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FOR A YEAR newspapers have been circulating reports re a Laymen's Missionary Movement for the conversion of the world. Like all modern propositions the financial end of this matter protruded first. It is proposed to raise thirty million dollars and to invest this and to use the accrued interest in telling the heathen that all of their forefathers have gone to eternal torment because they never heard of "the only Name given under heaven or amongst men whereby they must be saved"; and in telling them also that unless they become better Christians than are nine-tenths of so-called Christendom they also will spend eternity in torture. The heathen are expected to like this Message and to assent that it is "good tidings of great joy"!
Perhaps the friends of the Movement will say, No, you misapprehend our intentions. We will send out up-to-date [R4848 : page 202] missionaries who will preach the same Message as in New York, namely, the Higher Criticism of the Bible, which repudiates its inspiration and classes it with Dickens and far below Shakespeare. We will teach them the Evolution theory that, instead of man's falling from the image of God downward into sin and degradation, he has been climbing upward. We will teach them that their fathers were monkeys and that they themselves are not much advanced over that condition and that they should copy us and learn how to make great dreadnought battleships, rapid-fire guns and other evidences of mental and moral superiority; we will teach them also of the necessity of love for God and for their fellowmen. We will give them clothing and teach them millinery styles and the use of various modern conveniences and will thus build up a trade with them and increase our national exports.
Well, we wonder how much more happy the heathen will be after they shall have been converted to the same glorious civilization which prevails in America and Europe! And after thus converting them and increasing their discontent, what shall we do with them next?
The next thing will be to treat them as we do the converted and civilized people at home—send them a number of duplicate copies of Billy Sunday to teach them how to use slang and to abuse everybody and everything and to tell them to their faces that their conversion has made them a set of rascals. And what then? Yes, what then? Nothing further will be left to be done and the interest on the thirty million dollars can after that be spent in helping the poor at home.
And yet, how glad we would be to see so large a sum expended in telling the poor heathen the proper interpretation of God's Word and character—of His love and mercy and of the really "good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people" when Messiah's Kingdom shall be established and bring order out of present confusion!—when the Spiritual Seed of Abraham shall be glorified in the First Resurrection and dispense God's blessings, through natural Israel, to all the families of the earth. There would be comfort and help and cheer in such a message; it would be sure to do good to many. And it would be worth the money because in presenting the true God and His exalted character one would be setting before the heathen a grand ideal. But we can have no sympathy with the scaring of the heathen with doctrines which those contributing the thirty million dollars do not for a moment believe. Nor can we have sympathy with the presentation of Evolution and Higher Criticism.
The most astounding thing connected with this proposition is that it has behind it some good men, who are great, in some particulars at least. Our astonishment is that such men can delude themselves or be deluded by others into supporting such a foolish position, which even a child in mathematical calculation should be able to see through. Let us look into it, prejudiced in its favor because it has the support of such honorable men as Bishop Talbot, Bishop Greer, Mr. John R. Mott, Mr. Wm. J. Schieffelin, Mr. J. Campbell White and Mr. Evan E. Olcott.
These talented men surely know that the Government statistics show that there are twice as many heathen in the world today as there were a century ago. One hundred years ago the heathen numbered six hundred millions. Today they number twelve hundred millions. The average man or woman has little conception of the numbers implied in the word million, and less of what a hundred millions would signify, and still less of what twelve hundred millions would mean; but the above-mentioned talented gentlemen surely can comprehend figures better than the average of mankind. They therefore have some conception of the immense work they propose to do in a few years and with the interest on thirty millions of dollars!
The interest at four per cent. would amount to one million two hundred thousand dollars per year. How many would this convert? Let us look again at the statistics. We happen to have some just at hand from our Methodist brethren, and they surely are as wise and frugal as any denomination in the handling of their missionary work. Their report, according to the Toronto Telegram, shows that the cost of conversions among the heathen during the first seventeen years of their work reached one hundred thousand dollars each. According to this figure the fund proposed would convert exactly twelve heathen out of the twelve hundred millions!
One hundred thousand dollars a convert was the price paid by the Methodist Episcopal Church in the foreign missionary fields in the seventeen years following its taking up of that work, according to figures given out at the Maine State Conference. The church entered the foreign missionary field in 1858, and in seventeen years expended in that direction $700,000. In that period there were seven conversions."—Toronto (Can.) Evening Telegram.
Missionaries going to foreign lands are surprised to find the heathen much more intelligent than they had supposed—much better reasoners. They find it difficult to explain the message which they carry because that message is so overloaded with error as to be inconsistent to all reasonable minds, unless the mind be so saturated with error from infancy that it has lost its proper acumen. We long to see the true Message and the rightful interpretation of God's Word sent to the heathen—and we long to see it more widely known in so-called Christendom.
From childhood the writer has had a broad sympathy for the heathen and an earnest desire for their uplift, which must include their knowledge of Christ. His intention was to be a missionary to the heathen until he discovered two things:—
(1) That God has a future time for dealing with the whole world, including the heathen, under Messiah's Kingdom of glory, light and power, and that God's present [R4848 : page 203] work is the selection or election of the Church to be members of the Messianic Body, of which Christ is the Head—in all a "little flock," all saintly.
