The missionary is constantly tempted to overcomplicate the missionary task. We forget that the Great Commission is a call for the proclamation of the gospel—nothing less. This is more relevant than ever in our trying cultural setting.
On April 21, 1861, Charles Spurgeon delivered a sermon titled “The Missionaries’ Charge and Charter” (#383) addressing the core of the missionary task.
The following manuscript has been adapted with minimal change. Consider the weight of Spurgeon’s exhortations to goers and senders today.
While I was meditating in private upon this text, I felt myself carried away by its power. I was quite unable to calmly consider its terms or to investigate its argument. The command with which the text concludes repeated itself again, and again, and again in my ears, till I found it impossible to study, for my thoughts were running hither and thither, asking a thousand questions, all of them intended to help me in answering for myself the solemn inquiry, “How am I to go, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost?”
The practical lesson seemed to me to overwhelm in my mind the argument of which that lesson is but a conclusion, “Go ye and teach all nations.” My ears seemed to hear it as if Christ were then speaking it to me. I could realize his presence by my side. I thought I could see him lift his pierced hands, and hear him speak, as he was known to speak, with authority, blended with meekness, “Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the All-glorious God.”
Oh, I would that the church could hear the Savior addressing these words to her now, for the words of Christ are living words, not having power in them yesterday alone, but today also. The injunctions of the Savior are perpetual in their obligation, they were not binding upon merely apostles, but upon us also, and upon every Christian does this yoke fall, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” We are not exempt today from the service of the first followers of the Lamb, our marching orders are the same as theirs, and our Captain requires from us obedience as prompt and perfect as from them. Oh, that his message may not fall upon deaf ears, or be heard by uninterested souls!
Brethren, the heathen are perishing, shall we let them perish? His name is blasphemed, shall we be quiet and still? The honor of Christ is cast into the dust, and his foes revile his person and resist his throne, shall we his soldiers suffer this, and not find our hands feeling for the hilt of our sword, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God? Our Lord delays his coming, shall we begin to sleep, or to eat, or to be drunken? Shall we not rather gird up the loins of our mind, and cry unto him, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly”?
The scoffing skeptics of these last days have said that the anticipated conquest of the world for Christ is but a dream, or an ambitious thought, which crossed our leader’s mind, but which never is to be accomplished. It is asserted by some that the superstitions of the heathen are too strong to be battered down by our teachings, and that the strongholds of Satan are utterly impregnable against our attacks. Shall it be so? Shall we be content to foolishly sit still?
Nay, rather let us work out the problem, let us prove the promise of God to be true, let us prove the words of Jesus to be words of soberness, let us show the efficacy of his blood, and the invincibility of his Spirit by going in the spirit of faith, teaching all nations, and winning them to the obedience of Christ our Lord.
I do not know how to begin to preach this morning, but still it seems to me, standing here, as if I heard that voice saying, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.” And my soul sometimes pants and longs for the liberty to preach Christ where he was never preached before, not to build upon another man’s foundation, but to go to some untrodden land, some waste where the foot of Christ’s minister was never seen, that there “the solitary place might be glad for us, and the wilderness rejoice and blossom as the rose.”
I have made it a solemn question whether I might not testify in China or India the grace of Jesus, and in the sight of God I have answered it. I solemnly feel that my position in England will not permit my leaving the sphere in which I now am, or else tomorrow I would offer myself as a missionary. Oh, do none of you hear the call this morning?
You who are free from so great a work as that which is cast upon me—you who have talents as yet undevoted to any special end, and powers of being as yet unconsecrated to any given purpose, and unconfined to any one sphere? Do you not hear my Master saying, in tones of plaintive sorrow, blended with an authority which is not to be denied, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”?
Oh, that I could preach like Peter the Hermit—a better crusade than he! Oh, that there were might in some human lips to move the thousands of our Israel to advance at once, unanimously and irresistibly to the world’s conquest, like one tremendous tide rising from the depths of the ocean, to sweep over the sands, the barren sands which are now given up to desolation and death! Oh, that once again the voice of thunder could be heard, and the lightning spirit could penetrate each heart, that as one man the entire church might take the marching orders of her Lord, and go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of Israel’s God!
