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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

Joint Discussion On Foreign Missions

Elder Lemeul Potter -  Reverend Clay Yates

Fifth Speeches - Yates then Potter


My brother has gotten into the old channel at last. When he was harping on the covenant I knew he would be at home. I give him credit for being plucky, for it takes a wonderful man to face such a doctrine as he has to handle.
He brings up the Foreign Mission Boards again. Let me state the question once more. If my brother’s argument has touched the question under discussion, I cannot see it. Listen to the proposition:
“Resolved, That the gospel work carried on by the different denominations of the Protestant world in heathen lands or foreign countries, known as the Foreign Mission work, is authorized in the Holy Scriptures, and blessed and owned of God.”
Now, it does not matter whether a man is a hyper Calvinist or an Arminian, the question is the Foreign Mission work itself. It is the fruits of that work. Brother Potter does not know God’s secret roll of the elect. He acknowledges that the ordinary course of the divine economy in the salvation of men is through preaching and teaching the gospel. This is expressed in the Saviour’s command, and demonstrated in the practice of the apostles. Is not this the object and work of Foreign Missions? Now, if in those mission fields in heathen lands there can be shown one convert from heathenism to Christ, whose life brings forth the fruits of the Spirit, it will be tangible testimony that the missionaries in their efforts had been divinely sent, and their labors blessed and owned of God. Thousands of such cases can be produced in the foreign field in the past and present history of the Foreign Mission work. There are thousands of heathen whose natures were degraded and imbruted before the missionaries went to them with the gospel, whose characters are now transformed into the glorious image of Christ, which the spiritual fruitfulness of their lives unmistakably evidence. This was brought about by receiving the gospel message from the earnest missionary laborers. Though my opponent differs from me in regard to man’s agency in his own salvation, he does not in regard to the gospel fruits in the Christian’s life which evidence his salvation. Now, my brother, what about the gospel fruits brought forth in the lives of those converted from heathendom to Christianity in the foreign fields? Dos it not prove beyond a doubt that the Foreign Mission work is in the trend of divine providence in carrying out the divine plan of salvation, that it is divinely commissioned, directed, owned, and blessed of God? He seemed a little wrought up in referring to what I said today about his virtually making every missionary in the foreign fields a man who has no conception of his work, or a self-deceived hypocrite. That is just what he does. This is the logical predicament in which he places himself when he says there are evidences given that the fruits are not sufficient to show that these heathen converts to Christianity have been born of the Spirit. I have read from the very best authors—authors thoroughly informed and of undoubted integrity—and from earnest, intelligent, and impartial persons who have visited those countries embraced in the foreign fields. I have quoted those who have seen how degraded and wretched those people were before they received the gospel, and what a wonderful moral and spiritual reformation had been wrought in their character and their lives after their reception of the gospel. But he will not touch this argument which I have adduced in some form or other in every speech I have made during this discussion. This argument, drawn from the fruits of the work itself in heathen lands on the foreign field, he knows is unanswerable, and dares not touch it. He is aware that the testimony of these consecrated men and women on the foreign field in regard to the Christian lives of the converts from heathenism, cannot be gainsaid. He does not come up and boldly say that these missionaries are self-deceived or dishonest; but his language implies it. Yet when I exposé his inferences, he is fearfully wrought up. Why? Because he knows our language is going down in the report and will be read by some of these very men and women. I have forced him to acknowledge that many of these missionaries are earnest Christians, children of God, elected from eternity. But my opponent’s attitude, taken in connection with this concession, makes God trifle with them in their prayers. According to his doctrine, God lets them be deceived, allows their bones to bleach on those distant shores to no purpose. There is your covenant God. Yours is a beautiful God. There is not a father in this town who would be guilty of such injustice and cruelty in the treatment of his children. Your God is a God that is all will and no heart. I will tell you, the power to do a thing and the right to do it are two different things, my brother.
