AS general doubt begins to overshadow the Bible and its teachings, many intelligent people begin to wonder whether or not there is any future life. Decrying the Bible as the work of man, all higher critics and evolutionists are thrown upon the resources of their own judgment respecting the future, and they are very conscious that their intelligence on the subject is a large blank—a guess. Rejection of the doctrine of eternal torment as the punishment for sin, and the supposition that that doctrine is taught in the Scriptures, was the foundation for their scepticism, which now has spread so that their entire faith has been undermined, and what Jesus said of the Samaritans of old is true of them, "Ye believe ye know not what."—John 4:22.
The religious instincts of man lead him to some kind of worship, and a desire to serve his God in some manner, whether that god be a stick or a stone or the sun or the true God. Hence Christian people of various shades of faith and doubt have during the past century contributed liberally for mission work under the stimulating thought that the poor heathen were going into death at the rate of 90,000 a day without a knowledge of the only name given under heaven and amongst men whereby men must be saved. But now as doubts become confirmed and faith weakens there is a slackening [R3906 : page 387] of the energies formerly put forth on behalf of the heathen. Furthermore it is beyond question that missionary effort has accomplished little in heathen lands in the way of making saints, and that its chief showing has been along the lines of civilizing influences introduced. And is this not true throughout Christendom?
The new thought is that this civilizing influence called Christianization can be introduced better and more quickly by national treaties, etc. Thus Secretary Root's last visit to South America in the interest of better business relationship between those countries and the United States is pointed out by some as having been a great missionary enterprise. So greatly do the ideas of man gradually swing around! We quote below from the Springfield (Mass.) Union on this subject as follows:—
Rev. Newton M. Hall, pastor of North Congregational Church, preached yesterday morning on the modern motive for missions, as a timely topic, in view of the meeting of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in North Adams this week. He showed how the old-time motive of soul-saving had largely given place to the motive of Christian work to uplift and better the conditions of the non-Christian peoples. He said in part:
"We must admit that the impulse for missions simply from the standpoint of soul-saving is not as strong as it was a century ago. We may regret this, but we must face the facts. Yet the interest in missions must not die. No greater calamity, from both moral and economic standpoints, could happen to America than to lose interest in foreign missions. What, then, is to be the new motive for missions? It must be the motive, old, yet new, set forth by Paul in the text; the oneness of God, the brotherhood of all men as proclaimed and mediated by Jesus Christ. It is not our civilization which we wish to impose upon alien peoples, for we are far from being Christian, but the civilization which, please God, we mean to have. Brotherhood, fraternity, is the message, the lifting up of other races, not to our level only, but far beyond.
"We want to save men from bestiality and the superstition of heathendom to the glory of the brotherhood of Jesus. The mission of Mr. Root to South America was in a large sense a missionary journey. He went not with threats, but in the Christian spirit of love and brotherhood. Every missionary is first an ambassador [R3906 : page 388] of the Lord Jesus, and then God's ordained apostle of liberty and democracy. The peoples of the earth, the downcast, the oppressed, the king-ridden are on the march to freedom. Missionary activity in the 20th century means that we are to aid them in their progress. The haystack missionaries sought its individuals. We are to seek the nations and help them in the struggle until all shall come in the unity of the faith, to the kingdom which hath no end, the joy and expectation of the whole earth."
"For nearly twenty years we have been marking time, but we have not been making progress. True, we have been adding wealth and numbers, but we have not been gaining power. Sporadic revivals break out in places, but evangelism does not spread like a holy contagion. There is no use blinking facts. Conditions are serious. But they are not exceptional. Compared with those of some previous periods they are discouraging, but compared with other epochs they appear far from hopeless. The march of the Kingdom seems to be measured by the ebb and flow of the spiritual tide. Today the tide is low. It has been falling steadily since the stirring days of Dwight L. Moody. There are many signs that low-water mark has been registered, and that henceforth we will see a rising flood. But whether it comes this year, or next, or in five or ten years, Christ's people will not lose faith or courage. God is in this world with a purpose, and that purpose cannot be thwarted or defeated. He can do wonders with only a few to help him. He is in need of real Gideons, men and women whose primary business it is to serve God. Perhaps there are more of these faithful ones than we realize. Jonah was deceived by superficial appearances in Nineveh. Doubtless there are more amongst us than we think who have not bowed the knee to Baal. So we will be hopeful and charitable, yet alert and discerning. God is calling the Church and individual Christians to higher walks of faith and duty. It must be either advance or apostasy."
The value of a genuine conversion from sin to the Lord—to saintship, to a membership in the "little flock" of the footstep followers of the Lamb—is almost beyond estimation; because they are all "Jewels." But when we think of the common run of Church membership, unregenerate, merely bearing a gloss of civilization, the following figures from a more than ordinarily reliable channel seem very high for the results obtained. We quote the following from the Pittsburg Chronicle-Telegraph:—
Frankfort, Ind., Oct. 11.—The closing session of the Indiana synod of the Presbyterian Church was made interesting by a report on the money it costs to convert a sinner and bring him into the Church. The report was made by the Rev. Dr. Donald Morrison, who showed that the cost in cities with the large churches is greatest.
He found that the average ranges from $27 in villages to $212 in cities. In large churches the cost is greatly increased. Dr. Morrison showed that the cost to a Church for each sinner brought within its pale in Indianapolis is $620.