Audio Video Library
General Beliefs Site Search Time Line
E-Mail Us Web Links Home

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

Thirteenth Speeches - Yates then Potter


I appear before you again on the affirmative side of this question. In the first place, before we proceed further, there is a question of veracity at stake as to what I said during this discussion concerning the heathen. I want to state to you what I said in substance. I have stated it time and again. I drove Brother Potter, and he knows it, from the second chapter of Romans. I told him what I believed about the heathen—that those whop are without the law, but do the things that are in the law, are saved; and therefore there are very few of them saved, with the light they have. God’s Spirit operates upon the mind everywhere through the means employed; and when the revelation comes, that influence is upon all alike. He gives the opportunity to all. I will ask the reporter to read what I said upon that subject.
REPORTER READS: Thursday afternoon—” I never have made the impression intentionally that any would be saved in the heathen world without character or without living up to the law they had—the best light they had—doing the things that were contained in the law, though they were without the law, as spoken of in the second chapter of Romans.”
MR. YATES: Now you hear it.
Mr. POTTER: You say that was Thursday evening. My impression is that a note I took was on Monday.
Mr. YATES: I will risk the book when it comes out, and I will say to the short-hand writer not to change that—that I never made any such statement in it.
Mr. POTTER: I have a note here, and I think it was on Monday I took it.
Mr. YATES: We will risk the short-hand writer about that; if you can bear it I can. I have stated that as my position time and again. My brother is aware of that, and he says I am honest and he loves me. He says I never drove him from any authority. I am going to talk a little about that. He came here before this people, and in order to balance my argument that civilization is the result of Christianity he set up the Greek civilization side by side with it, and told us about Cecrops being its founder. Then I told him he knew nothing about it, and that Solon was really the founder of the civilization that gave to Greece her glory and greatness. Then he came before these people as an intelligent man, and talked about Nimrod as the founder of Egypt. Any man that knows any thing about the history of the civilization of the past knows the origin of Egypt’s civilization is lost in the antiquity of the past. He quoted a certain historian, leaving the impression upon this people that for several centuries those who had carried the gospel, and taught the gospel, and suffered persecution were Baptists. That was the inference of his historian, Jones, who has been exposed as a falsifier, in his statements about the Waldenses. And I exposed his statements in regard to the missionaries who performed the great gospel work in Northern Europe in the early centuries being Baptists, from a better work than Jones has ever written. So we will see how much his authorities are worth. I wish to spend a moment or two on what he told you about my saying there were no Baptists who suffered as martyrs in the massacres of the Protestants during the reign of Charles IX. In commenting upon these terrible scenes he made the impression that all these martyrs were Regular Baptists, and triumphantly exclaimed: “We, as Regular Baptists, have the identity of the gospel line of work; for our people here, like the saints of old, were martyred for their devotion to the gospel.” I spoke to my brother while he was speaking, in order to keep from talking so much in this debate about his Church, and I asked him if these martyrs were all Baptists. And he reluctantly said perhaps there may have been some other sects who suffered. Here is Buck’s Theological Dictionary; I want to read a few words from it. On page 438 he says: “Numerous were the persecutions of the different sects from Constantine’s time to the Reformation, and when the famous Martin Luther arose and opposed the errors and ambitions of the Church of Rome”—I never have said there were no Baptists among them; I have said the Baptists were good people, and I love them—“and the sentiments of this good man”—Luther—“began to spread, the pope and his clergy joined all their forces to hinder their progress.” 
The other quotation he gave: “A general council of the clergy was called. This was the famous Council of Trent, which was held for nearly eighteen consecutive years, for the purpose of establishing Popery in greater splendor, and preventing reform. The authors of the reform were anathematized and excommunicated, and the life of Luther was even in danger, but at last he died on a bed of peace.” So much for his point on that. Now we will dispense with that much of it.
He said Brother Darby set me right. He has got to take Brother Darby’s word for that, and Brother Darby says that he did not. I will tell him, just to be candid with him, that I believe my brethren thought me competent, or they would not have signed the documents endorsing me. I believe they are honest. I may not be so nicely situated as Brother Potter is, so as not to need any aid. I take all the aid I can get for the advancement of my cause. He says he is one man that does not progress. He says I said it would take six days to prove my proposition. I think he should have had a short-hand writer present. I thought I told him that I wanted the subject thoroughly sifted, and wanted the great facts brought before the people.