(2) He discerned, in Divine providence, that although God is no respector of persons He has evidently designed the gathering of the majority of the "elect" from amongst the Semitic and the Aryan races of Europe and America. And, desiring to follow the leadings of Divine providence, and thus to be a co-worker with God, he turned his special attention to the gathering of "the elect" and has been using his energies chiefly where this "elect" class are mostly to be expected—in civilized lands.
However, in God's providence, the writer, less than two years ago, became acquainted with a native of India, Mr. Devasahayam, through whose instrumentality a considerable work of grace is already under way in Travancore District, India. This is not the work of dishonoring the Divine Name by misrepresenting the Divine Character and Plan and telling the poor heathen that they have been foreordained and predestinated to eternal torture, except a lucky few; neither is it the message of Evolution and Higher Criticism and Humanitarianism. On the contrary, it is the telling of the sweet story of the old, old Book, rightly interpreted—the story of the Love of God, of the sacrifice of Jesus, of the election of the Church class to be joint-heirs with Christ in His Kingdom, and of the blessing that is yet to come to all nations as the result of the redemption and the Kingdom which Messiah will shortly establish, when the elect Church shall have been completed.
The story of Mr. Devasahayam and his work well illustrates the power of the Truth, in contrast with false doctrine and Higher Criticism. Mr. Devasahayam's father was a native missionary in Madras. The son, of religious mind, determined to follow his father's footsteps and be a missionary to his people. He appreciated the value of education and in the providence of God reached America and, under letters of introduction, entered the Methodist College at Delaware, Ohio.
His father was attached to the Methodist Body and the son, also, gave to it his adherence. A four-years' course was sufficient to do for him what it does for nearly every young man who passes through any modern college in this, our day—it destroyed his faith in the Bible as the inspired Word of God. Thus set adrift from his original convictions he was too honest to accept the invitation of the Methodist Church to go to his home land and preach to his heathen countrymen what neither he nor the educated Methodist professors, ministers and missionaries believe. He declined the offer and took up lecturing in churches, describing the manners, customs, clothing, etc., in India.
About this time Mr. Devasahayam came in contact with some whom he believed manifested not only a great deal of honesty in their discussion of the Bible, but also a great deal of knowledge respecting the precious Book. He cultivated their acquaintance, made inquiries respecting their views and was presented with six volumes of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. The careful and prayerful reading of these six volumes converted Mr. Devasahayam from his Higher Critical Infidelity and Evolution theories back to the Bible—not, as before, in mysticism and superstition, mis-called faith, but to an intelligent, rational, logical understanding of the Divine Word. This was what his soul had been hungering and thirsting after. He gave himself wholly to the Lord and returned [R4849 : page 203] to his native land a representative of The International Bible Students Association.
Considering the entire circumstances to be a leading of Providence, we have co-operated with Mr. Devasahayam and are still co-operating. Our means are limited and our support of his work is necessarily limited. But so long as it seems to have the Divine blessing we wish to show no partiality as between India and Europe and America.
The people of Travancore District are extremely poor and church missionary work amongst them has met with some success, partly in what the natives call rice-conversions. The poor are willing to be enrolled anywhere for the sake of having a certain regular supply of rice, which is the chief article of food. We forewarned Brother Devasahayam that money must not be spent in this manner—that the only ones who would receive any assistance must be such of the natives as would give evidence of thorough conversion and of intelligence and ability to present the true Gospel Message to their brethren. These native teachers are supplied a very small amount per month to meet their very simple necessities. Already, in less than a year, there are twelve large congregations in Travancore, with invitations and opportunities for as many more as soon as native instructors can be properly prepared for serving them with the Truth.
The Message of the Love of God and the election of the Church now and the subsequent restitution blessings for the world appeals to the natives as it does to all intelligent, unprejudiced thinkers everywhere. Although we give no rice, the report is that many of the "rice-Christians" are leaving the missionaries who preach the bad tidings of great misery and are flocking to the true Gospel of the Love of God. The natives of this District seem to be childlike and need to be restrained from baptism, to make sure that they understand its real import as signifying a full burial or immersion of the will into the will of Christ—to be dead with Him to all earthly hopes, aims and objects.
It may surprise some of our readers to know that the missionaries who are a large expense to home societies misrepresenting the Divine character and the Divine Word and misrepresenting to the heathen their real belief are angry with Brother Devasahayam and his more successful work. His name has been published in Methodist journals with the suggestions that he is an enemy and should be opposed in every way that civilized laws will permit.
Is it not peculiar that people who no longer believe the Bible and who in their colleges are teaching that it is not the Divine Word—people who do not believe in either eternal torment or purgatorial sufferings—people who do not believe that Adam fell from Divine likeness and needed to be redeemed that he might be restored thereto—that these people insist on misrepresenting themselves and God and the Bible and are angry and at war with those who do believe the Bible and who show clearly its teachings of the Love of God and His provision through Jesus for the blessing of all the families of the earth, with an opportunity to each individual to return to harmony with God?