O Lord, if we fail to speak, fail not you to speak. And if we know not how to bear your burden, or express your amazing thoughts, yet speak you with that all-constraining silent voice which well-trained ears can hear, and make your servants obedient to you now, for Christ’s sake!
“Awake, Thou Spirit, who of old
Didst fire the watchman of the church’s youth,
Who faced the foe, unshrinking, bold,
Who witness’d day and night the eternal truth,
Whose voices through the world are ringing still,
And bringing hosts to know and do Thy will.
Oh, that Thy fire were kindled soon,
That swift from land to land its flame might leap!
Lord, give us but this priceless boon
Of faithful servants, fit for Thee to reap.
The harvest of the soul; look down and view
How great the harvest, yet the laborers few.
Oh, haste to help ere we are lost!
Send forth evangelists, in spirit strong,
Arm’d with Thy Word, a dauntless host,
Bold to attack the rule of ancient wrong;
And let them all the earth for Thee reclaim,
To be Thy kingdom and to know Thy name.”
This morning, we shall first dwell a little while upon the command, and then secondly, we shall enlarge upon the argument. There is an argument, as you will perceive, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.”
1. The Command
First, my brethren and very briefly indeed, a few things about the command.
And we must remark, first, what a singularly loving one it is. Imagine Mohammed on his dying bed saying to his disciples, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,” what would be his command? “Go ye, therefore, with sharp scimitars, and propound faith in the prophet, or death as the dread alternative, avenge me of the men who threw stones at the prophet, make their houses a dunghill, and cut them in pieces, for vengeance is mine, and God’s prophet must be avenged of his enemies.”
But Christ, though far more despised and persecuted of men, and having a real power which that pretended prophet never had, says to his disciples, as He is about to ascend to heaven, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” It is the voice of love, not of wrath. “Go and teach them the power of My blood to cleanse, the willingness of My arms to embrace, the yearning of My heart to save!
“Go and teach them. Teach them no more to despise Me, no more to think My Father an angry and implacable Deity. Teach them to ‘bow the knee, and kiss the Son,’ and find peace for all their troubles, and a balm for all their woes in Me. Go speak as I have spoken, weep as I have wept, invite as I have invited, exhort, entreat, beseech and pray, as I have done before you. Tell them to come unto Me, if they be weary and heavy laden, and I will give them rest. And say unto them, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, but had rather that he should turn unto me and live.’” What a generous and gracious command is that of the text, “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
Note, too, how exceedingly plain is the command “Go ye, teach all nations.” The Romish church has misunderstood this. She says, “Go ye, mystify all nations, sound in their ears a language once living, but now dead, take to them the Latin tongue, and let that be sounded with all the harmony of sweet music, and they will be converted. Erect the sumptuous altar, clothe the priest in mystic garments, celebrate mysterious rites, and make the heathen wonder, dazzle them with splendor, amaze them with mystery.”
But “Nay,” says Christ, “nay, go ye and teach.” Why, it is the mother’s work with her child. It is the tutor’s work with the boy and with the girl, “Go ye, and teach.” How simple! Illustrate, explain, expound, tell, inform, narrate. Take from them the darkness of ignorance, reveal to them the light of revelation. Teach! Be content to sit down, and tell them the very plainest and most common things. It is not your eloquence that shall convert them, it is not your gaudy language or your polished periods that shall sway their intellects. Go and teach them.
Teach them! Why, my hearer, I say again, this is a word which has to do with the rudiments of knowledge. We do not preach to children, we teach them, and we are not so much to preach to nations, that word seems too big and great for the uncivilized and childish people. Go ye, and teach them first the very simplicities of the cross of Christ.
