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Home arrow Griffin's History arrow Debate on Foreign Missions-Chapter 28
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Written by Potter/Yates   




There are one or two notes that I took down in Brother Yates’ first speech this evening that I did not get to while I was up before, that I wish to notice. He tells us this evening that he is very far from believing that all the heathen are rolled into hell, or else I misun­derstood him. That is what he tells us this evening— very far from believing that all heathen are lost. That is all I want to say about that at present.

Then he accused me of speaking about the gospel being shot into the people. I was talking about civili­zation being shot into them. What was it that civil­ized them? The gospel? What was the agent—the gospel or the army?—powder and lead? And I took his own words that he has repeated here several times during the discussion, that in some places, when the missionaries went there, they were expelled from the country and not allowed to preach. The account that he read concerning Madagascar seems to give the idea that there were eight years during which there was a suspension of missionary labor, until the army from England and France had come, and war occurred. Then, after that, the missionary operations went on. That seems to he the account given that I spoke of. That is all I want to say about it.

Then he says I have admitted all that he has said.

And he does not seem to notice the difference between an admission for the present, for argument’s sake, and making a final admission. I said, admit for argument’s sake—for a moment, for the present—that the Word was the original means, and that did not reach the point at issue between us. Admit that it is so, and it does not reach the point at issue between us, from the very fact that he has been challenging me to show one instance of the conversion and salvation of a soul with­out the truth, without this medium. That is what he has been challenging me to show. He comes up, however, this evening, and admits that there are such cases, and perhaps he could show them about as easily as I could. To pick out the name of the man, and tell where he lives in the world, I am not able to do; but I know from the teaching of the Cumberland Confession of Faith that there is bound to be such cases. I am not falling out with Presbyterians on that account. There are a great many things in this world that are called religion that I do not think there is any religion in, and which ought not to be called religion. I do not think every thing that is good ought to have the name of Jesus to it, and I not think that every thing that has the name of Jesus in it should be upheld.

I am able to prove that the Missionary Baptists stood just where I stand now. I am able to prove they held the doctrine of election, predestination, limited atone­ment, and that all that Christ died for would he saved, and that they denied and fought universal atonement and conditional salvation, and not only that, but that they denied that the gospel contained any conditional offers of salvation at all. The book that I have to prove that is open to Brother Yates’ inspection. If he wants me to prove by that book that there is where they stood, I will do it to-morrow. It is there. They blame us for not going with them into missionary labor. Why, what is the difference? It was not because we did not think the gospel was a good thing. It was not because we did not think influence of the Bible was good. It was not because we opposed civilization. It was not because we were opposed to education. It was not because we took pride in the thought of the condition of those superstitious heathen. That was not it; but they put something into that word we could not endorse. They limited the salvation of God to their labors, just like Brother Yates has. They made the eternal destiny of those nations to hang upon their getting there with the gospel, and therefore we could not endorse it. That is the reason we do not contribute to it. It would be a sin for us to do that. I do not be­lieve they are the means of the salvation of a single one that would not have been saved without it. Brother Yates says himself, in speaking of that convert over there, he might have been an elect. Yes, he may, and I am satisfied that he was; if regenerated and saved, he was. Brother Yates did not know whether he was or not, and says himself he may have been.

Now about Brother James. Brother James and I are acquainted; we do not live more than about three or four miles apart. I will tell you, I am going to pay Brother James for the use of his book. I am very much obliged to him for it, and when I get Brother Yates thoroughly converted to your belief, in the operation of the Spirit, I will give him to you for the use of the book.

MR. YATES: I am elected; that is all right.

MR. POTTER: I presume Brother James and I un­derstand each other. The proposition defined. I just want to state that it is the affirmant’s place, himself, to define his own proposition. He writes it out and agrees to affirm it; he ought to know what it means himself, ought to be ready to define it just exactly as he means it.            If it did not read just as he wanted it, he ought to get it just as he wants it. When a man sets down coolly; and I suppose Brother Yates did that—but I thought when I read the challenge that he might not be as cool as a cucumber. However, the challenge has never been revised since its publication in the Gibson County Leader, and of course he ought to have known what Brother Yates meant, in Brother Yates’ own language, so that Brother Yates could define it when we met. The rule requires that. It was not my place to define it at all. It was nobody’s but his. He did not do it till yesterday. That is the reason we have not been debating. We had no proposition that we understood.