Now, about the heathen. He gave us another lengthy talk about how many died per day, and that there was no justice in condemning these men who are without the gospel; yet he has been arguing for the last five days that God has a right to damn whom he pleases, or to save whom he pleases. How much better is it when a man who is not one of the Lord’s sheep is damned here in Owensville, under the sound of the gospel, because he was not put in the election list? And yet Brother Potter says God does not reprobate souls. But when he ran from the proof-texts I gave him he said, “Brother Yates has been giving me these proof-texts on the responsibility of man, and I believe it.” You do? What is responsibility? God has given me a law, and I cannot keep it, and he will not help me to do so. If he helps my neighbor, that is no advantage to me. He just sends me to the dark place, and that is the last of it. Brother Potter says that is the reason he does not believe in Foreign Missions. He does not damn many of the babies, but he puts in a great many of the big folks.
Now, about that potter; was not that a beautiful thing? I am glad he took that position. He said that I was mistaken. Look at his logic. He said I put the clay over on one side and the wax on the other; but he said there was no wax there. He thinks it would have been a good thing for me if there had been. I will give attention first to the potter and the clay, after which I am going to give him some quotations. He handed me a book; I knew he did not understand Madagascar when he said he did. I will read that after awhile, for fear, as well as he loves me, he might misread it. Now let me quote from the ninth chapter of Romans: Hath not the potter power over the clay”—in some instances he has, and in some he has not—“of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor?” He says that the potter is God. So do I. According to his doctrine God has to make of this lump damned sinners as well as redeemed souls. O what a God that is! I did not claim that there was wax in this passage that speaks of the potter and the clay. I simply alluded to it in connection with the clay to show the different effects of the same sunlight upon each, to illustrate the different effects produced upon men by the very same divine influence. I thereby demonstrated that it is the state of men’s hearts, or their attitude toward God, that causes the softening or hardening of their hearts, or the divine shaping of their natures to- honor or dishonor; that the cause is not absolutely God’s sovereign, arbitrary choice.
The idea of the apostle in this figure of the potter and the clay was to present the fact that God, in dealing with men as moral subjects of his divine government, whether as individuals or nations, requires conformity to his divine ideal of character upon moral choice in order that they may realize the blessings and honors of the molding and shaping of his divine providences. To live in violation of this requirement is to he shaped in dishonor and to be rejected and destroyed as unworthy for the Master’s service. This the apostle was picturing as the case of the Hebrews as a people. They had become vessels of dishonor by rejecting the true Messiah, Christ, the God-sent Saviour of the world. This is clearly taught at the close of the chapter, in the 31st and 32nd verses. This lump of clay represents both the Jewish and Gentile worlds, in this representation the fulfillment of two prophecies, concerning the Hebrew and Gentile worlds, meet. If the lump of clay, as my opponent claims, represents the whole human family, from the beginning to the end of time, and if the vessels of honor shaped from it represent God’s elect, thus made by his absolute choice from eternity, then, since the dishonored vessels are also represented as being absolutely shaped by him, without their choice, would not these latter- have a right, according to the principle of equity, to demand of God, “Why hast thou made me thus?” The apostle rebukes the questioning, by these dishonored vessels, of God’s right to shape them. But he does riot do this on the grounds that my brother claims—that God had an absolute right thus to make dishonorable vessels of men, regardless of merit or demerit on their part. The potter must have respect to the condition of the clay, in order successfully to shape a vessel according to the designed ideal. So the apostle would teach us that God, in the moral and spiritual order of things, in shaping either men or nations into honorable or dishonorable vessels, has respect to the attitude they sustain to him; and whether or not men or nations are made honorable vessels depends upon their moral choice, in conformity to the requirements of God’s ideal of character. Then the Jews, as a people who rejected Christ, the Divine ideal and actual Saviour of men, had no right to question the equity of God’s dealings with them in depriving them of their honored trusts and blessings as his peculiar people. Paul, in Romans ix. 22, 23, pictures God’s long forbearance with these vessels of wrath, made up for destruction, in order to show God’s anxiety to have the Hebrews, these vessels of dishonor by unbelief, to repent and become vessels of honor. This same idea is presented by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy ii. 20, 21,where he speaks of it being possible for one who is a dishonored vessel to he purged and cleansed, and thereby changed to an honored vessel. The same view is presented in Jeremiah xviii. 4—8, inclusive. The prophet here represents Israel as a lump of clay, shaped into a vessel by the hands of the Lord as a potter, but marred on account of sins, thus becoming a vessel of dishonor. Jeremiah, by the authority of the Lord, declares unto Israel that if they will repent God will reshape them from a dishonored into an honored vessel. This completely blots out Brother Potter’s doctrine of absolute election from eternity, and knocks the props from under him in regard to his sheep being saved from eternity, without regard to any agency on their part. It everlastingly destroys his objection to the Foreign Mission work as wholly unnecessary in propagating the gospel for the salvation of souls. It proves on the contrary that foreign missionaries are operating according to the very principles of the divine economy of salvation— viz., individual responsibility in salvation, and combined cooperation of the divine and human agency in prosecuting the work of the world’s evangelization.