We will pass on, He says, “Where was the Cumberland Presbyterian Church during the past centuries of missionary work, as claimed by you?” O that Church question with him is a great question! It was like the Regular Baptist, as you call it, my brother—at that time it did not have a tangible denominational existence; but it was unlike your Church in several particulars, and especially in reference to the Foreign Mission work. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church in all of its leading doctrines, and in mission work in particular, has in principle existed through all the centuries of Christian history, back to the very incipiency of the Church of Christ. Brother Potter says Jesus Christ never established a mission board. When did the Saviour, during his ministry on earth, establish the Regular Baptist Church? I want that passage. Notice how be tried to get out of that Church business by saying that Christ gave the commission to the apostles instead of the Church. I can throw the logical consequences of his doctrine on him from his position, just as be can on me, and I will take all he throws on me. He says Brother Yates never named the proposition in his speech. It was not necessary. The arguments I produced were so clear and plain in its support as to make the proposition so vivid that to name it would not be necessary. He said, when I alluded to the Communion, that I thought I had proved the proposition by what I said. Why did I allude to the subject? Because in their belief in the Lord’s Supper and their practice in regard to it, they have confessed that the apostles did represent the Church. Certainly, be said, this commission was given to the apostles and their successors. Are you a successor of the apostles, my brother? I did not know that the Regular Baptists were Episcopalians and had an apostolic succession. What a revelation. Bishops and priests all in this great line of regular order! Did you notice how quickly he left Paul’s missionary tour to Arabia? I want him to go back and try that mission business again, which he referred to this morning. Those books — the Bible and Canon Farrar’s Life of St. Paul—settled you, my brother.
He was going to give us great trouble today, and also this week. You remember how he spoke of the invisible Church. We all belong to that. The Cumberland Presbyterians belong to that. I am elected from eternity, and I cannot help myself. God has fixed it. That is it. If I am to be a Cumberland Presbyterian, I have to be. God made it so from all eternity, and I have nothing to do with it. That is the logical conclusion of the argument my brother is giving. God fixed it that we as a Church should sprout out about seventy-five or seventy-six years ago. He says if we are in error we are all converted—all God’s dear, elected children from eternity. I will read you a passage of Scripture that I stand on. Maybe he will tell you that this Word does not mean what it says: I hope he will take hold of it. This Scripture is excellent. Hebrews xii. 22: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” Angels belong to this invisible Church, do they not? There is where the Cumberland Church was born. All these visible, local, tangible Church organizations are only different expressions of the various phases of Christianity through methods of Christian usages and works peculiar to each. I asked him about the Church clerk. Why, his Church would not have an existence without this officer, or at least would be defective without it. He said I could not prove my proposition in that way; but I can at least show the absurdity of his position. He talks about the Cumberland Presbyterians believing in election. We do not, as he interprets it. I want to stay with him in this Bible for a short time. Did you notice how he dwelt upon that quotation, that in Abraham’s seed all nations should be blessed? But he was very careful not to name the conditions by which we become Abraham’s seed. He says he does not know about the Foreign Mission work. I am afraid that is so. I know if he had studied it as he should, he would have seen God’s fingers guiding this work. But he says it is not authorized in the Bible. I think I have given enough proof-texts to convince any unprejudiced, thinking mind that the doctrine of missions is in harmony with the entire trend of the teachings of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. He speaks of our Confession of Faith teaching his view of the doctrine of election. Let me read you sections 34—36, found on the 25th page of our Confession of Faith: “God, in creating man in his own like ness, endued him with intelligence, sensibility, and will, which form the basis of moral character, and render man capable of moral government. The freedom of the will is a fact of human consciousness, and is the sole ground of human accountability. Man, in his state of innocence, was both free and able to keep the divine law, also to violate it. Without any constraint from either physical or moral causes, he did violate it. Man by his disobedience lost his innocence, forfeited the favor of God, became corrupt in heart, and inclines to evil. In this state of spiritual death and condemnation, man is still free and responsible; yet, without the illuminating influences of the Holy Spirit, he is unable either to keep the law or lay hold upon the hope set before him in the gospel.” That is our position.