He thinks that if his witnesses are honest they are good authority. That is not true every time. It is not true every time that if a witness is honest he is good authority, from the very fact that prejudice is one of the most blinding things we have to contend with— prejudice for or against a thing. It occurs to rue that I have seen men in whom I have had such implicit confidence that I would have been willing to risk my life in their care, so far as honesty and integrity were concerned, but when you touch the point in which they were biased, I would not have risked them very far, for their prejudice controlled them. So that is the ob­jection I have to all of his witnesses being missionary witnesses. A man, when giving his own case, some­times is liable to exaggeration. He is liable to make it better than it really is. If testifying, for or against a party, he is liable to leave out the worst or best. A cross-examination is necessary in a case of that kind, so much so that when you want to get the deposition of a witness to take off into another country or send into court, both the attorneys must be present when that deposition is taken—the attorneys of both sides. ‘Why? Because of prejudice, not because the witness is not honest. That is not the reason, but because of prejudice. I do not attribute dishonesty to any of these mission­aries, or anybody else, unless they prove themselves to be dishonest.

Now I propose to notice a few scriptural reasons why I do not believe the proposition. It is not my business to do that, but I have a right to do it. I hap­pen to be on the unpopular side of the mission question. That makes no difference to me, for I have the Bible on my side. When a man goes to teach any thing to me that contradicts the Bible, or is contradictory to the understanding of a large majority of Christendom, from the introduction of the Bible until now, even if it is on the popular side, that is no reason why I should get on that side. I know that popular opinion was quoted here the first day, and because I argued that popular opinion was not always right, Brother Yates accused me of accusing them of being Christ-killers. Popular opinion is not always right, but the Bible is right if they are all wrong. Will anybody be saved? What does God say about it? I call your attention to Isaiah liii. 10—12: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he bath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall he satisfied by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the trans­gressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made inter­cession for the transgressors.”

Here is the prophet talking of Jesus, and he speaks of two or three things that I wish to notice. One is that Jesus Christ shall see his seed. He shall see them. I give this quotation in harmony with those I gave the other evening, where the Lord said, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” I give it also in harmony with the text in Psalm xxii: “A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.” Notice, here is a positive, unconditional promise of God. “A seed shall he”—not may be—provided; not, shall have an opportunity, but “A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.” Now, talking about that seed; the God of heaven, by the Prophet Isaiah, speaking some seven hundred years and upward before the coining of Christ into the world, of the suffering of Christ, says: “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.” Why? Is it much pleasure to the Lord to send his Son into the world and put him to grief for the ac­complishment of a purpose, when the purpose is cer­tain not to be accomplished? And God knew it. Would that be much pleasure to him? Well, then, why did it please him to bruise him? For this reason: “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed; he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” That is why. That is why it pleased the Lord to bruise him, because there were glorious results going to be brought about; he was going to see his seed. Where are they? They are scattered over the earth, among all the inhab­itants of the earth, and he is going to bring them in, and he shall see them, “and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand “—that is, in the hand of Jesus, not in the hands of ministers or of any other me­diator. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. The doctrine that my brother presents here today makes it necessary for there to be another one. Everybody can see that—that it makes it absolutely necessary for the salvation of men for there to he an­other mediator. God says there is only one; Jesus Christ is that one, and not only is he the only one, but God says in this text, “The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” No failure. I do not worship a God that tries to do things and cannot. I do not wor­ship a God that does not know what he is about. I do not serve a God that has any purposes or plans the results of which he does not know. I do not serve a God that, when he does know the results of his plans for which he made them will never be brought about, will trust in them. I do not serve a God who will in­vent a plan for the salvation of his people that he knows will fail and never save them. Hence, salvation is in Christ, and not only that, but this text says, and I want to impress it upon the mind of every person here, “The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” What is the pleasure of the Lord? He is talking about the salvation of his people; talking about the salvation of his seed, talking about the gathering of them in. Does he tell the truth when he says the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand? Not according to the position that has been taken by my brother in this dis­cussion, or else God does not please to save very many—one or the other.

Another point is, “He shall see of the travail of his soul.” He shall see the fruits, the result of the travail of his soul. That is what Jesus shall see. He shall see that for which he died. He shall see that glorious result brought about. His blood is not shed for noth­ing. His blood cleanses from sin; it does away with sin; it removes guilt, and the obedience of Jesus Christ is imputed to that man whose sins he atoned for, and he becomes justified. Docs not the text say, “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many.” Will these justified people go to hell? What for? Turn to Romans v. 8: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Now, that is just as true in the case of one he died for as another. It is just as true in the case of those heathen he died for as it is in the case of those here. It is just as true in the case of the most unfa­vored of earth as it is in the case of the highly favored, that he loved us, and that “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” What is the result of that death? The apostle says in the next verse: “Much more then, being now justified by his blood”—justified how? By his blood. By whose blood? Christ’s—“we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Justified by his blood; then, after being justified by his blood, sent to hell? What do you think about it? Sent to hell unless the preacher comes and preaches to you after you are justified! Remem­ber, that justification has already taken place. Then, being justified by his blood, we shall be saved. Not, are saved, but “shall be.” That text is just as positive that those people shall be saved as that they have been justified by the blood of Christ. Who has a right to say it does not reach anywhere only where the gospel is? Let us go back to the text here, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.” What will it take to satisfy Jesus? What is required to give that satisfaction to Jesus Christ? That hundreds, and thousands, and millions of those that he has redeemed sink down to hell? No, sir; if one of them goes there he is not satisfied. In that case he does not sec of the travail of his soul. What will satisfy him? The eter­nal happiness and housing in heaven of all of his ran­somed.