Brother Potter says of the advocates of Foreign Missions that his objection to their doctrine is, they damn all the heathen, roll them up by the wholesale, and just turn them over to eternal death. We do not teach it. If we did, it is a better doctrine than yours, which makes God damn men without their choice in order to manifest his power. That is your teaching. Now, if we had that big-nosed man here, and that boy to look at him we might raise a laugh! I have heard all those anecdotes all my life, but I am willing to listen to them if it will keep Brother Potter in a good humor. I am in sympathy with men in hard places.
He said if 1 should live fifty years from today, and hear of him or Brother Hume preaching, I would be calling them missionaries. I wonder if he was ever over in Africa or Madagascar. I love Brother Hume and Brother Potter, as far as that is concerned, but do not think he ought to put a quotation into our Confession that is not there. Let me see if he did that. John xii. 32 is the text. The Confession of Faith says: “And when he is come he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.” The text: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”
MR. POTTER: Is not that the proof-text of that section?
MR. YATES: Yes, but that is not the text you quoted. John xii. 33 is the verse you quoted. His memory was short. Jesus is going to draw all men unto him. Brother Potter is a Universalist. That is their main text. That is one of the strongest Universalist texts. “And I, if be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” He says I am mistaken on that. Well, I will take the mistake, and I will say yet his theology is the same. “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” Now, let us go farther. I want to look at those contradictions of the Confession of Faith, page 2.7. I will read: God the Father, having sent forth his Son Jesus Christ as a propitiation for the sins of the world, does most graciously vouchsafe a manifestation of the Holy Spirit with the same intent to every man, the Holy Spirit operating through the written word, and through such other means as God in his wisdom may choose.” I want you to note that. First, it is through the written word the Holy Spirit operates, and then through such other means as God may choose, or directly without means. I do not suppose the brethren meant that there was no means at all. We believe the Holy Spirit operates independently of the Word, and yet in the Word. And we believe farther, just what Paul taught in that second chapter of Romans, yet it may be so interpreted or looked at as to leave this other part of God’s dealings with the human family where the gospel is not, with God, and we are not willing to take an stand that we have not a “thus saith the Lord” for. So moves upon the hearts of men as to enlighten, reprove, and convince them of sin and of their lost estate, and incline them to come to Christ.” Paul helps us out on that in Romans i. 20, and we stand with Paul right there: I do, and I believe the denomination does. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” They have had the light. And further than that, Paul tells us in the 2d chapter, 12th verse, “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” That is it. As many as sinned without law shall perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law. Then he goes on to say, “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves.” That is, those that act up to the best light they have. But very few of them do that. If men in this enlightened land do not, what about the heathen in that benighted land? So you can see my position in regard to the heathen.
Now, I want to say this: that the gospel is the common ordained means in the work. I am not here to defend any particular individual as air individual, or any particular creed, hut only the proposition under discussion—“Resolved, That the gospel work carried on by the different denominations in heathen lands or foreign countries, known as the Foreign Mission work, is authorized in the Scripture and blessed. and owned of God.” I have asked him time and again to show us a passage in accordance with his teaching. Now, he knows that we believe in the operation of the Holy Spirit just as strongly as he does, and that the uplifted Christ is a crucified Christ, and the crucified Christ an uplifted Jesus. Now, I think I have explained myself far enough not to be misunderstood upon this heathen question. I am far from throwing all heathen into hell, but I believe thousands of them are lost without the gospel. Look at the results. And yet Brother Potter says God has a right to do as he pleases. He says that he does not believe in Foreign Mission work—a work that has to be backed by an army. He has given me his own book, Appleton’s Cyclopedia, and I want to read it to you and see how much there is against Foreign Missions. Perhaps he will say to you, after I read it, that Paul did not have the backing of civil government. He did not. He did not have the civil government behind him. What gave to us our civil government? It was Christianity. The United States is under obligations to protect their citizens anywhere. There is not a word said in this article claiming that religion was forced upon the people with the bayonet. This is an account given of that star of light, Madagascar, where many suffered martyrdom that they might propagate the gospel there. Appleton’s Cyclopedia, page 814, Madagascar: “In 1818 the London Missionary Society sent a number of missionaries, accompanied by artisans, to instruct the people. The native language was reduced to writing, a grammar prepared, and the Bible translated and printed. In the course of ten years about 15,000 of the natives had learned to read, and a large number were converted to Christianity. Mr. Hastie, an Irishman sent by the British Government as its agent, resided several years at the capital, where he had great influence. His counsels, which all tended to promote civilization, had so much weight with Radamna, who was strongly imbued with the love of truth and justice, and was humane and gentle in character. The king gave all the encouragement in his power to the missionaries, and great advances were made in civilizing the kingdom. Infanticide and other cruel customs were abolished. and