I want to refer to the seed that my brother has been talking about. He went on to say that he and I disagree on a certain point, and then he quoted from Campbell and Rice, as if I did not believe in the operation of the Holy Spirit. I believe in it as much as he does. I compared it to the sunlight and the rain. You know the seed is sown after the ground is made ready to receive it, and the sun and rain are sent to nourish it. But he said it did not change the ground. But the fruit came out of the grain in .the ground, did it not?—out of the Word? Here are some questions for my brother. If a man has no agency in the reception of the gospel in his heart, and God alone inclines and prepares him to profitably receive the Word, then who is to blame? Man, who does not hear and receive the Word into his heart profitably? or God, for not inclining and preparing his heart profitably to receive the Word? I want you to understand me. If God does it all, as you claim, then man has not the ability to receive it, and who is to blame? You say God does it. I say if God does it all, who is to blame? Now, if God does it all, I want to know where man’s agency is. If a many s mind is absolutely controlled by God, and he has no will of his own in the exercise of choice, he is not accountable for his acts. If he is left free, he is accountable. Paul blames the heathen for their benighted and degraded state on the ground of their abuse of the light and privileges that had been extended to them; but Brother Potter disagrees with Paul.

Brother Potter says they are not to blame for their condition. Poor, unfortunate people! they are no more to blame for their ignorant and degraded state than they are for their natural color. His teaching in regard to the heathen not only contradicts Paul, but the Saviour and the tenor of the entire teachings of the New Testament. My worthy opponent said in one of his speeches that we held the heathen accountable for rejecting the gospel where they could not be reached with it. We do not. We claim they are held accountable for the light they have. But just name one country on all the face of that map of the world that we have not access to with the gospel today—just one country. We have access to all these countries, have we not? and who is criminal if we do not take the gospel there? He says we hold the heathen accountable where they cannot have the gospel. We can see where God’s providences point, and the doors are open, and who is to blame now? But if God has fixed it all from eternity, and every thing is iron-bound, then I cannot help myself.
Here is a passage I want to call your attention to, which has caused my brother a great amount of trouble in defending his theory. I will read it to you. He (Potter) said the Lord does with men in salvation just what he desires. But this does not accord with the Lord’s own teaching. This Scripture (Matthew xxiii. 37), which is descriptive of Christ’s lamentation over Jerusalem, confounds my opponent and destroys his theory. In it Christ proclaims to us that whatever he is to man depends entirely upon man’s own free choice in accepting or rejecting him. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killeth the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” It was Jesus, the Son of God, the Saviour of men, the seed of Abraham, who said this. I would have saved you—thou wicked, ungrateful, rebellious Jerusalem— time and again I have offered you the opportunities of salvation, but “ye would not.” How greatly I desired to save you, but you would not permit me! O Jerusalem, how anxious I am to save you, and how it pains me to be thus rejected by you!” In regard to God’s power, I cannot tell what God can do, nor how much he cannot do. I do not fully know about God’s omnipotence, because he is infinite. I accept it as a fact. I am finite. I know one thing—on this side of the line God in his infinite wisdom has so constituted every thing that I am responsible, I am accountable; and I will say farther, that my mind is too limited to reach up to the exact point where moral agency and Infinite Sovereignty unite; but here we see their harmonious cooperation in the history of the experience of the human race. This is also implied in the commands of God’s Word. God in the divine plan of life has given to every man a mission to be performed, and in the life of Christ he has presented a model to which every life should be conformed. Man’s destiny, both in this world and the world to come, turns upon his conformity or non-conformity to this model. Every thing in creation follows a model. The tree and flowers grow after a model, and the model of manhood and womanhood is Christ Jesus. Christ was the son of Abraham, in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed. We are blessed in Christ. How do we get into Christ? The Bible says Christ is our righteousness. In Romans x. the apostle says, “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” In the Greek it is “into righteousness.” Hence we get into Christ by a loving trust, and are thereby blessed. This is by the exercise of our own individual powers. God does not love for us, nor believe for us.

My brother said he objected to the Foreign Mission work because it hinged the salvation of the heathen on the proclamation of the gospel. What does Jesus mean, my brother, when he says, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned”? What did Jesus mean when he told Paul to go and open the eyes of the blind and break the power of Satan? That does not mean that man does the work—not man alone— but that he cooperates with God. Suppose a man is lost, he can look God in the face, and say, “You did not elect me from eternity.” The idea of a man being arrested and condemned for something in this country that he is forced to do by the Government! That is the real logic of your doctrine. That God decrees that the helpless sinner shall be lost by not extending to him divine aid, and then punishes him for being lost when he had no agency in the matter! Brother Potter said, when I showed the absurdity of his money objection to the Foreign Mission work, that he liked it just as well as I do. There is no difference between us, then, on that point. When I got him fast in regard to Paul receiving wages, he said that Paul was not a missionary, and was, at the time he spoke of, receiving wages as a missionary. Brother Potter said Paul was a pastor of a church. What an argument. I did not see how we could stand it. Have not we churches, Brother Jenkins, out in the Foreign Mission field? And not only that, we have the Boards he hates so badly there, among the heathen in the Fiji Islands. Our missionaries there have died crowned as glorious martyrs to bring these souls to Jesus. He says we must not use the term “capture them.” It was Jesus who authorized me to say it. “Holding forth the word of life.” “Ye are the salt of the earth.” “Ye are the light of the world;” That is the Bible. There is one passage I forgot to name for him. He wanted me to explain it for him. It is Rev. xiv. 6:

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” That is simply a sketch of the prophetic Church, and it shows that the gospel is to be carried to every country. And that is what is being done in the Foreign Mission work.

Now in regard to the apostles carrying the gospel into England, I will quote Mosheim’s “Ecclesiastical History,” Vol. I., page 99. I also have Knight’s History of England, one of the best histories to establish my position. Mosheim says, under the division of the Second Century:

“From Gaul it would seem the Christian religion must have spread into Germany, on the left of the Rhine, which was subject to the Romans, and also into Britain, over against Gaul. Yet certain Churches in Germany have been accustomed to deduce their origin from the companions and disciples of St. Peter and other apostles; and the Britons, following the account given by Beda, would fain believe that their king Lucius” (who reigned there in A.D. 180) “sought and obtained Christian teachers from Eleutherus, the Roman Pontiff, in this second century, and during the reign of Marcus Antonius. But these ancient accounts are exposed to much doubt, and are rejected by the best informed persons.”

In connection with this I will quote from Knight’s History of England, Vol. I., page 16: “But if the statements of the ancient British writers as to the adoption of Christianity by Lucius, A.D. 180, are deficient in that precision which constitutes historical authenticity, there is ample evidence that a Christian Church of some importance was established in Britain at the beginning of the fourth century.”