And note how he puts it next. Who are to be taught? “Go ye and teach all nations.” The Greek has his philosophers, teach him, he is but a child, he is a fool, though he thinks himself to be wise. There be polite nations which have a literature of their own, far larger and more extensive than the literature of the Christian, teach them, nevertheless, they are to be taught, and unless they are willing to take the learner’s place, and to become as little children, they can in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Do not debate and argue with them, put not yourself with them upon their level as a combatant concerning certain dogmas, insist upon it that I have sent you—sent you to teach the most erudite and profoundly learned, and when you shall claim it, I am with you always to back your claim, and men shall be willing to sit at your feet to be taught the name of Jesus.
I do not know whether all our missionaries have caught the idea of Christ, “Go ye and teach all nations,” but many of them have, and these have been honored with many conversions. The more fully they have been simple teachers, not philosophers of the Western philosophy, not eager disputants concerning some English dogma, I say the more plainly they have gone forth as teachers sent from God to teach the world, the more successful have they been. “Go ye, therefore, and teach.”
Some may think, perhaps, there is less difficulty in teaching the learned than in teaching the uncivilized and barbarous. There is the same duty to the one as to the other, “Go and teach.” “But they brandish the tomahawk.” Teach them, and lie down and sleep in their hut, and they shall marvel at your fearlessness and spare your life. “But they feed on the blood of their fellows, they make a bloody feast about the cauldron in which a man’s body is the horrible menu.” Teach them, and they shall empty their war kettle, and they shall bury their swords, and bow before you, and acknowledge King Jesus. “But they are brutalized, they scarcely have a language—a few clicking sounds make up all that they can say.” Teach them, and they shall speak the language of Canaan, and sing the songs of heaven.
The fact has been proved, brethren, that there are no nations incapable of being taught, nay, that there are no nations incapable afterwards of teaching others. The Negro slave has perished under the lash, rather than dishonor his Master. The Eskimo has climbed his barren steeps, and borne his toil, while he has recollected the burden which Jesus bore. The Hindu has patiently submitted to the loss of all things, because he loved Christ better than all. Feeble Malagasy women have been prepared to suffer and to die, and have taken joyfully suffering for Christ’s sake.
There has been heroism in every land for Christ, men of every color and of every race have died for him, upon his altar has been found the blood of all kindreds who are upon the face of the earth. Oh! tell me not they cannot be taught. Sirs, they can be taught to die for Christ, and this is more than some of you have learned. They can rehearse the very highest lesson of the Christian religion—that self-sacrifice which knows not itself, but gives up all for him.
At this day, there are Karen missionaries preaching among the Karens with as fervid an eloquence as ever was known by Whitefield. There are Chinese teaching in Borneo, Sumatra, and Australia, with as much earnestness as Morison or Milne first taught in China. There are Hindu evangelists who are not ashamed to have given up the Brahmian thread, and to eat with the Pariah, and to preach with him the riches of Christ. There have been men found of every class and kind, not only able to be taught, but able to become teachers themselves, and the most mighty teachers too, of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Well was that command warranted by future facts, when Christ said, “Go ye, teach all nations.”
But brethren, the text says, “Baptizing them.” They are to be taught, and afterwards they are to be baptized. I know not why it is that we yield to the superstitions of our Christian brethren, so much as to use the word baptize at all. It is not an English, but a Greek word. It has but one meaning, and cannot bear another. Throughout all the classics, without exception, it is not possible to translate it correctly, except with the idea of immersion, and believing this, and knowing this, if the translation is not complete, we will complete it this morning. “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
Now, I think that our Missionary Society, while it may take precedence in matters of time—for it was the first that was ever commenced with the exception of the Moravians—ought also to take precedence in matters of purity, because we can carry out this text in every country, teaching first and baptizing afterwards. We do not understand the philosophy of baptizing, and afterwards teaching. We hold that we must teach first, and then, when men are disciples, we are to baptize them. Not the nations. The Greek does not bear that interpretation, but those who have been discipled, we are to baptize into the Sacred Name.