rapid progress was made in the useful arts and in education. The premature death of Radama. in 1828, put a stop to the advance of Madagascar. He was succeeded by his widow, Ranavalona, who exerted herself to undo his work. The schools were closed amid the missionaries driven from the island in 1835. The influence of the idol-keepers and of the supporters of divination and other superstitions was restored to its former supremacy. The profession of Christianity by any of the natives was prohibited and violent persecution of the native Christians commenced, in which many suffered martyrdom with heroic fortitude. The French were expelled from their settlements on the east coast by Radama in 1825, and again by the queen’s troops in 1831. In 1845 the English and French cruisers in those seas undertook to humble the Hovas, and, after fruitless conferences and attempts at negotiation, bombarded and burned Tamatave and landed to attack the fort, but were repulsed with considerable loss. From this period all amicable intercourse between the French and English and the Madagascans ceased for eight years, till in 1853 commercial relations were renewed by the payment of an indemnity to the queen of the island. In 1846 the queen’s son, then seventeen years of age, embraced Christianity, and through his influence Christian doctrines were more widely spread than ever; but in 1849 a fresh persecution broke out, and more than two thousand persons were arrested and punished for their faith, some of them with death. In 1857 a conspiracy organized by French emissaries for the overthrow of the queen’s government led to another persecution of the Christians, in which two thousand persons were put to death. In 1861 Ranavalona died, and was succeeded by her son, Radama II., who proclaimed liberty to all religions, released the Christian captives, and forbade sorcery and the ordeal by poison. The English missionaries returned, and Christianity made rapid progress. On May 12, 1863, he was murdered, and his widow, Rasoherina, made sovereign. She was a heathen, and the patron of the idols, but preserved liberty of worship. In 1867 a large church was erected in memory of the Christian martyrs. Rasoherina died April i, i868, and was succeeded by her sister, who took the name of Rasoherina II. She publicly professed Christianity on February 20, 1869, and has exerted her influence for the advancement of education. Three printing-presses are established at her capital, and during 1869, 36,243 books were issued, and in the first six months in 1870, 81,000 tracts, Bibles, Testaments and other books.” So there was no force at all, only in the attempt to protect the subjects, just as the United. States would do for any man or woman as a citizen that was imposed on, or as any Christian nation would do for its missionaries. And even the effort of the French and British Governments in this direction was a failure, and neither gave force nor security to the Foreign Mission work in Madagascar, but aggravated its surroundings and increased its obstacles. So in spite of the cruel persecutions of the Malagasy, the missionary work has accomplished its grand achievements among the Hovas, by its own agencies and means, and the Divine aid by which it has been guided and blessed. So says Mr. Appleton, whose work my opponent intended to draw upon me as a witness against the Foreign Mission work; but this authority proved to be a very strong witness in favor of missions, and as authority it must be first-class, or my worthy opponent would not have selected it.
Now, I want to notice this claim that I have failed to show that there is an identity between the Foreign Mission work of today and the primitive Church. Now, I have shown you, if you remember, that the very same spirit that actuated the Christian workers in the primitive Church actuate the missionary workers of today and that they comply with the very same principles in the mission work. I have also shown you that as the foreign missionaries of the first century suffered martyrdom in the advancement of the gospel, so also the missionaries of the Foreign Mission work of today have laid down their lives in like manner in prosecuting the gospel work in heathen lands. I have also shown the identity of the energizing and guiding power of the Holy Spirit, and of its design as manifest in the gospel work of the New Testament, with that of the Foreign Mission work of today as exhibited by its laborers both in the home and foreign field. The design of the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church is to enable its members to witness for Christ to the world. Let me read that to you in regard to the Holy Spirit: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” By the baptism of the Holy Spirit they were to be prepared to become witnesses unto the uttermost part of the earth; that was their mission. Jesus said, “Go preach the gospel to every creature “—go take the gospel. I have given proof-text after proof-text. I have shown you that the object of the mission work today and the mission work then are the same—to “preach the gospel to every creature.” I have shown that the end to be sub-served is the same exactly; I have shown further, that they were sent forth of God. The members of the primitive Church, in their preparation to carry out the great commission given by Christ, assembled together and prayed until they were baptized by the Holy Spirit and endued with power for the work. Then the Church went forth to witness for Jesus unto the uttermost parts of the earth, and God blessed the work. So it was with the Church in the seventeenth century. When its members went to God for the baptism of power by the Holy Spirit to fit them for the work, their spiritual life was wonderfully revived. The Church was so revived that it sent forth witnesses for Jesus to the remotest parts of the earth—to the heathen lands. The laborers and witnesses have since been wonderfully blessed by God in their labors. That the apostles were slow to learn is seen in the fact that they did not at first comprehend the full meaning of the commission, for up to the revival at Antioch they directed their labors to the Jews only. When Peter went down to Joppa, in order to induce him to go from thence to Caesarea to preach the gospel to Cornelius, the Gentile, he