So over against the statement of his old geography, by Guthrie, that the gospel was introduced into England by the apostles, we place the testimony of these two great historians, Mosheim and Knight, both of whom, in their peculiar spheres as historians, occupy the front rank as first-class authorities. They agree in assigning the time of the introduction of the gospel into England about two hundred years after the death of the last of the apostles. I am surprised that a minister of the gospel, in this enlightened day, with the experience and notoriety of my opponent, and with the great trusts which are committed to him on this occasion, should be so misled as to bring up as an authority in this discussion that old, defective geography, out of date, cast aside as worthless even for the study of the twelve-year-old school-boy in our common schools. I can only explain my brother’s blunder on the ground that desperate causes sometimes induce their advocates to employ absurd and desperate means. The point that my opponent aimed to make by attempting to prove that the gospel was carried into England by the apostles was that all the Christian privileges and blessings enjoyed by us today are the result of the labors of the ministry alone who went forth at their own option in the work of evangelization, without consulting the voice of the Church, or being sent forth by its decisions. To do this he assumes that the apostles did not represent the Church, and that all the work of evangelization was performed by them. As the gospel, according to this assumption, was planted by them in Europe, and especially in England, and the ministers being the real successors of the apostles, and our great Christian civilization being the result of the early planting of the gospel in Europe, he holds that it was produced by the informal labors of the ministry who went forth in the mission work without consulting the Churches, or seeking their approbation. If Brother Potter had been able to prove that the apostles carried the gospel into England, it would not have sustained the point he attempted to make; for we have already shown from the New Testament that the apostles represented the Church. This is seen in the ordinances committed to them—viz., Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These were given through them to the Church. The apostle exhorts a certain Church to “keep the ordinances as I [Paul] have delivered them to you.” I have also shown that the first celebration of the Lord’s Supper was by Christ and his apostles alone, and afterwards that the apostles, simply as members of the Church, and with the Church as a congregation, celebrated the ordinance. I have further shown from the New Testament that the Holy Spirit, through the Church, chose, ordained, and sent forth her laborers— apostles as well as others—into the mission work of the foreign field. I have also further shown from the New Testament that the gospel Church, in its offices, from the highest to the lowest rank, and in its lay-members, enthusiastically engaged in the propagation of the gospel on both the home and foreign field. This completely blots out the point my brother aims to make, and proves beyond doubt that the Foreign Mission work of today, in every essential feature, is the same gospel work that has given to us all that we possess and enjoy in our present Christian civilization. He says I do not understand the meaning of the term used in the proposition under discussion, that Foreign Missions are “owned and blessed of God.” I have told you what I mean by “owned and blessed of God” that the fruits of- the Foreign Mission work show that God owns and blesses the labors of the missionaries. I will here repeat the line of argument showing the perfect identity of the Foreign Mission work of today with that of the gospel work of the New Testament First, in the objects and end to be subserved in proclaiming the gospel to the heathen, announcing to them the glad tidings that the Saviour has come, and providing the wonderful plan of salvation for mankind which is adapted to meet the needs of all ages, classes, and ranks, and thereby to be a joy to all nations. You remember that I showed that the principles of the Foreign Mission work consisted in love to Jesus, in loyalty to him, in obedience to his will, in belief in the promises of God, and that foreign missionaries are actuated by that mighty love of Christ, that great motive-power in the gospel work. You remember I showed you that the missionary workers were called and set apart by the Holy Spirit, like the workers in the New Testament—how they prayed; how the Foreign Mission work was born of the Holy Spirit through prayer; how the bugle-note rang from England to America for a world-wide concert of prayer for a revival of the Church at home, and to open up the way to reach the heathen world, and to prepare them for the reception of the gospel. I showed how Christians went down on their knees, how that missionary organization was formed that sent out Carey to India; and I showed also that the fruits of the missionary labors were the genuine fruits of the gospel. And when I brought out in my arguments the unanswerable proofs that the fruits of the civilization produced by the Foreign Mission work in the heathen lands was identical with the Christian fruits of our Protestant civilization in Europe and America, and hence identical with the gospel fruits of the apostolic period, my worthy opponent never at tempted to answer them, and did not deign even to notice them. To prove that the Foreign Mission work moves in the trend of Divine providence, under the supervision, guidance, and blessing of God, I will quote from the Homiletic Monthly, 1883—, page 638:

“Facts are the fingers of God. Although indifference is not always born of ignorance, there will be little zeal without knowledge. To awaken a deep passion for the universal and immediate spread of the gospel tidings, believers must be brought face to face with those grand facts, which make the march of modern missions the miracle of these later days. Not to go back farther, for four hundred years we can trace signal providences casting up this broad, level highway between the centers of Christendom and Pagandom. Near the close of the sixteenth century a new route to the Golden Indies, by way of the Cape of Good Hope, led to the chartering of the East India Company a few years later; and so while the pilgrims were sowing the seeds of this grand republic beneath the setting sun, Protestant England planted an empire toward the sunrise, and in the very heart of the pagan Orient. Unconsciously the leading nation of the Protestant Christian world was reaching out one hand eastward and the other westward to lay the foundations of a world-wide Church.” Yes, the providence of God is seen in it; my brother dare not say he knows God s methods and work. Results tell that. “Subsequent conflicts in America and India settled the question that in both hemispheres the cross was to displace both the crescent and the crucifix. By the middle of the eighteenth century America and Asia are respectively held by the two foremost Protestant powers of the world. England has a firm foot-hold in the critical center of Oriental missions, and in her hands holds the keys of the kingdoms of the east. This makes necessary, as a line of communication, an open highway for travel and traffic between the mother country and her Eastern possessions. If Britain had any right in India, she had a right to a safe and peaceful road thither; and this political necessity was used of God ultimately to shape the attitude of every nation along that highway had England not held that highway to the Indies, the destinies of Europe and India might have been changed Turkey would probably have been devoured by Russia or divided between Russia and France; the Greek and Roman Churches, crossing the mountains, might have swayed all Asia and kept out Protestant missions. Behold the hand of God using English arms and diplomacy to hold popes, czars, and sultans in check; to shield converts from persecution by Turkish Armenians, Persian Nestorians, Syrian Moslems, or Indian Brahmans,, and giving Britain a casting-vote in the affairs of the Sublime Porte. What means this providential establishment of British empire in India? It is an entering wedge driven into the heart of Asia—a wedge, the direction of whose cleavage is still eastward, splitting in twain these gnarled and knotty trunks of moss-grown empires. Meanwhile, from seed sown at Plymouth develops another mighty evangelizing power. The Protestant Republic of America strides from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and planting foot on the western shores, moves toward the eastern coasts of Asia as though there were no more sea. Here is God’s counter force moving from the opposite direction to meet England and oppose her entering wedge with the resistance of cooperation, as anvil opposes sledge-hammer. In other words, another irrepressible conflict has come. Commerce will have her highway round the world, and knocks imperatively at the sealed ports and barred gates of exclusive Oriental empires.”