We think that our brethren do serious damage to the gospel by baptizing children. We do not think their error a little one. We know it does not touch a vital point, but we do believe that infant baptism is the prop and pillar of Popery, and it being removed, Popery and Puseyism become at once impossible. You have taken away all idea of a national godliness, and a national religion when you have cut away all liberty to administer Christian ordinances to unconverted persons. We cannot see any evil which would follow if our brethren would renounce their mistake, but we can see abundant mischief which their mistake has caused, and in all kindness, but with all fidelity, we again enter our solemn protest against their giving baptism to any but disciples, to any but those who are the followers of the Lamb.
Throw down her hedges? Give her supper and her baptism to those who are not Christ’s people?Break down her walls? Remove her barricades? God forbid! Except a man be renewed in heart, we dare not allow him to participate in the ordinances which belong to Christ’s church. Oh! it is a disastrous thing to call unconverted children Christians, or to do anything which may weaken their apprehension of the great fact, that until they are converted, they have no part or lot in this matter.
Brethren, if you differ from me on this point, bear with me, for my conscience will not let me conceal this solemn truth. To you who agree with me I say, while our other friends can do in some things more than we can—and we rejoice in their efforts, and would heartily bless God that they have shown more activity than ourselves—yet we ought to be ashamed of ourselves if we are a whit behind.
We are a body of Christians who can fairly and purely teach and baptize, we can obey this command of Christ abroad, as well as at home, without running counter to our practice in one place by our practice in the other. We ought to be first and foremost, and if we be not, shame shall cover us for our unfaithfulness. Again, I say, I hear that voice ringing in the Baptist’s ear, above that of any other man, “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
I have endeavored to be brief, but I find I have been long, and therefore pass at once to the argument with which the text commences.
2. The Argument
The argument is this, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations.”
Three things here. Christ had suffered, bled and died, He had now risen from the dead. As the effect of his finished work, He had as Mediator received all power in heaven and in earth. There is no allusion here to his inherent power that is not given to him, that is his native right. He has, as God, all power in heaven and in earth. The text relates to him as Mediator. As Mediator, he had not this power once. He was weak, he was despised, he was forsaken, even of his God. But now, having finished the work which was given his to do, his Father honors him. He is about to lift him to his right hand and gives him, as the result of resurrection, all power in heaven and in earth. Three things, then. First, this is the picture of the church’s history, and therefore, she should teach all nations. Secondly, this is the church’s right. Thirdly, it is the church’s might, and for all these reasons she ought to teach all nations.
1. The Church’s Picture
First, this is the church’s picture. Christ suffers, bleeds, dies. Do you give up his cause? Do you look upon it as forlorn and desolate? He is nailed to the tree, the world abhors him, fools gaze, and sinners laugh. Do you lay down your weapons and say, “It is idle to defend such a man as this”? It is all over now, He bows his head upon the cross. “It is finished,” says He, and do your unbelieving hearts say, “Ay, indeed, it is finished. His career is over, his hopes are blighted, his prospects withered”?
Ah! little do you know that his shame was the mother of hiss future glory, that the stooping was the rising, that the crown of thorns was in fact the fruitful root out of which sprang the eternal crown of glory. He is put into the grave do you say that there is the grave of all your faith could believe, or your hope could suggest? He rises, brethren, and his resurrection takes effect, and fruit from the fact that He died and was buried. Do you not see the picture?
We have been sending out heralds of the cross these eighteen hundred years. They have landed upon many a shore to die. Fever has taken off its hundreds, cruel men have slain their scores, from the first day until now, the record of the mission is written in blood. Somewhere or other there always must be martyrs for Christ. It seems as if the church never could plow a wave without a spray of gore. She is still in Madagascar persecuted, afflicted, tormented, still are her ministers hunted about like partridges upon the mountains, and her blood is dying the shambles of her slayers.
Do you give up all hope? Shall we, as we look upon the tombs of our missionaries, say that Christ’s cause is dead? Brethren, as you turn over the long roll, and read the names of one after another who sleeps in Jesus, shall you say, “Let us close the doors of the mission house, let us cease our contributions, it is clear the case is hopeless, and the cause can never have success”? Nay, rather, the church must suffer that she may reign. She must die that she may live. She must be stained with blood, that she may be robed in purple. She must go down into the earth, and seem to be buried and forgotten, that the earth may help the woman, that she may be delivered of the man child.
Courage! Courage! Courage! The past is hopeful, because to the eye it seems hopeless. The cause is glorious, because it has been put to shame. Now, now let us gather the fruits of the bloody sowing, let us now reap the harvest of the deep plowing of agony and suffering which our ancestors have endured.
I think that no true-hearted Christian will ever give up any enterprise which God has laid upon him, because he fears its ultimate success. “Difficult,” said Napoleon, “is not a French word.” “Doubtful,” is not a Christian word. We are sure to succeed, the gospel must conquer. It is possible for heaven and earth to pass away, but it is not possible for God’s Word to fail, and therefore it is utterly impossible that any nation, or kindred, or tongue should to the end stand out against the attacks of love, against the invasion of the armies of King Jesus.
Thus, you see a fair argument can be built upon the text. Inasmuch as Christ is to his people a picture of what they are to be, inasmuch as by his suffering all power was given to him in heaven and in earth, so after the sufferings of the church, the wounds of her martyrs, and the deaths of her confessors, power shall be given to her in heaven and in earth, and she shall reign with Christ over the nations gloriously.
2. The Church’s Right
We now take a second view of the argument. This is the church’s right. All power is given to Christ in heaven and in earth. What then? Why this? Kings and princes, potentates and powers, are you aware that your thrones have been given away? Do you know it, you crowned heads, that your crowns have been given—given away from you to one who claims to be King of kings, and Lord of lords?
Do you pass decrees forbidding the gospel to be preached? We laugh at you. You have no power to prevent it, for all power is given unto Christ in heaven and in earth. Do you say that the missionary has no right upon your shores? The virgin daughter of Zion shakes her head at you, and laughs you to scorn. She has right anywhere and everywhere, she has rights in heaven without limit, and rights in earth without bound, for all power is given to her Head in heaven and in earth, and she therefore has a patent, a claim which is not to be disputed to take to herself all countries and all kingdoms, because the power above is given unto Christ.
What is that man doing on yonder shore? He has landed on an island in the South Seas. He is an intruder, banish him at once! Sirs, mind what you do, for surely you fight against God. But the man is sent away, he comes back again, or if not he, another. A severer edict is passed this time, “Let us slay him, that the inheritance may still be ours.” But another comes, and another, and another. Why do you stand up and take counsel together against the Lord, and against his anointed? These men are not intruders, they are ambassadors come to make peace. Nay, more, they are delegates from heaven, come to claim the rightful heritage of King Jesus. You, in putting them away as intruders, have denied the rights of Christ, but to deny is one thing, and to disprove another. He has still a right to you, and therefore has the missionary still a right to come whithersoever he will, preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Once or twice in my life I have met with some miserable little ministers, who, when I have gone into a village to preach, have questioned my right to preach in the village, because I ought to have asked them first, or to have consulted them. And can Christian men look on a district as their own dominion, and reckon God’s servant as a poacher on their estates, or a brigand in their territories? Is there any place on this earth that belongs to any man so that he can shut out God’s ministers?
We once for all put our foot upon any claim so ridiculous. Wherever there is found a man, there is the minister free to preach. The whole world is our parish. We know of no fetter upon our feet, and no gag upon our lips. Though kings should pass laws, the servants of Christ can bear the penalty, but they cannot disobey their Master. Though the Emperor should say the gospel should not be preached by any unauthorized denomination in France, as I have heard he has said of late, we care not for him. What cares the church for a thousand Emperors? Their resolutions are mockery, their laws waste paper. The church never was yet vassal to the State, or servile slave to municipalities, and powers, and she neither can nor will be. At all the laws of states, she laughs and utterly defies them, if they come in the way of the law of Christ which says, “Teach the gospel to every creature.”
Brethren, I say, the church has a right anywhere and everywhere—a right, not because she is tolerated, the word is insult—not because the law permits, the law permitting or not permitting, tolerated or untolerated, everywhere beneath the arch of God’s heaven, God’s servants have a right to preach. Oh, that they would claim the right, and in every place teach and preach Jesus Christ continually.