had to have testimony from both the human and divine side, as I have shown in my former speeches. True, it is said of the Church at Jerusalem that they continued in the fellowship and doctrine of the apostles—that is, they entertained the same doctrinal views and had sympathies in common with the apostles in the work. This does not conflict with the statement I made, that the apostles in the beginning of the work did not realize the full extent of the commission. Peter certainly did not, as I have already ‘said, for the Lord had to give him a vision removing his national prejudices, to prepare him to preach the gospel to Cornelius, the Roman Centurion. That was as great an undertaking for Peter, with his Jewish prejudices, and as grand a sacrifice, as for one today to give up his native land to go to the foreign field to preach the gospel of Christ to the heathen. The disciples at Jerusalem, who were scattered abroad by persecution, had gone everywhere preaching the Word. Some of them went to Antioch and had a great revival. The apostles at Jerusalem sent Barnabas to examine the nature of the work. He reported that the work was blessed and owned of God, though it was a Foreign Mission work among the Gentiles. You see the fire was spreading everywhere. Those burning hearts, filled with life, working for Jesus, constrained by the love of Christ, went everywhere, laboring for the salvation of souls. What was the result? The Gentiles were coming in; the brethren who where sent to see whether the evidence justified the report that came to them reported that the work was of God. What was a farther result? We find Paul and Barnabas sent out by the Church through the Holy Spirit. God’s church is his temple; he dwells in it. They were sent out into Asia Minor to preach the gospel, to tell the glad tidings of salvation. What more or farther? Now, we will read concerning it. We will take this very city we were talking about this morning, and see the results. Why, Corinth was one of the most corrupt cities of that day. It was a city noted for licentiousness as well as for glory and greatness—in fact, it was noted for every sin that the heathen are guilty of today. You remember this morning what I read to you in 1 Cor. vi. 9—the description of what they were before Paul went there: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you “—such “were,” it is in the past “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.” Then in 1 Corinthians 1. 21: “For after that in the wisdom of God the-world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Now, here (pointing to the map) I have quoted to you from the very best authors in regard to the fruits in these islands in Oceania, and have shown you how wicked and depraved these men and women were, They were cannibals, they often feasted upon their enemies, they buried their children and enemies alive, they engaged in every thing that was brutal and low. We do not need to show, the Scripture connection between the gospel and Foreign Mission work in the-heathen lands, except to show the identity in spirit and in fruit. History shows that the Church has success just in proportion as it possesses the missionary spirit’ and manifests it in the work. And in the same proportion as it loses this spirit does it lose power and decrease in growth. When the Church succeeds it shows the missionary spirit. Here (pointing to the Foreign Mission fields on the map) we see the results of the gospel work. They are just the same as the results of the gospel preached by Paul and others at Philippi and Corinth and in all those cities where the gospel secured a hearing in the first century. Hence the fruits are identical. Now, I would like to read a quotation from Harris in his “Great Commission,” pages 151—154. I have not time to read it now, but I will just say, and make it good in my next speech, that in this apostolic period, when the Church depended too much upon worldly things and did not heed spiritual things, as guided by the Holy Spirit, it lost power and became only nominally Christian. But just in the proportion that: the missionary spirit prevailed did the Church prosper.
The gospel was sent to the nations of Northern Europe, and though in this the Church was not as spiritual as we would desire, yet amid all the chaff there were grains of wheat which fell here and there all over that country. The early Church did a good work also in preserving the manuscripts of the New Testament. Then there came the age of darkness, when there were only a few fruitful souls here and there. The life of the Church was not sufficient to carry out the work in sending the word abroad, for it was all that it could do to keep itself alive at home. Then came another great revival. The first impulse of revival life came through Wycliffe, who lived and labored from 100 to 200 years before the Reformation. During these intervening centuries there lived here and there such earnest, active gospel teachers and workers as John Huss, who further developed the already partially revived spiritual life of the Church. But the Roman Catholics crushed out Wycliffe and Huss, and all other leading evangelical spirits in the revival work. Yet the fire was burning and smoldering, until at last it burst out into the glorious Reformation, out of which came our great civilization, which my brother confesses is the fruit of Christianity. Following the Reformation came a season of great apostasy to the Protestant Church. Following this came the great revival of the general religious work of the seventeenth century. Out of this grew the revival of the Church life which gave birth to our present marvelous epoch of the Foreign Mission work. Now, my friends, Brother Potter says he believes in civilization. He believes there are better homes and better society where the Bible is sent than where it is not. Now, if Christianity has given us our civilization, is not the civilization produced among the heathen by the gospel like it? Then they must be identical. Can a man live a pure and beautiful life, the reverse of the corrupt and debased life of the Corinthians, or the reverse of the debased and brutal lives of the heathen in the lands I have called your attention to on the map, without that transformation of character wrought by the influence of the Holy Spirit?