My friends, wherever there is a door open to commerce in the world, there goes the Bible. The missionary follows up this opportunity at once, to proclaim the gospel to his benighted fellow-men, in compliance with the Saviour’s command. When the ignorant and degraded heathen sees the beautiful and majestic steamer, with its nerves of steel and its throbbing heart of fire, moving as the very embodiment of life and force, laden with a cargo of the valuable products of our Christian civilization, it fills him with both surprise and delight, and makes his heart swell with intense anxiety to learn of the civilization that produces these things, and how that civilization was brought about. He is told that it was brought about by receiving and obeying the teachings of a book called the Bible; that this book contains the directions of the true God of heaven and earth to man, showing him how to spend this life to the greatest advantage to himself and to his fellowbeings, and to the supreme glory of God; and that in obeying these directions man becomes godlike in mind and character, and hence becomes the producer of these precious and much desired fruits of Christian civilization. This makes him anxious to hear and receive the gospel. So God uses the nations of the earth today in opening these ports and thereby opening doors of entrance to the heathen countries for the blessed work of Foreign Missions, as he has ever done in opening up the highways of communication and the doors of entrance for the gospel in the unevangelized portions of the East through all the centuries of Christian history. “Go preach the gospel to every creature” spans the world (pointing to the map of the Protestant Mission stations of the world, spanned with this motto). Thank God, the glad tidings of salvation are ringing around the world today, as seen by the blue and red marks on that map, representing the numerous mission stations that girdle the globe! This is one of the grandest days for the mission work that has ever come in all the centuries. Then the opening up of China, India, Japan, Africa, and the Isles of the Sea to the reception of the gospel, as has been already presented before your minds in the eloquent and forcible quotation just read, is certainly an unmistakable indication that God’s finger is directing, and God’s presence guiding, the Foreign Mission work. We are informed by unquestionable authorities that the first missionaries in the numerous islands of the great archipelago of Oceania began this work under peculiar circumstances, under visible evidences of the guidance of Divine Providence. When these missionaries left Europe their destination was not any of these islands, but one of those great continents of heathendom. When they attempted to land and enter the work, they were refused and expelled by the people. They were sad at their failure, but felt that they could not give up their mission of love, as bearers of the message of salvation to the benighted heathen, and return home. So they prayed in their vessel: “O Lord guide us; thou knowest that we have entered this work —with hearts enlisted to carry the banner of Jesus around the world.” They went to a certain island and found to their surprise that it was open to them, and the people ready to receive their message. In this instance, which is only one out of many, we have clear and unmistakable evidence of God’s leadings and guidance in the Foreign Mission work, and of the divine favor and blessing, as manifested in the great results that grew out of these missionaries entering and establishing the gospel work on the islands referred to—viz., the evangelization of nearly all of the many islands composing this great archipelago. Didn’t you say, my brother you did not believe there had been a person regenerated through the Foreign Mission work on these islands?

MR. POTTER: No, sir.

MR. YATES: I so understood you. Well, then, it is blessed and owned of God if souls are regenerated through the labors of the missionaries. You will have to give it up now.

When those missionaries entered this island they found that wicked men, who had fled from justice in civilized lands to these benighted regions as a refuge, had been led to feel that they were not safe there among those degraded human beings. A sense of their own need of protection induced them to talk to the heathen on such parts of the Bible as they could remember, and about the mercy and kindness it enjoins upon man in his treatment of his fellow-men. Thus, we see, in the gospel work God’s enemies as well as his friends are often made to praise him.

These missionaries found one man from another island, and that opened a way to reach that island. They talked with him, teaching him the Bible, and they labored for months and years, and were richly rewarded. It was so in other places. Just like the apostles, in some places they found friends and in some places they were beaten back, but finally the way would open. That was the way it was with those mission fields. 