Now, I want to give you another text—Isaiah xxxv. 10. Christ redeemed somebody. Everybody admits that. Well, Isaiah, what do you say about it? The Lord, by the Prophet Isaiah, says: “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return”—I say so too, whoever they are, and wherever they may be—“and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” They are out yonder in that strayed condition into which they have gone, as the prophet says in Isaiah liii. 6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” And in the 52d chapter of the same prophecy, he says: “And the redeemed of the Lord shall return.” He does not hang this upon the contingency of the human will or action of individual men in the world. He has not given this important work into the hands of the minister; he has not given it into the hands of the Church; he has not given it into the hands of another man. It is in the hands of Jesus Christ. He came to do the will of the Father, and in speaking of him one of the prophets says, “He shall fulfill all my will,” Who shall? Jesus Christ. How does that sound by the side of this doctrine that challenges me or any other man to show a single soul saved without he be preached to? What is the Bible worth more than last year’s almanac, only for what is in it? I love that Book. Now, be­cause we believe those things. that the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and we arc not uneasy about it and say so, and that it does not depend upon Foreign Mis­sion work, this .debate had to take place. I do not ob­ject to this debate. I have been glad all the time, ever since the arrangements were made, that it was coming off

Then. one of the objections I have to the doctrine of Foreign Missions for the salvation of the heathen is be­cause it contradicts the Bible: it contradicts what God says. God says they shall be. brought in, and the mis­sion work says they shall not unless we send the gospel to them. Brother Yates said in a letter to me during our correspondence that he was able, when fifteen years of age, to have successfully answered every objection I could have had to the Foreign Mission work in fifteen minutes. I have thought since this work commenced that Brother Yates was smarter when fifteen than he is now. He was a very smart boy, and a smart enough man.

I want to give you another text or two. I have not got them all noted down, but if I can think and locate them, I want to give them to you. Notice this text, and all in connection with this text, says, “He shall see his seed.” Now there is another thing couched in this text, and I want to give it to von. “ By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many.” Why? Why shall he? I want everybody to notice. Why shall he justify anybody? “For he shall bear their iniquities.” What is the cause of their justification? Jesus hearing their iniquities. Did he hear their iniquities? Yes. Well, then, if that is the cause of their justification, tell me how those justified people are going to sink down to hell? Upon what principle? What do they lack of being ready to come before God in a justified and unblamable state? Now, Brother Yates intimates that I am in good hands and have help and assistance. It may be that I have. If it is true, it must be because I have a great deal the smartest, be­cause he has the most of it. That is giving Brother Lampton good credit; I am sure his presence here does me a great deal of good. So far as God is concerned, and his ways are concerned, and so far as his plan of salvation is concerned, there are no failures in it. Brother Yates represented me yesterday as saying God had made two laws and given them to Israel, and he denied it. His own Confession of Faith speaks of two cove­nants. I speak of two covenants and they are in his Confession of Faith. What was the first covenant? It was the covenant of works, conditional covenant. That is what the Presbyterians teach, and that is what I said. What was the second covenant? Of works? No, sir; of grace. These two covenants\are frequently em­braced in one text in such cases as this: “For the wages of sin is death,” that is the covenant of works. “But the gift of God,”—not wages, not compensation for service rendered or performed; it is a gift—” the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Then, I say that all faults, and ills, and debts, and temptations that we are liable to are contracted by our own wicked works, while that which entitles us to heaven is grace. It comes in the new covenant. It comes in the covenant of grace.

Let us notice one more text in which these two cov­enants are both embodied: “The law was given by Moses”—that was the covenant of works—“but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” That is the covenant of grace. Jesus Christ himself is that covenant, for he said, in the language of the prophet, and I will find it if it is challenged, “I will make thee for a covenant to the people,” speaking of Jesus Christ, in the language of Isaiah.

I thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

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