The first thing I want to call your attention to is Brother Yates’ manner of making a wholesale sweep of any thing by an assertion. Now, he is a big man. He insinuates that I do not know much about the history of civilization, and I do the best I can. I would like to know something about it. Why does he not present an author besides himself? Can any of you account for it? Do you know why he made that stroke in telling us the origin of Greek civilization, about my mistake, and that I did not know any better when I took that position? How much better do we know it now? Why, we have Brother Yates’ word for it, and of course we all believe it. He did not tell us what historian to read. Does he think we can progress very fast? Again, he accuses me of something that I am not guilty of, in comparing the Grecian civilization to the civilization of Christianity, in putting it on a level with it. That is a mistake. I did not do that—but to show that people were intuitively in favor of education and the elevation of the people, where those people who had the best civilization were willing to give it to others. The history that I read, or that I have read— and I do not know what other one to quote; Brother Yates does not tell me what one—informs us that Egypt continued to pour forth her colonies into Greece to educate them, and to lift them up from a low state of barbarity into a state in which they were; that Athens— that great city of learning, the fruits of which are such men as Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, and others of the great philosophers—was the product of that great colonization. Now, I do not pretend to say that was half as good as the civilization caused by Christianity. but it certainly bettered the situation of the Greeks. Brother Yates will not say that it did not. They were better off after they received that instruction than they were before they received it. He has not questioned that at Mr. Hence it is not education that I am here to oppose, and I must repeat that in every speech. It is not the preaching of the gospel that I am here to oppose, it is not civilization that I am here to oppose, it is not the ennobling of man that I am here to oppose; I am here to oppose that doctrine which says that the preaching of the gospel and a knowledge of the Bible are absolutely essential to salvation. Now, if Brother Yates says it is, there is an issue between us; but if he says it is not, he contradicts the majority of the missionary advocates of today, and goes back on what he has already stated. That is the issue, and what is the use of talking about any thing else? The people understand it, and I would like for him to understand it.
Another thing he said about those martyrs yesterday. He said I said they were Baptists. That is a mistake. I said there was a number of different denominations among them, without him asking me to say it. I admitted all the time that there was a number of different sects pr denominations among them, but that the ministry of the Church, whatever it was, under which, during all the years these martyrs were gathered together, worked anterior to the institution known now as the Foreign Missionary Society. That is what I said. He admits that there were some Baptists among them and I did not ask him to do that. He admits it. I did not say there were none besides Baptists. He said yesterday there were Lutherans and Presbyterians; that is what he said they were. I wanted him to prove it. I do not see how there could be so many Lutherans and Presbyterians so early in the Reformation, because this persecution took place at the beginning of the Reformation—so says the book we have both read, and which we agree is good. He said it was the fruit of the Foreign Mission spirit. I want him to prove that. I presume we are to take his word for it. That is the best we have, and we will have to do just the best we can, and that is all. He says again that I told him this morning that he said it would take him six days to prove this proposition. I asked him if he could prove it in a day, and he did not say whether he could or not. I asked him if he tho tight it would take him six days, and he did not say. He wanted to debate it six days. That is what I said this morning. I asked him; I do not say he answered it, and he did not at all. He accused me of saying that he said it would take him six days to prove it. I wanted to know, when it took him four days to define it, how long it would take him to prove it. That is all there is of that. These are merely mistakes. I do not feel disposed to charge them as any thing else but mistakes. I know I am able to make errors. I am not perfect. If any of my brethren think that I am not liable to errors they are mistaken; hut I think they, the Old Baptists, are as far from being mistaken as any others. I may be mistaken in saying on Monday he said the heathen that did the best they could, with the light they had, would be saved. My honest impression is that he said it. I took the note that way at the time, and thought that it was on Monday instead of Thursday. I would not contend a moment for it. He can take it back if he wishes, if he did say so. It is not a question of veracity, or at least I did not understand it so. Now, let us debate. Let us talk about the thing we differ on.