3. The Church’s Might
But now, lastly, it seems to me that the argument of the text contains the church’s might. “All power is given unto me in heaven, and in earth; go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” You have power to teach, fear not. Let this be your encouragement, you must succeed, you shall prevail. There never lived another man save Christ, who could say, “All power is given me on earth.”
Canute puts his throne by the side of the sea, but the waves wet his person, and prove to his flattering courtiers that he is but a man. What power have kings over the lightning or the rushing winds? Can they control the tides, or bid the moon stand still? Power is not given unto man, even upon earth. Much less could any man say, all power in heaven belonged to him. This is a singular expression, one which only could be used by Christ. And if any other should attempt to use it, it were an imposition and a blasphemy. But the Lord Jesus Christ can say today, as He said then, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”
Let us think, then, all power is given to Christ in providence. Over common daily events He has supreme authority. You have launched upon the sea, upon a mission voyage. He rules the waves, and wings the winds. Fear not, for tempest is his trembling slave. You have come near the shore, but there are hidden reefs, and sunken rocks. Fear not, for all power is given to him in the lowest deep to guide you safely, and to bring you to your desired haven.
A band of men meet you upon the shore, brandishing their weapons. You are unarmed, you have nothing but the word. You shall now prove that, “More is he who is with you than all they who are with them.” Go, in this your might. All power is given to Christ—power over the wills of men, as well as over the waves of the sea. But political occurrences prevent your landing on a certain country, through treaties, or a lack of treaties, there is no room for the missionary in such-and-such an empire.
Pray and the gates shall be opened. Plead and the bars of brass shall be cut in two. Christ has power over politics. He can make wars, and create peace with a view to the propagation of his word. He can change the hearts of princes, and preside in the counsels of senates. He can cause nations that have long been shut up to be opened to the truth.
And indeed, what a wonderful proof we have had of late, that all power belongs unto Christ, for human skill has been yoked to the chariot of the gospel. How wondrously, my brethren, have the inventions of man of late years progressed! How could we have preached the gospel to all nations—how could we have even known that America existed, if it had not been that the Lord put it into the mind of Columbus to discover the New World! And how wearisome our life, if with the ordinary slow navigation of the ancient times, we had to journey among all nations! But now we are carried across the waves so rapidly that distance is annihilated, and time forgotten. Truly God has opened up the world, and brought it to our threshold. If he has not made a smaller world, at least he has made it more convenient, and nearer to our hand.
And then, see how countries which once could not be reached, have been opened to us. The Celestial King of China, the rebel prince, invites us to come and preach. He does not merely permit—he invites. He builds places of worship, he is prepared, he says, that his brethren should come and teach him, and teach all his subjects, for they are imperfectly taught in the things of God. And the Imperial Sovereign of China too, though he does not invite, permits the missionaries to go among his millions. There is perfect liberty for us to preach to four hundred millions of persons who before had never seen the light of Calvary.
And there is India too, given up to our dominion, and the old Company, which always impeded us, rolled up in its shroud, and laid in its grave. And there are other lands and other places which once seemed to be environed by impassable mountains, into which we have now a road. Oh, for the will to dash through that road riding upon the white horses of salvation! Oh, for the heart, the spirit, and the soul to avail ourselves of the golden opportunity, and to preach Christ where he has never been preached before! All power, then, we can clearly see, over everything in this world has been given to Christ, and has been used for the propagation of his truth.
But brethren, let us recollect that power is given to Christ in heaven as well as on earth. All angels bow before him, and the cherubim and seraphim are ready to obey his high behests. Power is given to him over the plenitude of the Holy Spirit. He can pour out the mysterious energy in such abundance that nations can be born in a day. He can clothe his ministers with salvation, and make his priests shout aloud for joy. He has power to intercede with God, and he shall presently send out men to preach, presently give the people the mind to hear, and give the hearers the will to obey.
