoted yesterday evening, and I come back to it new; “Jesus came into the world to save the lost, and the heathen are lost in every sense of the word. Who are more truly lost than the heathen?” Was Jesus capable of doing the work, and was he adapted to that work when he came? When Jesus left the glory he had with his Father before the world was, and entered into this sin-ruined world, did he come fully adapted to the work of saving the lost? Was he suited to the work? He says himself, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” ‘Was he ready for the work? Did it depend upon any thing extraneous to himself? This writer says the heathen are lost—the heathen he came to save. Did he save them? Are one hundred thousand of them sinking down into eternal perdition every day? If so, was not Jesus Christ a failure? Let us see what the Bible says in John x. 16. He says, in speaking of his sheep: “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.” It has already been admitted that the other sheep are among the Gentiles, and it is the work of Jesus to bring them. He is not going to undertake to do a work of such importance as that by the use of means and instrumentalities that never will accomplish the work. It is an evident fact, according to history and evidence given by the missionaries themselves, that they have failed in a great measure. Today, in the latter part of the nineteenth century according to their own reports, there are about eight hundred and fifty-six million of heathen, besides Mohammedans, Roman Catholics, Jews and Greeks. They are all in an unsaved state, and Jesus Christ came into the world to save them. Did he want them saved? Did he desire their salvation? Was he able to do the work? Did he appoint means by which they should be saved, that he knew would not do it? Did he know his gospel never would reach these lands—that there would be such carelessness on the part of Christians that Brother Carpenter charges them with for forty or fifty generations, or such indifference on the part of governors of their own land that the gospel could not be preached there, yet hang the eternal destiny of these millions of souls upon such a condition as could not be? Is this God’s plan of salvation? Has he devised a plan that he must have known would fail?

I thank you, ladies and gentlemen


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