I have another note here. He said the potter spoken of in the 9th chapter of Romans was not God. I want to read a little in the 9th chapter of Romans. Let us read a little from that. Potter and clay are both men, and of course we do not object to reading a little about that. Brother Yates does not object to hearing his name, and I do not. I want to read it also because if he and I are there, then I have the advantage; if not, I can have the advantage of what it teaches, so that in either case the potter has the power over the clay in that text. Sometimes clay needs controlling, needs to know somebody has power over it. We all need that. I am clay as well as potter. Let us notice the 9th chapter of Romans just a moment to see if we can learn any thing from it. Brother Yates and I, if we live to be as old as some men, will have to live a good while, and both of us can learn, perhaps. I could, I think. Now, let us see what this text says, beginning with the 14th verse: “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses”—who says to Moses? God. I want a close examination of this text—“I”—who? God—“will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Now, if those pronouns do not have God for their antecedent, I want Brother Yates to tell us so. I want him to notice that. He is a scholar. “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up”—“I”—who? Brother Yates, I want you to be particular on this—“that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.” Who is that but God? “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he”—God—“will he hardeneth.” If that is not right, let Brother Yates tell it. We want to know. “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he”—God—“yet find fault? For who bath resisted his”—God’s—“will? Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” Then he brings in the figure of the potter and the clay. The potter represents somebody, and so does the clay. I said that God was represented by the potter in that text. I did not say the potter was God; but I said God was represented by the potter in that figure. Now, if that is not true, then I get the wrong understanding in that connection, and I would love for Brother Yates to tell me how it is. I never heard it contradicted in my life, although I have heard a great many old persons of different denominations, but I never heard it otherwise explained until today. And it is constantly spoken of in that way. I am learning. Perhaps if I were to stay with Brother Yates, I would progress a little. “Hath not the potter power over clay of the same lump”—not a lump of clay and a lump of wax, as he illustrated this morning; the same lump of what? of clay—“to make one vessel”—who makes the vessel? Why, the potter does; that is his trade—“to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?” Now, has the potter that power? I quoted this text to show his authority; and I stated, when I introduced this text the other evening, that the lump of clay was Adam’s fallen and ruined race, already sinful, already condemned, already undone; having already forfeited every claim they had upon the Divine Being, by their own wicked actions, they had incurred the divine vengeance of God’s just and holy law, and were exposed to his divine vengeance. That lump of guilty clay God has the right to do as he pleases with. If that is not it, I fail to understand the apostle here. I introduced that to prove that God had a right to do as he pleased.
Now, I want to notice another text to prove that he does have that right with guilty man; has a right to do as he pleases with his own. I call your attention to Matthew xx., beginning at the first of the chapter, and I will read fifteen or sixteen verses: “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning with the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil because I am good?”
Here the Saviour taught the doctrine that God had a right to do just as he pleased with his own; yet he represents the case here as though the lord of that vineyard had made a distinction between men. He had had some of them work all day for a penny, and some only an hour; and yet he claimed the right to give them all the same wages. Now, if that is not what Brother Yates is complaining about, because God treats man just as he pleases, and condemns the one and saves the other, I do not understand him.
I want to make this illustration: Suppose that each of these two brothers sitting here owed me $50. This man owes me $50, and so does that one. The debts are not connected with each other at all; each man owes his own individual debt, and I have each man’s note for $50. They are just debts, contracts of their own; they are men capable of transacting their own affairs. I ask every person in this house, whose property are those notes? Every man says they are mine. Then, I have a right to do as I please with them, if they belong to me. They are my property. Very well, if I see fit I can stick them in the fire and burn them up, or I can take them and give them up to the persons who executed the notes. I can do as I please with them. Is not that true? Yes. Well, if I can do as I please with them, cannot I go to this brother and give him his note, and say, “Here, I forgive you the whole debt?” Have not I that right? Everybody says, Yes. What difference does that make to this man? He still owes me $50, and I still have his note. Have I a right to do as I please with it now? It does not make his debt any harder to pay because I forgave that one. It does not make him any deeper in debt, and it does not make his debt any the less just. Hence I have a right to go to him and demand that he pay it, so far as right is concerned. Then, I have a right to make a distinction if I want to. It is nobody’s business in the world, not even his business, why I forgave that man his debt. But as we are on that subject, and the justice of the matter has been brought up, I want to notice Brother Yates’ illustration about this that he gave the other day. He illustrated it in this way: That a man sees a couple a children on a railroad track and a train coming, and the man has the power to take them off the track, and takes one away and leaves the other, in order to show his power. At the same time he had the power to save both of them. Brother Yates says that man is a fiend. That is what he says; he is a fiend. If that is true, has God the power to save everybody? Will Brother Yates tell us that God has not the power to save every sinner that lives in the world? Does he save all of them? He must save some of them and leave the others, when he has the power to save all, or else he must save all of them, or else he saves none. Do you see where his illustration goes to? He says if he saves some and not the others, he compares him to a fiend, if he has the power to save all. Does he save any? Does he save all? Has he the power?
I want to notice Brother Yates’ beautiful arguments against the doctrine of election and predestination; his idea about justice, his idea about right, his idea about the character of the Divine Being. He does not believe that God saves all the race. No, sir. But be believes that he saves some of them. Yes. Did he not have the power to save all of them? Yes. Then, what is he like? Why, he is like Brother Yates’ man, according to his own doctrine. He had the power. Let us not get in a hurry. I do not know but what Brother Yates is a Universalist, and he cannot get out of it in that way. He had me accused of having an article in his Confession of Faith that was not there, and he acknowledged that he was mistaken, and that it was there.