Thus we see that the Foreign Mission laborers are following the leadings of Divine Providence in the work of the evangelization of the world, as did God’s servants in the apostolic age. As the Lord did then so he does now, in going with them and directing them to their fields of labor. When they enter these fields they find them in some measure prepared for their work by the Lord, who has preceded them. When the first, missionaries landed on that island in Oceania, how different was the condition of the inhabitants of all the islands which dot the ocean for hundreds and even thousands of miles, in contrast with their state today. Then they were all enshrouded in the black, impenetrable pall of heathen darkness. A dreary waste, indeed, under the reign of Sin in its most degraded and brutal form, lay before these pioneer missionaries. Mighty were the obstacles that had to be overcome before the light of the gospel could be spread over those regions of Satan’s dark domain. These missionaries adopted the principle laid down by the illustrious Carey, and acted on it—“Attempt great things for God, and expect great things from God.” God honored their confidence and granted their desire to an extent that surprised both the Church and the world, and that calls for the devoutest gratitude on the part of Christendom. The great majority of the many islands of Oceania today gleam out with gospel light, in the dazzling clusters of the blazing worlds in the glorious galaxies of the heavens.


I want to ask Brother Yates one question, and I will ask him to write it down in my words; it is this: “Do you believe that souls have been regenerated and born of God, and will be saved in heaven, through the instrumentality of those foreign missionaries, that would have been lost had these missionaries never gone there?” Now I want you to answer that tomorrow morning, if you do not say one word about any thing else.
MR. YATES: I will attend to that for you.
MR. POTTER: I want you to say yes, or no, just as I do.
MR. YATES: You will let me answer in my own way, won’t you?
MR. POTTER: I want you to answer it. It don’t take me long to answer. I said this morning that I did not believe it, and Brother Yates has not disputed my position yet. I want him to say if he means it. I want to know the use of this mission work.
Now I want to notice a few things that he said. In the first place, he charges me with having never noticed the results of the missionary labor as an evidence of God’s blessing. I noticed the labors of others that he does not believe are of God—the Roman Catholics. I showed that they have been successful, and if we are to take the success of an enterprise in accomplishing its purpose as an evidence that God blesses it, then the Roman Catholics stand ahead of any Protestant denomination today. Because I said that, Brother Yates has charged me with classing him and the Catholics and all the Protestants together in one class. I don’t mean any thing of the kind, Brother Yates. I simply mean that we have as abundant proof of God’s hand in their work as you have. Is success on their part an evidence of God’s blessing? Brother Yates never has answered that, but comes up in his third speech today, and says I have not noticed the evidence that he has given.
The people know whether he has noticed mine or not. Brother Yates is in a fine humor, and I am glad of it. I would hate to see him spunky, because I am a little cowardly, and a little lame too, and he is a young man; but we are going to stay in a good humor. It is not hard to keep in a good humor. He says. “Your covenant with God!” Whose? That was the Cumberland Presbyterian Confession I read from. Now he comes up and asks about my covenant with God. Why, Brother Yates, are you going to give your Confession up to me? I expect I will have to take. it, and fight for it.
MR. YATES: You may have the old one.
MR. POTTER: Brother Yates does not explain to us the question I asked him in my speech before this. Brother Yates says wise men change. Of course he is among the wise. I want to know of him if the Cumberland Church was founded upon the truth in the start, and if it is founded upon the truth today. That is what I want to know. Brother Yates, you may note that down. I want an answer to that question. I stated that I thought, under the circumstances, I would not unite with the Cumberland Church yet. I want them to get done changing first; because, if I were to join them on the Cumberland Confession now, they might change, and then they might leave me.
MR. YATES: You might change with it.
MR. POTTER: I am not smart enough to change that often. Then he asks the question: Where did Jesus Christ establish the Regular Baptist Church? I want to state, relative to that matter, this: Brother Yates seems to have a kind of antipathy against the Regular Baptist Church.
MR. YATES: No, we have nothing against them.
MR. POTTER: We will see. As circumstances show, he seems to have a kind of antipathy toward us. He frequently refers to us, and wants to know where we will find our name in the Bible. Of course he knows his name is not there either. Now I want to say this: On Monday, after the close of our Association in the town of Owensville, I received a letter by the hands of Elder James H. Oliphant, challenging me to affirm that our Church was the only authorized Church in the Scriptures. Somebody must have wanted to debate. I was accused of virtually saying that in this pulpit, on Friday night of the Association. I do not remember saying any thing about that. A few days after, at Fort Branch, I met Brother Yates, and we had a talk. Some person present wanted to know what we were going to discuss, and he said, “The whole grounds.”
That is considerable to debate; infant baptism, Church polity, the communion, and the covenant, we would have to debate now, since the Cumberland Church is revised, and a great many other things. Not long after he wanted to debate the whole grounds he came out with his challenge on Foreign Missions, though I had not heard a Regular Baptist mention it in years that I know of. Why is this? I want to know. My judgment is that there is a kind of jealousy against the Regular Baptists in this community. The thought has been, among some, “We want to fight the Regular Baptists, but we want to know what to fight about. If we fight them on the communion question, or on the infant baptism question, or on the sprinkling and pouring question, other denominations will be divided, for some are against us; but on the Foreign Mission question “—I judge that from the circumstances—“the rest of the world will unite with us on that; we will challenge them on that.” If do not say that is so. I was giving that as my opinion. Circumstances have driven me to that conclusion; and that is my humble opinion. That is the reason that the Foreign Mission question was the subject of the challenge, the subject under discussion here. I have not challenged anybody for a debate—am not under any necessity to show where Jesus Christ established the Baptist Church. Has not my brother claimed that the work of the Foreign Missions is authorized by the Scriptures? and by such a challenge has he not obligated himself to prove it by the Scriptures? If he has, am I under any obligation to prove every thing else, when I have made no challenge? He obligates himself to prove that the work of Foreign Missions is authorized by the Scriptures. I showed him that the Foreign Missions were inaugurated in the seventeenth century. We do not court the sympathy of anybody. Regular Baptists never did do that unless they were cowards. We have some cowards among us; but as a general rule we have none. We ask no favors, as far as that is concerned. And I repeat it—I do not believe it, that all these Foreign Missionary operations have ever been, or ever will be, the means of regenerating a soul, and saving him in heaven, who would not have been saved without it. And that is what I want to debate with Brother Yates about. Let us come to the work. I have come to it. Now let Brother Yates come to it as squarely as I have done.
Again, he says I say I know nothing about the missionaries. He says he is afraid that is so. I said I know nothing about the missionaries, only what they say themselves. The Bible says nothing about them, how else am I to know? My witnesses are your missionaries—your brethren. Where was I to go to learn about the missionaries, unless to their own schools? They published their periodicals and books. If I pay my money for them, have I not a right to read and quote them? How else am I to tell about the missionaries? It may be my weakness, but I have seen nothing in any text of Scripture that he has quoted about Foreign Missions.
One more question, upon which the whole thing hangs. He undertakes to argue the doctrine of election, and run into the consequences of it, and talks about responsibility. The Cumberland Presbyterians used to teach that man, by his fallen estate of sin, has wholly lost all ability to do any good works accompanying salvation. That is what we teach yet. He wants to know who is criminal, then, if man cannot do any thing, but God can, and won’t? Who is to blame? He asks in what country the gospel cannot be preached? And if it cannot be preached in every country, and is not preached, who is criminal? The missionaries say, the heathen themselves. They say the heathen are to be damned because the missionaries do not get there with the gospel. He says we can do it. Every country is open to it at this time. And now he wants to know who is criminal if we do not take it? The Missionary Union says the heathen are to blame, and they must go to hell if they do not get it there. That is the reason I object to his doctrine. I object to the whole thing.
Now I shall pay no more attention to that. I know all about these results as evidence. If Brother Yates believes that those missionaries, by their labors and efforts, will be the means of saving a solitary soul that would not be saved without them, let him say so; and if he says so it will fall upon him to prove it. Remember, you shoulder a heavy load whenever you say it, and if I were you I don’t believe I would say it unless I had studied it. Study it thoroughly, and advise with your brethren. You are young. Try the strength of your plank, and see if it will bear you up before you walk out on it very far.
However, he says the gospel was preached in Britain and Germany in the second century. Well, that is immaterial to me. It may be that some historian was mistaken. Perhaps it was the one I quoted. If it was in the second century it was at least thirteen or fourteen hundred years before Foreign Missions were commenced; so my point stands as good as ever.
On the subject of Abraham and his seed—what does that mean? What does God’s promise amount to when he said, “In thee and thy seed shall all the kindreds of earth be blessed?” I call attention to that covenant; that is a covenant that God made. He swore to that covenant by his own holiness, and he promised Abraham that “In thee and thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.” The last quotation I made in my other speech was, “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs of the promise.” So God did fulfill the promise after awhile, by bringing them in and adopting them into the family of God. As far as means are concerned, I want to say, every thing necessary to the accomplishing of that work was in Jesus Christ, treasured up in him before the foundation of the world. God knew just what would be necessary in that great work, and he declared the end from the beginning, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” Romans iv. 13—16: “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might he sure to all the seed;”—where is the seed? All over the earth, in every tongue and kindred under heaven, not only those living today, but all that ever have lived, or ever will live, from Abraham to the end of time—” not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all.” Now I shall quote a few passages of Scripture to prove that God will fulfill that promise. I do not say he can do it. I say he will do it, and does do it, intends to do it; and I want you to notice these passages. Rev. v. 9:
“And they sung a new song, saying. Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.”
Here is what John saw in heaven —a multitude singing a song and praising God. What was that song? “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” So no one is left out. Let us not pick out a large majority of our race as universally dying for the want of teaching on that subject. Brother Yates does not understand the commission if that doctrine be true. He does not understand what it is for. The gospel is not an offer of salvation to any one, and never was. It is not an offer of salvation. It is not a proposition of salvation. If he thinks it is, let him show the texts that say so. The gospel is simply the publication of salvation, the announcement of it, the advertisement of it, telling where it is, and how it is, and what characters shall be saved. That is what the gospel is. It is not a proposition of salvation. God did not come into the world, in the person of Jesus Christ, and offer to save the race. That is a mistake. He did not come into the world, in the person of Jesus Christ, to propose salvation to everybody. That is a mistake. He did not come into the world, in the person of Jesus Christ, to give everybody a chance to be saved. That is a mistake. He did not. He came to save; and as he did come to save, this gospel advertises that redemption of Jesus Christ, and instead of offering salvation to the people, it simply preaches Jesus as the Saviour, and publishes the character and evidences of that salvation, and of the gracious state. Now we will read Revelations vii. 9—14. Notice, this Scripture is to prove that the promise to Abraham is to be fulfilled. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number,”—how many? A great multitude which no man could number. Why, the missionaries are numbering their converts in all their statistical reports. Brother Yates has before us here a map, as an exhibition of the great work of the missionaries. On this map we have the number of Protestant Christian converts all over the world. There will be more people saved than that. We can number a great deal larger number than that. We could number many more people than those. Yet John saw a great multitude which no man can number. No man can number them. Well, what did they do? I want you all to think about that. When Brother Yates, with all his assistance, gets their numbers together, and computes them all, and gets the number all made up, and tells us what the number is, then we have a salvation told of in this Book that reaches still further, for John says no man can number them. Rev. vii. 9—14: “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshiped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, what are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said unto me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Here is a multitude that are to he saved. I do not know how many there are. Brother Yates admits himself he does not know what God will do, or any thing of the kind. I know what his Word says he will do. Let us not ignore his Word. He does not intend to allow the promise to Abraham to be made void. He intends to save a people out of every kindred, tongue, and nation. While we do not know just how he will do it, it is evident that he will do it, because his Word says so. Let us remember that. While we have never been enabled to get into the secret of God and find out his hidden mysteries, let us remember what an ancient writer says: That secret things belong to God, and revealed things belong to us. Let us discuss revealed things, and not secret things. It is revealed in his Word that a great many shall be saved, so many that no man can number them, and they shall be from every kindred, tongue, nation, and people. Just the same as the promise to Abraham—that in him and his seed should be blest all nations, and kindreds, and peoples of the world. Now, I want to quote another text upon the same subject to prove that God will fulfill this promise. Matthew xxv. 31—34: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” I argue from that text that all nations are to be together before the Saviour; and no one nation, according to the wording of that text, will universally be set on either side. And they will be divided as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. “Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” He does not say this kingdom was prepared for some one else, and they would not have it. No, it was prepared for you. Was he mistaken? Did his infinite wisdom know? Would it be the very same people that Jesus said it would be? Who are to be invited into that kingdom? Those for whom it was prepared, according to the language of Jesus: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” They are going to be, Jesus says, from all nations. Again, I will quote Matthew xxiv. 30, 31:
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” His elect, they belong to Christ. Where are they? All over the world. He is going to gather them from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Suppose he were to come today. We do not know when it will be. Whenever he does come it will be true that the promise to Abraham will be fulfilled. It is true, let him come when he may, that he is going to gather his elect from everywhere.
Has he his elect everywhere? Yes. A great many missionaries think his elect are scattered upon the mountains of sin and error, and are liable to perish unless the missionaries get there and convert them; but Jesus will not have it that way, because he says when he comes he is going to gather them from the four winds, and from one end of heaven to the other. Now let me say—and I expect this is about the substance of what Brother Thomas stated—that I have no fear that the Lord will not carry out his purpose in the salvation of his people without my assistance. I am not afraid of that. I am not uneasy about that. God is going to do that. He calls upon me to do my duty, and tells me what it is. He never called upon me to carry salvation or eternal life to anybody, that I know of. If he said so in the commission, I do not remember it. Did he say, Go ye into all the world, and carry eternal life? Did he say, Go ye into all the world, and carry the Saviour? Did he say, Go ye into all the world, and carry the Spirit? Did he say, Go ye into all the world, and carry the God of heaven? What is the God of heaven? He fills the immensity of space. The earth is his footstool, heaven is his throne. As the sun shines in the valleys and upon the mountains, both at the same time, so God is everywhere. He does not have to move about from one location to another, like a crow or a swallow. Nothing of that kind. And by his Spirit he can, and I will say he will, and does, quicken the benighted soul of the heathen and prepare him for heaven and glory. If that is not true, what mean all the Scriptures I have quoted here to you?
Now, I want to make an argument upon the sheep. John x. 14—16 is the language of Jesus: “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the 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.” Now notice, he says “other sheep I have.” Hence when he speaks of the sheep, he does not mean his people among the Jews exclusively, but he speaks of those among the Gentiles—among the heathen. He says, I have them, they are mine, I must bring them—that is what I am here for, that is my mission in the world, and I must bring them. According to the covenant, I am under obligation to bring them; they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold. Isaiah lvi. 8: “The Lord God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, besides those that are gathered unto him.” It is evident from these passages that the Lord has sheep among the heathen. See what he says about his sheep being everywhere. John x. 27—29:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” That is what Jesus said concerning his sheep, at the same time claiming that he had sheep among the heathen To prove the orthodoxy of my position, I now notice the Commentary of Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, which I have here with me. On the words, “Other sheep I have, not of this fold, them also I must bring,” they say he means the perishing Gentiles, “or his sheep in the love of his heart and the purpose of his grace to bring them in due time.” On the words “they shall hear my voice,” they say, “this is not the language of mere foresight that they would believe, but the expression of a purpose to draw them to himself by an inward and efficacious call which would infallibly issue in their spontaneous accession to him.” That is what these commentators say. They are not Baptists. I accept that idea, and I understand the Saviour to be teaching that.