The readiness of the heathen to hear the Truth is in such sharp contrast with the unsuccess of the bad tidings amongst them as to be a lesson in itself. We cannot doubt that if the true Message of God's Word were [R4849 : page 204] understood by Christendom and promulgated in the spirit of the Gospel, millions would speedily be turned from sin to righteousness, from heathendom to Christianity. But we are not worrying ourselves about this matter. God is at the helm. As He opens the door in any direction we will seek to enter it, relying on His wisdom and providence. Where the door is closed in any manner we will not fret. The heathen are just as happy in their ignorance as the majority of Catholics and Protestants of Europe and America are in their ignorance. And the ignorance, so far as God and the Bible are concerned, is very nearly the same. Indeed, when the Truth shall come to be proclaimed under Messiah's Kingdom, to every creature, the heathen will have much less to unlearn and thus will have an advantage over many now supposed to be more highly favored.
Darkness covers Christendom and gross darkness heathendom. Into very few hearts, comparatively, has the light of the knowledge of the glory of God penetrated. Let no one misunderstand us as being opposed to Christian missions. Nothing would please us more than to know of true Christian missions both in civilized and uncivilized lands. But since these missions have un-Christian and un-Biblical creeds and doctrines, we oppose that feature. Far better would it be to have missions without doctrines and denominational control—missions of civilization, which would undertake to truthfully instruct the heathen along lines of moral living, to provide them hospitals and schools, etc., and to teach them the Golden Rule—than to have missions whose creeds and doctrines slander and misrepresent God and His Word! To the extent that missions are doing such a humanitarian work they are doing good. To the extent that they are sowing doctrinal error they are harmful.
The little work started in Africa, too, is progressing, although there also the opposition of the missionaries is intense. One of our native laborers was first thrown into prison and afterward deported from the country at the request of the missionaries of the Scotch Presbyterian Church, who were jealous of his success and alarmed to see the natives leaving their well-sustained missions for the simple truths preached by our native brother, Elliott Kamwana. However, in his stead, God seems to be raising up others, and perhaps some of the "very elect" may be found as samples for the Kingdom even in so unpropitious surroundings as are presented in Dark Africa.
Note the difference between God's ways and man's ways, as well as between the true Gospel of God's Word and the bad tidings of great misery, erroneously labeled Gospel. Man's thought is, Give us money enough and we will convert the world. And hundreds of apparently wise people are deluded into upholding such a proposition. How foolish to think that the conversion of the world has been delayed all these centuries for lack of thirty millions of dollars, if we believe that all the gold and silver are the Lord's and the cattle upon a thousand hills!
A comparatively few dollars, which, in God's providence, come into the Treasury of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society are, under His blessing, accomplishing a considerable work in the enlightening of the saints of God and in the finding of these mainly throughout Christendom, and in the ripening of them for the garner, to which they will be transported shortly by a share in the First Resurrection. "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father." Then Satan shall be bound for a thousand years. Then the Messianic Kingdom shall control the world. Then the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth. Then the true light shall shine and the darkness flee away. Then all the blinded eyes of understanding shall be opened. Then every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to the glory of God, and the world, redeemed by the blood of Jesus, shall have fullest opportunity for obtaining the blessings of Restitution and an earthly Eden and everlasting joy. And then the wilful rejector and opposer shall be cut off in the Second Death, from which there will be no resurrection, no recovery—they will be taken and destroyed as brute beasts.—2 Pet. 2:12.
Oh blessed crown of glory!
Oh crown of righteousness!
Oh crown of life immortal,
How can I thee possess?
In answer to my longing
A voice said, soft and clear,
"The crown is yours, beloved,
If you the cross will bear."
"What is the cross?" I questioned.
'Tis bearing every day
The trials which the Father
Permits along the way;
'Tis sharing the reproaches
Your Master meekly bore,
While those who claim to love him
Revile you, more and more.
The world will look upon you
With disapproving eye;
And friends whom you love dearly
Will coldly pass you by.
They'll have no patience with you;
Your good works they'll deride,
And every righteous motive
To you will be denied.
And all the powers of evil
Will gather to assail;
They know your every weakness
And where they might prevail.
They'll try to overwhelm you
By coming like a flood,
You must with force oppose them,
Resisting unto blood.
The flesh will strive to win you,
Exerting every power,
'Twill be perpetual warfare
Between you every hour—
A fight that ceases only
When one of you is dead.
It is no easy pathway,
Beloved, that you tread.
And then I answered, "Master,
I've counted all the cost;
And deem it highest honor
To bear with Thee the cross.
And I will bear it gladly,
Till it works out in me
That blessed transformation
Which proves me part of Thee.
And when the cross grows heavy,
By faith, I gaze upon
The crown Thou art reserving
For those who overcome—
The crown of great rejoicing,
The crown of righteousness,
The crown of life immortal
I'm striving to possess.