MR. YATES: It was a quotation.
MR. POTTER: Yes, a quotation. I showed him his mistake, and that was all right; he acknowledged it, and before I showed it to him he was in such a hurry that he committed himself on it. First, he said if it was there the brethren in getting tip the Confession, he presumed, had made a mistake in getting that text—it was not the text they aimed to get. Next, he said on that text that it proved Universalism. That is what he said. Why? Because the Saviour said, “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” That is the text our Cumberland brethren have selected to prove the work of the Holy Spirit in teaching men their need of salvation and their lost estate, and inclining them to come to Christ. Hence I selected that as the one that he called on me for. Remember, now, that he had called on me just to produce one text to prove the salvation of anybody without the gospel, without truth, and I did not have it to do, because his brethren had already selected it, and I simply cited him to it, and that was it; and he said it proved Universalism. Now he admits it was a Presbyterian text, selected for that purpose. Now, what have we? A Universalist? That is better than the doctrine he was preaching this morning; infinitely better than the damning of all the heathen where the gospel does not go. That is the biggest jump I have seen a man take for a long time. It reminds me of an Irishman who was going to get on a steamboat. It was shoving off just as he was coming to it, and he ran and attempted to jump on, but it had moved out, so he made a big jump and fell. He scratched around awhile and then got up, rubbed his head, and looked at the boat, which was then a hundred yards from the bank, and said, “No wonder I fell, jumping that far.” A long jump. Now, a man making such jumps as that is likely to meet with some misfortunes, but Brother Yates did it. He said it was Universalism. It was the text that I introduced to prove that people were saved where there was no gospel. I introduced that text especially because the Cumberlands had cited it in their Confession of Faith to prove that people would be saved where there was no gospel—that is, without means directly, and without means. Now, if I had made a mistake, had cited the wrong verse, Universalism would have been saddled on me by Brother Yates: but as I did not make the mistake, and it was his, the saddle fits him the best, and as he has put it on I propose to help him buckle the girth, and he must wear it, and any man that wants to ride a Universalist colt from here can just ride him. Does that text teach Universalist doctrine? Brother Yates says it does. It is selected by him and his brethren to prove their doctrine. Now, he had better just simply take all that back. There is one honorable way to get out of difficulties, but human pride will not allow men to take that way every time. That way is just simply to back out. Everybody does not like to do that. He had better.
He says I accused the Confession of contradicting itself. Well, he is mistaken. The Confession does not contradict itself that I know of, but Brother Yates contradicts the Confession. That is what I was arguing. Let us see whether it does or not. I do not want people to take my word for it, but I want them to be their own judges. I am here to talk to intelligent people who are as capable as I am of judging matters, and many of them more so. I put the question to Brother Yates for two days, in every speech almost, in this house, asking him if he believed that the missionaries in the foreign fields would be the means and instrumentalities of the salvation of souls that would not he saved without them. He finally, yesterday evening, said, “Yes; they are the means and instrumentalities in the salvation of souls that must sink down to hell if the missionaries do not get there.” And in addition to that he turned to me and challenged me to prove the salvation of a solitary individual without the truth. Now, put the two together, and he does not only say that souls have been saved by missionaries that would not have been saved without them, but he positively says that no person is saved without them, challenging me to find a case. There he and the Confession differ. The contradiction is between Brother Yates and the Confession, not in the Confession at all. Now, let us see again how this Confession does read. I do not want to read any thing only what is here; but what is here I want to read. It was published for that; was it not, brethren? These books were published for good, to teach and instruct, and if the people do not know what is in them, they are published for them to learn: “God the Father, having sent forth his Son Jesus Christ as a propitiation for the sins of the world, does most graciously vouchsafe a manifestation of the Holy Spirit with the same intent to every man.” Brother Yates has been arguing the whole week that “every man means the whole race. Take this definition of “every man,” and we have a manifestation of the Holy Spirit vouchsafed to all the race by the God of heaven, not on conditions, but unconditionally, and just as truly as Jesus died for them. That is what the Confession says. I did not make this. It is a tolerably respectable document, and I have nothing to say against it. Now, I will read the next section: “The Holy Spirit, operating through the written word”—and you will remember that I admitted this morning, for the present, that that may be the present means. I admitted that. That is all Brother Yates claims—that the preaching or reading of the Bible is God’s ordinary means through which to operate with his Holy Spirit. That is all out Presbyterian brethren claim. But in addition to that, this teaches “and through such other means as God in his wisdom may choose, or directly without means. Without means, without the Bible, without the gospel, or any other means, for it says, “without means.” Well, what does it do, then, without means? “So moves upon the hearts of men as to enlighten, reprove, and convince them of sin and of their lost estate, and their need of salvation, and by so doing incline them to come to Christ.” That is good, that is wholesome.