We have in the midst of us today our Leader. He is not gone from us. If his flesh and blood be absent, yet in body as well as spirit he still lives, adorned with the dew and beauty of his youth. As for the Mohammedan, his leader has long ago rotted in his coffin, but ours lives, and because he lives, his truth and his cause live also. We have with us today a Leader whose power is not diminished, whose influence in the highest heavens has suffered no impairing. He is universal Lord. Oh, let our efforts be worthy of the power which he has promised, let our zeal be in some respect akin to his zeal, and let our energy prove that the divine energy has not been withdrawn.
I wish that I could preach this morning, but the more earnest I feel, the more scant are my words with which to express my emotions. I have prayed to God, and it is a prayer I shall repeat till I die—I have prayed that out of this church there may go many missionaries. I will never be content with a congregation, or with a church, or even with ministers, many of whom have already gone out of our midst. We must have missionaries from this church. God’s people everywhere will, I trust, aid me in training young soldiers for my Master’s army. God will send the men, and faith will find the means, and we will ourselves send out our own men to proclaim the name of Jesus.
Brethren, it is a singular thing there are some young men who get the idea into their minds that they would like to go into foreign lands, but these are frequently the most unfit men, and have not the power and ability. Now, I would that the divine call would come to some gifted men. You who have, perhaps, some wealth of your own, what could be a better object in life than to devote yourself and your substance to the Redeemer’s cause?
You young men who have brilliant prospects before you, but who as yet have not the anxieties of a family to maintain, why, would it not be a noble thing to surrender your brilliant prospects, that you may become a humble preacher of Christ? The greater the sacrifice, the more honor to yourself, and the more acceptable to him. I have questioned my own conscience, and I do not think I could be in the path of duty if I should go abroad to preach the Word, leaving this field of labor.
But I think many of my brethren now laboring at home might with the greatest advantage surrender their charges, and leave a land where they would scarce be missed, to go where their presence would be as valuable as the presence of a thousand such as they are here. And oh! I long that we may see young men out of the universities, and students in our grammar schools—that we may see our physicians, advocates, tradesmen, and educated mechanics, when God has touched their hearts giving up all they have, that they may teach and preach Christ.
We want Vanderkists. We want Judsons, and Brainerds over again. It will never do to send out to the heathen men who are of no use at home. We cannot send men of third and tenth-class abilities, we must send the highest and best. The bravest men must lead the van. O God, anoint Your servants, we beseech You. Put the fire into their hearts that never can be quenched. Make it so hot within their bones that they must die or preach, that they must lie down with broken hearts, or else be free to preach where Christ was never heard.
Brethren, I envy anyone among you—I say again with truth, I envy you—if it shall be your lot to go to China, the country so lately opened to us. I would gladly change places with you. I would renounce the partial case of a settlement in this country, and renounce the responsibilities of so large a congregation as this with pleasure, if I might have your honors. I think sometimes that missionaries in the field—if it be right to compare great things with such small ones—might say to you, as our English king did to his soldiers at the battle of Agincourt, changing the word for a moment—
Ministers in England, now a bed,
Might think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhood’s cheap, while any speak
Who fought with us upon this glorious day.
Have we none out of our sixteen hundred members—have we none out of this congregation of six thousand—who can say, “Here am I, send me”? Jesus! Is there not one? Must heathens perish? Must the gods of the heathen hold their thrones? Must Your kingdom fail? Are there none to own You, none to maintain Your righteous cause? If there be none, let us weep, each one of us, because such a calamity has fallen on us.
But if there are any who are willing to give all for Christ, let us who are compelled to stay at home do our best to help them. Let us see to it that they lack nothing, for we cannot send them out without purse or scrip. Let us fill the purse of the men whose hearts God has filled, and take care of them temporally, leaving it for God to preserve them spiritually.
May the Lord, the divine Master, add his blessing to the feeble words that I have uttered, and let me not conclude till I have said, I must teach you too, and this is the teaching of God, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” Trust him with your soul, and he will save you. For “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; he that believes not shall be damned.”
Want to get your church excited about missions? Download our free SendOne guidebook.